From Dazed to Amazed: What Are We Waiting For?

Given the opportunity, people will amaze you.

—is a belief and foundational statement for all I do and teach since rebuilding my life nearly 5 years ago, as I climbed out from a dark period and navigated through another significant transition.

It shows up in my book:

“With Believership, we experience the power of possibility for a brighter future of business. It busts the doors open for diversity and inclusion, relies on intuitive abilities to navigate through continuous change, fuels innovation, and lifts others onto the journey with us. It belongs to everyone.

I committed to share this experience of discovering the superpower beyond leadership as an expression of possibilities. To open our hearts and open our minds to new ideas and perspectives. To engage others from around the world, embrace diversity, and open deep, engaging, and intentional dialog. I invite you to explore the hope I gained through the continuously experienced belief that given the opportunity, people will amaze us.”

Until this week – the overwhelming personal experiences this past week – I may not have fully understood my own words.


Sitting in my basement level workspace, on the weekly HumansFirst EMEA call, where Toni McLelland inspired, coordinated, and led us through a 2nd-year birthday celebration for our community, complete with heartfelt contributions from many friends and ‘members’ around the world, I was overwhelmed by the stories, experiences, hopes, love and exploration of possibilities for our future. Then, right in the heart of the event, the electricity flickered, and my internet connection dropped. “What’s going on,” I muttered as I went to flip the circuit switch and resume the celebration. No luck. Frustrated, I shouted up to my wife, working 2 levels above in her office, “Is your internet working?” No response. Seconds later she is shouting down to me, “Fire! – We need to get out of the house.”

We did, thankfully, get out of the house – her in pajamas and slippers, me in my “zoom-attire”- button-down shirt, sweatpants, and slippers. Stepping outside, the thick dark smoke billowing out of every attic vent was shocking, and then seeing the high flames consuming the side wall and roof on the far side sparked panic.

“Call 911,” Sue shouted. I looked at my phone in hand and shouted back, “I don’t have my phone.”

Yep, just like that, I became an amygdala case study. The strong, mentally tough ‘self’ had disappeared. Minutes later (seemingly in slow motion) fire trucks raced into action. 15 firefighters stepped up in a coordinated exhibition of training, grit, bravery, and teamwork. Massive water streams flowed onto the fast-burning roof as others suited up to enter the house – hose in hand – to battle the fire from the inside. It struck me so profoundly at that moment – these human beings were about to risk their lives attempting to save my home – I prayed for them.

What these people accomplished – Amazed me.

The events that unfolded throughout that day, amazed me. Neighbors came out with blankets, hats, and gloves wrapping us from shock and cold. Offers of coffee, food, clothes, and the outpouring of compassion were generously expressed.

Hours later we were escorted into what remained of the house. I’ll just say it was surreal – pressing my capacity for comprehension.

Yet, the lead firefighter and those in the house securing the unstable areas were incredibly present with us in emotion, as if they were physically holding us steady with their expressive stares, their words, and their patient listening – allowing space for the gravitas comprehension. They amazed me.

We were given instructions for immediate next steps, handed keys to a neighbor’s car, and we drove off to our daughter’s home.

Hours later, I went to put gas in the car, head still spinning, I had not looked at my phone since sending a video to Toni in the early moments so she didn’t think I bailed on the fabulous celebration she “amazingly” gifted that morning. As I was standing at the pump, I opened messages and – and – well, just broke into tears. Continuing to scroll the increasingly blurring screen, reading through the outpouring of love and care, singularly – repeatedly – loudly – one thought filled my head:  PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!

­­­­I wrote the above a week ago. Less than 48 hours after the experience and let it sit, knowing I wanted to finish it with a message of encouragement and hope. A week has passed – a challenging and extremely taxing week of activity, decisions, and process. The truth remains with great clarity: “Given the opportunity, people will amaze us.” What had started as an idea to create something that didn’t exist, had now become an experience.

Having just acknowledged each other during the 2nd year celebration, each unselfish contribution invested by every “member” around the world for the betterment of the whole, of our growing community, became powerfully real. Together, we are strong. Together we can inspire and enact and be catalysts for positive change, in our own way, individually and united.

HumansFirst is an elaborate, open invitation to explore the depth of experiences, ideas, and beliefs to discover new possibilities and create a better path forward – for and with each other. YOU – all of you – have turned an idea into an experience. A concept into a reality. Possibilities into action. And the effect on other’s lives, and the greater community impact for all of those around us, is extraordinary.

The great lesson here is actually a question — why wait?

