Author Terrie Nathan: “To develop resilience, have a grateful heart”

Have a grateful heart. Be grateful for the little things as well as the big things. There is always something to be grateful for. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Respond with a grateful heart, because sometimes in the middle of chaos lies opportunity, […]

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Have a grateful heart. Be grateful for the little things as well as the big things. There is always something to be grateful for. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Respond with a grateful heart, because sometimes in the middle of chaos lies opportunity, but it’s tough to see through ungratefulness!

Inthis interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market. I had the pleasure of interviewing Terrie Nathan.

Terrie Nathan is an International Best-selling Author, Speaker and CEO of Strong Girl Enterprises. She coaches and educates organizations, teachers, moms and young girls in middle school/high school to cultivate confidence by teaching them strategies on positive self talk, self worth and body image.

Terrie is a former HR director of a Fortune 200 company and has 25+ years of experience empowering leaders to strategize change within their personal teams. Additionally she has facilitated workshops for 20,000+ audience members supporting them in behavioral transformations.

Terrie has now made it her life’s mission to teach these transformational strategies of empowerment on large stages and partnerships for women, young girls and their mentors. Terrie draws her strength, energy, and desire to help girls & women from her amazing adult children Monica, Dean, Mary, teenage granddaughters Rylee & Desi and her biggest fan and husband Eric.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I’m sure you have all heard the Chinese Proverb…”The Journey of a Thousand miles begins with a single step”. My most recent journey lasted over the span of 18 plus years. Staring at an entry level position and working my way up to a Directors position with a Fortune 200 company, I thought this is where I would retire.

However, we never know where life’s journey is going to take us. Just under a year ago I was given the news that I would have to relocate to another state. Being newly married and loving where I currently lived, I had to make a decision. For a few years I had always felt a nudge, if you will, to do more and to impact in a different kind of way. So I decided not to relocate and to leave an 18 year secure career that I loved. Or maybe, just maybe, I had gotten comfortable inside my box? I decided to embark on the climb of entrepreneurship, new terrain, new views, with many potential cliffs.

Along my climb into new territory, Strong Girl Spirit was born. They say the best view always comes after the hardest climb, however I have been in some tough climbs before and I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Having this mindset has kept me successful all my career, especially now. Being resilient is a mind game, no one can do it for you, you are in control of the success you desire and the perspective you take along the way.

While this journey is somewhat new, I know my previous life/business experiences will be the rope I need to stay in the climb. The success we are seeing now is starting to pay off and flourish. Is there ups and downs, of course, but resilience is about staying in the climb.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career?

Absolutely and this story makes me happy every time I recall it. Some 18 years ago I was managing a store in a small town in Oregon. While I was filling the hardware isle two gentlemen came in and asked me where to find a few items, as I escorted them to their item they commented on how great the store looked. I told them I had an amazing team and every associate took pride in our store.

While chatting with them, I learned they worked for the same company, they mentioned they were on a Real Estate trip and were traveling through the area. One gentlemen told me his name and told me that if I ever wanted to do more with the company I could reach out to him and he would help, I thought perhaps he was a recruiter. As they purchased their items they complimented the staff and the store one more time, then they were off. Long story short I found out a few hours later from my boss that the gentlemen who gave me his name was the founder and CEO of our company.

After nearly passing out from that news flash, I couldn’t help but think about our conversation and how authentic and kind he was. Well, fast forward several months later I took a leap of faith and did reach out to him. While my peers, my friends, and many others thought I was crazy, I was just crazy enough to believe in myself. This decision launched me into many new opportunities beyond my belief.

Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

First lesson here is to be kind and treat everyone with respect, you never know whom you are talking too and oh by the way doesn’t everyone regardless of title or stature deserve kindness and respect? Secondly, don’t be afraid to reach for the stars or in this case the Founder & CEO and ask for what you want, I did and it launched me into an 18 year successful career with many opportunities. Finally, Listen to your gut, I gave myself a pretty good argument NOT to reach out, but in the end I listened to my internal guide.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

What you focus on grows! And @ Strong Girl Enterprises, we focus on YOU and on cultivating YOUR confidence from the inside out as well as building strategies on positive self talk, self worth and body image. You can’t “buy” confidence, but you can build that muscle and build a strategy to start positive inside growth. We want to empower, encourage and help you to embrace your Inner Strong Girl.

Can you share a story?

