Believe in yourself, remain steadfast in your personal beliefs, stay true to yourself, keep fighting and pushing to reach your goals and most importantly give yourself a break, in other words, don’t be so critical of yourself. Remembering that not every attempt at a challenge in life will be a success. As long as one keeps trying and doesn’t get knocked down permanently is one of the most important traits of a truly resilient person.
In this 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 Michelle Mishy Dawn. Michelle is a self-made, disabled Army Veteran, single mother, entrepreneur, author, singer, songwriter, actress, model, paralegal and businesswoman who has struggled through some of life’s hardest challenges to rise above all that she has been faced with, to become an accomplished, well respected, ever-growing autodidact.
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’?
Born in 1975, in Ft. Myers, Florida, I was not blessed with the typical family consisting of a mother, a father, and siblings. As an only child, I was abandoned at the age of 7, after being left alone and neglected at age of 5 by my mother, who kept me hidden from my father. I was fostered by a stranger, who later legally adopted me at age 8. By age 15, my adopted mother passed away from cancer. At age 17, I was again living on my own and pushing myself to graduate high school, which then led to my entry into the US Army at age 19. I then got married and had 2 children by the age of 23. Now at age 44 (soon to be 45 in January 2020); I survived 3 divorces, an honorable discharge from the Army, attended and graduated college, raised 2 children as a single mother, and survived serious health afflictions to include 2 brain surgeries, 6 months apart, from a tumor on my pituitary gland.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
To be totally truthful, I have had far too many interesting stories in my career, thus far, to point out just one. Each experience has had a special impact of its own, as well as, its own lessons. The take away from each experience throughout my career was to be a better woman, provider and business associate in order to accomplish what was at hand and do it in the most efficient and effective way possible.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes my company stand out is that my company is entirely me. I base each venture, each partnership, each collaboration, and each product or service I provide with the same conviction and moral character as I would in my own person life. I hold true to my own beliefs and way of business. I maintain honesty, loyalty and I provide an element of caring with everything I do which is often lost in the world of business.
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? Can you share a story?
First and foremost, God. Even when I felt like giving up or lost my way, he supplied me with the people, experiences, and abilities to thrive in both my personal and business life. Without him I would not be who I am today and who I am still learning to be.
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? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience to me is defying the odds and still rising above it to accomplish what challenge. The characteristics/traits of a person like that is a person who goes through life’s challenges to bounce back and coming out on the other side. Though one might not be successful at the attempt, continuing to try regardless of the outcome, length of time or difficulty is the essence of a resilient person.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Persons who are disabled, physically or mentally, or have circumstances out of their control, yet rise to the occasion, not letting their circumstances hinder them are the persons that come to mind. The world often assumes that the disabled or disadvantaged will fail or can’t do the same as others without the same afflictions or restrictions. Being resilient is not only overcoming challenges but proving that when a person wants to accomplish a goal, nothing nor no one can prevent that from happening.
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?
Yes. My biological mother literally told me I would be nothing, along with other things that I will not mention at this time. This came from a woman diagnosed with a severe mental disorder, drug addict, unemployed manipulator. I have never taken, nor do I abuse controlled substances, nor do I drink. I have been employed since the age of 14. I am an autodidact, high school and college graduate, disabled US Army veteran, single mother of 2 children and a successful businesswoman. Yet despite uncontrollable circumstances, Nay Sayers, disabilities and everything else I have faced throughout my life and my career, my resilience has shown that I can and do bounce back to rise above that which was meant to hold me back or hold me down.
Did you have a time in your life where you experienced a great setback, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I believe my biggest setback was when I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had to undergo 2 brain surgeries and trying to stay employed while dealing with such harsh medical issues was nearly impossible. Two weeks after the 2nd surgery, I experienced complications that resulted in the loss of 4 pints of blood. That resulted in me flatlining at the hospital. By the grace of God, I was revived. That is when I decided I would make a difference not only for my children but also for those who were in need of hope that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome it.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Everything I went through as a child was a building block for my resilience today. Having very little adult supervision or guidance, learning to survive and function in the world I knew nothing about. I also had to learn how to be an adult with very limited resources or experiences from learning from other adults.
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.
The 5 steps one can take to become more resilient is this, belief in yourself, remain steadfast in your personal beliefs, stay true to yourself, keep fighting and pushing to reach your goals and most importantly give yourself a break, in other words, don’t be so critical of yourself. Remembering that not every attempt at a challenge in life will be a success. As long as one keeps trying and doesn’t get knocked down permanently is one of the most important traits of a truly resilient person.
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. 🙂
I am a part of a movement that I currently have been named VP for. The movement is called M.A.D.D. — Making a Difference Daily. The basis of the campaign is advocating against the violence of all kinds, bullying, and suicide. We are encouraging people of all ages, from around the world to join us in this movement to make a difference to change and try to eliminate these travesties, especially for our future generations.
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 🙂
There are so many influential individuals out there contributing time and resources, including those who form and run the non-profit organizations to help those in need. I would, however, like to meet Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey, and Mrs. Estella Pyfrom, who are all individuals, whom I believe to exemplify the essence of resiliency.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube under Michelle Mishy Dawn. Please be sure to follow me, like and subscribe for the latest updates on the projects and tour dates coming in the near future.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!