Guest Post: With the right attitude...the facts don't matter #TEWMovement
I am excited to be partnering with The #TEW Movement a book and a movement supporting entrepreneurs! Today I bring an article from my own personal coach Donna Smith Bellinger:
Today I have a two part presentation…In part ONE want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big speech…Just three short stories. In the Second part we will help you uncover what YOUR story will be. The first story is about transition.
I came from what was known in the 60’s as middle class family. Although they liked to say “upper middle class”. My parents were children of the Great Depression: that was cold water flats, meatless meals and hand me down clothes. No labels, no fashion statements…just warm. Luxuries were very few and saving for the future was a far off dream.
Both of my parents attended college, but did not graduate. My father was drafted and served in the military during WWII, then used his GI benefits to purchase a home in a small undeveloped Chicago suburb called Maywood.
The plan was to raise their only daughter there and provide her with all of the benefits they never had.
It was a TV sitcom life. A stay at home mother who baked and attended PTA meetings; A father who was moving up in his blue color field and a daughter that attended every class known to parenting. Ballet, tap, charm school…public elementary school, private high school anything to isolate her from “bad” influences.
Then life happened; the parents divorced, and I was plunged into a blended family, went from private school to public school, part-time employment and eventually, teenage pregnancy. I was literally disowned by my family and at 18yrs old I was on my own with a 1 month old son to support.
Their parting words to me were, you’ll be working the streets in 6 months. In my mind, the fact that I had no money, no place to live, no family to turn to and knew nothing about the real world did not matter. I had a job to do and a responsibility to live up to. I knew nothing about food stamps, and how could I be overdrawn…I still have checks left?
When things got really bad, I would make 1 large pan of tuna casserole, divide it into 6 pieces, and that was my menu for the week, so that I could provide for the needs of my son. To this day I cannot eat casseroles.
For inner strength, I would read constantly, focusing on stories of our ancestors – slaves in fields with superhuman attitude of survival and later, prosperity…people like Helen Keller, deaf and mute, who became a global symbol of what can be done against the odds…and I knew that that was the kind of drive and commitment that would carry me through. The facts didn’t matter.
The second story is about evolution.
I took computer science in High School and later computer operations as a vocational program (actually, when I finished that course, I was hired as the school’s first assistant director of admissions – but that’s another story and I promised only THREE today); years later, I was introduced to the new world of technology – Microsoft windows, and managed to talk myself into a sales position that involved selling technology training for this new innovation into large corporations.
Everything I once knew was out of date.
At the end of my first month, my employer (picture a boot camp drill sergeant…he only had one level of communications…loud and in your face) told me that on the phone I sounded “ignorant and unsophisticated”.
The fact was – he was right. And I had a terrible attitude – I took the job for all the wrong reasons. Think of terms like “out of the frying pan and into the fryer”, or always escaping to places that need escaping from.
But I still had a family to provide for (by now I had a son and a daughter) and this was a very well paid opportunity. The fact that I had no experience could not be allowed to matter. I had to make it work. So I stepped back and examined what I was and was not doing. I re-focused my energies and my attitude.
I put in 60 hour weeks and had my daughter come to the office after she got out of her (yes private) school and yes she worked right along with me. I took every class I could; and I became the company expert in a key technical area, and built relationships that I still have today. When I resigned from that company 18 months later it was as a senior account executive, the first senior account executive of color and ranked #4 out of 32 account executives. The fact I had no experience no longer mattered.
My third story is much like your stories – Re-invention
And now, I have embarked on new phase of my life where I have the opportunity to share what I have learned and assist others in shortening their learning curve. The economy is rocky and the facts are that the vast majority of businesses that start even in a good economy face huge challenges. Employment is hard to find, the older you are. And retirement is becoming a myth. Recently the news reported that 80 had become the new 65. Talk about moving the carrot! Sounds like fun!
But having lived through the civil rights era, watching man land on the moon, medical miracle after miracle, Nelson Mandela emerge from prison, the fall of Apartheid, and seeing a Barack Obama assume the most powerful position in the country…arguably the world…When the facts and logic said these things were not possible, I know that with the right attitude we are each capable of greatness in our own way. Because with the right attitude…the facts don’t matter.
Donna Smith-Belinger is a positively powerful woman who lives in Chicago. She’s the president of Group Endeavors.Recently she spoke before the National ABLE Network and left a message for us all: “With the right attitude…the facts don’t matter.” With her permission I include it below. It’s inspirational about overcoming circumstances with the right attitude.