In today’s fast-paced world, transformation is a must. It’s a critical and ongoing part of life. Transformation keeps us relevant. It allows us to make a difference in our own worlds and in the broader world.

Although transformation sounded like something I wanted to and ought to do, it was not a priority. It was one of those “I’ll do that one day” type of things—aka denial of how important it was for me to address. The truth is I had no idea how to transform, or whether it might hurt. In fact, I was so stubbornly set in my ways it took the threat of death to lead me to the doors of transformation and push me through. I didn’t make the choice to transform until I was forced to. When I was told I had a terminal disease, I realized I only had one choice left: Do I want to go out feeling safe, or do I want to go out helping as many people as possible?

I decided I wanted to go out helping as many people as possible.

Transformation happened for me when I realized I had nothing to lose. With this knowledge, I transformed. Everything. Starting with my approach to life.

Going Fearless

For starters, I stopped acting out of fear. As death was an imminent certainty, and everything I did in life I did to keep myself alive, my greatest fear became moot. Losing that ultimate fear also meant relinquishing others. For example, “What if the decision I am about to make is a poor one and I end up someplace worse than I am now?” That consideration was no longer relevant. ANY place was better than where I currently found myself. It took facing death for me to see I had been driving myself for most of my adult life with fear. “What if I fail? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not loved?”

With my fears no longer relevant, I began approaching life fearlessly and life rose to the occasion—it transformed. My priorities changed from being focused on the immediate bottom line to the size and significance of my impact. I lived every moment. I stopped saying “one day,” because I probably did not have that day. I had to ask for what I wanted now. I only did things I absolutely wanted to do. I only spent time with the people I wanted to spend time with. I chose to laugh as much as possible. I made sure the people I love knew I loved them. I was bold about asking for help and reaching out to organizations and people who I wanted to help. If they said no, it did not matter. What mattered was giving each and every minute my all so when the ride was over, I would know I had ridden it well. I could give up the fear that instead of missing life, I had lived it.

Some Kind of Miracle

As fate would have it, I experienced what some would call a miracle. Once I decided to transform my approach from surviving to living every minute to the fullest, I stopped dying. The disease went away.

And there I was, left with a life I loved and wanted. I felt relevant. Truly relevant. I had made a difference in my own world—and I had started to make a difference in the wider world. I get to live a new gift of life every day.

I learned a lot as I was transforming. One thing I learned was to answer that question I’d always feared—”what if I fail?”—with another, much more powerful one: “What if I succeed?” That was a game changer.

This is before I knew about NATS (Negative Automatic Thoughts) and how the brain automatically defaults to the negative to keep us safe. “What if I make a mistake?” As a former perfectionist, this thought could stop me in my tracks. Oh, my gosh! Think of the loss of love and approval that could happen! The shame!

Now, my answer was simple: “If I make a mistake, I’ll just correct it.”

4 Requirements of Transformation

After this long and transformative experience, I had the good fortune to get a new perspective on life and what real change—transformation—requires. It boils down to four things. Here is what I learned we need to focus on for transformation:

1) Energy: I took the energy I had been misdirecting toward being afraid and used it for focusing on and living each moment.

2) Confidence and courage: My true confidence and courage, which had before been covered up with bravado, started to grow and shape my new self.

3) Vision: My vision changed. Before, I had used it to create what I saw as a good, safe world for myself. Now, I hoped to create a better, safer world for everyone.

4) Commitment: The commitment factor caught me by surprise. I had always been a committed person. Or so I thought. This was different. Deciding to put aside fear and face every moment courageously was a level of commitment I had never before experienced. This level of honest determination and commitment was, and is, healthy fuel to my newfound fire.

What’s the end value of transformation? For me, it’s knowing this is how I reach my true potential. It’s knowing I can transform my experience of life every day. It’s how I can leave this planet one day knowing I climbed the mountains, went the distance. It’s knowing I no longer leave anything on the table. It’s finding the level of honesty I found in being true to myself. And feeling free because there are no more lies.

Is a crisis needed for transformation? No.

It took one for me, but in hindsight I see I’d had many opportunities to transform before this. I had just been too caught up in my fears.

I was Vista Caballo’s first client. My steps to transformation took many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I figured that probably wasn’t a very good business model. So I encapsulated it. With Vista Caballo, I hope to prevent others from having to go through crisis to transform. I hope to share the steps to transformation, and to share how to keep practicing them. For a healthy and productive life—a life where we truly reach our own potential—we all must learn how to change and transform. If you’re feeling stuck and are ready to transform, please reach out. I’m right here.