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Live is Hard But You’ll Be Okay with Johnny Sirpilla author of “Life Is Hard But I’ll Be Okay”
Episode 22120th October 2022 • Beyond Adversity with Dr. Brad Miller • Dr Brad Miller
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Johnny Sirpilla is Dr. Brad Miller's guest on Episode 221 of "The Beyond Adversity Podcast."

He is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur that aims to help businesses, communities, and universities in encouraging growth, development, and inspire others.

He also wrote the book entitled, “Life is Hard but I'll Be OK: The Power of Hope Emerging through Pain and Learning to Live with Gratitude.”

Johnny and his wife, Susan, has faced an adversity in their lives that truly challenged them. It took them years to get pregnant. They had to go through fertility treatments. However, when they did, the babies didn’t make it. They all passed away due to prematurity. They had triplets whom they named: Nicholas, Mary, and Peter. 

Episode 221 of the Beyond Adversity Podcast is for those people who are going through hardships in life and are trying to discover the reason why they are experiencing it. This is for those people who are trying to find ways in overcoming their adversities in life.

They questioned themselves why this happened and why did they have to go through it. They had to go through therapy in order to overcome their adversities. Although even before, they were already undergoing therapy due to the hardships they had to face to have children. 

Over time they were able to find their true purpose in life and it led them to who they are today.

In this episode, Johnny talks about the adversities in life that he had to go through and what he did to overcome them. He also talks about his book, and the reason why he wrote them.  

"The Beyond Adversity Podcast with Dr. Brad Miller is published weekly with the mission of helping people "Grow Through What They Go Through" as they navigate adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity, and purpose. 

https://www.encourage33.com/

Book: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Hard-but-Ill-Gratitude-ebook/dp/B0B45DKBCZ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnnysirpilla/?hl=en 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnny-sirpilla-45385253/

Transcripts

Dr. Brad Miller:

Our guest today is Johnny Sirpilla. He is the author of the book

Dr. Brad Miller:

Life is Hard but I'll Be OK, and the subheading is The Power of

Dr. Brad Miller:

Hope Emerging through Pain and Learning to Live with Gratitude.

Dr. Brad Miller:

We've got a lot to talk about here today. And I'm gonna just going

Dr. Brad Miller:

to leave it right there in terms of introduction, because I really only

Dr. Brad Miller:

get in our conversation. But Johnny Sirpilla, welcome to Beyond Adversity.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Thank you, Brad. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Brad Miller:

It is awesome to to have you indeed here, Johnny. Haven't had the

Dr. Brad Miller:

pleasure of reading your book yet. But I know it's been a very popular

Dr. Brad Miller:

book, and it's on some of the bestseller list and it touches a nerve, I

Dr. Brad Miller:

believe about a lot of people who understand that life is a challenge

Dr. Brad Miller:

and it's hard. But not everybody thinks it's going to be okay. Because

Dr. Brad Miller:

sometimes people think they're going to get stuck and they're just going

Dr. Brad Miller:

to, their life dissolves into a disaster, and they get stuck. And that's part

Dr. Brad Miller:

of the purpose of this podcast is to help people get through that. And

Dr. Brad Miller:

they haven't seen necessarily hope or gratitude and that type of thing.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Let's talk about that a little bit. And particularly Johnny, I know it's a

Dr. Brad Miller:

challenge. But almost everybody goes through challenges in life.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And I know a pivotal moment for you was a dramatic challenge that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you had a great adversity you had, which led in many ways to what

Dr. Brad Miller:

this book is all about and what your life is all about.

Dr. Brad Miller:

You might go on there with me a little bit friends with

Dr. Brad Miller:

until a little bit about your life, but how some pivotal

Dr. Brad Miller:

moments led to what you're doing now.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Absolutely. So my wife and I were married young, in our

Johnny Sirpilla:

early 20s. And by 25, when we were trying to have a family,

Johnny Sirpilla:

we were not able to and it took a number of years, through

Johnny Sirpilla:

a lot of fertility treatments to get pregnant, and we got

Johnny Sirpilla:

pregnant with triplets and our dreams were just, we

Johnny Sirpilla:

were beyond excited. The dreams were coming true.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And later into the pregnancy, our son, our bottom son,

Johnny Sirpilla:

Nicholas, his water broke, and my wife ended up going

Johnny Sirpilla:

into labor. And after about a week or so, Nicholas, Mary

Johnny Sirpilla:

and Peter were born. We have two sons and a daughter.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And unfortunately, none of them made it, they all passed

Johnny Sirpilla:

away. So after years of trying, we think we win the lottery,

Johnny Sirpilla:

and then, you know, we lose all three of them due to

Johnny Sirpilla:

prematurity. And, you know, Brad, that's where I love the

Johnny Sirpilla:

title of your podcast Beyond Adversity, because, you know,

Johnny Sirpilla:

I do believe that life is hard. I talk about that when I do

Johnny Sirpilla:

public speaking engagements. The title of this book came

Johnny Sirpilla:

from a senior in college that when I was speaking about

Johnny Sirpilla:

four or 500 seniors at a university, somebody asked what

Johnny Sirpilla:

they wish they knew when I was in their seat. And my reply,

Johnny Sirpilla:

as distilling and maybe as negative as it sounded was I wish

Johnny Sirpilla:

I knew that life would be hard. And I'd be okay. And so for

Johnny Sirpilla:

us in that adversity, we thought after Nicolas, Mary and

Johnny Sirpilla:

Peter died, that we hit our low, and probably it was, but

Johnny Sirpilla:

then there was a lot of other lows that followed. And

Johnny Sirpilla:

there was a total of 13 different scenarios of different

Johnny Sirpilla:

children that came in and out of our lives before we

Johnny Sirpilla:

became parents, and so we continue to struggle. And so

Johnny Sirpilla:

I guess, you know, when I think about getting beyond that

Johnny Sirpilla:

adversity and feeling like we're at our low, but we're really

Johnny Sirpilla:

not because then a new low comes, and then a new low

Johnny Sirpilla:

comes in years continue like this. For me, I have to find

Johnny Sirpilla:

purpose in that pain, I cannot accept, and I would not accept.

