How to deal with serious illness?

Based on the insights from executive coach Ed Batista, dealing with serious illness may involve several strategies that focus on emotional management, acceptance, support, and finding meaning through the experience. Here are some approaches derived from the excerpts provided:

Emotional Management

  • Recognize the importance of emotions in the reasoning process and understand that while emotions cannot be controlled, they can be regulated. Improving the ability to sense, comprehend, articulate, and express what you're feeling is crucial ([The Judicious Imposition of Structure]).
  • Acknowledge that uncontrolled or misdirected emotion can be a source of irrational behavior, and strive to find a balance between acknowledging emotions and maintaining reason ([Three Painful Truths (On Change, Leadership & Mortality)]).


  • Accept the reality of the situation, as difficult as it might be. Pema Chödrön's teachings suggest that although we may strive for perfection in various aspects of our lives, embracing the imperfections and uncertainties is part of the process ([Three Painful Truths (On Change, Leadership & Mortality)]).
  • Understand that life is finite and that acknowledging our mortality, though painful, is necessary. Accepting this can help us live with more comfort and less fear of death ([Three Painful Truths (On Change, Leadership & Mortality)]).

Seeking Support

  • Leading and living through difficult times can be a lonely experience, so it's essential to have people to turn to for support. Establish relationships with trustworthy allies, family members, friends, and possibly professional support such as coaches, who can be guided to provide effective support ([Three Painful Truths (On Change, Leadership & Mortality)]).
  • Think systemically and recognize that others around you may also be struggling. Building an organizational culture or a personal support network that values empathy is important ([The Judicious Imposition of Structure]).

Finding Meaning

  • As seen in Nick Cave's experience with grief, articulating the experience can be a way out of the pain. Writing, talking, and finding a language to describe the indescribable can be transformative and can help in reinventing oneself after trauma ([Nick Cave on Grief]).
  • Cave also suggests that suffering, including the suffering that comes with serious illness, can be a mechanism of change, offering the opportunity to transform into something different, perhaps something better. This change can lead to a more precise and essential way of living, making us more selective and attentive ([Nick Cave on Grief]).

Gratitude and Love

  • In the face of illness, recognizing the precariousness of life can lead to a greater appreciation for its preciousness. Gratitude becomes a simple and essential act, and love is seen as a crucial, counter-intuitive act that is the responsibility of each individual ([Nick Cave on Grief]).

In Closing

  • Finally, it's important to remember that while life's challenges, including serious illness, are hard, they can also be an opportunity to appreciate the simple things, like the taste of radishes, as expressed in Jim Harrison's poem "Zona." This can be a reminder to find moments of joy and gratitude even in the midst of hardship ([Three Painful Truths (On Change, Leadership & Mortality)]).

These strategies and perspectives may not provide a cure or a direct solution to serious illness, but they offer a way to cope with the emotional and psychological challenges that accompany health crises.