It may seem like a deviation from our normal approach to Sustainable High Performance in business to talk about a high performance approach to cancer, but it’s really not. From the early roots of Tignum, it was Jogi’s experience with coaching his own father’s battle with cancer, and Scott’s experience of losing his father at the young age of 53, that inspired the passion behind the Tignum OS (operating system). This Tignum OS of Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies has been applied successfully to so many business challenges but also to many other life challenges. At Tignum, much like the world in general, cancer has touched almost all of our lives in some way. Therefore, we want to share this personal story from one of our High Performance specialists Duncan Coombe, as he and his wife take a high performance approach to their very personal challenge.
My wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. This has obviously been a deeply shocking time for us as a family and we have a massive journey ahead. The last few weeks have been full of learning, reflection, and awareness-raising. While this is something very personal, it is also something relevant to everyone. And so with my wife’s permission, I want to share with you two things we have learned these past few weeks that are relevant to world of Tignum.
The Power of Mindset
This experience has really brought home the power of Mindset. Quite simply, the way that she and I choose to frame this experience has a massive impact on the experience itself. And most importantly, we have a choice. We have a choice about how we respond and the way in which we make sense of this. We also realize that we have the choice of how we define ourselves - and we will not let cancer do this for us.
She has decided on two key Mindset anchors:
- “Love over fear”, which means to approach this journey from a perspective of kindness, compassion, understanding, and love, rather than focusing on blame, judgement, anxiety, and fear.
- To treat it as an “Inquiry”, which means she is choosing to see this as an invitation to consider all aspects of her life - nutritionally, physically, spiritually, and in terms of her work. It is an opportunity to ask a lot of questions about life and lifestyle and daily habits. It is an opportunity to create a new To Be Goal. Who does she want to be as she goes through her treatment, and more importantly, who does she want to be when she is done with cancer?
Now, while we have a long way to go, and of course there are moments when we both waiver, I cannot tell you how powerful these Mindset anchors have been. Being well trained in psychology and understanding the stages of grief, I am confident this is not just denial. This is a very clear decision to choose to experience an event in a particular way.
I have been a Mindset teacher and coach for many years. These past few weeks have made my professional work deeply personal and reconfirmed the power of Mindset. The practical Mindset strategies that we teach to executives, such as reframing and using mental imagery, really do work. This is why, even as we deal with our current medical challenge, I ask you to consider the ways in which you are choosing to frame up events and experiences in your professional and personal life. Have you created a story about some people or events that could be updated to something more helpful, more constructive, and more high performance?
Cure Cure Cure…what about the Cause?
My second observation from the past month is that the vast majority of the Cancer conversation is about the ‘cure’. Huge fundraisers, massive media attention, pink ribbons, races for the cure…and hardly a word about the causes. In many ways it’s similar to business where we talk about the lack of business execution, the lack of innovation, and the lack of new thinking but we don’t talk enough about the cause.
Of course with my wife’s treatment I am only too grateful for all the effort that continues to be put into treatment and finding a cure. But I am just blown away by how it seems as if as a society we have agreed that cancer will happen broadly throughout the population and the primary solution to cancer is to find the cure. Surely we should also be finding the causes. With over 80% of all cancers caused by our environment and our choices, we need to be more conscious and selective in the choices we make every day.
What causes cancer? Well, it depends who you ask and I think that the answer is complicated. There is certainly no single answer. The answer is some combination of nutrition, life experience, lifestyle, hormones, habits, stress, emotion, and of course genetics. If I put this into the language of Tignum, it is some combination of Movement, Nutrition, Mindset, and Recovery. I can’t help but think that so many business problems could also be prevented with better habits in these areas.
At Tignum we don’t like to use fear and threat as a motivational tool, we choose to talk about benefits. But speaking from personal experience, I am even clearer of the importance of paying attention to all 4 pillars and the thousands of choices we have every day in these areas. I write this note with a sense of hope and possibility for what we are all still to learn as a society about the true causes of cancer. I also write it because I realize that this disease can quickly overwhelm you but there is a high performance way to approach it. As always, it’s a personal choice and I hope this short glimpse of our situation helps you think about your choices.
Duncan Coombe, PhD
Tignum High Performance Partner