Dec 23

Adversity #2 – Emotional Turmoil

There’s a wall in, what’s now, Colin’s room that reminds me of my struggle with emotions.  When Grant was three, and for as long as I’ve known him, he always wanted to delay going to bed.  Even at the age of 18.  He’s consistently been a master at getting us sidetracked.

Finally, one evening, as I was putting him to bed, I got fed up. With the soft side of a closed fist, I punched (backhand style) the wall.  It nearly scared the crap out of both of us.  The physical and emotional marks are still there today.  Those sorts of moments get seared into our memory.  Don’t they?

This type of adversity reminds my emotions aren’t always consistent with my circumstance.  It’s been difficult for me, to say the least.

When our oldest son was singled out as being “gifted” we started down the path toward learning about “emotional intelligence.”  We wanted him to be in classes that he didn’t find boring, but instead were challenging.  We wanted to push his comfort limits.

After discussing this, at length, the school encouraged us to read a book entitled “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman.  The excerpt below is from that book.  Connie read it, I just got the cliff notes.

“A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The monk replied with scorn, “You’re nothing but a lout – I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!”

His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled “I could kill you for your impertinence.”  “That,” the monk calmly replied, “is hell.”

Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.

“And that,”said the monk “is heaven.”

The sudden awakening of the samurai to his own agitated state illustrates the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. Socrates’s injunction “Know thyself” speaks to the keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”

― Daniel GolemanEmotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

What walls have you been punching?  Have you looked at the marks you’ve left?

Nov 26

Adversity #1 – Relational Differences

This reminds me of my buddy Bob.  Even though we were about the same age, still not 30, he seemed to have something that I didn’t.  He had a faith that seemed as firm as a rock.  His smile was contagious.  He was confident as always held his head high.  He knew what he wanted and it was a process.  Once he had a process he feared ever straying.

Then there was me.  The guy that operates where most consider to be “straying.”  It’s not a always a happy place.  However, this is how I’m made.

Bob and I met in 1997, when we were both working at a national company that installed data cabling systems into retail stores.  We were project managers.  One of us worshiped the structure and another preferred to shoot from the hip,  There was an assortment of tools that I used to influence, coerce and intimidate.  Looking backwards is sometimes difficult, but that’s not who I am today.

I left the company in 1998 and soon convinced my new employer, where I had taken a management role, to hire Bob.  My mission has always been to surround myself with people that smarter/better than me. This was no exception.

That was until the day came that Bob was assigned to a customer that he didn’t want.  It wasn’t the customer as much as it was the location.  It involved a cross-town drive during the winter months in central Ohio.  This particular winter didn’t make it any easier.  When the end of Bob’s project came, he was “done!” according to him.  My management and I needed the continued flow of revenue from his assignment.

Here’s the real problem.  During the course of this painful project I had promised Bob that once the project was over, we wouldn’t ask to have his contract renewed.  I just told him that to keep him quiet and continue to serve my needs.  I didn’t consider how this would actually play out in the end.  I was only considering my selfish needs.

Our relationship ended with my lie.  That is until the day that I ran into Bob and his family.  It was a time for me to “fall on my sword” and admit my faults.  It had been 10 years since the incident and Bob had seemingly forgotten, I hope.  He was kind and had forgiven me.  It didn’t even seem to phase him.

Darn it!  How did he do that?  It was amazing the peace and grace that he spoke with.  Oh, I see.  I started to type this post so I could tell you how I had overcome relational differences.  This has become a story about Bob showed me how to overcome differences.

He didn’t let the Blame, that he had every right to give me, get in the way of forgiveness.  You see he wanted to have HOPE for the future.  He couldn’t have that if Blame stood in his way.

Nov 04

All Saints Day

At church today we read the list of people that have passed during the last year and another list of other notable deaths.  For the third time, I can’t tell you how glad I am that my name wasn’t on that list.

It puts a charge in me to get to work.  It’s as if I could hear God say, “Okay Wagner, I’ve given you another year.  You’re doing well.  Keep going.”  There was no “or else.”  It was all good.  I’ll admit that I got emotional during that part of the service.  Connie almost caught me.  Now the cat’s out of the bag.