Johnny Sirpilla:

At that time, in my late 20s, when Nicholas, Mary and Peter

Johnny Sirpilla:

died, I would not accept that this was the life that my wife

Johnny Sirpilla:

and I were destined to lead. And so, you know, that's where

Johnny Sirpilla:

we have to go beyond those adversities and find the purpose

Johnny Sirpilla:

in our pain. Find those silver linings of blessings, and I can

Johnny Sirpilla:

promise you through a lot of work and therapy and commitment

Johnny Sirpilla:

from my wife and I, we found so much beauty, even in the time

Johnny Sirpilla:

Nicholas, Mary and Peter, we're alive that we're

Johnny Sirpilla:

incredibly thankful for today.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Wow. What a poignant story in a moment, and I

Dr. Brad Miller:

can relate to some degree with you, Johnny, my.

Dr. Brad Miller:

I'm not sure what stage of prematurity your children

Dr. Brad Miller:

were born with my other daughter who was born six

Dr. Brad Miller:

and a half weeks premature and was less than three

Dr. Brad Miller:

pounds when she was born, and had many medical

Dr. Brad Miller:

issues. And the flip side of what we've talked about

Dr. Brad Miller:

here is now that you know she's 36 and I have two

Dr. Brad Miller:

grandchildren from her, but I can still remember those

Dr. Brad Miller:

days very pointedly of her going through that time.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And so I just want to say before we go too far, for you

Dr. Brad Miller:

and your wife, I'm sorry. You know, I just feel I'm just so

Dr. Brad Miller:

sorry that this happened to you and and then do multiply

Dr. Brad Miller:

that by whatever the scenarios are you said 13 different

Dr. Brad Miller:

scenarios of having children and just want an anguishing

Dr. Brad Miller:

time. And I just want to say I'm sorry. And that I'm so glad

Dr. Brad Miller:

and happy that you found some pathway forward. Because

Dr. Brad Miller:

I've been involved with ministry for many years as a retired

Dr. Brad Miller:

pastor and dealt with a number of situations where people

Dr. Brad Miller:

have had premature children and other life events where

Dr. Brad Miller:

they get stuck, and they are devastated. I know of at least

Dr. Brad Miller:

one situation where person never really recovered from that.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And they live many years later, but they never really recovered

Dr. Brad Miller:

from that episode. Let's talk for a minute. You mentioned

Dr. Brad Miller:

some things here, in your comments a minute ago, Johnny,

Dr. Brad Miller:

but what you did, you chose to try to find some purpose or

Dr. Brad Miller:

some moments of joy out of this purpose out of pain. Tell us

Dr. Brad Miller:

about some of the actions then that you did. To work that

Dr. Brad Miller:

process. You know, you obviously, you didn't dissolve in the

Dr. Brad Miller:

you didn't just pull the covers up completely. Maybe you did

Dr. Brad Miller:

some of that. But you took some action. Tell us a bit about

Dr. Brad Miller:

what sort of things that you and your wife did?

Johnny Sirpilla:

Well, first of all, we were heavily engaged in therapy

Johnny Sirpilla:

together, it was very important to us that the statistics

Johnny Sirpilla:

after a child dies, for a couple of staying together are

Johnny Sirpilla:

pretty grim. And so we were presented that statistic,

Johnny Sirpilla:

the night before the funeral, by some caring people

Johnny Sirpilla:

that reached out to us and we were already in therapy,

Johnny Sirpilla:

because of the time of the years of infertility and how

Johnny Sirpilla:

taxing and wearing that was on us. And so we just

Johnny Sirpilla:

doubled down with our psychologist, Dr. Barbara Fordyce,

Johnny Sirpilla:

who's a dear friend of mine and business partner today we

Johnny Sirpilla:

do a lot of public speaking together. And but again, this

Johnny Sirpilla:

was 27 years ago, that we were working through this, and

Johnny Sirpilla:

we just sought help. And we took that help. We didn't fight

Johnny Sirpilla:

it. And I think Brad, one of the things that helped us is, we

Johnny Sirpilla:

went into it with a mindset that so many people were saying,

Johnny Sirpilla:

I'm sure you're saying, Why me? We never thought that

Johnny Sirpilla:

somehow we were blessed to walk into therapy ahead of

Johnny Sirpilla:

that decision or that question. We didn't get stuck there.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Because why not me. There's awful things happening to

Johnny Sirpilla:

everyone in the world all the time, and beautiful things

Johnny Sirpilla:

happening to people all over the world all the time.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And we've had some beautiful things happen. And we've

Johnny Sirpilla:

had some awful things happen. So we don't get to just

Johnny Sirpilla:

choose all the beauty side of it. And so we were okay

Johnny Sirpilla:

with that. We didn't question that. And matter of fact,

Johnny Sirpilla:

one of the chapters in my book is entitled, Why not us?

