18 May The Cup Of “Joe” That Gave Me Perspective

joe torcivia team picture 2016 two-year anniversaryOne busy fall afternoon, as I sat doing paperwork at the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC), I overheard a club member who was spending time directly outside of my office. He was engaging with other club members and our club employees. At one point, he even peeked into my office to say, “Hello.” I looked up and responded, “Hello,” but I kept working on my day-to-day operational tasks.

Thinking for a moment about his extremely high amount of energy and positivity, I couldn’t help but to get up and introduce myself to him. I learned that his name was Joe Torcivia. After talking with him and getting to know him for a few minutes, I praised his high spirits and positive outlook. He then told me quietly that on February 18th, 2012, he had suffered a grand mal seizure. Soon after, he had been diagnosed with stage 3 astrocytoma, or terminal brain cancer.

His cancer hadn’t appeared to stop Joe in the least. I’ll never forget what he said next. “I try to have such a positive attitude and try my hardest to live a stress-free life, because stress can literally kill anyone.  None of us know when we are going to die.” [It has been well established that stress is the most likely trigger of a recurring grand mal seizure.] Joe went on to say, “I’m ecstatic to be here… as I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty with my brain, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the things that work well.”

A month later, I again ran into Joe at the club, during his workout. Coincidentally, that same afternoon, I saw him again at a hospital where I was attending a work meeting. Both times, Joe was living in the moment with high spirits. He was such an inspiration to me that I asked him if he would be interested in speaking to our leadership team about the benefits of possessing a positive attitude. Joe willingly accepted.

A few months later, Joe and I sat down together for a cup of “Joe.” I revealed to him what I had been considering for some time, and said, “Joe, I want to hire you. You embody our mission, vision and values perfectly. Would you be interested?” Joe quickly responded, “Unfortunately I cannot. My doctor said that working would be too stressful for my condition.”

Disappointed, I refused to give up. About a week later, I ran into Joe at the club. This time, I said to him, “Joe, here’s our mission card. You see, our mission is that ‘we make a difference in peoples’ lives,’ and we get to have a lot of fun doing it. We’re a team. Do you think your doctor would change his perspective if you showed him what we really do here?  Would he or you still consider it too stressful?”

After hoping and praying that we could help Joe while he helped us, I received the great news.  Two weeks later, Joe started working with us and the rest is history. Joe’s doctor had changed his perspective on Joe’s stress level.  I’m happy to say that Joe continues to live years past his doctor’s expectations.

A couple of months ago, Joe celebrated his two-year anniversary in his role. I believe that Joe, his doctor, and myself have all grown through our experience together. My buddy Joe, who’s in the “inspired” shirt in the photo, would tell you that it’s simply a matter of perspective that makes the big difference.

ACTION: Where in your life would a simple change in perspective possibly make a big difference to you or to someone else’s life?

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