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Power of Adaptation

Our world is experiencing exponential change. Twenty years ago, cell phones were only starting to become mainstream. Ten years ago, there were no smart phones or on-demand video streaming. Yet, you adapted.

Eight years ago, our mountaineering expedition team headed to Ecuador to climb a 19,000 volcano. We were excited the day finally came. We had been preparing for over three months to train, figure out logistics and see how team skills would come together.

Our crew of three were on different flights. Upon arrival, one guys’ bags didn’t arrive. He didn’t bring any of the key essentials onboard with him. Over $5000 in gear was suddenly missing in action. The good news is we had a couple days in the capital before we started our acclimation hikes. All else fails, he could likely do the first two acclimation hikes in his tennis shoes. Not ideal or fun or supportive for your ankles, yet workable to meet this situation demands.

As we were departing for our first acclimation hike, he called the airlines again. Great news! His bags arrived. En route to our training hike, we swung by the airport. Not being able to clearly convey his needs in a foreign language, it took over an hour to find where in the airport his bags were.

 Catastrophe avoided.

Our crew of three successfully did two training hikes to 14,000 and 16,000 feet. Not too bad coming from sea level.

 After the second training hike, we celebrated with a steak dinner sharing our stories of the past few days.

Then, the next morning hit. Two of us were woozy. We felt odd. Then we threw up. And, again. And, again….

Food poisoning set in swiftly. The agony of preparing for three months to have this happen robbed our souls. Despite feeling horribly, we packed our bags to move to our next destination further in the mountains and sleep higher.

An hour into the drive, Ronnie yelled pullover! His head barely made it out the door before he threw up.

Upon arrival at our destination, he threw up yet again. Tonight, we were supposed to be packing for our 3rd and final acclimatization hike before the big day. For the two of us, there was no way we would make the 3rd hike. Gerald, the third guy on the team was unscathed and feeling fine. He packed his bags along with the guide to head up the mountain for a separate sleeping location at a hut higher in the mountains.

The hacienda found someone who would drive us an hour to a clinic. By now, its pitch dark outside, in a foreign country, and I’m in an unknown part of the country.

With broken Spanish, we arrived at the clinic. A man opened a small gated window on the door. Our driver translated our needs. This was after we drove to three clinics that were closed for the night. The doctors took some vitals and acknowledged his dehydration.

We all have a destination in mind. Yet, circumstances can dictate where we actually go.

Adapting is never easy. Here’s a few steps to take.

Step 1, Accept the situation

Step 2, Assess your response. Choose how you want to respond instead of knee jerk reaction. How can you respond from your best self?

Step 3, Adapt by identifying the next best step to take. How can you stay true to your values when taking the next step?

Step 4, If you feel pain anywhere in your body, breathe into it. Don’t allow fearful emotions to get stuck in your body, feel into the pain, experience it, and release it.

 Too often, most of us have knee jerk reactions and think from only your survival only instincts. When you move past this aspect, you can think from your higher brain with rationale. This allows you to tap into your highest self and make clear decisions. 

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

My deadlines were national headlines.

There was excitement in the air, Obama, the first black male was elected president on Monday. Living in Washington, DC, at the time, was a historic moment. Most businesses were closed due to the sheer number of people flooding the subways and interstates for Inauguration festivities in the Nation’s Capital.

Walking into the office on Tuesday, colleagues were smiling and cheerful. Then, the news slithered through the office the way a snake approaches its prey.  

Fifteen people with boxes in hand were escorted out of the building. A bit of WTF, just happened was in the minds of all my colleagues.

They were laid off. Their jobs ceased immediately. How can people go from zeal to sadness in a matter of hours?

Looking at my own project deadlines, the clinical trial I was conducting would end in three months. Hummm. No new clinical trials had been assigned to me yet and I was only working on further strategy for the company.  

Work continued on.

Five months later, our clinical team met for our weekly meeting in the board room. The Vice President of Clinical took his normal seat at the end of the long oval table. He looked directly at the sheet of paper and began reading. He didn’t look at anyone in the eye. Suddenly, over our shoulder, we were all handed white envelopes.