From there we went with our friends, the Gowans’, to eat lunch.  We went to one of Grant’s favorite spots, Chipotle.  He had spent the weekend at home and headed back, to Cincinnati, right after lunch.

My afternoon sent me to Columbus West Church of God to do a dry-run of my speech.  I’ve made some changes, like the addition of Jessica’s 2011 Father’s Day Card.  I’ve also added more of my thoughts regarding the process of taking people from Blindness to Sight to Vision.  My emotions will need to stay in check or this could be difficult.

For now, I’m not emphasizing the BED and REEF.  There’ll be time for that.  This speech will be more focused on God.  I think He likes it that way.

Oct 31

Four Types of Adversity

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of other things that I’d like to tell you.  There are only so many hours in the day.  That, and I have another speech to give tomorrow.  🙂  It’s one of the good things that has come from my adversity.

There 4 primary types of adversity that I talk about.

  • Relational differences
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Existential or Eternal (i.e. Physical) concerns
  • Financial troubles

This makes up the R.E.E.F. of life.

In the coming posts I will discuss them in more detail.  For the purposes of this post, I’d like to talk about the word “adversity”, itself.

The word “adversity” come from the root word “adverse” which is an adjective (they describe nouns, don’t you know :-)).  This adjective means unfavorable or opposing one’s interests.  In the grand scheme of things the word “adversity” means catastrophe or disaster.  It can work in much smaller “venues.”

Hopefully, that gives you the setting for another word that comes from “adverse.”   That word is “adversary.”  We all like to hear and talk about God and how he loves all of us.  If that’s the case then where does evil, hurt and pain come from?  Many say that this is the “great adversary” at work.  You may also know him as one of God’s fallen angels or the devil himself.

I think if we all think for a bit, we can find the adversary in our adversity.  Can you?  Tell me about it.

Oct 28

My Latest Speech

Many of you have asked how my last speaking engagement went.  Instead of telling you that it went well, as it did, I thought that I’d share with you the actual speech that I gave.  Here it is.  Make sure that you read to the end.  This will give you a chance to look at the video from the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line.


Slide #1

Hello, my name is Brian Wagner.  I’m THAT guy!

Slide #2

Two and half years ago I was on top of the world, but I didn’t see it that way.  I was in a job with the potential to make several hundred thousand dollars per year.  I had just come off, what most considered, a ho-hum year where I nearly made $200K.  This was considered a starting point.  I now make a fraction of that but I’m on my way back up.

the power of prayer and the community of faith – James 5:13-18

We take life for granted.  We take our hearing for granted.  I used to take my eyesight for granted.

Slide #3

In March of 2011, this is what I saw, one of two malformed blood vessels (Cavernous Malformations) in my brain stem hemorrhaged.  I immediately lost the ability to control my eyelids and both eyes went  their separate ways.  In April, my wife Connie and I flew to Phoenix, AZ where I had brain surgery to give me HOPE.  Without this surgery, as the doctor’s put it, things would only get worse.  The surgery brought with it only a 25% success rate.  Worse than that there was also a 25% chance that my condition would worsen.  I knew what that meant.

My life was changed forever.

Slide #4

The next few months were the hardest to live through.  My workday usually started after 9:00.  Looking at my PC, phone and email was a chore.  I lived in world with blinders of the worst kind.  After, more than, my fair share of alcohol I would go to bed and pray for God to heal me.  Every morning, I’d wake up one eye lid at a time.  Without fail, I would initially think that I could tell a noticeable improvement.  Then I’d roll over and look at the alarm clock.  How could it be 77:0000?  Well, it wasn’t.

Slide #5

This marks another day of disappointment.

This marks another day closer to the end.

This marks another day farther from the past.

What’s going on God?  I thought we had a deal?  I’ve been praying.  Why aren’t you answering?

Slide #6

At this point, they tell me that I still can’t drive.  They tell me that they only got one of the cavernous malformations.  They tell me that this could be my new normal.  What about the other cavernous malformation.  They tell me that I’m lucky to be alive.

Slide #7

I thought to myself  …  I can’t do this.

Since then I’ve had three surgeries on my eyes with limited success.  I still see double, when my right eye pops open.  The good news is that In October 2011 – I got my driver’s license back.  What a relief.  Up until then, my days consisted of my wife driving me to 2-3 meetings all across Central Ohio, where I would have to lift my eyelids by hand to see.  At the end of the day it was good to just rest my eyes.  As I told Connie, “I’m just tired of seeing.”

