Leadership Lessons Learned from Battling Cancer — Part 2

Michael Veltri Cancer Survivor

I’ve never been sick a day in my life until at age 34 I found “the lump”. I had testicular cancer. Less than 24 hours after my initial diagnosis, I had emergency surgery to remove my right testicle.

Following three months of brutally aggressive chemotherapy, I needed one more procedure to be cancer-free: Surgery to remove half of my left lung. The surgery was successful. However, I was left confined to a wheelchair unable to do ANYTHING, including going to the bathroom by myself.

Fifteen cancer-free years later, I’m healthier and happier as a business keynote speaker with more motivation and energy than I ever had pre-cancer. There are many lessons I learned from hand-to-hand combat with cancer that positively impacted my ability to make better decisions in business and life. Here are three that helped me undergo a remarkable transformation as a leader in business, at home, and in my community:

Lesson #1. Patience Daniel-san: I shaved my head before starting chemotherapy. And it grew back. It took over a month before it fell out. Results rarely, if ever, happen overnight. We must be patient leaders — patient with our employees, spouse, children, and ourselves. If we’re patient, responsible leaders, those we lead will reach a level of peak performance with balance, not burnout. (*If you don’t know who “Daniel-san” is, click here.)

Lesson #2. Ego = Failure: I am a type A++ go-getter. The only way I survived cancer was to realize my ego was killing me. I had to start asking for — and accepting — help. I had to realize I was not the smartest person in the room. I had to trust and delegate and empower and support and often “take a back seat” so others could successfully do their jobs. And if we do this with our team, spouse, kids, and friends, our lives and businesses will take an exponential leap forward.

Lesson #3. The Fab Five: Leadership development pioneer, Jim Rohn, often said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” To survive cancer, I needed a strong team: Top notch medical professionals, unbelievably kind/loving/helpful/selfless family, motivational friends, and super amazing business colleagues. We must surround ourselves with the right people to help us make the best decisions possible in our business and personal lives and to excel as “life leaders.”

Get Into Action Now: I often preach about the benefits of having a strong “Fab 5” around you. To help you practice patience and get your ego under control, follow these three simple steps: (1) Do a “Fab 5” inventory: Who are the five people you currently spend the most time with? Jot them down. (2) Create your Fab 5 “dream team”. Are there people in your life that are not serving you? Let them go. Who do you want on your Fab 5 dream team? Jot down the new list. (3) Take RELEVANT action: Spend the next five minutes contacting your Fab 5. Tell them what you are up to and how you want them to help you.

If you have any questions on the action steps listed here, post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri . I’ll be sure to get back to you right away. And if you would like more information on my Business Leadership Keynote Speeches, please take a look at this page on my website: https://michaelveltri.com/business-leadership-keynote