The Vice President read, “Each of you are receiving a severance package. There are three rounds of layoffs based on when your projects are ending. They range from six weeks to three months.”

The young lady with short blonde hair across the table cried uncontrollably. She couldn’t keep it together.

The VP continued, “Many of you were  supposed to go to our major industry conference to present clinical data. Those already registered can still go. I recommend you network. We will also give each of you a solid recommendation.”

We looked at each other in shock and took a deep breath. What next?

Yet, deep inside I already knew this was on the horizon. I was already touching base with my network, solidifying referrals, and getting my resume together. When you work in the pharmaceutical industry, a single clinical trial with bad results can make or break a company. Our company had bad results for the last $100 million clinical trial so we knew things didn’t bode well for the future. The product simply didn’t work. Ever get that feeling something is about to happen?

I was in the first round of layoffs. I had exactly six weeks to find a job. The funny part is that I didn’t worry. I even continued on with my first summit attempt up Mt. Rainier over a long weekend. In many ways life continued on. How often do you worry and forget to enjoy the fun times in life when others aspects are unsettled?

I hit the industry conference meeting and chatted with all the vendors and companies. Upon departure, I had interviews set up with three companies.

In two weeks, I had a new job. Although, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. My prior work in vaccines and global infectious disease was highly sought after. The company I choose to work with was selected to run clinical trials for the 2009 H1N1 virus (swine flu). 

H1N1 was quickly spreading around the country and the world. Clinical sites were selected were the biggest infectious rates were in the country. Ironically, we supported an Australian manufacturer so our meetings were either very early in the morning or very late at night. Not an easy schedule to work with.

Soon the public and world was asking when the H1N1 vaccine would be available. Few people realize it takes up to six months to manufacture vaccines and another three to six months to test and analyze the data.

The nation and world was getting sick and unlike the 24 hour flu bug, H1N1 hit hard and knocked people out of work for 3-5 days.

Our deadlines became national headlines! How’s that for accountability?

It was all hands on deck to pull and verify the data at our clinical sites. There was no distinguishing between associate, manager or director. We all flew around the country and did whatever it took to speed things along.  

I travelled to the highest rate of infection site in the country, Kentucky. A week later, I was on our regular evening call with Australia at 7pm at night. Throughout the call, I felt woozy. I took my temperature and for the first time in ten years I had a fever of 103 degrees. Needless to say, I didn’t make it into work the next day. I did what you normally do when you’re sick, rest and drink fluids. 

Months later, the vaccine was given out in priority to those who needed it.

A few months later, the world and country forgot about what happened.

Yes, in 2009-2010, people got sick a little longer than normal. Yes, a few people did die. The vast majority of the people in the world got sick and recovered after a week.

The world did not close borders and quarantine. Some schools did close when many kids were home sick.

 Most people don’t realize new viruses emerge every year. Even influenza virus mutates with the season.

Stay vigilant, do not over react. Worry only throws negativity at everyone. Fear is not love. Love is taking the steps only you can take to regain health. 

Do what you normally do to regain health. Eat right, don’t overexert yourself, and drink plenty of fluids.

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

The type of self-care no one talks about

Every night Abigail walked into a cluttered house. Daily mail piled high on the kitchen island. She thought, one day, I’ll go paperless. This constant stream of paper every where distracted her every time she looked through the room. There was no sense of peace in coming home from a long day when this made her even more restless. 

She pulled the plastic off a microwave dinner while chuckling to herself, nothing beats an already cooked chicken and macaroni and cheese dinner with ingredients I can’t even pronounce. As she ate, the bloating came on quick and her mouth dried up from an overly salty meal, maybe one day, I’ll get healthy. She quickly unzipped her pants to let her belly expand. 

Even only if, Abigail had the energy to workout. Then, maybe then, she’d stop buying new clothes for her 5 pound weight gain every 3 months. Her closet was exploding with clothes in various sizes. With little time to organize, clothes that no longer fit were thrown into the back of the closet. 

