As part owner of a travel agency, David enjoys scuba diving and traveling around the world. He also owns his own business that creates unique beverages. David believes his optimistic attitude helps keep him in control of his own life with relapsing MS.
In 1992 I left a wonderful job making great money to start my own company. There were more unknowns in starting up a new company than I could count, but I decided it was worth taking the chance. My parents almost crumbled when they found out I left my job because they thought that I had the perfect job. And in a way it was. But I was learning to embrace change and adapt.
I am one of those people that get bored with the status quo. My first job out of college was at a flavor company where I was trained to identify different chemicals in food and beverages. I was a quick learner and very good at my job. So good that I became bored after only three years. I moved on to a better job at a beverage company where I was even better. Guess what? That was the job I left to start my own company. I used to think it was a flaw that I got bored so quick. But I learned that if I was going to be happy I needed to keep learning and keep being challenged. That’s why I started my own company, and ever since my goal has been to create change and learn to adapt. This philosophy served me well when I was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2005.
At the time, I was a happy, successful business owner with 20 employees. I also got to travel around the world, and it was during a safari in Africa that my MS symptoms appeared. I was rushed home to the hospital. I couldn’t walk, I lost my vision. Work was out of the question. This was a change that I was not prepared to manage…or was I?
In the hospital, I called in two of my managers and basically asked them to run the company for me. I always hire smart and capable people and I had faith in them. They adapted because they had the tools, experience, and willingness to run the company. And I adapted by accepting my decision to hand over the reins.
When leaving the hospital I was faced with a lot of change. In fact, it seemed nothing was the same. I had someone with me twenty four hours a day to help me dress, eat, shower, and walk. They talked to me, read to me, and watched me sleep. I grew to enjoy the company, and as my health improved and their presence diminished, I found ways to adapt to my “new” daily routine. I created a social circle by inviting friends and relatives to dinner or a movie so I could spend time with them. When I started back to work I had to find drivers, and I adapted this into another social circle by finding ways to extend the ride by shopping or eating dinner on the way home.
In returning to work, I found an organization that was used to running without me at the helm. I loved it. For the first time in thirteen years I had time to do the parts of my job I liked. This gave me the confidence to travel and be away from the office more. I always “thought” my employees could handle any situation, now I “knew” they could. In fact, the company was thriving. This was a welcomed adaptation.
Each time I adapt to new change it gives me the confidence to change again. I look at it this way – when I do the same thing I generally get the same outcome, but when I change what I do, I generally get a different outcome. I like to take the chance that the new outcome is better; and if it isn’t, I can always change back.
Check back on February 9th for David’s next journal entry.