Performing Through Adversity
Life, to this point, has been defined by performing through adversity. One of my mentors always says, “Get good first”! Well, if there’s one thing I’ve gotten good at is excelling in the face of adversity.
That all began at birth as I fought my way into this world. You see, I should not be here! And if my mom had heeded the advice of her doctors, I wouldn’t be. My mom had cancer and the doctors recommended that she abort me as one of us would not make it through delivery. Mom said she would die trying to have this baby. Despite severe complications, here I am. Words cannot describe the unconditional gratitude I have for the woman who was willing to sacrifice her life for me.
From a little kid, I always wanted to be the best. So I got involved in everything I could: ballet, jazz, acrobatics, gymnastics, etc. You name it, I was in it! Then reality struck! I was not cut out for ballet and I was too tall for acrobatics and gymnastics. Defeated, I kept searching. Until one day a friend of mine, who was like an older sister, recommended I try volleyball. At 10 years old, I got involved. Now, I know you are looking at the photo thinking, “Wow, what a fierce powerhouse!” I chuckle with you. I show the photo because it was at this young impressionable age that I had a coach scream right at me and tell me that I would never amount to anything and that I was not good enough to play volleyball let alone have a future in the sport. How many of you can relate to having someone tell you that you’re not good enough? At the point when I faced this, I had 2 choices: give up and accept her opinion as my truth or use it as an opportunity to be the champion performer I was destined to be.
Becoming a Champion
The journey from that point on wasn’t easy. Many times, it was filled with doubt, fear, self sabotage and negative thinking, but deep down, I knew I had what it took to achieve extraordinary results. I just had to dig in to my strength, courage and gut. I competed throughout high school and was blessed with many honors including leading the team as the captain, All Area, invites to All-Star games and a full ride scholarship to a Division 1 University. The only honor I did not achieve was the district championship. My team lost out each year to the team led by the exact coach who told me I wasn’t good enough. I’m not certain why, but I now look back and think, my subconscious mind was screaming at me again and putting me in a situation that would prove her words true. Despite all of the honors and trophies, I was unfulfilled.
On top of that, tragedy struck and just as I was to begin my college season with the Division 1 University, I was told that I needed reconstructive surgery on my shoulder. A surgery that forced me back home and to redshirt my year. Once again, I had 2 choices: don’t have the surgery and never play again or have the surgery with no guarantee that I would be able to play at the same level again. I took the RISK! See, if there was one thing I had learned, it’s that you have to be willing to take a risk if there is something that you really want. I agree with the saying, “No risk, No reward.” Now it was time to go into my mindset for performance and excellence. So, I toughed it out 3 hours a day, 5 days a week for 9 months to rehab my arm into the best condition to take the court again.
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’ “
The next 4 years would be filled with ups and downs and leadership lesson after leadership lesson to be worked through. There were many conversations I had with my coach about me giving up and quitting the team because people on the team didn’t care for me. I look back now and am so eternally grateful that my coach did not let me quit or give up on me. It taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me to persevere despite pain and fear. It taught me that men and women are viewed differently in leadership positions, but that I had to stand firm if we were to achieve our goals. The most important lesson was that even though some people may not like me, it’s OK and I can still achieve great things despite that. During this time, other events that provided leadership lessons for me were dealing with the disappointment of being declared ineligible my freshman year to falling short in the conference finals my first 3 seasons to the challenge of beginning my senior season in the OR having dreaded knee surgery.
This time my mindset was in full performance mode. I continued to rehab and gain strength, but found myself getting frustrated with my coach and his strategy for the season. As an athlete, stats were extremely important to me and with his strategy, my stats were going to suffer which would affect my personal goals. He had a much bigger vision and strategy for the season. So, although he allowed me to play, I was restricted in attacking so I could preserve my knee for critical games later in the season. Needless to say, I was a non-attacking, frustrated outside hitter who had to maintain a positive outlook for the team as their captain. I had to set aside my personal agenda and sacrifice personal goals and achievements to attain the team vision of becoming conference champions. It was a lesson that has served me well in business.
The sacrifice was worth it because the championship was ours. Tourney MVP, All-American and Athlete of the Year Honors- I was on top of the world. That was short lived! Financial pressure with my family led me to obtain a scholarship through the nursing college to alleviate some of the financial burden. What’s wrong with that you ask? I was already on a full ride scholarship through athletics so this is a violation of the NCAA unbeknownst to me. Another choice to make: Pay back the scholarship or be deemed ineligible and forfeit the University’s fist conference championship and destroy the dream of 11 other teammates. So I dug in my heels, focused my mind and did what needed to be done to repay the scholarship in order to protect our championship. Yet another leadership lesson!
Living the Champion Method
Graduation came and I entered the business world with the same tenacity and desire that I used on the volleyball court. I treated business like my sport. How did I do that? I did this by developing a game plan, working closely with my team, thinking outside the box and challenging myself daily. Medical sales is a high pressure, highly competitive industry and I’m grateful that my athletic background provided me with the mental fortitude and skills to excel. Utilizing the principles used to excel in athletics, success in medical sales came quickly. It was during this time that I was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Florida Atlantic University for my volleyball career.
Ironically, in medical sales, I had a manager who reminded me exactly of the coach who told me at 10 that I wasn’t good enough. This manager was the current version of that coach and I never felt I could do anything to impress him or change his perception. I had another choice to make: Stay where I was where I felt undervalued and unappreciated or believe in myself enough to choose another path. I’m thankful that athletics gave me the mental toughness to deal with difficult management and the confidence in standing up for myself and pursuing another path.
After a decade of peak performance in the medical sales industry, I moved into a new industry that would test my mindset and performance regimen to the max. What industry? The seminar industry! If you think medical sales is high pressure and highly competitive, the seminar industry brought those terms to a new level. For 4 years, I traveled every weekend to a new city throughout the US as a speaker and sales closer. During this time, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and I was navigating the waters of divorce. Those 2 events combined rocked the mind of this athlete who had always been able to perform at peak levels. They always say that the breakdown comes before the breakthrough. It’s so true. I spent several years breaking myself down to build myself back up and realize what was truly important. Much like athletes review films and businesses review strategic plans to determine what changes need to be made, I had to dig deep into my soul and my life to determine the changes that needed to be made and how I could get my life in line with my purpose and values. My experience traveling with the seminar company was giving me an opportunity to empower and inspire others but it was challenging in several ways. First, my time with the students was short lived and secondly, the schedule left me with little time to do what I was truly passionate about which is equipping others with the principles and skills needed to perform at their highest level.
This conviction was so strong that I knew I needed a change! But, of course, before that change came a choice: Stay where I was with a good income and stability or launch the business of my dreams so that I can build champions throughout the world. The 2nd option won out and here I stand as the CCB (Chief Champion Builder) and Leadership Success speaker with License to Thrive, Inc, an elite performance coaching/consulting company helping business professionals and athletes utilize the principles used to excel in sports to bring their performance to championship level.
How did my involvement with sports contribute to my successful business development?
1. Leadership Skills
3. Ability to Participate on a Team
4. Goal Setting Skills
8. Self Confidence
10. Positive Attitude
12. Remaining Coachable
13. Taking Action
17. Self Talk
And the list could go on… Bottom line is that there are so many aspects of sports that can be applied to your business to become an elite performer. Average isn’t an option when it comes to your performance and success!
Optimal Thinking + Focused Performance = Extraordinary Results!