Johnny Sirpilla:

And so we operated from that framework first, which I

Johnny Sirpilla:

think it gave us a leg up, if you will, on therapy. Because

Johnny Sirpilla:

we weren't stuck in that rut. We were above that. Insane.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Yes, this happened to us. And we can accept that.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Well, there we Romolo. But if you go into with a positive

Dr. Brad Miller:

attitude, an open attitude, if you're defensive at all, or

Dr. Brad Miller:

if one party wants to win party doesn't, it's really tough.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Like that's right, we went in as a team and brought BB

Johnny Sirpilla:

into that team with us. And we wanted together to get

Johnny Sirpilla:

to happier days that we weren't spending so much time

Johnny Sirpilla:

at the cemetery, daily, weekly, and finding the ways to

Johnny Sirpilla:

move forward. One of the ways that we had to do that

Johnny Sirpilla:

is you know, reframe our thoughts through cognitive

Johnny Sirpilla:

behavioral therapy, we learned some really important

Johnny Sirpilla:

reframing techniques of how we can take a thought

Johnny Sirpilla:

and change it in our mind to reframe it to one that we

Johnny Sirpilla:

can accept the one we don't like, to the one that we can

Johnny Sirpilla:

accept. And so for us, it's kind of that you know, concept,

Johnny Sirpilla:

all of us today know about PTSD, post traumatic stress

Johnny Sirpilla:

syndrome. We were looking then for that post traumatic

Johnny Sirpilla:

growth, we were looking for that opportunity to take

Johnny Sirpilla:

something that was so wrong and hurt us so badly and

Johnny Sirpilla:

say, God, I'm not going to allow this to just be in our lives

Johnny Sirpilla:

as a tragedy. And more importantly, Brad, I think, because

Johnny Sirpilla:

it wasn't about us, it was about honoring Nicholas, Mary, and

Johnny Sirpilla:

Peter, we were not going to allow their lives to be defined as a

Johnny Sirpilla:

tragedy and be defined on the time between the birth and

Johnny Sirpilla:

death certificate. We wanted to honor them in a in a better

Johnny Sirpilla:

way than that. And so that forced us to start looking at them

Johnny Sirpilla:

differently, and not as this traumatic loss, but starting to

Johnny Sirpilla:

think about the amazing blessing that we had. And there

Johnny Sirpilla:

was something really beautiful when we were able to hold

Johnny Sirpilla:

our kids entire lives in our hands from beginning to end, just

Johnny Sirpilla:

the five of us. And as sad as it was while it was happening,

Johnny Sirpilla:

we were the happiest people in that hospital. It was, there

Johnny Sirpilla:

was just gratitude. I mean, we saw the gifts that God

Johnny Sirpilla:

created for us. And so, you know, we talked about that

Johnny Sirpilla:

yet, then we did immediately go back to sadness. And so

Johnny Sirpilla:

part of that reframing of our thoughts was, well, why

Johnny Sirpilla:

can't we just stay on the gratitude part? Why we always

Johnny Sirpilla:

want more of everything, if it's good food, we want more

Johnny Sirpilla:

of that, if it's money, we want more of that. If it's somebody

Johnny Sirpilla:

to love, we want more of that. But why can't we say, this

Johnny Sirpilla:

was enough? And I'm thankful for it. And that's what we

Johnny Sirpilla:

started doing. And the more we said it, the more we

Johnny Sirpilla:

believed it. And the more we felt just so blessed to be

Johnny Sirpilla:

Nicholas, Mary, Peters parents.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Sure. So you kind of doubled down on gratitude. Is that

Dr. Brad Miller:

what I'm hearing you hear? You say, Johnny, you kind

Dr. Brad Miller:

of really went heavy on the gratitude, and embracing

Dr. Brad Miller:

what was instead of what wasn't?

Johnny Sirpilla:

That's right. Absolutely, we did, Brad, because the

Johnny Sirpilla:

alternative was too painful. Yeah, I mean, it just was

Johnny Sirpilla:

too dark. Laying, I spent so much time laying on that

Johnny Sirpilla:

ground at the cemetery, because I felt, you know, I was

Johnny Sirpilla:

six feet away from them. And it just felt as a new parent,

Johnny Sirpilla:

as we were prepared to be up all night, and, you know,

Johnny Sirpilla:

trying to get three babies to sleep and all those things.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Sure.

Johnny Sirpilla:

It just felt like that's where I belonged. And, but God

Johnny Sirpilla:

had other purpose and intent for me part of it, I think,

Johnny Sirpilla:

was writing this book, and to be able to help others who

Johnny Sirpilla:

gets stuck when life is hard, and they can't move beyond adversity.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Wow, that's so awesome, you know, the end. But part of

Dr. Brad Miller:

what's going on here is the very radically intentional

Dr. Brad Miller:

part of this because it's because they we can be really

Dr. Brad Miller:

dissolved, you know, the the other forces, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

resentment, and bitterness, and all kinds of things can

Dr. Brad Miller:

reach up and grab us and drag us down. And that's not

Dr. Brad Miller:

where that's not the healthiest place to be, you do you

Dr. Brad Miller:

can't spend your life prone on that grave. That's just not

Dr. Brad Miller:

where it's going to be in probably, those three children

Dr. Brad Miller:

don't want you to be in that state either. That's lifted up

Dr. Brad Miller:

their lives in a really great way.

Johnny Sirpilla:

You just said something important about resentment.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And, you know, we were three of our closest friends

Johnny Sirpilla:

were pregnant when we were pregnant, and we were

Johnny Sirpilla:

all due the same time.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Sure.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And, you know, we were determined, because they were

Johnny Sirpilla:

so wonderful to us, and they were so feeling our pain,

Johnny Sirpilla:

you know, my wife's best friends, three of them coming

Johnny Sirpilla:

to the funeral. And as pregnant as my wife was, I mean,

Johnny Sirpilla:

you know, that that's not a happy place for a pregnant

Johnny Sirpilla:

woman to go into a funeral parlor or, or into the church

Johnny Sirpilla:

or be at the hospital when they were born as they are

Johnny Sirpilla:

were. And so, you know, we knew that they were there

Johnny Sirpilla:

for us and our sadness. And it was very simple and clear

Johnny Sirpilla:

to us that we needed to be there for them in their joy.

