Ever notice how everyone's on a low fat diet after the heart attack?

Everyone's an ideal spouse after they've been served with papers?
Everyone's a financial genius after they emerge from bankruptcy?
As executives, we're trained to judge our success on the size of our bank account and the deals we make. When I had my own successful business, that's what I thought, too. Being a successful CEO, I figured if I just worked hard enough, I'd wind up on top. Failure, I thought, is something that happens to the other guys.
That's when it happened to me.
I lost everything. Money, power, prestige. Gone.
My position as CEO? Gone, too.
Although I didn't know it then, I had been given a gift — a gift of desperation that changed me and my outlook. In the end, it made me a more successful businessman, too.
We can all recognize a gift of desperation. It's the "A-ha!" that comes at the darkest of times. Speak with anyone who's had a life-changing experience, and they'll tell you how much it has led them to appreciate each and every day. They have a higher spiritual awareness. They live each day with joy.
Still need convincing? Look how our country pulled together after 9/11. People actually started talking — and not just our friends and family, but strangers on the news or at the corner store.
"I never really appreciated just how important (fill in the blank) was, until now," they'd say. What filled in the blank varied from person to person, but suddenly we all sensed that there was more to life than profits and possessions.
Like most of you, the people closest to me were safe — at least physically — during my moment of desperation. But something was missing in my life. It wasn't success that was missing. It was significance.
Most CEOs have the same symptoms: They have a gorgeous house, but are hardly around to enjoy it. They eat at private lunch clubs, but are still hungry inside. Their expensive watches can't keep their time from slipping away.

They have kids, but they may never really appreciate them.

I didn't, until involuntary unemployment kept me home.
"Pick me up, Daddy!" my 3-year-old son kept saying. "It's good for you."
My son was right.
I had been rushing, rushing, rushing — because I wanted everything to be perfect. I finally realized that I had to stop waiting for perfection to be happy.
Over time, the life I could never find seemed to fall into my lap. In business, so often we're taught to CYA. Here's my version: Change Your Attitude.
• Start each day with an awareness that you are here for a purpose other than to satisfy the demand to add stuff to your life. I do this with a few morning minutes of meditation and prayer. Other people read a book or take a walk. After a while, you'll find your own path to peace and self-awareness.
• Make serving others a primary focus. Start a mentoring program, be a big brother or sister, call a local volunteering program like Episcopal Children’s Services.
• Slow down. I was always so busy pushing for the next big break that sometimes I ran right past it. So take a breath, enjoy life a bit, and you'll be surprised how many opportunities show up around the corner.
• Start now. You don't have to remake your whole life overnight. Remember, you're choosing to act — before desperation is forced on you. If you keep at it, when you look back you'll be amazed how far you've come, and so will your loved ones. And while I may believe in deathbed conversions, acting ahead of time is a whole lot more satisfying.
There's nothing magical about these actions. The results, however, can be phenomenal, because not only will you feel better about yourself, but often your business will take off, too.

Author's Bio: 

John Chappelear is an author, speaker, executive coach, and trainer. John’s company Changing the Focus, LLC delivers positive, powerful, and balanced individuals, and more productive, creative, and profitable organizations.
He is internationally recognized as a life balance, leadership, and communications expert. John’s book The Daily Six won the best book award from USA Book News.
For more information on how John can help you and your organization, or to sign up for our free newsletter please visit the web site: www.johnchappelear.com or send an e-mail to: john@johnchappelear.com

John lives with his family in Jacksonville Beach, Florida