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Come Home Alive: Why Instinctive Strengths Matter in Times of Crisis

September 12, 2023

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How a Kolbe Certified™ Consultant Helped Her Husband ‘Come Home Alive’ After Stage 4 Throat Cancer Diagnosis

Mari Martin’s husband Chris was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2013.  

Faced with an overwhelming challenge ahead, she turned to her knowledge of Kolbe Wisdom™ and instinctive strengths to help get them through. 


Mari has been a Kolbe Certified™ Consultant since 1990. Known as “The Mother of Kolbe in West Michigan,” she used her knowledge of Kolbe as the foundation for building a successful practice. She is respected as a top expert in understanding how people naturally execute when free to be themselves, and it has served her well in business and her personal life. 

But how do you face something like your partner contracting stage 4 throat cancer? 

“I don’t mean to downplay [other illnesses],” Mari explained to Kolbe Corp President Amy Bruske on an episode of Powered by Instinct, “but throat cancer really affects everything. It’s how you breathe, it’s how you eat, your digestive system. So, we were challenged at the highest level with helping him make it through.” 

Ten years later, and thanks to a wide variety of factors, Chris is still alive. Mari wrote about their journey to capture the process and “help others understand that the power of knowing how to work together can help you make it through the crisis of cancer.” 


The resulting book is titled, Come Home Alive: The Power of Knowing how to Work Together to Make it Through the Crisis of Cancer. In it, Mari details her six-part plan to help Chris battle the trials and tribulations that come with a life-threatening illness. She “narrates how the couple used their 24 years as Kolbe Certified™ Consultants to practice what they taught, consulted, and coached others regarding self-awareness, strengths identification, communication needs, role alignment, and the environment each person needs to thrive.” 

That involved a lot of understanding about what Chris instinctually needed, as well as what Mari (with an MO of 4-2-9-4) was naturally able to consistently provide. And it meant understanding how to maximize their limited energy. 


“In situations like these,” Amy elaborated during the podcast, “it’s the ability to anticipate what’s going to be stressful. And then when devastating events occur, it’s already going to be stressful no matter what. Even if you have all the help in the world, it’s so emotionally draining. 

Cognitively, you’re learning things for the first time. You don’t have learned behavior to help you with this. So, your instincts really do kick in, and it’s all about anticipating where there’s going to be levels of stress, knowing who should be doing what.” 

In Mari’s case, she knew that Chris (whose MO is 7-7-5-2) initiates action by doing research and finding specifics, while she instinctively gets to the bottom line. So, she empowered him to use those strengths while she refrained from putting her energy towards those efforts. 

At the very beginning,” Mari (a 4-2-9-4) explained, “I said to Chris, I will not be Dr. Google. I am not going up and just studying and analyzing and just getting consumed in all of what’s out there on the internet. I’m not going to do that. But as we started to learn more, then I could respond. Now, instead of gathering the world, I was looking at what do I need to edit.” 

She also recognized that Chris handles tangible needs through envisioning, meaning the gadgets and mechanical instruments he needed to aid him on a daily basis were a big source of stress. “Some assembly required” was not a daily option for him. So, she handled those aspects herself. 

I wanted to focus on what did he need,” she continued, “and how could I provide that for him during those three years where he was, in some cases, battling for his life.” 


“Whether you just had a baby, or you have an aging parent moving in with you or whatever,” adds Amy, “there’s only so much mental energy that we all have. So, the knowledge to pick and choose how I’m going to use my energy is critical. The value of having that in a health crisis is huge.” 

As Mari writes in her book: 

Kolbe provides understanding and gives language for the environment each person will need to thrive, the type of communication that will resonate with his or her needs, and the best way for that person to handle specific tasks and requirements that this diagnosis may bring. This insight creates a powerful advantage in the face of adversity.

Mari Martin


Chris did come home alive, though he did eventually have to battle another stage 4 throat cancer diagnosis. And so… Mari went back and read her own book to deal with that second diagnosis. 

Life isn’t fair. But it doesn’t mean the right knowledge and resources aren’t helpful in facing the biggest obstacles. 

“I’m not saying Kolbe is the answer,” Mari contends. “I’m not saying any of that. And I write that in the book. But what I am saying is that we have to interface with our environment, and the more we understand how our natural instincts play out in that environment, the better equipped we’ll be.” 

Discover your own instinctive strengths by taking the Kolbe A™ Index.    

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