In the winter of 2000 I was first diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer. I can remember the call when I first heard the dreaded “C” word directed my way. I had lost my father to cancer in 1996, so the wound was still fairly fresh. I knew about the need for sunscreen when I was a kid. My Dad was a doctor and my Mom a nurse, so I had heard all about it. I applied this knowledge somewhat sparingly. I wasn’t disciplined, got burned, and didn’t think much about it.
After the first cut, however, my behavior changed. Deeply changed.
The sun damage I’ve accumulated all these years cannot be reversed. All that can be done is what I’m doing. Limit my exposure and apply sunscreen like a banchee. I would love to go back and rewrite my “suns” history, but time does not allow us that luxury. I took too long to apply what I knew. I took too long to deeply change. I got burned. I hope you do not worship the sun without coverage and I hope you’ve been blessed with dark skin and dark eyes. I tell this story to my clients to make a point. The point has nothing to do with the sun, their skin, or preventative medicine. The story serves as a setup for this question – What’s it going to take for them to deeply change one of their performance limiting behaviors.
It could be they’ve told me they drink too much and want to limit their alcohol to two drinks a night even though they average six. It could be they want to stop responding to loved ones in anger, even though they sometimes explode to the point of blind rage. It could be they want a “better” relationship with their brother, even though they continue to wait for him to initiate. It could be they want to lose those thirty pounds, even though they continue to work all the time, entertain clients at the trough, and drink like a fish. It could be they want to stop taking those oxycontin pain pills, even though they find themselves chewing them on more than one occasion. It could be any number of things they know they need to change.
I ask them if they understand that just like me playing in the sun without protection, they too are playing with fire. The consequences may be delayed for decades but the consequences are coming. I’m sitting on 51 cuts and counting. 51 times and counting. I remind them that they too will pay for whatever deep change they are avoiding in either themselves or their system. They can either deeply change or prepare to be badly burned. I try to pierce them with words. I attempt to hit them with truth in love regardless what they might hear. And, I don’t STOP until they respond with some kinda PA they own and I believe they’ll perform.
What about you, friend. What behavior do you need to change before you get badly burned? Write it down. Make it specific, concrete, and actionable. Ask a truth teller to hold you accountable. Kick your own. Stop giving yourself the benefit of the doubt. Miss just made me apply Taspens organic sunscreen all over my exposed skin. Miss is my truth teller and makes me do what I can. Miss makes me better. We’re heading out in Delray Beach, FLA and I’m not getting burned, at least not today.
Who makes you better, friend? Good…