As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson, I have been having many conversations with first responders. If you have heard me speak, I share my belief that the true heroes on January 15, 2009, were the NY Waterways and the first responders. What the crew did is truly heroic, and they get all the credit for getting the plane down into the Hudson River; and if the ferries, Coast Guard, and first responders had not been there, that day may have had a totally different outcome.
Over the past fourteen years, I have met several of these heroes and developed personal relationships. I am humbled every time I interact and hear their stories. Many of them were also involved with 9/11. And some of them are still working toward their triumph over the turmoils they have experienced.
Last week, we were preparing for the upcoming 15th anniversary, and one of my first responder friends asked me to hang on the call so he could speak with me. After everyone had left, he started to share some thoughts and got emotional.
He was one of those who were at ground zero the day after the terrorist attacks while the buildings were still smoldering. He is not only struggling with some physical effects but also emotionally. He was with us on 1/15/09 and was a part of the triumph of that day. He asked me about the moment the result of that day hit me and how I overcame my fears and deep emotional scars.
I told him the moment that happened was the next day as I was alone, on a plane, heading to Charlotte. The Captain of that flight and I spoke before we departed. He told me that when we hit 3000 feet, he would ring the bell, and he and I would know where it happened the day before.
When I heard the ding, ding, ding, I looked out the window, and at that moment, everything from the day before rushed through me; I saw what I saw the day before, I heard what I heard the day before, I smelled what I smelled the day before, and I felt what I felt the day before and I got emotional.
I shared what I heard Nelson Mandela say: “Courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.”
That statement helped me over the next several months. And then I shared a part of the strategy I learned and used to help me reframe the meaning from fear to triumph.
I shared that my manager asked me to go to Michigan the next week after the Miracle on the Hudson. I could have said no but I said yes. That decision turned out to be the beginning of turning the turmoil from that day into triumph.
One pathway I used to overcome the emotional scars from that day was I had to get to work. Not only physical work but also working on my mindset. I learned from my time with Tony Robbins is I didn’t have any problems. I had challenges and opportunities but not problems. I learned to reframe the meaning of a problem, which helped build my personal identity. The strongest force in the human personality is the need to stay consistent with how you define yourself.
Once I started to do that, I began to solve any challenge I encountered in my business, health, and family. Once I solved those challenges, I went to work on the next challenge and then the next; until I solved enough challenges, I built my certainty muscle with the mindset that I could solve any challenge. I made solving challenges a must, and that helped me grow my identity.
I waged and continue to wage a tenacious battle against the mindset of uncertainty and fear, which helps me build my certainty muscle, which allows me to be resourceful and make tough decisions.
We began discussing what he experienced on 9/12/01 and after which were devastating days and contrasting that to what he experienced on 1/15/09 which was a triumph.
We discussed the challenges he overcame, and he started to understand the courage it took to get through those dark days. He also realized he was part of a miracle, a triumph. He realized what Nelson Mandela said: courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.
I’m excited to see him on 1/15/24 in NYC, thanking him and the other New Jersey and New York first responders for their courage and support on January 15, 2009. It will be a day to remember, rejoice and have gratitude for how so many people, who did not know each other or care about each other, came together to produce a miracle out of potential tragedy.
Just think if we could replicate that model, people who don’t care or know each other come together for something bigger than themselves, what miracles could be produced.
A pathway to create opportunity out of uncertainty is to get to work, solve a challenge, do it over and over, and you get to “go home.” You will build your certainty muscle so the next time something happens, you will be the one saying, “Move over, I’ve got this!”
You will be and be seen as the leader you were born to be and be able to turn turmoil into triumph.