Five (Unexpected) Life Lessons

Bill Mullet is Founder & CEO of ProVia

By Bill Mullet


Today we’re sharing the recent journey of Bill Mullet, CEO of ProVia. The past several months have brought him unexpected challenges but also surprising rewards. Here he shares his insights that illuminate a path forward, and may bring inspiration to others as well.

An Abrupt Detour
Over the past several months I’ve experienced a journey I never expected. In December 2012, after months of feeling extremely tired and not myself, I literally passed out. My doctor ordered blood tests, which showed a very low blood count. Further tests revealed a growth in my colon that was causing blood loss, and this was confirmed as cancer. In January I had surgery to remove the growth, and the doctors tell me they were successful in removing 100% of the cancer. I’m grateful I did pass out, because it was a relief to know there was actually something physically wrong. But I also learned that when you go to a hospital to get treatment, and you think you’re rebounding, that’s not always the case. Soon after my initial procedure, I learned I had to have surgery again.

The second surgery was to fix a kink in my intestines. This one really brought me down physically; it was much harder to keep my spirits up. But after this double blow, today I feel really good about being home, eating well, and finally healing. Along the way I learned some valuable lessons that have helped shape the course of my life going forward.

Lesson 1: Gratitude for the ProVia Team
Though I received startling news, and had to come to grips with new realities very quickly, there was one thing that has given me great comfort throughout this journey. The leadership team at ProVia was already solidly in place and eminently qualified to carry things forward in my stead. Just knowing that the right people were in the right place, doing the right thing, is such a comfort. Though of course it’s always a good business practice to have a well-functioning team in place, I could not have imagined how important this became. The company has performed without me and without a hiccup – as it should be.

Lesson 2: The Light is Brighter After Darkness
During the last few weeks I’ve reflected on the story of Job from the Bible. I’m no comparison to what he went through, but I did experience a sense of darkness that hung over me. I saw bright spots – people who were sent by God to be a light and an encouragement. As an example, one of my nurses was a very caring individual. He would poke his head in at night and ask, “Mr. Mullet, are you OK?” There were bright spots in the midst of the darkness.

I just wanted to be myself, to have the strength to get up and meet each day. For a while, the darkness felt like defeat; I felt powerless. It played a mind game with me. Yet I think you almost have to go through that “darkness” to get to a point of being truly ready to serve again. On the other side of darkness, you can appreciate more fully the light that draws you forward.

Lesson 3: The Power of the Positive
One of the unexpected challenges was how hard it was to stay positive. A friend gave me a book that puts positive thoughts in your mind. For the healing process, and to create a productive, healthy path forward, it’s essential to focus on positive thoughts. It would’ve been very easy for me to dwell on the negative – in fact I did for a while. In the midst of regaining my health, the problem at the moment became such a negative experience that I forgot about the huge positive – that the doctor said they got all of the cancer, and I wouldn’t need any further treatment. That was VERY positive. That was huge. But my issues at the moment blinded me to my blessings. Learning to put focus on blessings can be difficult during times of pain and confusion. I’m thankful I was surrounded by loving people who helped me find the strength to remain positive.

Lesson 4: Retirement Not So Tasty
Now that I’m in my 60’s, one of my dreams had been to have a life that’s a bit easier, where I’d have more leisure time. But this experience revealed that I’m not ready for that. I told my wife Ellen that now I want to recommit myself to a life of service. I want more than ever to further serve people. It may be small business owners who need a little encouragement and guidance. Or perhaps it’s a ministry with teaching – I have the opportunity to teach in a couple places.

The lesson that struck me is about the idea of doing less. Now I know I don’t want to go there. I’m more certain than ever that I want to channel my energies into helping people and serving mankind. When I had a taste of retirement – even though this particular downtime was due to health issues – I didn’t like what I tasted. I have less desire for a life of leisure. We all need life with a purpose.

Lesson 5: Embrace My New Future
The future for me is taking a step away and letting Brian Miller (ProVia’s President) build his team around him a bit more. I still want to be a part of it, but taking one further step away. I will still be in meetings, and have an influence, but not a dominating influence.

This fall, I’ll be stepping down from my role as Senior Pastor at my church. I’ve been in the leadership of that church for 15 years. Of course I’ll still be willing to help share when asked, but this will free me up to go to different places where I’m invited to speak. I’m really excited about that!

I’ve been asked to speak at a small college on the topic of “Christians in Business” – how Christians run businesses differently than non-Christians. It really comes down to how we treat our employees, our vendors, and our customers. Honesty, integrity and all those things.

As I stand at the threshold of this next phase of my life, I thank my family, friends and the ProVia team for surrounding me with love, talent and passion for our endeavors. For myself, I’m strengthened by my life lessons. I look forward to serving with renewed vigor and enthusiasm as I walk into the light of the years ahead.