Friday rolled around and with no energy she turned on the TV for some mindless activity. Out of nowhere, the loud, high pitched commercial woke her up. Abigail turned into a trance as the commercial spoke only to her.

Across the screen  “SYSTEMS….SYSTEMS give you freedom.”

A light bulb went off in Abigail’s head. Her mind started racing. She ran to the kitchen and grabbed the back of an unopened piece of mail and started scribbling on the back.

She thought, YES!

A system to go paperless.

A system to organize the closet.

A system to get healthy meals delivered weekly.

It’s time to hire a housekeeper, she blurted out at the top of her lungs! Yes! Yes! How come I never thought of this earlier. She tried to not beat herself up and stay in this new sense of resilence. Three hours of her personal time back time was worth way more than a housekeeper would ever cost.

Every month, she created a new system to get healthy and organized.

Bit by bit, she felt a renewed sense of energy. Her house went from an almost hoarding appearance to clean, refreshed, and simple. And, with simple eating choice changes, Abigail started losing weight without even exercising. Her confidence grew as did her energy levels.

Self-care is more than bubble baths and massages. Taking responsibility for how you truly want to live is self-care. Some of you complain about the “maintenance” tasks. Yet, if you flip your perspective, you can recognize that these so called “Adulting” activities is what gives you the freedom and energy to live and pursue life on your terms. 

Companies scale and grow because they have systems in place. Want to be more and do more? Get your own systems in place. 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

You think too small

With an eager anticipation, people from all walks of life slowly gathered into the event space. The air is filled with excitement and hesitation.

How do I talk about my business?

What types of contacts can I find?

How can I best serve another entrepreneur?

This large gathering of entrepreneurs was all about how to move each other forward. Five selected people were chosen for the coveted hot seat. Adam enthusiastic about the impact he could make on the world was outstanding. As he spoke about his dream, a touch of nervousness could be heard in his tone of voice.

What will people think of this idea?

Will people think I’m out of my mind?

Will people wonder if I can actually make this happen?

Have you ever found yourself doubting a big idea? Yet, in your heart, this idea tastes the same as biting into a rich decadent chocolate cake.

What happened next opened the eyes of every participant in the room. Ears perked up. People sat up taller in the chair.

Adam finished sharing his big idea. Next came audience feedback and ideas on how to move this forward. Adam was specifically looking for capital to fund his project.

One by one, audience members were giving Adam pieces of advice. Then, a tall gentleman in a quiet, yet stern voice said.  “You’re asking for way too little capital. Your idea is so brilliant that you need to seek investors for over 1000x what you asked for.”

Adam’s face flushed. He scrunched down in the seat with his face turning red by the second. Inside, all he could think was, WOW! It’s time to think bigger. My idea can change the world completely.

Most people think Elon Musk was nuts to create Tesla. It took ten years to become a profitable company. Now, everyone wishes they invested ten years ago.

It’s time for you to think big and play bigger. 

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

The relationship between pleasure and perfection

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. – Aristotle

Samantha sent a message to her girlfriends that she needed help for an upcoming event she was organizing. Everyone was ready to chip in with their expertise and help. Then another message came in. “This has to be perfect.” 

Perfect for who?

Perfect by what standards? 

Perfect by you?

Perfect for those involved? 

No one who is coming knows what is supposed to happen. Thus, if something doesn’t happen no one will ever know. (It’s the secret to tell every bride organizing a wedding.) 

Too often, our “perfection” is about what others perceive us to be. We are too worried about what others will think about us or how they will judge us. 

Perfect has nothing to do with being perfect. It’s about an image we want others to have of us. It’s built around fear. 

Instead, how can you add pleasure and fun to what you’re working on? What can you let go of to make the process more fun and pleasurable? 

Asking others to help in your perfection only causes more stress on others. It’s time to make life more pleasurable with less perfectionist tendencies.

