We’ve all heard stories about people who overcome tremendous odds and end up becoming a success. Or they’re faced with a serious illness, but they manage to come through it healthier and happier. How do they do it? We talk to two people who have experience with adversity about what it takes to make it through the dark, and seemingly hopeless times in life.
- Trent Angers, co-editor with Coach Dale Brown, of Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life
- Kim Kircher, member of ski patrol at Crystal Mountain resort, WA, author of the book, The Next 15 Minutes: Strength from the top of the mountain
15-04 Stress and Hope
Gary Price: Stress is growing in America these days, and why not? Financial problems continue to plague people from coast to coast; many Americans are out of work. Those who have jobs are spending more time commuting to work and sitting behind their desks and less time relaxing. Then there are those among us who have the added stress of caring for a loved-one who is suffering from a serious illness or disability. It can be tough to keep going with all of the setbacks and frustrations people are facing in the job market and at home. But many manage to not only keep going, but thrive. How do they do it in the face of tremendous adversity? We talked to Trent Angers, co-editor with retired LSA Hall of Fame basketball coach Dale Brown, of the book, Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life. Angers says one of the hurdles people face when they decide to try something new is the “naysayer.” Sometimes it’s a relative, or a friend. Other times it comes from inside.
Trent Angers: That first hurdle of life, the “I Can and You Can’t” is basically people telling you that you can do this or you can’t do that, you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not rich enough or whatever, and sometimes we tell ourselves that. A couple of examples would be Elvis Presley was told, “you don’t have the voice to sing, you better stick to truck driving.” Albert Einstein, who was faced with this negativity, was originally, in his early life, he was a slow learner, and they called him “the dopey one,” and said he would never amount to anything.
Gary Price: Of course, all of those men proved their naysayers wrong and went on to fame and fortune. But how do you get over it if you’ve had failure upon failure in the past?
Trent Angers: Like Coach Dale Brown says, when he was counseling Shaquille O’Neal, who had been kicked off the basketball team in high school. He said, “Shaq, I don’t know everything about philosophy, but I can tell you that if you do your best and you never give up then God will do the rest. And Shaquille O’Neal took that philosophy to heart, and that’s the central philosophy with which he entered LSU, and with which he entered the NBA, and became the most dominant player. It was that “I refuse to be defeated, I refuse to be defeated.”
Gary Price: Angers says there are a couple of rules you need to adopt before you start your journey toward less stress and more success. First, you need to be in the right frame of mind.
Trent Angers: The most important principle is to embrace a positive vision of life. I mean we all want to have a life that’s filled with success, happiness and peace of mind, and most of us at one point in our lives, and some of us even way more than that, you know, have hurdles to get over. But to do so we need to be strong, we need to be brave, we need to be armed with a positive vision of life and never say die attitude.
Gary Price: One way to encourage positivity is to walk away from negativity and the people who practice it.
Trent Angers: You have to be careful of who you allow on your front row. There’s a famous saying that floats around the internet about that, if you’re on life’s stage and the people in the front row are negative and who are not on your side, don’t let them on the front row. How do you do that? Well, you just get other people in your front row, the churches, the synagogues, the YMCA, the colleges, the positive readings and positive mental attitude. We just have to be careful who we let on our front row that close to us, because they can drag us down like a sea anchor, and I think everyone of your listeners knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Gary Price: Someone who has a great outlook on life, despite a very stressful job is Kim Kircher. She’s a member of the ski patrol at Crystal Mountain in Washington State where she rescues stranded and injured skiers and helps control avalanches with explosives. Her husband, John is general manager of the ski area there. For years John suffered from a very rare liver disease and eventually required a transplant. Kim writes about their experience waiting for a donor, the frustration and stress of the situation, and how she and John pulled through it in her book, The Next 15 Minutes: Strength From the Top of the Mountain. She says that on top of a diseased liver, John also had cancer.