Johnny Sirpilla:

So, you know, one of those births happen about 10 days

Johnny Sirpilla:

after the funeral. And we were determined to be there

Johnny Sirpilla:

at the hospital, the same hospital that we just delivered

Johnny Sirpilla:

at two weeks prior. And we were determined to be

Johnny Sirpilla:

there for them, because they deserved and of course,

Johnny Sirpilla:

they didn't expect it. But they deserved from us the

Johnny Sirpilla:

same care of it, and attention back that they gave to

Johnny Sirpilla:

us. And so what we saw that there was no connection

Johnny Sirpilla:

to our sorrow in their joy, other than we mutually felt it

Johnny Sirpilla:

for each other. And so we only knew the right thing to

Johnny Sirpilla:

do was to express that joy for them. So as they would

Johnny Sirpilla:

want to comfort us in that moment of their child's

Johnny Sirpilla:

birth, it was no, no. This is all for you. And so that's

Johnny Sirpilla:

where we're going to stay and it took discipline.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Sure.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Without a doubt, most of those visits ended Brad

Johnny Sirpilla:

with us going to the cemetery. But while we were

Johnny Sirpilla:

present with them, that was important to us. And

Johnny Sirpilla:

we did have our moments holding their babies where

Johnny Sirpilla:

we had a motion, sure of a budget of you know, I think

Johnny Sirpilla:

that's it's a way though, to help us keep moving forward

Johnny Sirpilla:

and beyond that adversity. And I'm going to keep using

Johnny Sirpilla:

your title for your show, because that's exactly where we

Johnny Sirpilla:

were and we, you know, had to get beyond that.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Well, that's awesome. And well. Well, what I reflect with

Dr. Brad Miller:

you here at meta Johnny, I hear at least three things that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you did, you took actions that you took you continue to

Dr. Brad Miller:

with your therapy, what you were doing prior to this

Dr. Brad Miller:

event and keeps on doing it and now you're writing

Dr. Brad Miller:

books and doing things with your therapist. So that's

Dr. Brad Miller:

an ongoing part of your life. And you certainly advocate

Dr. Brad Miller:

that so that's that's great. And you also chose to be kind

Dr. Brad Miller:

of radical in your attitude towards gratitude. And even

Dr. Brad Miller:

when you may not have been feeling all that great fall,

Dr. Brad Miller:

you still express gratitude. And that's awesome. And then

Dr. Brad Miller:

the other thing I would share with you that I think is a

Dr. Brad Miller:

little bit unusual that you didn't, your whatever bitterness,

Dr. Brad Miller:

resentment may have been there, it didn't consume you

Dr. Brad Miller:

in the sense of how you still chose to be active in engaging

Dr. Brad Miller:

with others. And I see this so often where people withdrawal,

Dr. Brad Miller:

you've probably seen this too, where people withdraw,

Dr. Brad Miller:

because it's so terribly painful. You know, the person

Dr. Brad Miller:

who go through the divorce, doesn't want to hang

Dr. Brad Miller:

around with their married friends anymore, the person

Dr. Brad Miller:

who has a death in the family doesn't want to be with

Dr. Brad Miller:

people, somebody, whatever, you know, a number of

Dr. Brad Miller:

things. So that that's awesome. So I appreciate you

Dr. Brad Miller:

talking about the actions that you took. And I want to

Dr. Brad Miller:

talk about an action or an aspect that I think is so important

Dr. Brad Miller:

as well, in what we're talking about here. And I think it's a part

Dr. Brad Miller:

of your story. And you'll have to help me out here a little bit. What

Dr. Brad Miller:

connection if, if any, was there to a higher power or a sense of

Dr. Brad Miller:

a connection to God or meditation or anything along this line,

Dr. Brad Miller:

that was a part of your process, because a lot of times when

Dr. Brad Miller:

bad things happen, people get mad at God, or they get mad,

Dr. Brad Miller:

or they further you know, credit, withdrawal from from this type

Dr. Brad Miller:

of thing. But tell me about any aspects of spiritual life that had

Dr. Brad Miller:

to do with this process for you?

Johnny Sirpilla:

Well, probably the most, the closest we've probably ever felt to

Johnny Sirpilla:

God, and we never had anger at God. Again, you know, we

Johnny Sirpilla:

know that God is a loving God, we know that he does not

Johnny Sirpilla:

promise us a life, free of pain, or anxiety or trials. And so we

Johnny Sirpilla:

understand that going in. And we knew that God did not do

Johnny Sirpilla:

this to us. There's freewill on this earth, things happen. And we

Johnny Sirpilla:

know God is there for us. So we saw that clear distinction, the

Johnny Sirpilla:

time that they were alive, again, was the closest probably that

Johnny Sirpilla:

we've ever felt to God, it was so beautiful. And we were very

Johnny Sirpilla:

joyful. We found our faith to be what was going to continue

Johnny Sirpilla:

to carry us through because as the book describes, you know,

Johnny Sirpilla:

life threatening medical situations happening to my wife later

Johnny Sirpilla:

in future pregnancies, in adoptions internationally, that were

Johnny Sirpilla:

challenging that were our lives were at risk in a foreign country.

Johnny Sirpilla:

You know, so many things that happen in this book that happened

Johnny Sirpilla:

in our lives that I write about in the book, you know, really put us

Johnny Sirpilla:

in a spot to just keep saying to God, you know, God, I prayed so

Johnny Sirpilla:

hard to get Susan pregnant and keep Susan pregnant, and all

Johnny Sirpilla:

those things. And then we changed our prayer, about halfway

Johnny Sirpilla:

through this journey to, you know, God, we surrender, send us

Johnny Sirpilla:

the kids that you want us to raise from whatever woman is

Johnny Sirpilla:

going to give birth to them, through my wife through someone

Johnny Sirpilla:

else, wherever in the world, any color, anything. Race, from any

Johnny Sirpilla:

place in the world, you send us our children that were meant to

Johnny Sirpilla:

raise. And that's really when our lives changed. When the good

Johnny Sirpilla:

for God's plan for us, as opposed to me as a control freak, that

Johnny Sirpilla:

I am a guy with high anxiety and a type eight, driving personality,

Johnny Sirpilla:

started happening, when we opened ourselves up, ultimately,

Johnny Sirpilla:

which worked great in my business career. But when I let go, and

Johnny Sirpilla:

let God and then things really manifested, still were challenging,

Johnny Sirpilla:

right, still were really difficult and a lot of ups and downs.