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

Make Your Life Epic

As a young teenager, Jeff Hoffman put a large poster of a Ferrari on his bedroom wall. He dreamed of fast cars. His mother noticed the poster and said “Son, you’ll never have that.” 

From that moment forward, he was on a mission to make this happen.

Then, he put a poster of a woman sitting on top of the red Ferrari. His mother replied, “you’ll never have her either.”

He never wanted a ceiling on what he was capable of.

Jeff went on to finish his engineering degree.

At his first job, Jeff was called into his bosses office. His boss said, see that car in the parking lot, he does the most for this company. He gets here first and leaves last. That’s what company dedication is all about.

Jeff felt perplexed. He thought, I’m efficient to get all my work done in 8 hours instead of 12, why should I be told this. All Jeff could think about was how he could buy two cars, leave one in the parking lot and use the other car for actual use. Jeff thought this was a clever idea to trick his boss. Later that week, Jeff resigned. More hours is not better. He’d rather be effective with his time.

From that point on, he decided to figure out how to make his own money. He also wanted to travel the globe.

Upon traveling one day, there were major flight delays due to a storm that covered half the nation. Stranded travelers waited hours in line to rebook their airline tickets. A light bulb went off. How can he solve this problem?

Jeff developed the kiosk at airports for self-check in. Soon, every airline called him to their international headquarters to evaluate the product and install it at their airports.

Jeff became the globe trotter executive.

During this time, he bought that Ferrari. Although, he decided upon black instead of red.

Become bigger than what anyone tells you. Or, if you’re a leader, parent or head of any group, recognize that you can help people think big and play bigger.

Break that glass ceiling.

Match your actions to your dreams. The universe will conspire to make it happen.

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

Stopped in your tracks

Ever get baffled when something unexpected stops you in your tracks?

Yesterday was a rare warm, 70 degree day in the middle of winter. No winter coat. Beautiful sunshine warming the skin. The entire city hit the hiking trails outside Denver to soak up the sun and fresh air in the mountains. 

As I hit the trail, there were small patches of ice. No biggie I thought, I’ll side step around it.

Slowly as the trail crawled up through the steep canyon, the air became cooler, the ground harder.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a sheath of ice appeared on the steep trail.

People ahead of me on the trail turned back. They didn’t want to fall. Others put on spikes over their shoes and walked easily across the ice.

I stood there without spikes for my hiking shoes wondering how I can get across?

This wasn’t the first time I’ve ever come across a roadblock on a trail or even in my life.

With each obstacle, there’s only three options.

Turnaround. 

Or, 

Take a step and see how far that takes you.

I slowly moved my foot to the first small piece of rock that popped out of the ice. My body gently swayed as my weight transferred to that foot.

I didn’t fall. Yeah.

Now, Let’s connect one more step. After about 30 steps, I slowly made it to the other side of the trail.

How often do you stop when your path gets harder?

How often do you resist taking that step because you may risk a fall?

Growth only happens when you take that courageous step. Couple it with a leap of faith, you will arrive on the other side every time.  

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

Nothing is guaranteed.

Tragedy struck at only 42 years of age for the famous basketball legend, Kobe Bryant. It’s a stark reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed including life itself.

As a child, I watched loved ones died suddenly without warning.

My father died 6 weeks from diagnosis to death.

My best friend died a week before high school graduation, almost instantly when a car pummeled through a stop sign that t-boned her convertible.

Another high school friend was raped then murdered, then left on the side of a road a mile from my house.

All died too young without any notice.

What this teaches you is that life is precious. It’s only here once.

Don’t wait to take that vacation.

Don’t wait to start that new career.

Don’t wait to express your true heart’s desire.

Express love daily.

Express gratitude for the bad moments that taught you a new way.

Express gratitude for the little things.

See the beauty everywhere, from the dense fog on a cool day to the dandelion growing in the crack in the sidewalk.

Now is the time to plant the seed of your dreams.

Now is the time to nourish what you already started.

Now is the time to let go of anything that you’ve been clingy to from anger to grief to frustrations.

