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Joe Tye: Finding his contribution Pt. 1

Yesterday, I pulled notes out from my conversation with Joe Tye. I’ve held them back for weeks wondering how to write his story. I decided to just start.


With a chuckle, Joe said, “I’m a recovering hospital administrator.” His story begins with frailty, jumps to failure and enters struggle and striving. Today he says he’s, “almost successful.”


About 20 years ago Joe was the CEO of a 750 bed teaching hospital, but that didn’t work out. He was fired.

Reasons matter and Joe hadn’t yet found his.

“I was living for all the wrong reasons, pretending to be somebody I wasn’t.”  He used expressions like, “substantially inauthentic,” and “superficial.” He was another great pretender that lost his soul to his ego.


After the hospital, Joe started a company that ran large motivational conferences. He lost his shirt. The shadow of bankruptcy hung over the door. Thankfully, over 15 years later, those financial losses are almost paid.


Failure was followed by years of struggling to get over the hump of defeat. Those were days when getting the next speaking gig meant paying the bills. “There were times when we needed to sell enough shirts or we wouldn’t have gas money.”

Joe’s struggling began easing as he grew past feeling like a failure.


Striving is a good thing. It’s hitting your stride. About four years ago, sunlight began burning through shadows. Business was good. Most importantly, Joe said, “I found a clear picture of the contribution we can make.”

You might be surprised to hear that one component of Joe’s contribution is building cultures of ownership in hospitals.


It’s freeing to find a clear picture of the contribution you can make. You’ll find your greatest contribution frequently emerges out of frailty, failure, and struggle.

More tomorrow on how Joe moved through struggle to “almost successful,” and lessons he learned.

My review of one of Joe’s books, “All hands on Deck.”


How might leaders find the greatest contribution they can make?


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