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Ask ‘Who’, Not ‘How’: The secret to overcoming impossible odds

Mar 19, 2024

No three-letter word has been more crucial to me in everything I do than "WHO!"


Back in spring 2010, I was confronted with a decision no parent should ever face. My son, Benjamin, had been in an induced coma since early April, fighting a tough battle with Hurler Syndrome leaving him with a destroyed trachea (breathing pipe).


Ten days into May, with our hearts heavy, we faced the unimaginable: we decided to turn off his life support the following Tuesday. The pain was unbearable.


Amidst this profound grief, a conversation with Benjamin’s lung doctor on Thursday—the same day we made the heart-wrenching decision—unexpectedly offered a glimmer of hope. He mentioned a solution done for patients with a tumor in the trachea, quickly noting it wasn’t suitable for Benjamin. But this conversation ignited something within me: a surge of energy to make one last attempt.


I now shifted my focus from "how" to "who." Energized, I reached out globally, leveraging a network I'd been building since Benjamin's diagnosis in 1996.


Suddenly, things started moving quickly. I received an email about a nine-year-old boy named Liam who had found help. This led me to Dr. Roberts in Cincinnati, US, and then to Dr. Mike Rothera in Manchester, England, thanks to Dr. Ed Wraith's guidance.


For weeks, we'd been stuck on "how" to address Benjamin’s challenge, finding no solutions. Yet, by asking "who," the answer came within days!


Dr. Roberts offered insights, but Dr. Mike Rothera proposed a new direction. Moving from despair on Thursday to hope by Saturday illustrated the power of asking "who" instead of "how."


Dr. Mike's request to "hold off on turning off the ventilator" brought us hope. Soon after, he flew in from England and didn’t just perform innovative surgery; he involved the local doctors, emphasizing the importance of understanding the new approach. That day, we got Benjamin back.


If we had remained focused on the "how" of Benjamin's condition, seeing it as insurmountable, we might have missed this chance to save him. Instead, asking "who" could help led us to Dr. Rothera and a network that unexpectedly knew each other. This connection, born from asking "who," saved Benjamin’s life.


This experience taught me a profound lesson: when you're feeling stuck, instead of asking "how" to move forward, ask "who" can help. This shift can reveal previously unseen paths and solutions, showcasing the remarkable power of community and expertise.


This journey not only gave Benjamin a new chance; it showed me the vastness and generosity of the global community.


Changing from "how" to "who" can open incredible doors and introduce you to solutions and support from around the world you never knew existed. This shift didn’t just change things for Benjamin; it transformed how I approach the world's challenges, reminding me we’re never truly alone in our struggles.


Through sharing this story, my aim is to spotlight a simple yet powerful shift in thinking: moving from asking "how" to asking "who." This change can lead to uncovering new solutions and paths forward, it can save lives.


Let’s start asking "who" instead of "how," and see the new directions it can reveal.


What challenge are you facing right now where shifting your question from "how" to "who" might open new possibilities for you?


Do you want some help with that? Let’s connect and have a chat.