Why wait for someone else? You are the change we need.

Why wait for events (good or tragic) or circumstances to change before acting?

Why wait for guidance, acceptance, and permission when you instinctively know the right thing?

You, we, each individually and exceptionally as a collective, have a profound impact every day in the lives of people around us – if we simply choose it.

Each of you individually has impacted my life. Collectively, it is overwhelming in an incredibly positive way.

I have experienced the possibilities. Possibilities of tremendous impact from each of you. I will not wait. Not wait for the “opportunity” to replicate your kindness. Not wait for the opportunity for outreach. You have taught me that the time is now. The impact is available today. Every singular act for another, grand or small, individual or collectively, impacts the lives of those around us. Sometimes in ripples, other times in waves, always meaningful.

I am amazed by your love and expression and support. Amazed by your strength and willingness. Amazed by your sharing and caring.

Indeed, “given the opportunity, people will amaze us.” What are we waiting for? Let’s be the opportunity for others.

Thank you!


Mike Vacanti
Mike Vacanti
Mike believes, “It’s more than what we accomplish – it’s who we become along the journey!” His mission is to Lift Others, helping people discover their potential, embrace a growth mindset and achieve at inspired levels. Mike has transformed businesses and inspired people to perform at levels they didn’t think possible. Mike's known as a great listener and collaborative, creative problem solver. For generating speed and confidence through innovation and transformation. His current endeavors as advisor, consultant, and keynote speaker, are shifting the belief in what is possible and opening hearts to a better vision and future of business around the globe. Sharing his extensive career of invention, reinvention and highly complex business combinations, he consistently delivers on the belief that the heart of any organization is People – People drive results. Mike has released his new book, BELIEVERSHIP: The Superpower Beyond Leadership, and is the Founder of HumansFirst, a global community of positive change catalysts. Following many years in advertising and marketing, He launched early-stage start-ups & led M&A initiatives for publicly traded tech companies. Five-times he was thrust into the chaos of transformation and helped people navigate the doubt, fear, and chaos of significant change. His teams exceeded expectations, consistently beat the challenge, learned a lot and had some fun.

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  1. Mike, it is So good To hear from you. Your experience is being handled by a true believer in the most amazing way…YOU are amazing and thus, this is what it feels like…you impress me my friend for your humble and kind heart. I’m so glad you are safe and finding the help you truly deserve.
    We all are givers and receivers. We all are leaders who follow the need to help. We receive in just by doing this. Bless you always. My friend. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. First and foremost, I am grateful you and so are safe.

    Mike, thank you for sharing so candidly about your experience with the fire that consumed your house as we were enjoying the 2nd Year Birthday celebration of HumansFirst and what emerged for you as so many from around the world reached out to express love, care and concern for you, Sue and your family.

    I love how you talk about EXPERIENCING the words and belief you shared in your book during the hours and days after the fire: “Given the opportunity, people will amaze us.”

    Your strength, courage, vulnerability, candidness, and love for people remains a daily source of inspiration. You have said that having this was reflected back to you during a time of need was overwhelming. I can only imagine what that felt like for you.

    I expect it may be something like the gratitude and love I have daily for you, for this global community of like-hearted human beings and for the IMPACT you have had and continue to have on so many across the globe. From the seeds of Believership, and your vision, courage, and strength for believing we become better and create better together when we value and put humans first, you have ignited the unique brilliance of those who continue to pour into our HumansFirst community to take meaningful action to open hearts and amplify impact with and for one another.

    What is really exciting is this is just the beginning!

    Hope is what I feel. Possibilities for being and creating better are what I see. I remain inspired by the invitation Humans First continues to be for us to uplift others as we make valuing and putting humans first our individual and collective new way of being.

  3. Your piece here, Mike, brought my mind to Terry Prachet’s Small Gods. (If you are not familiar with the Diskworld series and like British humor, it may offer you respite during trying times. And there are so many books that you can be laughing for months.)
    But Small Gods is about the things growing if we give them attention – like Humans First and Bizcatalyst and friendships.

  4. Mike you are such a good soul. Thank you for your reflections on what happened last week and even showing up 3 days later at the Friendship Bench. Love the quote and your belief in it. I do too. People will amaze us. As you did even during the tragic event.
    Why wait is such a good question for all of us. All my life I have seen people changed for better after tragic event and my motto has been why wait until tragedy happens to do the things that matter to us? You have been that way and this new tragedy will only strengthen what is already inside of you. I am glad you are overwhelmed by love 🙂 It is a problem everyone wants to face. Thank you for everything Mike.