Johnny Sirpilla:

But he was right there with us through it all.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And just to just to kind of complete the circle there, you does

Dr. Brad Miller:

end up with you having more children, through their through

Dr. Brad Miller:

adoption and other through adoption. So you have just to

Dr. Brad Miller:

clarify you have how many children now at this point,

Johnny Sirpilla:

we have three children, one of them is adopted. I told my kids,

Johnny Sirpilla:

I don't recall which one of them is, but we're pretty sure I

Johnny Sirpilla:

got a file somewhere that tells us but yeah, so Bo is our

Johnny Sirpilla:

oldest. He's 26. Actually bows adopted. And then Bella in

Johnny Sirpilla:

stone came within less than three years after that. And so

Johnny Sirpilla:

we ended up with three children under the age of four.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Well, hey, yay, God, and you had the blessing that

Dr. Brad Miller:

happened that way. And as you said, you know, to let

Dr. Brad Miller:

go and let God. When you surrender, often things happen.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And so many times I've experienced this myself, people

Dr. Brad Miller:

who you know, just like what you said you for whatever

Dr. Brad Miller:

the circumstances were you had an adoption and an

Dr. Brad Miller:

end to natural born children. And that type of thing

Dr. Brad Miller:

just seems to happen oftentimes, and and so so did

Dr. Brad Miller:

you have that blessing in your life of your children?

Dr. Brad Miller:

And so you have the blessings in your life of your wife

Dr. Brad Miller:

and you've carried your life together. You've had the

Dr. Brad Miller:

blessings in your life of your Faith. And now you're

Dr. Brad Miller:

trying to get turn your blessings around and to share

Dr. Brad Miller:

it with other people. And so let's talk for a minute here

Dr. Brad Miller:

about how you have applied these lessons in your life.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And how that can be applicable to other people. What

Dr. Brad Miller:

I'm talking about here now, Johnny is any disciplines, any

Dr. Brad Miller:

habits, any lifestyle situations, spiritually, physical healthwise,

Dr. Brad Miller:

leadership, business wise, anything that's kind of transformed

Dr. Brad Miller:

and shifted in your life that you have what you live your life

Dr. Brad Miller:

now is particular how you can maybe share that with others,

Dr. Brad Miller:

I'm talking disciplines, habits, practices, things like this.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Tell us about that a little bit.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Absolutely, Brad. You know, again, as I said earlier, the

Johnny Sirpilla:

purpose for the pain I was continually looking for that. So

Johnny Sirpilla:

I wanted to apply what I felt what I learned, and when I

Johnny Sirpilla:

realized the epiphanies that I was having, of how my life

Johnny Sirpilla:

needs to be now that I hit this low. And I know truly what

Johnny Sirpilla:

the hardest degree of sadness is. There was an empathy in

Johnny Sirpilla:

me that came out of desire, I think God put it on my heart

Johnny Sirpilla:

to really change the business executive that I was, and I was

Johnny Sirpilla:

running a family business, a nice size company. And I started

Johnny Sirpilla:

immediately making changes there, because I recognize that I

Johnny Sirpilla:

did not have an environment in my company that was ultimately

Johnny Sirpilla:

creating happiness and joy for my associates that when they go

Johnny Sirpilla:

home to play their most important role as a family member or a

Johnny Sirpilla:

caregiver, that I was putting them in the best frame of mind when

Johnny Sirpilla:

they go home. And I recognized as a leader, that at the time, I

Johnny Sirpilla:

only had 70 employees. As my career went on, I had over

Johnny Sirpilla:

10,000 employees. And what I recognized was that in their

Johnny Sirpilla:

work hours, when I had high demands and high expectations

Johnny Sirpilla:

from them, I needed to be creating a culture that lifted them

Johnny Sirpilla:

up, that made them feel valued and appreciated. And so that

Johnny Sirpilla:

they have the best frame of mind when they go home.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Because if not, if I exert negativity and control over them,

Johnny Sirpilla:

or allow my team or my managers or create that culture

Johnny Sirpilla:

that's negative, when they go home, and they have the

Johnny Sirpilla:

opportunity to exert the power that they have at their

Johnny Sirpilla:

home, and they treat people poorly, whether it's their

Johnny Sirpilla:

husband, their wife, their children, whoever it might be

Johnny Sirpilla:

their parents, some of that's on me in the late in the

Johnny Sirpilla:

leadership that I allowed in our company. So the

Johnny Sirpilla:

application that I used for all of these thoughts that

Johnny Sirpilla:

I had was a clarity of how I wanted my heart to be.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And that's the same heart that I have at home, because

Johnny Sirpilla:

we have one mind and one heart, and I have to

Johnny Sirpilla:

bring that same mind and heart to work. So if I'm

Johnny Sirpilla:

going to be a good loving guy at home, then when

Johnny Sirpilla:

I go to work, I gotta be that same guy, and vice versa.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And let me ask you something about this from a business

Dr. Brad Miller:

perspective, because some people might push back on

Dr. Brad Miller:

you can say that oh, man, God, that's kind of soft.

Dr. Brad Miller:

You know, that's not how we do business. This is not the

Dr. Brad Miller:

way it's done. But I'm going to take a shot here with you

Dr. Brad Miller:

that when you made these adjustments, and how you did

Dr. Brad Miller:

business with your employees, and in your environment,

Dr. Brad Miller:

of being having this trust and accountability that way.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Didn't really hurt the bottom why did it, your business

Dr. Brad Miller:

still did okay? All right?