Slide #8

There are only a few things that I don’t do today, because of my issues.  I can’t wall-paper and I’m not a good golfer.  OK.  Truth be told, I’ve always hated wall-papering and my golf game hasn’t really suffered..

Slide #9

Matthew 22:36-40

After all of this, my friends encouraged me to speak in front of people, write a blog and subsequently a book.  They probably thought that this would be about ME.  Actually, it’s about YOU.  I want to share with you how I’ve done it.  Hopefully, this will help you and you won’t ever go through what I did.

As I’ve said, over the last 36 years, since I was 10, I’ve undergone a number of changes.  Some of those changes were planned and some were not.  Some of my achievements have happened out of luck and others have come after much thought and planning.

We don’t always get to choose our circumstances. But, we do get to choose what we do with them.  Take a look at your own life and think about how you’ve ended up in precarious situations.  Maybe you been hospitalized.  Maybe you’ve been down to your last dollar and even that one is borrowed.  Maybe you’ve been in a job that wasn’t what you wanted, expected and or envisioned for future growth.

It’s not about how you got there.  Yes, evaluating the chain of events preceding your situation is important.  Hopefully this will help you to prevent this happening again in the future.  What I want to talk to you about is, ”how do you get out of or recover from that situation.”  What are you doing about it?  You can sit, simmer and stew all that you want.  Is that helping?  In the short term it may make you feel better.  In the long term, IT’S NOT HELPING!

When we face adversity in life, we have 2 fundamental choices.  We can either GET BITTER or GET BETTER!  We all have the choice.  Now, I’m guessing that you don’t usually choose to be BITTER.  Somehow, that’s just what happens.

Why does that happen without you knowing it?  It happens for a number of reasons.

  1. Lack of clearly identified goals

  2. Dark spot in your inner circle

  3. Self limiting beliefs surface

  4. Inability to tell yourself the truth

This list is not all inclusive, by any means.  How do prevent these things from happening?  There are many ways to remedy each of these topics.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s pick one and look closely at it.

#1.  Lack of clearly identified GOALS

Before you can set goals, you need to be honest with yourself.  That’s an important step in finding HOPE and that’s also required to be in the right frame of mind for goal setting.
Point #1.  Lack of clearly identified goals.  Have you ever heard of SMART goals?  This is an acrostic that was created many years ago.






Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:      Who is involved?

*What:     What do I want to accomplish?

*Where:    Identify a location.

*When:     Establish a time frame.

*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.

*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

As I went through my tough time a goal of mine might have been to be

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.”


Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……

How much? How many?

How will I know when it is accomplished?

I grew up on a farm and did not really take to the farming side of things, I used to play a lot of kinds of solitaire.  You may be thinking of the card game.  It actually included a number of basket ball shots for me.


Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Speaking with you today is one of my goals.  It actually goes to the larger goal of speaking during at least 10 event this year.

Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.

My goal is to leave my day job for my dream job by the end of 2018. .


Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.

These goals have to be your goals.  Not someone elses.  Much like Johnny Cash singing his own song.

It’s time for you homework, take out a piece of paper and write down your top 5 goals for the next year.  It could be weight loss, job, relationship, fitness, run a marathon, … you name it.  Look at the those goals and there will be one or possibly two that jump off of the page at you.  Think about the one that’s most important to you.  Now on the other side of paper, write the one goal down with the items required to make that happen.  When you get up every day I want you to do at least one of those things to get you closer to your goal.

I’ll tell you in the coming weeks and months, you’ll be amazed at how much closer you’ve come to reaching your goal.

Maybe I can come back in 12 months and you can tell me about your results.


If you were there, in person, you’ll notice that there are some things that I didn’t speak about in my talk. That’s part of the wonder of life.  We ebb and flow with the ebb and flow.

Hopefully, this will add to the time that you spent with me on Thursday.  Remember, it’s important that we all set goals.

What’s your most prominent goal?

Oct 10

Don’t be afraid to live your life on purpose

What do I mean by living your life on purpose?  There are too many of us in this world that get up every morning because they have to.  There are even more that lead earthly lives because they want to fit in. More than that there are people who see the sun set and are prepared to do it all again, even though they’re not sure why.

