I believe that the topic of winning is one that’s rare and special enough that you just can’t write enough about it. Today’s theme, as the title of this blog post implies, relates to the wise saying “lose the battle win the war.” I’ve found that very few successes in life, at least for me, have come without hard work and, in most cases, also rebounding from a loss or a setback.
As you know, my love of music often leads me to quoting song lyrics as a way to convey important life messages.
In Know Your Enemy, the 1st edition, Chapter 9 (titled “Winning Is A Mindset”) I articulated a perspective on winning that ties into the following verse from Aerosmith’s classic song, Dream on. It has one of my favorite rock song phrases of all time.
Yeah, I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it’s everybody’s sin
You’ve got to lose to know how to win.
Do you get where I’m going with this?
Winning the Cancer Battle
To me, those lyrics put into words what I took away from both encounters with cancer; that you’ve got to lose —or give up the sense of being in control or controlling the treatment outcome — to know how to prepare yourself to win your battle against this enemy.
During the early stages of fighting cancer, many people will begin to feel — and maybe even believe — that they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to effectively managing their cancer treatment. Chances are they are not.
There very well may come a time in this journey when no matter how much spirit you bring to the battle, the tables will turn and the feelings will become one of helplessness or vulnerability. It’s equivalent to someone grabbing the steering wheel while the car is still going down the road.
The Aerosmith lyrics I quoted describe this sensation; that is, one of losing your way and sliding back, then learning how to release control.
Surviving the “Losing” Part of Lose the Battle, Win the War
And while I am using music and lyrics to emphasize the keys points about winning is this blog, I can’t think of a better anthem then Argent’s Hold Your Head Up to help pick you up through the difficult times in your cancer journey.
And if it’s bad
Don’t let it get you down, you can take it.
And if it hurts
Don’t let them see you cry, you can make it.
Hold your head up oh, hold your head up oh.
Hold your head up oh, Hold your head high.
Every successful journey includes minor setbacks along the way. My best advice to you, your loved one, or anyone you know who is fighting cancer is this: be prepared to have the steering wheel torn out of your hands at one point or another. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost. It just means you’ve hit a pothole. And once you’ve survived that, any future potholes seem a lot less scary.
You may not be the least bit interested in the NFL (or in sports at all). But sometimes, a sports metaphor is helpful in understanding something that’s important to each and every one of us. And if you’re just kicking off a health-related battle (pun intended) then stay with me as I explain your need for a “Healthcare Quarterback.”
Understanding the Quarterback’s Role
This week the NFL’s 32 teams kicked off their training camps as they begin preparation for the upcoming 2019 season. Every NFL team roster has 53 players on it. But there’s one position that has the greatest impact on the overall performance of the team: the quarterback. One of the primary goals coming out of training camp is for a team to have answered this important question: “Who is the Quarterback?”
So how does an NFL team evaluate quarterback talent? According to college and NFL talent evaluator Chris Landry, pro-quarterback prospects must have a combination of physical abilities and key intangibles. They include:
• Having total dedication to football • Not being an excuse maker or seeker • Inspiring confidence of his teammates • Thoroughly understanding pro-style defenses how to beat these schemes • Having the ability to read and react quickly and stay cool in the pocket • Having the ability to remain calm and collected to changes in health or treatment status
In short, a quarterback is the team leader. He’s the person everyone will turn to in times of crisis. His success (or failure) will determine the team’s performance in the upcoming season.
Why You Need a Healthcare Quarterback
If you dealing with a major health issue (i.e., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s etc.), you will likely have a team of people working to help you win the battle. But just like in football, there’s a need for one person to take the lead and be the decision maker throughout the process. That one person will have the greatest impact on your treatment and prognosis. In other words, you need a healthcare quarterback.
If you are thinking that your family doctor or oncologist will fill that role for you, you are in for a rude awakening. Healthcare services today are delivered in a manner similar to how a boutique-style business serves their customers; typically serving their niche market customer set only and not venturing far (if at all) from this familiar zone. Healthcare specialists provide services to their patients in their functional discipline –heart, pulmonary, oncology, anesthesia etc. – but there isn’t any one doctor that will act as your quarterback and navigate you through the healthcare bureaucracy.
How Do You Choose a Healthcare Quarterback
So, now that we know we need a healthcare quarterback, it’s time to start thinking about what characteristics this individual should possess.
