My American experience began when, as a Cuban refugee, I stepped off the plane onto the firmest, safest ground that I had ever felt. I came to the United States, leaving my parents behind, at the age of ten only accompanied by my eight-year old brother for whom I knew I was responsible. I did not know it then, but as I reflect now upon my storied past, I realize that it was a defining moment in the leadership development path that has been characteristic of my life. I also did not know that the unexpected loss of my homeland was to be one of several unexpected transitions that I would experience in the years to come.
Months later, we were unexpectedly reunited as a family. Our parents brought nothing of tangible value, however they did bring a fortune of values and faith which they instilled in us. They successfully guided us through our transition to a new culture in which we became integral contributors as American citizens. Sadly, my brother’s contributions were short-lived as his life suddenly ended at an early age which for me became another unexpected life transition.
After high school a sixteen-year educational path ensued. I completed two surgical residencies and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, as well as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. I founded Florida Plastic Surgery, where I had the honor and privilege of serving my patients with uncompromised integrity and excellence.
I was blessed with a wonderful marriage and four amazing children. As happiness abounded, I experienced yet another unexpected life transition. My wife, Kyle, was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter. Through faith, grace and determination, my family and I collectively healed and adapted to living a productive life.
Throughout the years the natural-born leader within me evolved. I developed a strong sense of patriotism, community service and a desire to contribute to the American culture. These values manifested in numerous leadership roles both in and outside of the medical community in service of others that continue to this day.
Today I am blessed once again to be happily married to my best friend, Dawn. Our family has grown to six wonderful children and two beautiful grandchildren.
Little did I know, even more changes were on the horizon. I had been practicing for twenty-four years and had not yet reached the peak of my career when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I had prompt treatment, but the side effects and other problems prevented me from continuing practicing plastic surgery. With these developments, my practice abruptly ended. However, great events have occurred since; my knowledge and appreciation for health & wellness has vastly expanded. And, thankfully, I am now well and cured of cancer.
That ending launched a new beginning.
I sought out professionals that could assist me in a comprehensive way to manage all the interrelated issues that suddenly I had to confront. First and foremost there was the impact on me personally and professionally, as well as on my family…after all, we had just experienced a major, unexpected loss. Then there were other important matters, such as ensuring my patients were cared for, my staff’s needs, finding a qualified custodian for medical records, divestment of various assets, and the list goes on.
I searched for someone with experience who understood the personal, professional and business dimensions of the situation to help me deal with it in its entirety… I found no one. Thankfully, I had the support of family, friends and colleagues. Yet critical concerns remained, so I did the research, sought out counsel from some that I have long respected and found my way successfully.
At first I considered what options I had based on my training and experience as a plastic surgeon. Virtually all options were based on practicing plastic surgery which was not possible in my situation. The options seemed limited…until I changed my perspective. In that instance, it changed from describing myself based on the What of my career to Who I am and Why I had become a plastic surgeon. I recognized that that same Who and Why remained intact and empowered me to create a new What that I designed.
That process taught me a great deal which enabled me to develop a new paradigm for navigating life’s transitions which is the basis for mentoring and inspiring others. What most people would refer to as “retirement,” I call Transition. This powerful paradigm empowers one to shift their perspective from a negative experience to a positive and rewarding one. It is based on recognizing that Who you are and What has been your career are not the same thing. Your Who is based on the values that comprise your character. It is empowering to know that your sense of Who you are gives rise to your Why in life. This motivates you to execute What you do…and the What(s) can be a variety of things.
As a result of my personal experiences, study, and mentoring others, I have learned that there are many individuals and organizations of diverse backgrounds in need of empowerment to successfully celebrate their identity and navigate through life’s transitions.
It is clear that while excellent leadership skills are critical during a Transition, they are essential for success during the lifespan of individuals and organizations. These great needs motivated me to create Inspiring Effective Leadership. It is based on the power of knowing Who you are and Why you do What you do…whether an individual or an organization. That clarity of self and purpose is the foundation of greatness!
I thought of this endeavor as a moral imperative that is philosophically sound. Yet, in practical terms, creating an enterprise to empower change in these areas was a novel idea and a challenging endeavor. The unknown was risky, but I did not entertain failure. I was compelled to do it…and succeed. The purpose was too precious; the rewards too great for those I would help in the future. I moved forward and vigorously executed my plan.
As the plan became reality, my faith in it was validated by a steady stream of successes. These created a momentum that became a dynamic force. To my great satisfaction, I am once again able to positively influence the lives of individuals and organizations. I am thankful for the privilege of being the instrument of empowerment to many.
I enthusiastically share my knowledge and passion for Health & Wellness, Personal and Leadership Development, as well as Life Transitions through my public speaking, consulting, mentoring, online courses, and my writings.
As well as enjoying my second career, I make time for my passions of nature photography, fly fishing and spending quality time with my beautiful family.