Leadership Competencies

How to Transform Challenges into the Foundations for Success

Transform Challenges

The concept of the phoenix has captivated humans universally throughout history, even before globalization. That idea of enduring a trial by fire, being reduced to ashes, and rising above triumphant – how does that translate to our everyday lives, relationships and businesses?

Transform ChallengesNo one relates to the phoenix better than John O’Leary, who presented, “The Phoenix Factor: Transforming Challenges into the Foundations of Success” in a recent Fridays with Vistage webinar. As a nine-year-old boy, John was playing with fire and a can of gasoline, causing an explosion that burned 100% of his body, with 80% of those burns being third degree. Although he was only given a 1% chance of survival, John persevered through 5 initial months of bed-rest, the loss of all of his fingers, a tracheotomy, countless skin graft surgeries and physical therapy. Through the support of family and an overwhelming desire to live, John turned his tragedy into a life full of meaning.

He now is a successful business owner, award-winning Vistage Members’ Choice public speaker, husband and father of four. He shared his life-changing philosophy on living up to the fullness of your promise with Vistage members.

What is your view on life?

“When you know your why, you can endure anyhow.” – Victor Frankel

John clearly defines two major ways to travel through life:

  1. As A Victim: someone who operates from a mentality of fear, anger, selfishness, bitterness, and self-proclaimed bad luck. Victims will always experience poor results.
  2. As A Victor: someone who operates from a mentality of love, faith ownership, surrender, freedom and openness.

When you commit to viewing your challenges, setbacks, and tragedies from the perspective of a victor, you will always experience awesome results!

The Power of Love

When John lay in the hospital right after his ordeal, he feared the reaction from each of his parents. His father, normally a Type-A businessman, came to his side and simply offered unconditional love. His mother, normally a soft-spoken nurturer, asked ‘Do you want to die? No? Then Live!’ John and his parents made a covenant in that moment to fight – for life, and for love. Do you want to live, thrive, and provide impact? John believes that in order to be successful, your number one motivator must be love.

6 Life Components

John divides life into 6 equal parts: Professional, Financial, Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, and Relational.  Each of them relate to one another, and should be treated with balanced attention. How are you fulfilling your promise to each of these areas?

Ask yourself:

  1. John has his story, what’s yours? What’s a time in your life when you got burned?
  2. What led to your trial by fire?
  3. What good came out of those events?

*It took John over 2 decades to rise above his ordeal and fully embrace his life as a victor – so don’t feel discouraged if you are not there yet!

The Power of More

During John’s excruciating healing process, his hopes were kept alive by celebrity St. Louis Cardinals announcer Jack Buck, From the moment they first met – with John unable to speak, see or move in the hospital and Jack rooting him on in their daily pep-talks, Jack was always finding ways to do more for the badly burned little boy. Jack inspired John to learn how to write again, despite the loss of all of his fingers, and became a mentor throughout John’s life.  John says it was Jack’s voice that led him through his darkest times, and helped him find his purpose.

John challenges you to ask yourself this critical question: What more can I do? –What more can you do in your life, business, family, community? Take this question and apply it to the 6 Life Components above. Take it to the people most important in your life, and those who are simply passing acquaintances, and just imagine the changes you’ll experience!

The Phoenix Factor reminds us that from these fires we can be reduced to ashes in real time. And yet, from those ashes we can then take flight. John asks: Can you embrace the challenge of pursuing significance over success?

As a gift to any Vistage Member, John invites you to visit: RisingAbove.com/Spark. This sign-up enrolls you into a 21 day challenge email campaign – which will help inspire you to become the Phoenix in yours and other’s lives.

The Fridays with Vistage webinar series provides members with timely and compelling business information they can immediately apply to their businesses. From strategic planning to employee engagement, these hour-long webinars feature the best thought leaders in the business world today.

Learn more about our webinar series here.

Category: Leadership Competencies


About the Author: Jackie Robles

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