Building on the characteristics of a successful quarterback in the NFL, you should look for someone that:
• Has the time and energy to dedicate to battling the condition • Is organized, intelligent and decisive • Inspires confidence in the healthcare team members • Has the ability to understand complex medical procedures and jargon and how it relates to battling the condition
Before you make your decision, though, I have two additional pieces of advice.
1. Don’t exclude yourself from the list of healthcare quarterbacks.
”Regarding my mother Maxine’s and wife Alyson’s battles with cancer, we learned early on that Max and Alyson, and not family members, were the real Generals [or for the purposes of this blog, the quarterbacks] controlling the battle. As such, we had to constantly reign in our personal desires and remember to live each day in the moment to stay in sync with Max’s and Alyson’s physical, emotional, and mental energies. This enlightened approach allowed us to reduce the anxiety and stress associated with a leadership void as well as delegate tasks to our troops in a more efficient manner.”
2. I highly advise against a two-quarterback system.
I could bore you with countless stories of failed attempts by college and NFL teams to implement a two-Quarterback system but this quote from John Madden, former American football and Super Bowl winning head coach, 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and NFL sportscaster, states it best: “If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.”
Just like every football team needs a quarterback, your upcoming medical battle needs a person to take charge, make decisions, and keep everyone calm and in line during the most difficult moments.
In the NFL, it’s all about winning and losing, and often the quarterback’s play is the deciding factor in the outcome of a game. For your upcoming medical battle, the stakes are even higher. We’re not talking about a game, we’re talking about your life. You need to have complete confidence that the person you select as your healthcare QB is game-day ready and can take charge, make decisions, and lead your healthcare team to victory! So choose wisely.
I woke up this morning thinking it was time to write another blog post. Just as that thought passed through my mind, two other phrases came to me: Yogi Berra’s famous “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over,” followed by the term “remission.” Why? Because they have a simpatico relationship.
This is an important topic as it relates to remission, but one that I didn’t cover in my book. Let me explain…
Is Remission the End of a Cancer Battle?
If you are a cancer patient or family member, every ounce of your being is probably hoping, praying and busting your tail to one day hear your doctor say… “I have good news. Your most recent test results indicate that your cancer is in remission.”
Remission, to those battling cancer, represents the end, the finish line and a cause for celebration. Or does it?
When I hear the word remission, I have a slightly different mindset and think of the phrase that Yogi Berra made famous… ”It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.”
What do I mean by this?
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
Remission Truth#1: Remission does represent the end of something: the end of the current treatment regimen.
Remission represents the successful completion of your treatment regimen and you should feel good about your effort and outcome. You must, however, never let your guard down in this battle against cancer and accept that additional scans and/or strategic treatment(s), may be required in the future depending on the cancer type.
Remission Truth #2: Remission does represent the finish line, the finish line for this phase of your cancer journey.
Remission represents the finish line for this phase of your cancer journey but doesn’t mean you should automatically go back to the life you had pre-diagnosis. After you give yourself some time to celebrate and re-charge your battery, you will also want to re-assess any lifestyle issues that may have been contributing factors to your cancer diagnosis – personal health issues, financial issues, stress-related issues, dysfunctional relationships, bad eating habits, etc. Since you are starting this next phase of your life with virtually a clean slate, now may be a good time to start the regular exercise program or get serious about losing the 10+ pounds you’ve been talking about. Or consider quitting the dead-end job or leaving the relationship that no longer brings you joy and happiness.
Remission Truth #3: Remission does represent a cause for celebration, a cause for celebrating life!
Yes, remission represents a significant accomplishment and cause for celebration with your cancer support team. You will also want to start living your life without everything being solely about cancer or its treatment. You had to put your life on hold temporarily to fight this formidable health opponent; now it’s time to begin making time for loved ones, or for doing things for yourself that you have always wanted to do. What are you waiting for?
So Is It Ever Over?
If you’re in remission, congratulations. You have won the battle. So show off your battle scars and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Live life on your terms but also remember to never stop fighting!
If you’re a competitive or professional athlete, you probably know a lot about goal setting (and achieving those goals). But if you’re not, I am going to share the life lessons I learned from a tremendous experience and privilege I had in my youth that set me on a path to successful goal setting and attainment.
I had the good fortune to participate in the Cumberland Valley High School football program under legendary head football coach Harry C. Chapman III. In the 1970’s and 80’s, Coach Chapman’s football program had an off-season workout component that would rival most 2019 major college football off-season conditioning programs.
