Small Steps Lead to Big Accomplishments

The process of birth always scared me.  So many things could go wrong that it seemed like a miracle that it could ever happen without anything going wrong.  We experienced that miracle with the birth of our first child in 1994.  With our second child, however, my fears became reality – to an extent that I never imagined.

The Rally Board is the story of the journey our family took down the road of pediatric cardiology – a road that was simultaneously the most frightening and rewarding road any of us had traveled up to that point.  The experience provided a hard lesson in properly managing our expectations in order to physically, emotionally, and mentally survive the trip.

I documented our experience in an attempt to provide another glimmer of hope to those that come after us.  The details in the book are those that were actually generated during our experience.  They are documented in The Rally Board for the benefit of those that are about to experience what we did, but are not getting satisfaction in the answers they receive when asking about what to expect.

The hard lesson learned was that a sense of progress is an important, motivating reward in any circumstance.  The more difficult the circumstance, the more difficult it becomes to find that sense of progress – especially if one does not adjust the difficulty of what one is attempting to achieve.  A professional cyclist may set his or her sites on winning the Tour de France.  If a beginner were to do the same, then disappointment would certainly result.  But if the beginner were to attempt to achieve the absence of sore muscles prior to the next ride, then progress is almost certain.  As progress is made, difficulty in the circumstance decreases allowing one to increase the difficulty of what is attempting to be accomplished.

Maintaining a strong sense of faith that the big goal can be achieved is also very important.  With faith comes the perseverance and discipline to continue keeping goals simple for as long as it takes to put together more wins than losses.

The actual Rally Board took on a life of its own, helping us focus on progress and communicate that progress to many, many people – first by way of a white board in our Intensive Care Unit bed space, next by way of emails sent to family and friends, then expanded email distribution to include work colleagues and people we didn’t even know.  Eventually, the Rally Board became a website visited by people all over the world.  The Rally Board gave us a means of focusing on the simple goals and magnifying small progress beyond our wildest dreams.

What is not captured here is the overwhelming support that we received as a result of the Rally Board.  That support was instrumental in our family making it through this experience intact.  Hopefully, you or someone you know will have a Rally Board or some similar mechanism to help them maintain focus on the small bits of progress that are often so difficult to see when your vision is blocked by the gravity of a challenging situation.

Tedy Bruschi, NFL Football Super Bowl Champion linebacker for the New England Patriots, summed up the essence of the Rally Board as he described how he successfully recovered from a life-threatening stroke.  “I tried to celebrate the small victories”[1], Bruschi said.  As you will see in the pages of The Rally Board, that’s what it’s all about – celebrating the small victories.

[1] “You Can Get Your Life Back,” Boston Sunday Globe’s Parade, The Sunday Newspaper Magazine, September 24, 2006, pg 5.

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