Kim Kircher: All of those years of the disease and inflammation had been a breeding ground for cancer, so he had bile duct cancer at the same time. Usually people who have bile duct cancer are no longer transplant candidates, because after a transplant you go on immunosuppression, and if there’s any cancer leftover, that cancer in the midst of that immunosuppression can just grow really quickly. John was lucky enough to have a doctor at the Mayo Clinic who was, at the time, the only doctor I think in the United States who was doing transplants on cancer patients.
Gary Price: Kircher says they needed a live donor who could give John half of their liver. Of course she volunteered but diabetes prevented her from being a candidate. A family member also tried to donate, but he was too out of shape to be a donor.
Kim Kircher: My brother’s brother-in-law — he was rejected twice and he kept trying. He was rejected for reasons like his triglycerides were high so he lowered his triglycerides. He had to lose a little bit of weight, he did that, and everything that they had asked him to do were things that he felt were doable, and he did them, and he on his third try was actually accepted. And that was how we finally got through it.
Gary Price: The cancer was present, so John had to have chemotherapy. Then there was the waiting to see if the cancer had spread outside of the bile ducts, nixing the operation altogether. John got an infection, and it looked bad once again. They got through it by doing something Kircher says keeps her safe on the mountain.
Kim Kircher: We also have a system to tell the dispatcher exactly what we need really quickly. So if you come on scene of a medical emergency you get on the radio and you say, “I have a code one,” a code one means medical emergency. If you have, are on scene of an avalanche you’d say, “I’m a code two,” and that lets you focus right on the moment. Using those kinds of code words — it takes away all of the other needs. You don’t have to say, “I’m at a medical incident, the person’s not breathing, I need this equipment, this equipment, this equipment, I need more people, I need a helicopter on the way, I need an ambulance.” You just don’t have to say any of that, you just have to say the code one. And that’s a technique that I actually used when my husband got sick, which is just instead of thinking too far down the line I just thought about, “what do I need to do right here, right now?” And that’s what got me through his ordeal.
Gary Price: Staying busy helping John with his meds and working at her job also made her focus on the important things and not think about all the “what if’s” and “I can’ts.” The transplant surgery was a success, and Kircher’s husband has been living life to its fullest. Keeping calm in the face of adversity is what Kircher does for a living – risking her life to help save others from injury and death on the mountain. She suggests that anyone facing a rough patch try taking it the way she does on ski patrol.
Kim Kircher: First of all, gather support around you. As an avalanche controller I always have a partner out there watching my back, and that’s something that is important when you’re going through any kind of a crisis, is make sure you have support. And then don’t try to get through the whole ordeal all at once, don’t look too far down the line, focus on the next right thing. Whatever it is you need to do right, it might just simply be making dinner, or it might simply be picking up the phone and making an appointment with the doctor. Whatever it is you need to do right now, just do that thing. And then once you’ve done that task ask yourself, “What’s the next task I need to do?” So don’t think too far down the line because that’s when you start to panic, and that’s when you start to say, “I just simply can’t do this anymore,” and when you get to that point then you’re no longer managing the situation very well. So to manage it, just stay focused on whatever it is you need to do right now, and keep that support around you because that’s very important.
Gary Price: Trent Angers says that if you’re positive, your attitude will spread to those around you, as it spreads from LSU Basketball Coach Dale Brown to those he meets and counsels.
Trent Angers: Let me speak for instance to the story of Coach Dale Brown himself who came to LSU, which had a very losing basketball team, and then over the course of twenty five years there he became the second winningest coach in SEC history. But I’ve spoken to Coach many, many times working on this book together, and just the sound of his voice–he is so positive and he’s always positive. People who’ve overcome the hurdles of life, of one kind or another, I think generally you’re going to find that they’re reaching out to others constantly to help them improve their positive vision of life.
Gary Price: You can read Coach Brown’s advice on how to remain positive in the face of adversity in his and Trent Angers’ book, Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life, available in bookstores, online and on their site coachdalebrownspeaks.com. To find out how a young couple overcame unbelievable medical odds to save a life, pick up Kim Kircher’s book, The Next 15 Minutes, also at bookstores and at kimkircher.com. To find out more about all of our guests, you can log onto our site at viewpointsonline.net. I’m Gary Price.
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