A young lady at one of our conferences shared that she was struggling with her confidence. She explained that she hasn’t received many compliments nor does she receive a lot of positive feedback. But during the session she had an ah-ha moment when we spoke about the “power of our own words to ourselves”. This helped her to understand that she held the power to change the way she saw herself. That is was her words that mattered not anyone else’s. And building that skill was what she was going to do. This is why we do what we do @ Strong Girl, helping women and girls to build the power within.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Yes, that person is Gary Waschow, a former leader of mine, and you notice I said leader not boss.

Can you share a story?

New in my role, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and when Gary came in for my first visit, I was stressed to say the least. However, instead of getting angry because I hadn’t done something correctly, which is what I was used to with a prior leader, Gary helped me to understand the “WHY” behind what we did. I will never forget that he took the time to listen, coach, teach, and provide feedback in a way that continues to help me today. People are either happy to see you coming or happy to see you going and I was always happy to see him coming.

A true leader, coach, mentor and friend! Even though Gary hasn’t been my leader in many years, he still calls to check in, say hi and see how I’m doing. When I was making the big break from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, he was one of the first people to call me and tell me that I had this and that if anyone could make this happen it would be me. Gary Waschow is still a “Class Act!” Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience.

How would you define resilience? Bruce lee once said, ”Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” Having the strength and ability to remain flexible and agile enough to cope, bend, sway, recover in the face of whatever life throws at you. Understanding that the difficulty you are in right now is just a stop in your journey. How can I move forward?

What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Self-Assured/confident Perservance Kindness (to self & others) Sense of humor

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind?

Grandma Ruby

Can you explain why you chose that person?

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the impact and influence my grandma Ruby had on me. As a child I had never realized that she was considered the premiere “Cheer Lady” among locals, I just saw her as “my” super hero. She loved to dance and attend potluck dinners/galas at her local senior center. She was an amazing role model, she could write, cook, sew my brothers and I the best outfits ever, her talents were too many to list. She made an amazing impact on not only me, but a small town in Montana, too. Growing up, I never realized that my Grandma had both the systemic and discoid forms of lupus. This meant that she was allergic to almost everything: junk foods, alcohol, perfumes, prints, inks, pens, pencils, chemicals of most types. The sun was her enemy as well, which explained why she always carried an umbrella (which I just thought was fun) when she went walking. I will share with you that she never complained, nor did I ever know this was going on in her life. In spite of everything, she always said what a full life she had. She was the walking, talking, living, breathing example of a Strong Girl. Thinking back now she always had on her Cape of Confidence and her attitude was ALWAYS UP, ALWAYS POSITIVE; she was ahead of her time.The feelings and intentions that came with her words are what I carry today as an adult. She went through a lot in her life and every time she came back stronger and better because of the different obstacles in her life. She embodied the positive spirit. Let me share one last thing with you about Grandma Ruby. She would say, “I know at times it’s tough to come back from a tough situation and I get that sometimes that trying to see the positive or getting back up can be a tall order, so that being said, on your next tough day or when you are feeling down, just try humming “Zippity Doo Dah,” and after a minute or so you will feel better. We can’t always choose our physical state or what happens to us on life’s journey, but we can choose our mental state. We can choose a positive attitude! I think you can all see how a positive approach to life, people and situations can build the resilience necessary for our everyday climbs in life. Let’s all try to adopt it for ourselves. You remember how to hum, don’t you?

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I can remember when I was thinking about going after my (CPLP) Certified Professional in Learning and Performance Certification. The nay-sayers came out of the wood-work, you can’t do this, you don’t have time, do you realize the time commitment? I was even told at one point that going after this certification was like jumping into an Ocean with no life vest…why don’t you try something else that wouldn’t be as big. I honestly think sometimes things are said to us to ignite us and ignite me it did. I won’t deny I had second thoughts and indeed it was tough, as a matter of fact I didn’t pass the written exam until the third try. But I kept trying and every time I got knocked down I got back up. Today I hold the CPLP credential and it makes me smile every time I think about what it took. So thanks to all the nay-sayers out there, in an odd kind of way, you actually helped.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Setbacks, adversity or difficulties in life can often times be self-inflicted, here is a perfect example of that. Many years back, I had received an exciting promotion. One of my new duties was facilitating classes, sessions and events. This seemed like an easy transition as I was used to talking to groups of people in my previous job and wasn’t that the same thing? What I didn’t know is that the two are very different.