Now is the time to believe you can do anything you put your absolute attention and focus on.

What if you became something greater than you ever expected?

What if you seize this moment?

It’s time to call a loved one and tell them how much you love them.

Smile at a stranger today.

Be more patient with a colleague or co-worker today.

Appreciate more about life today. 

Live life as if there is no tomorrow. 

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

Prepared for that call?

Professors geared up for the yearly research submissions to national conferences. Their jobs and movement up the ranks at the university depended on the number of research publications accepted every year. 

The research must be stellar. 

The research must add more value and discussion to the research and implementation discussions. This gave policy experts more reason to fund our programs and ultimately pay our salaries. 

Crunching numbers was my expertise. As an undergraduate, I presented research findings at international conferences. Something few young students ever did. 

Supporting five academic professors and their research findings was a large task. Daily meetings with professors ensued as the abstract submission deadline came closer and closer. 

Then, that call came in. 

That type of call that you already knew something was a bit off. 

There was a slight hesitation in picking up the call. 

I immediately jumped to conclusions. 

Was this a pissed off professor wanting to look at the data with one more variable? 

Were more changes going to cause a dramatic change to our submissions?

This was different. This phone call had an eerily different vibe.

“Hello?” 

“My Dad is getting rushed from the hospital to a higher level hospital two hours away in a larger city.  Upon further review of scans, my Dad needed quadruple heart bypass surgery, a little more than a stent. This small town in upstate New York didn’t have the skill set nor equipment to perform this surgery. It’s scheduled for tomorrow morning after they stabilize him.” 

The nervousness in his voice was apparent. With his only parent left, this was no small deal. His father was much older and may have complications during surgery. 

I was in the middle of a big deadline. What am I suppose to do? I’m only 23 and want to do a good job. Eek!

I did the only thing I knew. 

I booked a 6am flight to Albany for the next morning. I’d arrive during surgery. I packed up my laptop and left a note for my boss that I’d work on the statistical analyses while my boyfriend’s father was in surgery. They would have everything they need before submissions were to go in. 

Unexpected events happen with no warning. 

How would you respond? 

What are you teaching your co-workers about the importance of work versus life events? 

Be prepared to respond to the unexpected. Where possible, create buffer zones of space to handle the unexpected. 

While the relationship didn’t last, my ex boyfriend said he’d never forget the kindness and forethought for being there when life took a sharp twisted turn. 

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International

This gets in the way of your abundance. ​​​​​​​

Silvia scolded Arthur for not putting the groceries away before the frozen foods began to defrost. Arthur turned around shooting shot Silvia a darting glare. He was tending to their little girl’s cut. She fell off her bike right before the couple got home from the grocery store.

This was not unusual. Silvia constantly told Arthur what to do and when to do it. At times, Arthur felt as if he was a robot. Arthur realized this belittling over the years wore down his strength.

Silvia had an opinion for everything, how to do laundry, how every project should be run, and even how you should live your life.  And, don’t ever ride in a car with her. She’ll tell you how to drive, too.

Silvia always thought she knew the right way. This controlling aspect was her way of creating certainty.

Controlling equals certainty. This is a scarcity mindset.

What Silvia was really doing was living in a constant state of fear. She was afraid that if something did not go according to how she wanted, she could not handle what would come her way.

Arthur finally put his foot down. He told Silvia that if they don’t start working together to make decisions about their household and parenting that he would leave. He gave her six months to identify ways to change her behavior.

Over this time period, she began letting her husband take on more of a role at home and with their child. At work, she let co-workers take on more responsibility without interference from her.

Silvia no longer felt she had to do it all herself. She became more energized and more excited for her day.

She recognized that the only behavior she can control was herself. She learned to respond to circumstances instead of reacting to them. Instead of controlling, let go of the expectations of a predicted outcome.

What Silvia discovered was a new way to live and work. As she let go of her controlling nature, she experiences more joy and abundance.

If you want abundance, let go of a certain outcome and allow something even better to flow you way. The results will blow your mind.

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International