Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Kind of Normal

Greg Gadson didn't choose to be a change freak, but God had other plans for him. A 41 year old West Point Grad, a former linebacker on the Army football team, a commissioned officer and 20 year veteran of the US Army, Greg had a lifetime of successes. He was a decorated battalion commander serving in Iraq when his "trapdoor transition" took place in the flash of a second.

In the "About the Freak" section of the web site, I talk a little bit about "trapdoor transitions." I first heard the term from author and hero of mine Steve Farrar in his book "Tempered Steel." A trapdoor transition is a life changing event that isn't planned or anticipated, but fundamentally changes the direction of one's life. As you look through history at great men and women who changed the world, often you will find a trapdoor transition that led to that transformation. For Abraham Lincoln it was his first experience as a young man seeing an African slave sold at auction. For Ronald Reagan it was an assassin's bullet that narrowly missed his heart. For John Walsh it was the kidnapping and murder of his son. For Greg Gadson it was a road side bomb in Iraq.

A recent article in Homelife magazine tells the story of Gadson's trapdoor transition. He remembers being on patrol in his Humvee when a bright flash threw him from the vehicle. Landing with a thud far from the destroyed vehicle, his first thought was "Where's my rifle?" Moments later, as he began to fade from consciousness, he remembers thinking "God, I don't want to die in this country." When he awakened days later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he learned that his life had been saved several times, first by a fellow soldier on the field in Iraq and later by a string of surgeons fighting to save his life. While his life had been saved, his legs had not-both were shredded beyond saving and had to be amputated.

Greg recalls fighting a battle with depression that was harder than anything he had faced on the battlefield. But the experience taught him some valuable lessons about life. "I had to adjust to a new kind of normal. You've gotta fight to do your best no matter what unexpected challenges you face. Your life can change in a Baghdad minute, as mine did. Tomorrow isn't promised, so you must act to do your best with today, no matter what God has in store for you."

This is great advice for anyone facing change in their personal or organizational life. This message, given as part of a pre-game locker room talk, inspired the New York Giants to defeat the heavily favored New England Patriots in this year's Super Bowl. While Gadson now sports a Super Bowl ring for his contribution to the team, his greatest adornment is his character-formed and strengthened by an unexpected fall through a "trapdoor transition" he would have never chosen for himself.

1 comment:

Chris said...

WOw! That is powerful.