Judy GuidoIt’s hard to imagine a person left for dead in a street of Los Angeles would be talking about hope.  Judy Guido’s story is both horrific and hopeful. Once again I’m reminded that two things, seemingly in conflict, can both be true.

I met Judy Guido in LA in the spring of 2014, when I was speaking at an event for a national bank.  Afterward there she was, waiting for me, and we began talking about her work in advising companies on strategy and growth in the ‘green’ industry, including nurseries, large and small equipment manufacturers, and landscape architects. We exchanged cards and promised to stay in touch, which we did.

Judy Guido’s Near Death Experience

I heard from her again a few months ago.  To my shock, she’d spent the former six months healing from multiple stab wounds, including 3 holes in her head, having been attacked by a new landscaper who was on a crew she’d hired for backyard maintenance work. He found a way into her home, and took a pickaxe to her completely out of the blue, saying he had to kill her because ‘the devil’ was there. She somehow maneuvered him into the street so a neighbor might hear her cries for help. As he went after her, he murdered her dog Squirt before her eyes as Judy tried to protect him, then went for her.

One of the first things she mentioned in recounting this horrific story were the heroes, an 18-year old neighbor who saw her on the street, called an ambulance and the police, and his mom, who stayed with her until help showed.  They directed the police down the road to Judy’s home, and when the police got there they knew they had a crime scene. They found this man in Judy’s home, trying to light it on fire. He’s now in custody.

It’s been said the highest form of sanctity is to live in hell and not lose hope. When Judy shared this whole nightmare with me, she said in those moments, before she blacked out, her thinking was crystal clear—I will live through this. Thoughts flashed of her seeing her 11-year old daughter (thankfully in school during the ordeal) grow up, thoughts of protecting the neighbors from him, thoughts of the sheer joy of living one more day. Can there be a higher form of sanctity, of hope?

This past week her court victim advocate called, saying a hearing is imminent. Judy thought this next step would take years, and realizes she’ll need to face the trauma all over again. Today she says hope is about converting her fear into a state of staring it right in the face. “Hope’s a pit remover,” she says. “It takes the pit IN your stomach OUT!”  

I’ve blogged about hope before, because it’s a hugely powerful emotion. It’s one of the 3 “We Principles” I write about in FULLY HUMAN, my new book.  Hope can move us to feel passion for our work, our friendships, our very lives. Judy’s story reminds us of the primal power of hope, which can spur us to do superhuman things, like stare down death.

The picture above is of Judy and me, taken a few months ago. They shaved her head when they did the brain surgery, and it’s now just growing out. She purposely hasn’t trimmed the long side yet, a reminder– we can be left for dead, or left for living a fully human life. It’s a choice we make each day.