7 Lessons of Extraordinary Resilience from Lee Woodruff

“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.

What Some Birds Taught Me About Friendship

Image courtesy of Joy Prichard Studios

Unexpected Friendship

My wife does an amazing job decorating our home.  Maybe too good of a job.  She changes colors and decorations with each holiday or season.  Admittedly, I’m often clueless about the passing months and her changes remind me just where we are in the year.

 

“A friend is someone who will sacrifice for you even when you don’t know it.” -Skip Prichard

 

This past spring she changed the wreaths on our front doors.  I suppose some birds took a look and thought they were inviting enough to build a nest.  When we opened the door one day, the mother bird flew off.  We realized there was a nest in the wreath and that changed everything.

Until those eggs hatched and the new birds were safely flying on their own, we would not use the front door.  For any reason.  Deliveries?  We’d just walk the packages around the house.  Visiting us?  “You can’t enter the front door,” we shout from a window, “Come through the garage!”  The air-conditioning repairmen who came to replace a faulty unit?  Well, they had to take some extra steps.

We were careful to watch the birds’ progress, but not disturb them.  We didn’t want to scare the mother bird off.  All through the spring we took pictures and waited.  Finally, one day they were all gone.

They never even knew we were there.

They didn’t know that we were going through all these inconveniences for their benefit.

What Moment Will Change Your Life?

A single moment can change your life.  A single decision can have a lasting impact.  A single relationship can define you in ways you would never expect.

That single moment happened in Laura Schroff’s life over 25 years ago.  She was a successful advertising executive living in Manhattan.  Her life was full and her schedule even more so.

Crossing 56th street one day, she heard a panhandler’s voice.  “Excuse me, lady, I’m really hungry.  Do you have any spare change?”  She dismissed the request, moving quickly through the intersection.

Somewhere in the middle of the intersection is where that moment happened for Laura.  That decision.  Where the relationship started.  Laura stopped, turned around and went back to meet the panhandler.  His name was Maurice, and he was only 11 years old.  She said she didn’t want to give him money, but she would buy him some food at McDonald’s.

For many, that would be it.  A single act of goodwill.  Not for Laura and Maurice.  The one meal became a weekly dinner for years.  Their relationship has continued to grow over the past twenty-five years.

Make an Appointment with Yourself

Image courtesy of istockphoto/donskarpo

Getting any time by myself seems to be impossible.  The pressures are just always there.  I never have an empty plate.  I never think, “What will I do today?”  My to-do lists are never ending.

To get that time, I have finally realized that I need to make an appointment with myself.  I have to get away.  When I do, I find that my performance everywhere goes up.

Here are 7 Steps for An Effective Appointment with yourself:

1.  Make an appointment with yourself.  Put it on the calendar and block the time.

2.  Have a specific goal in mind.  When you review your calendar for the upcoming week, your mind takes note of that upcoming appointment.  If you have a goal in mind, your subconscious begins to work on it for you.

Triathlete Chrissie Wellington on Achieving Your Goals

Chrissie Wellington is the greatest female endurance athlete on the planet.  She has won all thirteen Ironman competitions she has entered and four World Championships.  She smashes through world records with a margin that is so large it resets the definition of what is possible.

Her book A Life Without Limits isn’t only a book for sports enthusiasts and triathletes.  It’s written for anyone with the desire to achieve big goals.  Chrissie’s story of getting to the top of the Ironman competition is one sure to inspire everyone.

It doesn’t matter where you start.

Chrissie grew up liking sports, but her focus was more on her studies.

Her unlikely rise to the top of the sporting world started in her first job.  As what?

A government bureaucrat focused on international development.