Inspiration

5 reasons challenges are your best teachers

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How do you face those challenging seasons in your life, the ones where a hurdle seems to be around every corner? Yes, you can give in, crumble and curl into a whimpering heap – that’s one way. But it’s not the path to strength and success. That better route requires you to take on board what’s happening – whether it’s in your personal or business life – and learn from it.

There have been many such challenges in my life, and I’m sure just as many in yours. These situations became not only personal life lessons but were also learnings for my professional/business life.  

Lesson 1:  Expect curve balls.  Be prepared to adjust to deal with the challenges and changes — and know that change is constant

My mother is one of the most amazing individuals I know.  She has endured some very difficult times since my childhood. I’ve watched her always have such dignity, faith, and hope despite circumstances that would have made others give up.

My father’s illness and subsequent diagnosis of cancer took a toll on her.  Grieving and serving as a caretaker was devastating but it gave me such an appreciation for her character.  My mother acknowledged that it was difficult but she always found ways to remain positive and hopeful no matter what.  She took care of my grandparents until their deaths and now, she was doing the same for my father as he fought lung cancer and until he lost the battle.

After dad’s death, she began to travel and explore life in ways that she couldn’t before.  I was proud of her because she was discovering more about herself and taking advantage of all that life has to offer.  She even remarried two years ago to an amazing man in her sixties!!  And yet, in all of the excitement, the difficulties of life started once again.  She began to experience health issues.  A once vibrant, active woman in her late 60s spends many days in pain, frustrated and going to multiple doctors.

Lesson 2: In life and business challenges, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Focus on what is really important

I recently had my annual Pap.  I realized that as much as I wanted to make a difference in the world, I had to be willing to take care of the vessel that would allow me to fulfill my dream.  One day, I received a message on my mobile phone to call the doctor back.  On the other end of the phone, I was told I need to come back in because they found some concerning cells.  I was stunned because my mother just a few weeks before had to go for something similar.  On one hand, I was grateful that my doctor had been with me since I was in my 20s and was always proactive and caring.  She paid attention to my health and my well-being which is why I’ve been a patient for nearly twenty years.

I’ve typically been a person of faith and hope, believing the best.  Yet, in that moment, I was struggling while my mother struggled.  As I tried to encourage her, I, was dealing with this new reality.  Even though I had been through some similar scares, realizing your mortality is a true wake up call.  In that moment, you are not thinking about cleaning your house or your losing weight.  It is in moments like that in which you realize what is truly important.

 

Lesson 3:  Relationships are crucial  in business and our personal lives.  No one ever talks about how much work you completed at your funeral.  They talk about how you made others feel

In those challenging moments, it is relationships that become priority.  It is the relationships we have with our family that we think about.  I thought about my 14 year old daughter and desperately desiring to watch her reach adulthood.  I thought about my husband and how he has been a rock for me through turbulent times and despite our disagreements, he has stood by me with encouragement and love. I can’t say that things have been picture perfect but in that moment, I drew from his goodness.

In that moment, my friends were instrumental.  As one who always tried to be available to others, I received the love and comfort they provided.  I did not want to burden my mother more with issues initially but finally I shared with her my state of being.  In that moment, she comforted me and gave me enormous hope even coming to the doctor’s visit for the biopsy.

Lesson 4: Your attitude determines your latitude is a cliché we’ve all heard but it does have some validity

“The Mayo Clinic says positive thinking can result in longer life, elevated moods, lowered stress, a boosted immune system, a stronger sense of well-being and better coping skills during stressful events. Because of the connection between the body and mind, the psychological benefits of positive thinking tend to reinforce its physical benefits.” (Livestrong.com)

My doctor said she noticed changes but that she was optimistic that everything was going to be fine.  Even as I wait for the results, I am realizing more and more about the importance of faith, hope, love, and the moments we are given daily to experience these gifts.  I am also reminded of taking care of relationships because they truly sustain you in both the good and not so good times.

Sometimes, it is so easy to become caught up in planning your success without recognizing that life will bring you ‘moments’ that alter your direction.  Some of these moments are not pleasant and quite frankly, can be discouraging.  I am more aware that it is about the lens you choose to view the moments through.  You can choose to be negative seeing only the worst or choose to see it as the opportunity for faith, hope, and love to work on your behalf.

Lesson 5: We don’t experience significant growth when things are easy. Most great leaders talk about what they learned during struggles than what the good times taught them

It is in the difficult moments that determine our character, our willingness to overcome.  It requires intentionality and determination to train our thoughts when difficulties rise in our lives.  Know that even when things don’t go our way, we have a choice in how we deal with situations.  Know that even in those moments, no matter how strong we might believe we are,  the love and support from our friends and family will sustain us–so water those relationships that can bless you for life!   Know that moments can determine our trajectory—use your moments (the good, the bad, and the ugly) wisely.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

I should know something really soon from my doctor and no matter what, I am still creating, experiencing and enjoying moments of faith, hope, and love every single opportunity I can!

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe.

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