Are you one of those people?  Do you know your purpose?

There was a young-man that stayed at my house this weekend who knows his purpose.  He knows when he gets up in the morning where he wants to be.  He goes to bed at night dreaming of images that he’s created and creating.  For the first time in six weeks my oldest son, Grant, was home.  As he told his mom, it felt good.  It felt good for all of us.

Since my last post, there have been some news in this house.  Grant has been accepted in to an architectural class, at UC, that culminates in a 10-day “field trip” to Italy.  Jessica has celebrated her 16th birthday and now enjoys the open road, minus the training wheels.  Colin set a Personal Record for the 2-mile run @11:40.  (I hope Jess doesn’t go that fast :-))

Yes, I now have many more gray hairs. Connie, for some strange reason, does not.  (I wonder how that happens :-))  She continues to be the true servant leader that she’s always been.  I’ve started a new job and recently delivered my message of HOPE to the congregation of my former church.  Just typing all of that makes me tired.

I’m digging for and rinsing off my purpose with reckless abandon.  That just seems to be the way that I’m wired.  Last Sunday you could see the sparks from those wires.  I delivered the message during the time of that’s reserved for the sermon at my former church.  The moment was prepared for me and I was prepared for the moment.  It wasn’t perfect.  Some may consider this bad news.  There were certain pieces that I forgot and other pieces that I didn’t emphasize enough, but it felt good to talk about it.

What’s important is that it’s out.  Now, is the time to rinse it some more.  The Hilliard Rotary wants to hear it on October 31st, Halloween.  Humph.

For most of my life I didn’t have a clue about my purpose.  I didn’t even know what I believed in or why it mattered.

My purpose is being revealed.  Not only to my audiences, but also to me.

Are you interested in hearing how I’ve found it?  Do you want to know how you can find yours?

Sep 20

What Happened … abbreviated.

Many have you have never heard the story.  In an effort to keep you informed, I’ve shortened the original “What Happened” post from September of 2011.

I used to remember things in reference to significant events in my life…my marriage, the birth of my children, Buckeye’s National Championship.  Times have changed.  Now every day is a new life.  When I wake up and am able to see the alarm clock, I’m happy. Blowing my nose means I’m breathing.  Sneezing is exciting.  Swallowing my food without a feeding tube makes me giddy.  Seeing my children is the greatest activity I know.  My wife is my life.

Last March, I went to Cleveland for sales training.  During the course of the day I noticed that the PowerPoint presentations were becoming doubled on the screen.  When the day was over I walked to my car and gingerly left the parking garage.  During the ride home I had to stop several times.  I called home to tell my wife what was going on and that I would try to get some rest.  Maybe the symptoms would go away.  They never did.  Several hours later I arrived home safely where I flopped on the couch.  At 3:00 in the morning I woke up and went to go to bed.  On the way I stopped for a look in the bathroom mirror.  For the first time, I saw what you see today

After the kids were off to school we went to the ER. When the testing was over the doctor came in and said, “You’re going to want to consider someone operating on your brain stem. Your conditions will only get worse as the bleeds of the cavernous malformation become more frequent. We have 3 options for surgeons in this field. The best option is in AZ.” That evening Connie and the kids came to visit me in the hospital. I think they were much more nervous than me. At that point I heard a clock start ticking. It was a clock that I heard day and night. Surgery  was done to keep the symptoms from getting worse. Only in certain cases did they get better and 25% of the patients ended up worse than before the surgery. On April 1st, yes April Fool’s Day, I had brain surgery.   It was a success.

During the next month one eye started to open.  The other did not.  When the lid is forced open my vision is double.  I tried my best to go to business meetings.  My friend from Mainline took me to my first meeting on April 19th.  I can only imagine how I looked.  Fortunately, the customer is an old friend.  He made it easier for me.  Most of the meeting was spent looking out my little portal to the world.  A little hole with eyelashes…which is usually opened by my index finger.  Since that day, I’ve had many drivers.  Sometimes my coworkers or friends are kind enough to pick me up.  Mostly I have the prettiest driver in the world.  She’s actually a lot more than that.   She’s my wife, Connie.