Johnny Sirpilla:

Yeah, the businesses grew incredibly. And I can tell you,

Johnny Sirpilla:

Brad, no one has ever said about me, but I'm too soft, as

Johnny Sirpilla:

a business leader. But what I hope that they say to me

Johnny Sirpilla:

is that I'm respectful of them, that I will have tough

Johnny Sirpilla:

conversations, because it's important to me to be honest

Johnny Sirpilla:

and real with people and never mess with their minds. I

Johnny Sirpilla:

would tell my leaders, my team, I will never mess with you,

Johnny Sirpilla:

I do have very high expectations. And that's part of that is in

Johnny Sirpilla:

terms of how we treat each other. But a huge part of that is

Johnny Sirpilla:

how we deliver and meet the expectations that we have from

Johnny Sirpilla:

our customers, from our stakeholders from our shareholders.

Johnny Sirpilla:

That is exactly what we're going to do. And we're going to do

Johnny Sirpilla:

it at a high level. But we're going to do it with respect and

Johnny Sirpilla:

integrity and honesty towards each other. And when we need

Johnny Sirpilla:

to have a tough conversation, we're absolutely going to do that.

Johnny Sirpilla:

We're never going to shy away from those. We're going to dive

Johnny Sirpilla:

into those deeply Brad, and we're going to have meaningful talks.

Johnny Sirpilla:

But the way we're going to do it is we're gonna engage and do it

Johnny Sirpilla:

with integrity and honesty, and respect and kindness. And as

Johnny Sirpilla:

soon as we see that conversation going in a different way. I

Johnny Sirpilla:

would like to say, you know, I'm willing to call timeout here.

Johnny Sirpilla:

I see how this conversation is going. I don't think it's going to

Johnny Sirpilla:

end well for either of us. I want to give you a chance to

Johnny Sirpilla:

reframe your thoughts, maybe dial it down a bit. If we

Johnny Sirpilla:

need to break we can break and reschedule and come

Johnny Sirpilla:

back. But if you can't do that, and you want to keep

Johnny Sirpilla:

going at this force and pace, I'll be in a position To reply,

Johnny Sirpilla:

and come at it with the same, but that's not what I prefer.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Sure, I'd like the best outcome here. And so I think really

Johnny Sirpilla:

with that honesty, it was it was being respectful because

Johnny Sirpilla:

you gotta remember Brad, that, you know, in our workplace,

Johnny Sirpilla:

people come into the workplace with their own expectations

Johnny Sirpilla:

of what they think of the boss, or management or the

Johnny Sirpilla:

president of the company. And for me playing those

Johnny Sirpilla:

roles, I understood that I could be working against 30

Johnny Sirpilla:

years of conditioning that in the home that they grew

Johnny Sirpilla:

up in, their parents hated management, they hated the

Johnny Sirpilla:

boss, they hated the leader, and maybe for very, very

Johnny Sirpilla:

good reasons. And so they come in with that preconceived

Johnny Sirpilla:

judgment that I have to be a bad guy because I own the

Johnny Sirpilla:

company or because I'm president of the company. And

Johnny Sirpilla:

that's what I wouldn't accept. And so I would spend a little

Johnny Sirpilla:

extra time to try to get them to understand, hey, Johnny's

Johnny Sirpilla:

a real dude. I'm a dad, I'm a husband, I've got my challenges

Johnny Sirpilla:

outside of work as well. And I care

Dr. Brad Miller:

and have some respect that they have that same thing going

Dr. Brad Miller:

on in their life, there's many facets of life. And I'm a big fan of

Dr. Brad Miller:

Jim Collins, he's the Good to Great guy. Right. And his book,

Dr. Brad Miller:

How the Mighty have Fallen has to do with differences in

Dr. Brad Miller:

management of hubris over humility. You have a big vision,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and hubris is how to manage the style of kind of stepping

Dr. Brad Miller:

on people. And you know, it's all arrogance and so on.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Right, humility is about serving one another. And we're

Dr. Brad Miller:

all in this together teamwork. And so I'm sensing that

Dr. Brad Miller:

this is what you're building here a sense of not that

Dr. Brad Miller:

the business moves on the trust level of all factors here.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And that's awesome. That's awesome.

Johnny Sirpilla:

That's right.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah, let me let's talk about your book here a little bit

Dr. Brad Miller:

in depth in terms of what it means for people moving

Dr. Brad Miller:

forward in terms of who you wrote this book for, what

Dr. Brad Miller:

it's about who you're serving here, because I believe

Dr. Brad Miller:

what's on your heart. Here Johnny is, you know, you've

Dr. Brad Miller:

shared your story and sure to how it's been of impacting

Dr. Brad Miller:

your marriage and your life and your children, your family,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and then even your business a little bit. But I think your hearts

Dr. Brad Miller:

a little bit, even wider than that. And you have his heart to

Dr. Brad Miller:

serve others, even outside the, your circles. So you wrote this

Dr. Brad Miller:

book, who would you read this book for? What's it all about?

Dr. Brad Miller:

What part of this is serving others in love.

Johnny Sirpilla:

So to two purposes, to write the book, one, it's dedicated to

Johnny Sirpilla:

all those who find life to be hard, and to those who provide

Johnny Sirpilla:

strength and wisdom for them on the journey. So when

Johnny Sirpilla:

writing the book, I was acknowledging that although our

Johnny Sirpilla:

story is about the death of our children, and the struggle for

Johnny Sirpilla:

us to have a family, that's just the backdrop and the storyline

Johnny Sirpilla:

applied to the psychological principles of dealing when life

Johnny Sirpilla:

is hard. And so for us, I wanted to put that out there to the

Johnny Sirpilla:

people that are experiencing life when it's hard, and also

Johnny Sirpilla:

for the people out there that provide strength and wisdom

Johnny Sirpilla:

for the journey. So for those caregivers, those good friends,

Johnny Sirpilla:

those parents, anyone that seen when life is hard for someone,

Johnny Sirpilla:

really, I very clear about how good that people were to us. So it's

Johnny Sirpilla:

for both sides of that coin. Number one. And then I also wrote the

Johnny Sirpilla:

book to honor my wife, what she endured physically, she endured

Johnny Sirpilla:

what I endured emotionally, but she had the whole other component

Johnny Sirpilla:

physically. And I wanted our children to know, I wanted to honor

Johnny Sirpilla:

Nicholas, Mary, and Peter, but I wanted there all six of them to know

Johnny Sirpilla:

that the incredible depths that Susan went through, in order to

Johnny Sirpilla:

become a mother and to give us a family. And so I wanted people

Johnny Sirpilla:

to understand this resilience and strength that my wife had that

Johnny Sirpilla:

was unimaginable to many in the process. And yes, my wife did

Johnny Sirpilla:

have, you know, two children that we're raising today, biologically,

Johnny Sirpilla:

but and they were born prematurely in the same stage that your

Johnny Sirpilla:

daughter was, and she spent, you know, five and a half months in

Johnny Sirpilla:

bed, during the pregnancies and just, you know, struggling, it

Johnny Sirpilla:

was bad and her life was at risk, but her resilience. So that's

Johnny Sirpilla:

really why I wrote the book is to help people with that frame

Johnny Sirpilla:

of thought and how to try to find resilience and gratitude in

Johnny Sirpilla:

the process, and then also to let people know, and have an

Johnny Sirpilla:

expectation that in their life, it's okay when it's hard. There's

Johnny Sirpilla:

so much goodness in that grit and those hard times that you

Johnny Sirpilla:

can come out of, and never to let those life lessons be wasted

Johnny Sirpilla:

in self medicating through alcohol or drugs or food or any

Johnny Sirpilla:

other form of addiction that give a temporary feel good

Johnny Sirpilla:

measure, but really find the things that are long lasting.

Johnny Sirpilla:

Faith, the trust in God, the resilience to keep fighting and

Johnny Sirpilla:

keep pushing. And again ours, it was, you know, a course of

Johnny Sirpilla:

seven years that we went through some really, really dark

Johnny Sirpilla:

times, and dark times, after all three of our kids suffered

Johnny Sirpilla:

today from illnesses that they'll have the rest of their life,

Johnny Sirpilla:

we've had a lot of medical challenges with our three kids.

Johnny Sirpilla:

And so life continued to be harsher. It wasn't just over

Johnny Sirpilla:

just because we had kids.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And that doesn't end. That never ends, you know, but I

Dr. Brad Miller:

think I love what you've done here, as you put on the

Dr. Brad Miller:

record your story, you know, you put it there in a book,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and it's in your story. And therefore, it's not only honoring

Dr. Brad Miller:

Susan, but it's also telling your children and other people's

Dr. Brad Miller:

lives and wives and husbands and children and other people

Dr. Brad Miller:

that this is my story, but you got your story too. Everybody's

Dr. Brad Miller:

got their story, that's part of the story here, has also learned

Dr. Brad Miller:

about the power of the wilderness experience is why I've just

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of put it here that biblically, you know, you kind of got

Dr. Brad Miller:

your Exodus. So you're at your Genesis, the beginning of

Dr. Brad Miller:

things. Exodus, you lead, you eventually get to the promised

Dr. Brad Miller:

land is one metaphor, biblically. And I like to think about

Dr. Brad Miller:

that one in terms of the teaching that I do, Johnny, in

Dr. Brad Miller:

terms of, you really can't get to the promise life or the

Dr. Brad Miller:

promised land without going through a wilderness

Dr. Brad Miller:

experience. And you really devalue the wilderness

Dr. Brad Miller:

experience. And because we went right to, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

if we went right to some ecstatic experience out of the

Dr. Brad Miller:

beginning, then it's just gonna be ridiculous, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

ridiculous. So I appreciate that. So let's talk for a minute

Dr. Brad Miller:

and kind of wind this around to where I think, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

your story began with how people came and served

Dr. Brad Miller:

you in the midst of your pain, and how you chose to

Dr. Brad Miller:

react to that and in a mostly positive way, and not be

Dr. Brad Miller:

bitter but to get better. Let's talk about some people

Dr. Brad Miller:

may have read your book, or maybe you've encountered

Dr. Brad Miller:

or maybe you've talked to perhaps employees or

Dr. Brad Miller:

coworkers or others who have who have come to you,

Dr. Brad Miller:

not only for what's going on in your business, but hey,

Dr. Brad Miller:

you know, we've had this situation happen. How has

Dr. Brad Miller:

something that you've shared or at your book or your

Dr. Brad Miller:

teaching out of your life? How have you seen that to be

Dr. Brad Miller:

helpful to someone else to see some life transformation,

Dr. Brad Miller:

take place, a testimonial, perhaps, or something that's

Dr. Brad Miller:

going on here?

Johnny Sirpilla:

You know, for me, Brad, I think that as I've been open with

Johnny Sirpilla:

my employees over the years, and again, 1000s of them,

Johnny Sirpilla:

that I, you know, let them know that, you know, although in

Johnny Sirpilla:

this company, I have this authority and this responsibility,

Johnny Sirpilla:

I'm no different than them, in many, many ways, many of

Johnny Sirpilla:

them are much stronger than me, much brighter than me

Johnny Sirpilla:

have endured much more than me. And that were just real

Johnny Sirpilla:

people working together, I loved the opportunity to connect

Johnny Sirpilla:

with people at any level in the company, and use it as an

Johnny Sirpilla:

opportunity to show them number one, that I care that

Johnny Sirpilla:

I'm appreciative of their efforts and their commitment to

Johnny Sirpilla:

our company and to our customers. But beyond that, that

Johnny Sirpilla:

we as a company care about them and their families. And

Johnny Sirpilla:

I wanted to talk about their kids and I wanted to, for them

Johnny Sirpilla:

to know about mine, and that we had a relationship that

Johnny Sirpilla:

was built on more than just business. And because I did

Johnny Sirpilla:

that, and I put that energy into it, I found them in turn

Johnny Sirpilla:

putting that energy back into their role as an executive

Johnny Sirpilla:

or leader in the company. And we formed something

Johnny Sirpilla:

special, which was really a partnership. I'd love to say

Johnny Sirpilla:

that all those executives, I worked, they worked with me.

