Dealing with Stroke: Business Lessons in Adversity



Recently my brother suffered a massive stroke.  The safe and familiar world stopped for the patient and all family members.  All focus and attention drew to the situation at hand.

Our family is littered with Type A characters; it’s just one of our genetic blessings.  We use our rituals, schedules, planning, organization and controls to figure things out and get things done.  These tools were of little help because, needless to say, coping day to day with the critical event was as difficult as accepting the devastating news.  There are lessons to be learned from this adversity that apply to running a successful business.  I will highlight just three of the most important that played out.


Serious medical situations and successful business execution require patience.  There are no quick fixes, no silver bullets and no magic potions.  Sometimes, one must wait for things to settle down, work through and play out.  One cannot always choose one’s desired outcome.  As much as we might be used to moving things along our way, sometimes we don’t have that influence.  Stephen Covey wrote about the law of the harvest: one cannot rush natural systems or break natural laws without consequences.


In the first critical 10 days after my brother’s stroke, shift in many forms happened every 12 hours or sooner: change in vitals, projections, communication, strategy, tactics and perception.  You had to roll with it and you had to adapt.  In business, you must pay attention, measure constantly and be willing to pivot, adjust and alter.  There is no status quo.  If you do not adapt to market changes, modify delivery of services, or enhance the experience for employees and customers, you will fail.


At one point in the scenario, there were six of us Type A genetically charged and challenged people by my brother’s side.  Like a business team, we played off each other’s strengths and complementary skillsets and provided the energy and resiliency to face the unknown tempest.  This allowed us to rally and support our loved one and get to the other side – and be united and resolved regardless what outcome presented itself.  In business, teams must be on the same page.  They must be united, prepared and resolved to foster successful outcomes.

In life and business, adversity comes in many shapes and sizes and often without warning.  My brother is on the next leg of a difficult journey to healing and rehabilitation.  There are no guaranties.  But as in all business, patience, adaptation and resiliency will play major roles for him and our family in getting to the next level of success.

One final note:  If in your family there is a history of stroke, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, do not ignore either the data or the warning signs – stroke can be prevented!  Please get checked out for your sake and your family’s sake.  Here the link for the American Stroke Association for more information.






  • Theresa Godshall 6 May, 2015 - 23:50

    A well stated and poignant analogy Kirk.