After my heart attack in February, a friend and colleague of mine asked, “How are you processing this?” I did not have a ready answer for her. I still don’t. Processing, by its definition, is a process… one that I have not completed. This is an aspect of emotional intelligence that I have led workshops on, but I have not until now experienced quite this level of intimacy with it.

Others have asked, “Did you see the light?” That one was easier to answer: No, because my focus was entirely on staying here, not leaving.

People have also asked me how I have changed as a result of my experience. Honestly, I don’t see a huge difference in the pre-heart attack Clifford and the post-heart attack Clifford. I believed in God before this incident; and I believe in Him still. If I had to pinpoint a difference, though, perhaps it would be this: In some cosmic irony, I am more fearless today than I was before. Not foolish, not like I’m an invincible Superman. Quite the contrary: I am well aware of my place in this world and the forces that are bigger than I am. But the experience of having my heart stop somehow penetrated those forces.

I am more aware of the risks than most people out there. But instead of letting that hold me back, I feel an intentionality, a purpose… I feel directed in a way that I have not previously experienced.

That direction for me is concentrated on the education of young people and on employment and economic development in the city I call home. I have served on countless committees in the past that have endeavored to address these areas, but I have not led those initiatives. That has changed. Now, even if others do not agree with me, I feel compelled to drive these changes… to make an impact, to cast a vision that is greater than any one person or goal. I want to push others to see and embrace this vision… to identify and own their part and purpose in it.

If children are our future, we must invest in them NOW, before issues arise that are so systemic that they require far more resources (with far less return) to resolve. We need to invest in our community for the long-haul, just as we are taught to do with the stock market. Effective quick fixes don’t exist; we need to accept that and address the issues much earlier in the pipeline, starting with education. Of this I am certain; no more processing needed.

-Clifford Bailey
community advocate, speaker, CEO

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 6:20 am and is filed under Business Development, Change Management, Community Development, Economic Development, Emotional Intelligence, Musings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.