All it takes is a little perspective.
Often we don’t realize the path which we are taking, the road less traveled is exactly that… less traveled. But it means someone did go down that road before and you can be sure that traveler had bold ideas and dreams. That individual stepped away from the crowd, away from the herd and answered the call.
It’s not easy and it’s not without hardship, but it’s worth it. And you can bet that traveler has a story.
After all, everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (109): Parallel Light
The light under the door.
The light of giving, of sacrifice, of serving.
The light which nearly slipped into infinite darkness.
Lessons learned, life experiences which built a life, helped shine a light and in the end has taught one man to be humble and kind.
For Brian Clark, there have been many lights, but perhaps none as strong as the one shining across the hall from his bedroom as a little boy.
“I always knew how hard my dad was working”, says Brian. “We lived in a small house and my dad converted one of the rooms into an office. So often, late at night, he would be in there doing his computer stuff. That light across from my bedroom was always on.”
The light that was on so often was illuminating his father’s dreams. Brian’s dad was a computer programmer, but at a time before there was a big need, before there was an internet boom, before most of us knew it was the second-coming of a revolution which would change all of our lives.
“I learned a lot watching my dad,” Brian says. My mom was mostly a stay-at-home mom, she worked a little bit and my dad initially had his own business. I remember not having much at all, we struggled financially. I remember as a kid starting school and we couldn’t even afford new clothes for the first day. But despite the financial struggles my parents never let it show and they always put a huge emphasis on school above everything else. My parents were just amazing.”
He continues, “It was fun to watch my dad and this incredible run where he just worked his tail off. Eventually he got this amazing offer to work at Compaq Computers in Houston, one of the first people to ever work at Compaq. The company had this huge dream of being big – and I got to watch my dad join in the start-up and be successful. I see a lot of parallels between his story and my story and being a part of something special, a start-up company which does everything for the right reason and is really grounded in family values. I think for me it all comes back to family.”
Being and staying grounded is exactly what Brian says his parents taught him and they also taught him about sacrifice and giving. As his dad’s career expanded, so did Brian’s family, because they chose to help someone in need.
Another light was about to shine.
“I have two brothers”, says Brian. “Jason who is 2-years younger than me and Shawn. But Shawn was actually my cousin. He was growing up in a really tough situation with my aunt who was a troubled single mom and so my grandparents, my dad’s parents, eventually adopted Shawn. But my parents soon realized they wanted to give Shawn a better life, that it might not be the right situation for him to be raised by his grandparents who were already in their 60’s. So my parents made the sacrifice and adopted Shawn who was about 4-years-old at the time. I was already in high school.
“It was not easy for Shawn emotionally, but he ended up doing really well. Shawn and my younger brother Jason got really close. Although we are ten years apart, Shawn and I got closer as we got older. My brothers have had a huge impact on me.”
The light of brotherly love can create a lifetime bond. But a bond which in this case, was nearly severed by circumstance and fate.
During the summer between his junior and senior year of college Brian went to visit a friend in Florida, while he was there, he received a phone call. “I got this crazy call from my Mom,” says Brian, “she was telling me my little brother Jason was in the hospital, he had been in a car accident. I asked her if he was going to be alright.
She just said, ‘you need to come home’.”
“My Dad picked me up at the airport, he said, ‘it’s not good, Jason is in bad shape, he’s not going to make it.’ It was the worst moment I ever had in my life. It was a bomb. I told my Dad I wanted to go to the hospital, but he said there was nothing we could do that night, they won’t even let us in there (intensive care). I’ll never forget it.”
Love is life’s brightest light, but for Brian it seemed as if that light was descending into total and infinite darkness.
Jason had been involved in a head-on collision, not his fault, but he had suffered the full consequences of the crash. Brian says he was “simply mangled”. The doctors told the family they thought Jason could keep the top half of his legs, but they would have to amputate from the knees down and they were very worried about infection.
“Jason was in ICU for two months,” says Brian. He kept fighting and over time we were told he could keep his legs, but they weren’t sure about his ankles. But Jason kept healing and we got to a point where he finally made it. He fought his ass off for two years, suffering through the most crazy physical therapy you could ever imagine.”
Brian continues, “The most incredible person was my Mom. Jason was only 18, my Mom took such good care of him. She basically put her life on hold for two years to get him through hell so he could function. Jason can now walk. He has aches and pains and tons of scars, but the fact he is even alive is a miracle. My mom is miracle number two.”
There are miracles and then there are things we believe to be miracles, but are simply the abundance of light emanating from the heart and soul. Brian believes his mom and dad are shining examples of what is possible, paving the way and providing the opportunity for his own light to shine. Now the abundance of this light is the family Brian has been able to help create with his wife Kim, their daughter Kylie, and the twin boys, Michael and Landon.
Just as important for Brian is the incredible, life-affirming extended family, called USHEALTH Advisors. Brian serves as Senior Vice-President, Chief of Marketing for USHA and the symbolism, the synergy and the congruency of this company and the one his dad was a part of are impossible to ignore.
“I couldn’t be more excited, I’m totally stoked”, says Brian. “The parallels with my dad’s career and what is happening with USHEALTH Advisors are crazy. Who knew Compaq could be the company it became? This company is even a better opportunity than Compaq, because no one knew where Compaq was going. We know where this is going, it’s fun to work here. Who every thought insurance could be fun? The sky is totally the limit. It’s kind of the perfect storm and we are in the middle of the perfect storm. The only question is how high can we go?”
The height of success can be unlimited and inspiring as long as the foundation is strong. “Family is the foundation”, says Brian. “It’s the basis of everything and who I am and what I have been able to accomplish and learn from two generations of goodness.”
And Brian is carrying that foundation into the work he does everyday for his family, for his parents, his brothers and their families, and for the extended family he has built through USHEALTH Advisors. Much has been learned through the lights of his life – and whatever success Brian has experienced he reminds himself and others to stay humble and kind.
“At the end of the day I think it’s about being a great cog in the wheel. I always view myself as a leader and I think I am a leader, a great leader of people, but humble enough to know that I’m just a part of the team and that there is a greater cause for what we are trying to accomplish as a group. I think that over time I hope others look back on me and say Brian was a huge part of our success. He was a huge part of the team and he was a leader. When you say the name Brian Clark, you will know that he was somebody that led us to our success, but in a very humble way.”
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you,
when the work you put in is realized.
Let yourself feel the pride,
but always stay humble and kind.
-Lyrics from Tim McGraw, Humble and Kind
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
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