A few pages back in this issue, you may have seen the story of one of the most transformative experiences of my life. In 2011, at 50 years old, I decided to do the Leadman race series — a decision that nearly killed me. If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so here.
Until recently, I had shared the details of this experience with only a small circle of confidants. Here’s why I’ve now chosen to write about it.
As I lay in that hospital bed with rhabdomyolysis and failing kidneys nine years ago, my thoughts turned to my children. My daughter Meghan, who had so quickly grown into a strong and intelligent woman; my son, Akiliez, who was still so small. For each of them, I felt the same unbelievable explosion of love, the same sense of possibility, the same responsibility for their futures.
Yet there were so many differences. With Meghan, I felt like I had all the time in the world to offer wisdom, to guide her, to be her father. With Akiliez, I realized there was a chance I might not be around to give him what I so casually had given his sister.
I also remembered my own father, who had remarkable insight about the world, as well as a true gift for understanding the people in it. He taught me so much, but he never wrote anything down. Everything I learned from my father is in my memory.
As I realized that none of us really knows how much time we have, I wanted the chance to impart what my father taught me — and to pass on what I’d discovered since coming to the United States as a 17-year-old boy. I wanted to share what I’ve learned about life and business, from working the night shift at a gym to starting and growing Life Time.
I wanted my children to know what had challenged and changed me. To look at things from different perspectives, to move with confidence, and most important, to do all things with love.
This near-death experience was the catalyst for what I hoped would become a book, Letters to Akiliez, a series of essays and perspectives dedicated to my son. It started and stopped, like passion projects often do. My focus on it came and went.
Meanwhile, my family grew with the arrival of two more daughters. Life Time grew, too.
Nearly a decade has now passed, and while life has changed, particularly over these last several months, most of the thoughts and ideas I had intended for the book haven’t.
For now, rather than publishing a book, I’m letting the chapters so dear to my heart come to life on my website, bahramakradi.com. It’s a place for the stories to unfold. For the themes — many of them timeless and universal — to play out in today’s relevant conversations.
These are the concepts that I’ve learned through experiences and that have helped me in my unique approach over the years. Through self-exploration and self-reflection, these are the insights I like to share: about how they formed, what I value and love, and, importantly, why.
My hope today is not only for my children and others I love, but for colleagues and Life Time members — for every individual — to take time to do the work of knowing who you are and making the most of your time in this life.
My hope is that it doesn’t take an experience like mine for you to appreciate the full story of your existence.