It’s been almost a year,  and my vision hasn’t changed and neither has my faith.  My impact on people is very noticeable.  My portal on the world cuts out a lot of “noise” and shows people for what they are.  All of my meetings are intentional.  There are no occasions that don’t matter.

During my time without a driver’s license I’ve had some other drivers that may not have been as pretty, but were certainly admired by my family and me. .  Those were my co-workers at Mainline.  These people picked me up and dropped me off at home or wherever I needed to be.  Eric, Tony, Curt, Dianne, Greg, Jim, Mark, Jack, Don, Phil and Randy – THANK YOU!  There are not many others at Mainline that know my situation.  Among them is the management team.  They’ve given me a sense of ease that allowed me to focus on healing.  I’m not sure that I could’ve done it without them.  In October, I regained my driving privileges.

Regardless of my condition I am blessed to be here today.  There are many of you that would give anything to have a loved one back in most any condition.  While it’s true that I’ve become more of a burden to many people, I hope that my positive attitude and impact out-weighs that burden.

After all, I am alive.

If you’d like to continue to receive my updates and see a full version of this “What Happened” post you can get them directly on my blog via the link below.

Sep 19


This is something that I have no problem with.  If you’re stuck and wondering which way to go, please let me know what’s going on with you.  A resolution to your problem may just be as simple as taking Action.

Many people have said that waiting for a product to be 100% perfect, before shipping, is a mistake.  Get the idea or concept to a good 80-90% and ship it.  Granted, this doesn’t apply to products that are substantiated in the industry.  This is more about concepts, ideas and new products.

After 4 weeks of separation, we got the idea, yesterday, to go see my oldest son, Grant.  We were fortunate that he was available, so we met him for a brief tour and dinner.   Even as we left Columbus, we didn’t have it all figured out.  Sadly, Colin and Jess weren’t able to join us.  From that perspective, the trip wasn’t perfect. Yet, it was perfect.  Perfect day, perfect drive, perfect dinner, perfect son.

This experience was quite a change, in the message, from years past.  The best way to change your thoughts and the message that you’re putting out is to change the message that you’re putting in.  We are what we think about.  For me, this meant spending a lot of time reading, discussing and engaging in conversation.  Mentees meeting with mentors is very important, but there is much for each to teach and learn.

With many different feelings surmounting it’s always a good idea to listen to yourself.  Much like a runner needs to listen to their body, the person needs to listen to themselves.

Where are you ?  Come see what I see


Sep 17


This is the second of three posts, that I mentioned yesterday.  They are intended to give you a different VIEW of me.  I’d also like for you to look at you differently.

This is when I decided to find out what was going on and research alternatives.  The alternative was to remain ignorant and stay curled up in a ball waiting for something to happen.  This was a non-event for me.  Have you decided?

In the midst of all of the feelings that I was having, there were emotional decisions to be made.  Should I be complacent?  Am I a victim or a victor?  Are my emotions in control or am I in control of my emotions?

The physical decisions were paramount.  Do I react or initiate?  How much worse will it get before it gets better?  I needed to get help, but from who?  My situation was unavoidable.  The result of my situation was up to me.

Who is the result of your situation up to?


Sep 16

BLINDness – The PERSON – Story

This and the next two blog posts are intended to give you a different VIEW of me.  I’d also like for you to look at you differently.  Please tell me what you think.

The first mental hurdle to overcome is that this didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.  Before this happened I was content with the status quo.  I didn’t know of the impending event.  Once it did happen it was difficult for me to see anything.  In essence, I first lost my VISION and then I lost my SIGHT.  I became distracted and lost focus.  That’s when I had a choice.  I could either live with the current situation or search for a remedy.  Pursuit of a diagnosis was the “easy” part.  Acceptance of the resolution was “difficult”.

I felt scared and fearful for what was to come.  At the same time I knew where I was going.  This didn’t mean that I wasn’t angry.  There were certainly times for that.  It was hard not to feel sad that you’ve been chosen to be a victim.

After the hemorrhage in March of 2011, I lost my physical sight.  I wasn’t sure what to do or think.  What I did was got help.  After consulting with my physician, I pursued a resolution.

This physical sequence of events matches my spiritual one.  I doubt that’s a coincidence.

That’s my story.  What’s yours?