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Comments 24

Guest - Debi Flowers on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:22

Thank you for sharing your personal story. I pray that this day finds you up and going with full strength and ready to service others. I too am getting to that age that I wish I was retired, I wish I did not have to work so hard, I wish, I wish, I wish. I see that I have spent too many hours of my life "wishing" it away. I appreciate your lessons and will look at them when I am feeling old and slow.....LOL
Thank you and again, I wish you continued recovery and good health!
Debi Flowers

Thank you for sharing your personal story. I pray that this day finds you up and going with full strength and ready to service others. I too am getting to that age that I wish I was retired, I wish I did not have to work so hard, I wish, I wish, I wish. I see that I have spent too many hours of my life "wishing" it away. I appreciate your lessons and will look at them when I am feeling old and slow.....LOL Thank you and again, I wish you continued recovery and good health! Debi Flowers
Guest - Wanda angel on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:23

You have truly blessed us all at ProVia with your servant leadership and transparency. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

You have truly blessed us all at ProVia with your servant leadership and transparency. May God continue to bless you abundantly.
Guest - Susie Trivette on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:24

This was a very inspiring story. I also found myself in a situation in 2008 of unexpected health issues, which nearly took my life. I fully recovered, however it took a while. I look at every day differently now, and every day I try to be a positive influence to people in some small way. God Bless you Mr. Mullet.......you are a blessing and inspiration!

This was a very inspiring story. I also found myself in a situation in 2008 of unexpected health issues, which nearly took my life. I fully recovered, however it took a while. I look at every day differently now, and every day I try to be a positive influence to people in some small way. God Bless you Mr. Mullet.......you are a blessing and inspiration!
Guest - Michael Thompson, MidSouth Building Supply on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:28

Glad to hear that Bill Mullet is recovering nicely... brings to mind Psalm 90, "Lord teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom."
One would have thought that either job (Senior Pastor or CEO of Provia) would have been enough to occupy a person full time.
Run Bill Run, finish the race well.
Michael Thompson

Glad to hear that Bill Mullet is recovering nicely... brings to mind Psalm 90, "Lord teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom." One would have thought that either job (Senior Pastor or CEO of Provia) would have been enough to occupy a person full time. Run Bill Run, finish the race well. Michael Thompson
Guest - Jana Nolt on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:44

Excited to see how God is going to use you to further His Kingdom in the next season of your life! Bless you Bill!

Excited to see how God is going to use you to further His Kingdom in the next season of your life! Bless you Bill!
Guest - dana foster on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:03

Bill, thanks for sharing your story! It's great to hear it in your words. Thanks, also, for the encouragement. In my short time here at Provia (1 year) it has become obvious to me that you, your family, and the leadership you have surrounded yourself with are a shining light to those that we serve. I'm thankful to be a part of it. God bless you and your family.

Bill, thanks for sharing your story! It's great to hear it in your words. Thanks, also, for the encouragement. In my short time here at Provia (1 year) it has become obvious to me that you, your family, and the leadership you have surrounded yourself with are a shining light to those that we serve. I'm thankful to be a part of it. God bless you and your family.
Guest - Mark Richter on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:28

Thanks for the wonderful testimony of God's grace. I like the line about having "less desire for a life of leisure". This is a great lesson even for people who aren't near retirement age. I will pray for your continued recovery.

Thanks for the wonderful testimony of God's grace. I like the line about having "less desire for a life of leisure". This is a great lesson even for people who aren't near retirement age. I will pray for your continued recovery.
Guest - Pauline Politis on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:49

Truly God has an important task for you , to share your story and be an inspiration to others
May the road ahead be full of good health
God keep you safe

Truly God has an important task for you , to share your story and be an inspiration to others May the road ahead be full of good health God keep you safe
Guest - Yetta Rushford on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:51

Thank you for your words of inspiration! It is great to see and hear from a man with integrity in business.

Thank you for your words of inspiration! It is great to see and hear from a man with integrity in business.
Guest - Dan Schrock on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:54

Oh Bill! The vigor and enthusiasum your life has displayed here at ProVia has left its mark on me and many others! There is no doudt in my mind that God has a special plan for you and your family. The needs are many, and the laborers so few. I liked the comment left by Mike Thompson: "Run Bill Run, finish the race well". PTL!