I was asked to co-facilitate a session for 80 people and my portion was about 90 minutes in length. Trying to acclimate to the new role I didn’t take much time to prepare, after all It was a session I had sat through before, so I wasn’t too concerned. When I got up to present, I panicked, I started sweating and couldn’t remember a thing, I read the entire presentation right from the screen. What was supposed to be a 90 minute presentation turned into about a 20 minute presentation, I couldn’t look at anyone as I was too busy speed reading like an auctioneer! When I finally looked at the group all I could see was the horrifying look on my bosses face and the audience was just looking down. I’m sure they were embarrassed for me. Talk about a setback, I was 2 months into my new role and was certain that my new boss was going to check to see if my old job was still available. It was a nightmare and I was to blame. After I quickly exited stage right, I remember getting into the elevator and thinking I was on my way out of this job.

Why did I ever think I could do this? I was devastated. To make matters worse as I got off the elevator my boss was standing there waiting for me. I felt all the blood rush out of my body and all that was left was fear and embarrassment. But what happened next was key. My boss said you can let what happened here today break you or you can learn from it and not let it happen again. After a small pity party, I did just that, I picked myself up and decided I would learn from this embarrassing mess. I joined toastmasters and I took every opportunity I could take to hone in on the skill of public speaking. I swore to myself to never let this happen again. I took action, picked myself up off the ground and vowed to get awesome at what scared and mortified me the most. That was over 13 years ago and I am happy to say I did just that. They say there are “winners” and “losers”…I say there are “winners” and “learners”.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Absolutely…They say super hero’s don’t exist, but for me as a young girl growing up, I was blessed to have one, my Grandma Ruby, she was/is my Super Hero! As a young girl I was insecure, I lacked confidence, I was teased and bullied. It was a tough time and I didn’t care for school because of it. My Grandma somehow knew what was going on with me, she never said anything but I think she instinctively knew (turns out she had the same issues growing up too).

Going out to visit my grandma Ruby was like a B-12 shot, I just loved the energy she had and the mental attitude she carried. I know now that spending time with her is where I learned resilience. She taught me to use my own words to speak positivity and faith into my life. She would always call me her “Strong Girl” (that’s where the company name comes from) and she would fill my mind with encouraging words and stories.

She showed me how to build inner confidence, how to take action and be grateful even in the face of setbacks, discouragement or disappointments.

She embodied the strong girl spirit. Albeit she is no longer with us, she is still one of the people in my life that always comes to my mental rescue in times of need (just like a super hero). She was ahead of her time and today I carry her spirit of strength in all that I do. Like I mentioned in my story about her earlier, she lived with a resilient mind set.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Focus on what’s thriving. When you are in the middle of something, step back and take a moment to focus on what’s thriving in your life. Perhaps you are staying strong with your workouts, or the kids are excelling in school. Whatever it is, there is something good going on in your life, so focus on that. Often times just by doing this you can start to move out of the negative space you are in.
  2. Change your perception.Sometimes the view from where you are standing is not a great view. So think about taking a look at your situation from another perspective or the other side of the street so to speak. When we can get out of our own way and look at our situation differently we can begin to see things a little clearer. Sometimes you have to laugh at where you’re standing to be able to see that your perception is off.
  3. Plant daily seeds of confidence. In order to keep our minds in a great place, we have to continually plant our minds with positive information and words. And over time those thoughts continue to grow and build that muscle of confidence. No one can do it for you, you are in control of the thoughts you think and the actions you take.
  4. Take Action When the road you are going down takes a turn for the worst we have to be brave enough to take the necessary action to get back on track. Do I take the detour or make a different turn or just maneuver through it? Before we can own the actions we take, we must first take action.
  5. Have a grateful heart. Be grateful for the little things as well as the big things. There is always something to be grateful for. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Respond with a grateful heart, because sometimes in the middle of chaos lies opportunity, but it’s tough to see through ungratefulness!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Women supporting Women, Girls supporting Girls… A positive movement to empower, encourage, and support each other in a space where we can all thrive together. #stronggirlspirit

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Mr. Tyler Perry… His entire life is an amazing example of resilience, from when he was a child through adulthood. Mr. Perry is known for his many foundations, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, directing, producing, acting, playwright and author. However the book he wrote titled “Higher is Waiting” is an amazing story of why and how he had the resilience to overcome life’s disappointments and become who he was meant to be. I admire Tyler Perry for everything he has accomplished in the face of adversity but more importantly for the person he is and was and will continue to be. I love one of his quotes from his book…”Strong roots are the gate from which grows the undeniable understanding that everything in life, the good and the bad, is a God-given opportunity to stand in the light.” “Everything!” Talk about being resilience.

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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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