My Wake Up Call

“Mr. Edmonds is here…Code Red!”, said the emergency room attendant upon my arrival at the Richland Memorial Hospital trauma center.

I’m referring to a near-death experience that forever changed the course of my life on the afternoon of December 1, 2013. A rare, non-impact induced subdural hematoma (bleeding between the skull and brain) formed in my head from near the front of my right eye, extending beyond my right ear to the back of my head.

I was fortunate my condition was detected by my astute family physician, who ordered me to have an MRI after going to him with a headache, a day before I was to fly to New York for a business meeting. I was rushed immediately from the imaging office to the hospital emergency room, where I was greeted by a neurosurgeon who explained to me that emergency brain surgery would most likely be required.

When you’ve been forced off the treadmill and you’re lying in a hospital bed facing unscheduled brain surgery, surrounded by the ones you love the most – my wife of twenty-nine years and my two children – it becomes easy to stop and contemplate the things that matter most. Clarity and focus become simple – you have no choice.

Fortunately, I did not have to have surgery, thanks to a heavy dose of steroids and anti-seizure medication that immediately began to stop the bleeding when administered. Had I sucked it up and endured the pain of my headache, my doctor assured me I would have died earlier that day. Another interesting fact is that I lost one of my mentors and former senior leaders with Merrill Lynch to the very same condition just one year earlier.

"This sober experience caused me to come face to face with my mortality and to do some soul searching by pondering my legacy."

More specifically, would my life be defined more by significance or success? What would be said at my funeral? What would I want to be said? While I enjoyed my work – the company, my colleagues, my assigned duties, the lifestyle it afforded my family – I knew that this season of my life needed to end and a new chapter needed to begin.

What I most enjoyed about my role as a Complex Director at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America was the one-on-one coaching and consulting time I spent inspiring, impacting and helping Advisors and their teams grow and reach their full potential. The world-class training I received in my years of leadership created the perfect launching pad for my own venture. In December 2014, after leading a $100+ million market with over 200 employees, I decided to pursue my dream of serving advisors in the growth of their business and personal life through establishing my own coaching and consulting firm, Northstar Leadership Solutions.

At Northstar, our mission is to bring clarity and focus to our advisors by offering services as an “Outside-Insider” – a personal confidant to come alongside them to help uncover solutions to the challenges and opportunities of operating a successful practice. Simply put our mission is to improve their lives and increase their margins.

The North Star, also known as Polaris, stands almost motionless in the sky as all the other stars appear to rotate around it. This makes it a great fixed point for navigation. In my experience as a leader, I found a lot of the successful people that I encountered were lacking purpose and direction – lacking a “North Star” to chart their course and keep them on course. For many of these individuals, their North Star is more like a Boeing Dreamliner cruising across the night sky at 35,000 feet at over 600 miles per hour.

Our goal is to help Advisors find clarity and focus by helping them realign to their North Star – their purpose – or perhaps align for the very first time. We believe that If you don’t have a North Star, you don’t know where you’re going. Having a North Star not only charts your course but defines it as well. It’s the only way to finish well, not only with success but with significance.