As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success, I had the pleasure of interviewing…
Sherry Wherry is the Founder/CEO and Empowerment Strategist of Wherry Consultations, LLC. She graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Concentration in African and African American Studies. Sherry possesses over ten years of experience in Social Services and in empowering individuals to accomplish their educational, professional, personal, and spiritual goals.
Jason Crowley: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sherry Wherry: Growing up in the inner city I saw a lot of pain, disparity, and lack of resources, and I wanted to be a part of the solution. I figured that being a therapist would be the best way to utilize my skills to bring much needed healing to my community and other communities around the country. In eighth grade I decided that I would one day own and operate a counseling and youth center, so becoming a business owner who focuses on personal and emotional wellness has always been a professional goal. I enjoy helping others to succeed, so what I do is an extension of my passion.
Crowley: Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.
Wherry: Back in August of 2007 I attempted to commit suicide. The months prior had been especially difficult due to making the choice to remain in a really bad relationship, and challenges at work. In addition to that, pain and insecurities from my childhood that I thought I had overcome continued to resurface. I felt like a failure because my life looked nothing like what I had planned. I was tired of fighting to live and just wanted to die. From my broken perspective, I thought my life didn’t matter and that it would best for me to end my life.
Crowley: What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?
Wherry: Initially, my drive came from the primary staff who cared for me during my overnight stay at the hospital. They reminded me that God loved me, my life had purpose, and that I needed to renew my hope. My family and close friends were also instrumental, but ultimately it was my own renewed faith and hope in God that helped me to push through. I found new employment, surrounded myself with people who had my best interest at heart, and got involved in doing things that brought me joy. Because I had experienced so many challenges in my life up until that point, I felt that there had to be more to life than just failure and pain. In making a decision to live, I decided that I would not give up until I experienced the joy and freedom that I desperately long for.
Crowley: Tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve massive success? What did the next chapter look like?
Wherry: I had to change my mindset and stop being in denial of my pain. I went to counseling and took time to address the thought patterns that led me to be emotionally unhealthy. I also had to be honest about the things in my past that I had control over, the things that I didn’t, and make a decision to reframe all that I had experienced. My next chapter was still challenging and I made more mistakes, but once I consistently coupled action with my renewed hope, I begin to see the reward of my hard work. And I started to dream again. Those dreams enabled me to live a happier life, have more positive relationships, and to pursue opportunities that previously seemed impossible for me. I ended up publishing my first book, Walking Through the Pain, and launching my business as well.
Crowley: Based on your experience, can you share a 3 actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Wherry: I actually have 5 steps that I can share:
1)Face the Truth
You must be honest with yourself about the part you played in your failure. Denial and deflection will cause you to repeat the same mistakes.
You must forgive yourself for the poor decisions that you made that resulted in your failure. You must let go of any shame or guilt that you have as a result of not yet achieving your goals.
3)Renew Your Mindset
You have to get rid of unhealthy thought patterns that cause you to fail, and you must reframe the way you view failure. Failure can be your demise, or your opportunity, but it starts in your mind.
4)Refresh Your Vision
You can’t allow your vision or goals to die because of failure. You may need to make some adjustments as to how you will achieve your goals in light of the new lessons you have learned from failure, however, continue to breathe inspiration into your vision in order for it to remain alive.
5) Keep Learning & Growing
You can’t stop learning! As you have new experiences and opportunities it will require you to have a new set of knowledge and skills. The moment you stop learning is the moment you set the stage for unnecessary failures, or at minimum stunt your potential for success.
Crowley: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Wherry: It is quite difficult to only share about one person since I have family, friends, and mentors who have all played a part in my success. However, Sharea Farmer, LCSW, has had a pretty big impact on my journey to becoming a business owner. Sharea is the Executive Director and Founder of the RS Counseling & Wellness Center in Cinnaminson, NJ. I met her at a time in my life where I was searching for a business mentor who could help me to fulfill another aspect of my life purpose. A person whom I admired had previously turned down my request for mentorship, and also attempted to talk me out of starting my own business. Although I was hurt that this individual seemed to not believe in my ability to succeed, I decided that I would find someone who did. Sharea helped me to publish my first book and to launch my business. Her support continues to push me out of my comfort zone in order to manifest my full potential.
Crowley: Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Wherry: I recently released an online course titled “Walking Through the Pain: Practical Steps to Emotional Wellness.” In completing the course registrants will receive twenty-one steps to help them to achieve and maintain emotional wellness. One of the taglines that I use for my novel is “When survival is no longer enough, you must start walking through your pain.” This course will help people to do that and so much more.
I am also working on my second book, “Overcome Pain in 21 Days: A Daily Devotional of Biblical Principles to Heal, Live and Prosper.” This devotional is the faith-based version of my online course. It provides people of faith with spiritual tools to achieve and maintain emotional wellness. This devotional will help people to not only deal with their pain, but to overcome it.
Crowley: 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. 🙂
Wherry: I would love to inspire a #LeadDifferently campaign that would focus on training leadership at all management levels to value employees as people first, and employees second. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December 2018 , US employees work an average of 34.5 hours per week. Since employees typically spend the largest chunk of their waking hours at work, I believe that it is worth the time and investment to create workspaces that not only increases the company’s bottom line, but that also positively impacts the quality of life for employees as well. Company culture is largely impacted by leadership, so if we can train better leaders, I believe that we can create more positive work experiences for employees at all levels.
Crowley: Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?
Wherry: Every person is GREATER than the sum of their mistakes. While some mistakes may have unfavorable or lasting effects, you can still recover. And your ability to recover is what makes you more powerful than the impact of any failure you may experience. Never wallow in failure. Always make the choice to use failure as your launching pad to your next opportunity. Winston Churchill said, ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’
Crowley: How can our readers follow you on social media?
Wherry: You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @sherry_wherry, you can find me on LinkedIn as Sherry C. Wherry, and my website is sherrywherry.com.
Crowley: Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.