Johnny Sirpilla:

My team, I didn't refer to them as working for me, it was

Johnny Sirpilla:

always working with me. And we were together, we

Johnny Sirpilla:

were a tight group. And when I told them that I was

Johnny Sirpilla:

retiring after our IPO, I literally cried in front of them.

Johnny Sirpilla:

It felt like the most selfish thing that I have. I know it's

Johnny Sirpilla:

the most selfish thing that I've ever done in my life. I was

Johnny Sirpilla:

50 years old. When we had our IPO. It happened on my

Johnny Sirpilla:

50th birthday. And you know, nine months later, I was

Johnny Sirpilla:

retired. And I felt incredibly selfish and cried when I

Johnny Sirpilla:

told them that I was leaving.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Wow. So Johnny, at this point, you've made a commitment

Dr. Brad Miller:

now and you've retired from your career and then put your

Dr. Brad Miller:

valve now with all these other aspects to your website is

Dr. Brad Miller:

encourage33.com And you've written this book and you're

Dr. Brad Miller:

looking to serve others. So tell us how people have really

Dr. Brad Miller:

people want to reach out to you or find out more about

Dr. Brad Miller:

what you're about. Now I know you've got several

Dr. Brad Miller:

aspects of your life. You go to your website, there's a

Dr. Brad Miller:

whole lot of information there about healthy living and

Dr. Brad Miller:

leadership and adoption and so on. But what are people

Dr. Brad Miller:

going to find when they go to your website? What are

Dr. Brad Miller:

people going to find when they read your book? What

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of things can you offer people who are in their own

Dr. Brad Miller:

way, you know, they're suffering, they're stuck. They

Dr. Brad Miller:

have had their own disaster happened. But what can

Dr. Brad Miller:

people find that you might be able to help people out with?

Johnny Sirpilla:

I think they're gonna be able to find hope. Brad, I think

Johnny Sirpilla:

it's as simple as that, that there's hope. And that with

Johnny Sirpilla:

perseverance and staying true to something and staying

Johnny Sirpilla:

focused and not walking away from it. It would have

Johnny Sirpilla:

been easy, the easiest thing we could have done is

Johnny Sirpilla:

stop trying to have a family maybe even easier

Johnny Sirpilla:

than that was to separate from each other. And

Johnny Sirpilla:

those were not options. And so we made a very

Johnny Sirpilla:

clear and decisive and distinct decision and

Johnny Sirpilla:

direction, that and path that we were going to

Johnny Sirpilla:

follow, and we kept going. We were desperate. And that's

Johnny Sirpilla:

why, you know, we were put in a foreign country in a very,

Johnny Sirpilla:

very dangerous situation that I write about, about in our

Johnny Sirpilla:

adoption process. And I'm not saying that being

Johnny Sirpilla:

desperate is good. Being desperate, you know, makes

Johnny Sirpilla:

you vulnerable. And we were incredibly vulnerable and

Johnny Sirpilla:

put in some bad spots because of that desperation,

Johnny Sirpilla:

but we didn't lose hope. And we were not going to lose

Johnny Sirpilla:

hope at every turn, and every door that was slammed in

Johnny Sirpilla:

our face. And so, you know, I think that's one thing that I

Johnny Sirpilla:

hope that people get out of it that they see that there is

Johnny Sirpilla:

a way out from whatever their challenges, and there are

Johnny Sirpilla:

blessings in their path right in front of them. They just

Johnny Sirpilla:

need to recognize them and not fall down the path of

Johnny Sirpilla:

Yeah, but this still happened. Of course it did. And I'll never

Johnny Sirpilla:

deny the pain that we felt the sadness, the tears, the time in

Johnny Sirpilla:

counseling. I'm not saying that we glided over things, we dug

Johnny Sirpilla:

deep into them and express those feelings. Fully immersed

Johnny Sirpilla:

ourselves in them, and then said, now we need to move out

Johnny Sirpilla:

of them because we can't stay here. It was survival that

Johnny Sirpilla:

we couldn't stay in that place. It was too dark.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah. Well, I think you get some awesome things here.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And I love when you say that hope was what your book is

Dr. Brad Miller:

all about. And when you just say it'll be okay. That's not a

Dr. Brad Miller:

trite saying is. It's not just a throwaway line. That'll be okay.

Dr. Brad Miller:

It is believing that somehow in the end, it'll be okay. And

Dr. Brad Miller:

even for men and women of faith, okay. Even means if

Dr. Brad Miller:

things co complete for the South. I mean, you've talked

Dr. Brad Miller:

about over on your three children. disaster for many people.

Dr. Brad Miller:

It was a disaster, obviously. But I mean, you had a sense that

Dr. Brad Miller:

okay, we can deal with this in the sense of being okay. And that's

Dr. Brad Miller:

an awesome message to have. We appreciate you sharing from

Dr. Brad Miller:

your heart here today. Johnny. Johnny Sirpilla. Very vulnerable

Dr. Brad Miller:

with our audience. That's appreciated very much. And again,

Dr. Brad Miller:

I want to say you know, just a big heartfelt thank you and sorry

Dr. Brad Miller:

for your loss. But thank you for your message. That for your book,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Life is hard, but there's hope it'll be okay. So the title of his book is

Dr. Brad Miller:

indeed Life is Hard but I'll Be OK and the subheading is The Power

Dr. Brad Miller:

of Hope Emerging through Pain and Learning to Live with Gratitude.

Dr. Brad Miller:

His blog and his website is encouraged33.com His name is Johnny

Dr. Brad Miller:

Sirpilla. Johnny, thank you for being our guest today on the

Dr. Brad Miller:

Beyond Adversity podcast.

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