Michael O'Brien*

Hey, I'm Michael.

If LinkedIn were a thing in July 2001, my profile would have suggested that I was successful. I was the marketing lead for a $700M brand and made more money and had more stuff than I could have imagined.

But below the surface, I thought I had to do more to be more. I was chasing happiness and thought if I caught it, I would have “made it.”

Here’s the thing, chasing happiness is a stressful pursuit. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. Since I never discovered how to process my stress, I just packed it down into my backpack. And then, on July 11, 2001, an SUV traveling 40 mph hit me head-on and blew apart my backpack.

My Last Bad Day

When the EMT placed my shredded backpack and me on the medivac to take me to the trauma center, I promised myself that I would stop chasing happiness if I survived. But I had no idea how. It was just a near-death bargain I was trying to make with God, The Universe, and Mother Nature.

After my first surgery, my doctors told my wife that they weren’t sure how I survived, and if I had been ten years older or not in shape, I would have died before I got to the hospital. When I came out of the intensive care unit, my doctors painted a grim picture. They shared that I would have a lifetime of limitations, walk with difficulty, and probably never ride again.

It felt like my identity, like my body and backpack, had been shattered. I became angry, worried, and scared. Although I don’t like to admit it, thoughts of revenge toward the driver filled my mind- an eye for an eye, if you will.

Michael O'Brien Accident
Michael O'Brien Crash Accident


Luckily, I found my new beginning through the support of others. I call them my peloton, which I created while I was in the hospital as my medical team was doing morning rounds. There were probably fifteen of them in my room, and when they left, I told my wife they are like my medical peloton. 

In a traditional sense, a peloton is a group of cyclists in a ride or race. 

Although they are on different teams, they all need to trust each other and work together to get down the road as fast and safely as possible. 

Today, I use the term as a metaphor for a team. I’m living proof that life, and our careers, are not solo projects or bike rides. We need to be riding with those who bring out the best in us to create a better tomorrow. 

My peloton helped me get back on my feet and into my life and career again. When I eventually returned to my marketing role, I committed to utilizing everything I discovered to show up on my terms during my recovery. With my second chance, I committed to writing a new story and filling my backpack with goodness.

As a result, I charted a new approach to leaders that led me to the executive suite, a 1,000 person team, and a $4B budget only a few years later. With my accident and the wisdom of my recovery, I’m confident that it wouldn’t have happened on my terms. 

Reflection & Moving Forward

During one of my many difficult moments, a mentor shared that all the events in our lives are neutral until we label them. He went on to suggest that maybe my accident happened for me, not to me. At the time, I was in no mood for his Jedi mindset tricks, but his wisdom gently settled in.

And then I had my shift. Something told me that I had to heal my mind to heal my body. The next day, I started my mindfulness practice with my first Pause Breathe Reflect™ session that I share with leaders today.

It became the spark to my gratitude practice and helped me see what I still had and could do. Plus, it gave me the space to set my intentions, the neutrality to choose my labels, and the ability to manage my stress so my bad moments wouldn’t spiral into a bad day or longer.

I now call July 11, 2001, My Last Bad Day. It represents a new beginning and living purposefully with G.R.A.C.E., which stands for Gratitude, Reframing, Awareness, Community, and Energy, as a way to become more resilient and achieve success starting from the inside out.

Over the years, many have asked if I could turn back time and avoid my accident from happening, would I? 

The answer is no because it has shaped me into the person I am today. It’s taught me so much, and today, it’s my calling to share these lessons with others like yourself. 

Today, I GET TO help others navigate life and business with G.R.A.C.E., which stands for Gratitude, Reframing, Awareness, Community and Energy. This will help you build a trustworthy peloton, create a life of fulfillment, and bring out the best in others. In other words, you will create a beautiful Ripple Effect the world needs right now. 

So, there’s no way I would turn back time because my survival is going to help you thrive. 

The only question that remains is, Are you ready to thrive?

Keep Pedaling Cap

Ways Michael Supports

Gain support from someone who has been in the corporate and entrepreneurial trenches for over 30 years.

Discover how to do hard things together and execute G.R.A.C.E.

Bring mindfulness to your everyday moments and navigate life with more ease.

Connecting, healing, and celebrating our golden symbols of strength.