Oh Bill! The vigor and enthusiasum your life has displayed here at ProVia has left its mark on me and many others! There is no doudt in my mind that God has a special plan for you and your family. The needs are many, and the laborers so few. I liked the comment left by Mike Thompson: "Run Bill Run, finish the race well". PTL!
Guest - Charles Zuschnitt, Miami Somers Company on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:55

Mr. Mullet, Our Lord will not protect us from what he can perfect us through. I am motivate to use your trial and reflection and become a stronger leader. Great leaders are precious but great followers are priceless. We fervently pray that the awesome Strong Tower continue to bless and direct your path. In Christ, Charles

Mr. Mullet, Our Lord will not protect us from what he can perfect us through. I am motivate to use your trial and reflection and become a stronger leader. Great leaders are precious but great followers are priceless. We fervently pray that the awesome Strong Tower continue to bless and direct your path. In Christ, Charles
Guest - Phil Wengerd on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 17:10

Repeated over the years God has used you and the circumstances you've faced to give you an opportunity to pass along wisdom and insight to others into the things that really matter... Serving God and Serving others. Praying your healing continues rapidly and also that the best is yet to come for you as you continue to surrender yourself daily to whatever His purposes are for your life. Thanks so much for sharing your heart!

Repeated over the years God has used you and the circumstances you've faced to give you an opportunity to pass along wisdom and insight to others into the things that really matter... Serving God and Serving others. Praying your healing continues rapidly and also that the best is yet to come for you as you continue to surrender yourself daily to whatever His purposes are for your life. Thanks so much for sharing your heart!
Guest - Willis on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 17:41

Thanks for sharing Bill and for continuing to being a blessing to us all...God bless my friend!!

Thanks for sharing Bill and for continuing to being a blessing to us all...God bless my friend!!
Guest - Edward Richardson on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 18:11

It is a humbling and encouraging thing to see a human being live life in such a way as to put things in better shape than what they found them. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

It is a humbling and encouraging thing to see a human being live life in such a way as to put things in better shape than what they found them. Thank you for sharing your testimony.
Guest - William Martin on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 19:21

We deal with a lot of vendors. But we only get to have a relationship with one company like Pro Via. The feel of Pro Via is one of service. No organization can operate that way without a leader who chooses to lead as a servant, serve others for the benefit of all. I appreciate you. As a cancer survivor, dark and light have a particular resonance to me. Best wishes for continued health, and that more folks learn from you the gift of serving.

We deal with a lot of vendors. But we only get to have a relationship with one company like Pro Via. The feel of Pro Via is one of service. No organization can operate that way without a leader who chooses to lead as a servant, serve others for the benefit of all. I appreciate you. As a cancer survivor, dark and light have a particular resonance to me. Best wishes for continued health, and that more folks learn from you the gift of serving.
Guest - Allen Cheek -Beau Maison Door & Window Co. on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 19:30

God bless you Bill. You have been an inspiration to all who have had the pleasure to meet you. Perhaps more so for those of us honored to have been in ProVia's (your) employ. I am proud to be affiliated with such a fine company as ProVia, and such a fine man as yourself.

God bless you Bill. You have been an inspiration to all who have had the pleasure to meet you. Perhaps more so for those of us honored to have been in ProVia's (your) employ. I am proud to be affiliated with such a fine company as ProVia, and such a fine man as yourself.
Guest - Brian Yoder on Thursday, 28 March 2013 07:22

Bill thanks for sharing your testimony. God loves when we share our praise for him with others and I 'am truly inspired by your words. May God continue to Bless you and lead you through you journeys ahead of you. I 'am also very Blessed to be apart of the Provia Team. We will continue to pray for you and your family.

Bill thanks for sharing your testimony. God loves when we share our praise for him with others and I 'am truly inspired by your words. May God continue to Bless you and lead you through you journeys ahead of you. I 'am also very Blessed to be apart of the Provia Team. We will continue to pray for you and your family.
Guest - Brian Plauger on Thursday, 28 March 2013 08:52

Bill, I am truly blessed to work at a company that puts the Lord first. Bill you are a true inspiration. Thank you for pressing on through the darkness to inspire us. Your healing has been an answer to our many prayers. God bless you my friend.

Bill, I am truly blessed to work at a company that puts the Lord first. Bill you are a true inspiration. Thank you for pressing on through the darkness to inspire us. Your healing has been an answer to our many prayers. God bless you my friend.
Guest - Dave Miller on Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:25

Bill, thanks so much for sharing your story. I pray for your continued healing as you seek God's will for this next season of your life. I'm very blessed to be part of the ProVia team and appreciate your examples of humility and leadership.

Bill, thanks so much for sharing your story. I pray for your continued healing as you seek God's will for this next season of your life. I'm very blessed to be part of the ProVia team and appreciate your examples of humility and leadership.
Guest - Bill Weber on Thursday, 28 March 2013 16:59

Bill You have always inpired me, and have had my up most respect for how you run your co. and your life. I thank God your health is good, as he knows the good you have done in your life time. May you continue to have good health and inspire those lifes you touch. I know I am a better person today for knowing you. God Bless and thank you for your friendship.

Bill You have always inpired me, and have had my up most respect for how you run your co. and your life. I thank God your health is good, as he knows the good you have done in your life time. May you continue to have good health and inspire those lifes you touch. I know I am a better person today for knowing you. God Bless and thank you for your friendship.
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Wednesday, 21 February 2018