The start of summer takes me back in time to the days spent taking part in Coach Chapman’s summer workout sessions with teammates in the CV gym and at the track. And when I go back in time, I hear the same voice in my head that I heard 40 years ago, calling out his go-to words of encouragement…Fellas, get your weights!
The following quote, credited to former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry, provides readers with insight into Coach Chapman’s off-season program philosophy “… I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on the field and be prepared to play a good game.” Coach Chapman’s off-season program emphasized the five following key goal-setting principles. Each one includes a “key takeaway” that you can use in your next goal setting exercise, whether that’s related to sports, business, a fight against cancer … or anything else in life.
Principal #1: Define Both Team and Individual Goals
Coach Chapman emphasized a team-first mentality, and the importance of individuals maximizing their athletic abilities for the betterment of the team. He would sit down with each player at the end of the school year and set specific strength, agility and conditioning exercise goals for their summer workout program.
Key takeaway #1: Have anyone responsible for achieving the desired goals participate in an exercise that sets both team and individual goals. This ensures buy-in, personal responsibility and accountability by all participants.
“You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” – a Zig Ziglar favorite quote of close high school friend and teammate #85 Edward “Spike” Zionkofski
Principal #2: Maintain Consistency and Dedication to Goals
Coach Chapman held morning and evening workout sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer. It was understood that players would attend one session a day. And the sessions weren’t easy: They began with a weight-lifting period–players recorded the weight and reps attempted for each exercise–followed by a circuit of timed agility exercise stations set up in the gymnasium. After the agility circuit, Coach Chapman would take the players to the track for stretching and a recorded distance and/or a speed workout.
Key takeaway #2: Have a regular routine that everyone follows. This ensures a consistent level of effort is directed toward achieving their goals over an extended period.
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter
Principal #3: Establish Benchmark Testing and Reporting Procedures
Coach Chapman would test and record key exercises (e.g., half squats, single and five rep bench, 40 yard dash, mile run etc.) for all players throughout the summer. To motivate and inspire players, he would post charts on the walls listing all players and their personal best for each recorded exercise. He also recorded new personal bests in his highly-sought-after “blue ink.” These methods encouraged players to continually strive to receive “blue ink” and a “good effort” acknowledgement from Coach Chapman.
Key takeaway #3: Have a method of regularly monitoring and tracking your progress. This ensures that you are taking the right steps to achieve your goals. If you determine you are not on the right track, you can modify your strategy or plan to ensure you achieve the desired results.
“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” –Terry Bradshaw
Principal #4: Create a Culture That Fosters Competition and Teamwork
Coach Chapman used to get really fired up when he was testing/recording players, especially when a player was attempting a new personal best. His enthusiasm was contagious, and often resulted in a crowd of teammates gathering around to encourage the player to succeed. Call it motivation, fear of embarrassment, or a sense of pride, but you always felt compelled to give it your all; and more importantly, to not let your teammates down.
Key takeaway #4: Establish a positive and competitive environment that fosters peak individual performance and team unity. This ensures a “team first” mindset and mentality for any team, group or organization
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan
Principal #5: Persevere, Persevere, Persevere
Coach Chapman’s football program emphasized the importance of perseverance in all activities, both on the football field and in the classroom. This phrasing–along with persistence, mental toughness, hard work and overcoming adversity–were commonly-repeated themes that you heard when you were in the presence of Coach Chapman.
Key takeaway #5: Have the physical and mental toughness, as well as intestinal fortitude, to overcome the challenges that occur in football, the classroom or in life. In summary, I have found that very little is given to us in life, and most successes are the result of hard work, persistence and perseverance.
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”- John Wooden
Coach Harry C. Chapman III’s goal-setting principles and coaching philosophy has had a positive impact throughout my life and for that I am truly grateful. I believe that Coach Chapman’s goal setting principles can be used by anyone to help ensure that they not only meet–but exceed–their desired life goals.
A special thanks to my close grade school friends and teammates #13 Harry C. “Four” Chapman IV and #72 Brian “Bull” Bullock for their contributions to the creation of this blog.
I would also like to acknowledge the countless hours the early 1980’s CV Football Coaching Staff — Coach Harry Chapman, Coach Butch Bricker, Coach Bob Crobak, Coach Ron Audo, Coach Joe Correal, Coach Tom Uhrich and Coach Jim Hess — invested in teaching young men how to compete and conduct themselves both on and off the football field.
Thank You Coach Chapman! #82 Frank Antonicelli
” Inspirational for any and all that are dealing with cancer. ”-Tina Johnson