3 Lessons Cancer Taught Me About Leadership and Life by Jeffrey Deckman

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Wed, Jun 28, 2023 @ 03:39 PM
Amanda Del Signore

Long before corporations were focusing on creating caring cultures—or even thinking about it—Jeffrey Deckman was at the forefront, educating CEOs and other senior leaders to give up the old “power and control” mindset and replace it with one that focuses upon leaders being high-level communicators, collaborators, and facilitators of their organization’s human capital.

Jeffrey Deckman has 45 years of management experience, 40 of which have been as a serial entrepreneur, having built two multi-million dollar companies in the technology sector before becoming a leading consultant on the next evolution of leadership.

He offers powerful and transformative coaching, consulting, and training programs based upon his award-winning Amazon best-selling book Developing the Conscious Leadership Mindset for the 21st Century.JDeckman photo

Deckman has won multiple Stevie® Awards for Best Business Book and Best E-Book in both The International Business Awards® and The American Business Awards®. He also has won Innovator of the Year in The International Business Awards.

Below is an inspiring blog that Jeffrey Deckman recently published and sent to his growing following of leaders and that is now re-published here with his permission. May you find it as inspiring as so many already have!


3 Lessons Cancer Taught Me About Leadership and Life

Today is the 79th anniversary of D-Day. It also marks the 7th anniversary of my final radiation treatment in my “battle” with stage 4 cancer.

Since that day, and my second chance at life, my life has been catapulted to a whole new level. I walked my daughter down the aisle. I have become a grandfather twice! I have seen both my sons buy homes, get engaged and blossom in their careers. I wrote my book that went on to win two national and two international Stevie awards, created a leadership process that won IBA’s bronze Innovator of the Year award. I also met and married the woman of my dreams who is my best friend and my unicorn!

Life is good. I am so very thankful to still be here.

The Beginning
During Thanksgiving of 2015 my daughter saw a marble-sized lump in my neck that I had been watching for a few weeks, hoping it would go away. She is a massage therapist, reiki practitioner and an energy healer. When she saw it, she intuitively knew, as she told me later, that I had cancer, and it was stage 4.

“What’s that lump, dad?” was the sentence that started a year-long journey that forever changed my life.

After the holidays, I put the ball in motion and by February my biopsy and PET scan revealed the diagnosis of stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma. Nice call Allison!

From that moment, I knew I was going to have to both learn and demonstrate a new level of self-control and leadership that was very different than the type required of me as a father and business owner over the previous 40 years.

While much of what I had learned through my career gave me a solid foundation from which to work, this powerful experience taught me even more. Below are three of the biggest lessons I learned.

  1. Develop a plan. Be creative. And choose your partners wisely.

Between February and my first day of treatments, April 18th of 2016, which fittingly was the same day as the Boston Marathon, I developed my treatment strategy. I chose an innovative approach involving both traditional and holistic protocols. I then assembled a team of healing partners which included traditional oncology professionals, holistic practitioners, and Dr. Jody Noe - a world renowned integrative oncologist and healer who was also a Cherokee medicine woman.

  1. Life doesn’t happen to me; life happens for me. Every experience is a gift.

After a long series of internal conversations and consciousness work, I came to understand that the primary force in the universe is creation and, what could be called, divine love. (If the primary force was destruction and hate the universe would never have been created in the first place and babies wouldn’t be born pure.)

Therefore, the source of anything which happens to me is a gift of love, not a punishment. With that realization, it became my job to find the gifts in the experience I was having. Seeking them would give me purpose. Finding purpose would give me courage. Embracing both would prevent me from falling into the depths of fear, which could have proven deadly.

  1. Every experience is a class.

Joy was an incredibly wise “earth angel” whom I met on my journey. Joy had already lost her husband and daughter to cancer. These experiences led her to immerse herself in the study of spiritual and natural path treatments. Joy’s sage advice was that I had to learn to love the cancer. Her reasoning was that anything other than love in my system was simply another form of cancer. And I already had enough of that in my body.

It seemed like an impossible challenge. But I trusted her wisdom. Over the next few days, I struggled trying to find a way to “love the cancer.” Then I found it.

With my new understanding that everything is a gift of love the question to answer was: If the universe was using cancer as a gift of love how would it show it to me?

The answer that came was that it would appear as a teacher about the value of life and the importance of love, itself. From that moment, I committed to learn as much as possible from this powerful teacher.

As I embraced this truth, every challenge, pain, frustration, and fear became a class on love designed to help me to grow in gratitude, appreciation, and determination. The classes were often very difficult, but the payoffs far exceeded the tuition they extracted.

To this day, every time I am challenged, frustrated or fearful I ask myself: “What class am I in?” The moment I pose that question my stress begins to lessen and a sense of curiosity, purpose, and empowerment appears. This gifts me with a mindset which allows me to make my decisions with a clear mind and an open heart, which is the best mindset to have when the stakes are incredibly high.

In addition, I’ve learned beautiful lessons about compassion, empathy, and gratitude that I would never have without the gift of the perspective I received through my cancer experience.

Finally, I learned that if I could find the love in the cancer experience, I could find it in any experience. To this day that is the gift that keeps giving.

To learn more life changing lessons the cancer experience gifted me with I invite you to watch this interview.



Topics: The Stevie Awards