7 Lessons of Extraordinary Resilience from Lee Woodruff

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“When bad things happen, we all dream of rewinding the tape…but we can’t so we do the only thing we can:  we take those bad things and turn them into situations we can learn from.  It’s human nature to try to pan for gold, to find a positive slant in something so negative because anything less would feel like defeat.”  Lee Woodruff, Perfectly Imperfect

Lee Woodruff dropped into my life unexpectedly.  We were both speakers at an event raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Within minutes of meeting her, we were sharing stories, laughing, and exchanging email addresses.  Some people have that incredible gift to connect with people in an authentic way that makes you feel you’ve known them all your life.

If you were to read only about Lee’s successes, you would think she never had a problem in the world:

 

  • Contributing editor for CBS This Morning
  • Author of three books
  • Mother of four beautiful children
  • Married to one of the world’s top journalists
  • Author of numerous articles published in magazines such as Redbook, Prevention, Country Living and Health
  • Co-founder of a foundation to help wounded servicemen

 

We so often read about people who are wildly successful, and think they are somehow different.  In some way, the world only showers good things on them.

That’s not the case with Lee.  We all remember when her husband, talented news anchor Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.  Only a month after succeeding Peter Jennings at ABC, it changed the Woodruff’s lives.

Sharing the entire journey from injury to recovery, Lee co-authored the best-selling In an Instant with her husband and followed it up with Perfectly Imperfect, a collection of mostly hilarious essays of her life.  The Woodruff’s also founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation to raise funds to support wounded servicemen and their families.  Bob’s remarkable recovery and selfless dedication to help others continues to inspire and make a real difference for our wounded servicemen.

Lessons I Learned from Lee Woodruff

1.  Look for the connection point.  No matter how different from you, there’s always a place you can connect.

2.  Life is perspective.  The more experienced you are with adversity, the more you are able to handle nearly anything thrown at you.

3.  We will all experience loss.  We don’t have to be defined by the loss but, instead, can be known for how we react to it.

4.  “We are all made of incredible stuff.  We are built to survive.”

5.  You will make it.  Whatever challenge you are facing, you have what it takes to get through it.

6.  “When bad things do happen, it’s the people around us who pull us through.”

7.  There’s something good to look for in everyone.

If anyone has looked a challenge in the eye, and modeled resilience, it is Lee Woodruff.  Her ability to bounce back from anything with humor is remarkable.  I’m absolutely certain that Bob’s recovery was miraculous partly because of Lee’s forceful and positive outlook.

And now, Lee is out with her first work of fiction.

For months I’ve been talking about Those We Love Most.  It is so incredibly well written that I put off writing this blog post.  How could I possibly explain this book?  Then I realized that I felt the same way many months ago when I first read the advanced copy of the book.  I decided to pull up the original email I wrote to Lee and share with you an excerpted portion:

Lee,

Yesterday afternoon I started reading Those We Love Most.  Our plan was to see a movie, but that plan was quickly dashed.  I was absorbed.  When I finished, I was so moved…I still am…that I didn’t even know what to say in an email.  (And trust me, I’m never at a loss for words!).

Your book is perfect.  Characters so real that I know them.  I want to talk to them.  It’s like I’m hoping you have a book party and let us meet everyone.  (Can you arrange that?!)  The story grips you from the beginning and lingers after you are done.

But, beyond the story, the magnificently flawed characters…are messages about life, about love, about people.  And those messages resonate with an unexpected power.

Congratulations on a magnificent, heartwarming debut! —Skip

Those We Love Most is a novel with a recurring theme in Lee’s life and in all of her books—resilience.  The ability to survive the unthinkable and not just survive, but succeed in the midst of it all.  And, in reading the novel, you will most likely peer into your own life with an unexpected introspection.  How would you overcome the unthinkable?  Would you find it within yourself to bounce back?

In our interview, Lee talks about her perspective on life, the nightmare of Bob’s injury, her new book, and the difference between writing fiction versus nonfiction.

 

Watch the interview and learn first-hand from someone who is a model of resilience.

 

 

What creates resilience? Do you have a story to share of someone who bounced back from a job loss, from an injury, from an accident, from a death in the family, from something that struck unexpectedly? What did that teach you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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