Overcome road blocks, challenges and setbacks. This is part of the journey of building resilience and resilient people know this. Keep getting up and try again.
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 Roula Selinas
Roula Selinas is the author of Stronger You Can Overcome and Bounce Back from Adversity and her newly released book The Perfect Storm, inspirational speaker and mentor. Roula’s tenacity is evident in the huge adversity she has faced with cancer, setbacks, and complications, both physical and emotional challenges. In 2007 Roula’s life was turned upside down being diagnosed with leukemia and a secondary cancer from the treatment ten years later. What could have easily broken her made her stronger. Having triumphed in the face of adversities Roula speaks on empowerment to help others achieve their goals.
She shares resilience techniques to inspire and empower you to overcome self limiting beliefs and challenges and life’s hardest hits and transform your life. Roula has spoken at Herstory Global Women’s Empowerment conference in Sydney, the Ignite International stage, radio, libraries and other platforms. She was a finalist in Queensland’s prestigious Arch Williams, Brisbane speaking competition in 2017 and 2018.
Roula is the administrator for Australia in one the of the largest global writer’s forums Motivational Strips and was awarded the Australian writer and poet for literary excellence by Motivational Strips and India Governments premium literary institution of ‘Gujarat Sahitya Academy’ (Under State Government of Gujarat) during India’s 74th Independence Day. The honour was conferred on Roula for her literary excellence and contribution to world poetry.
Roula has an administration, bookkeeping and customer service background. Retail and small office management experience. Life skills counseling HH Dip (L.S.C.) Certificates in Business, Property and Administration.
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 was born in Sydney, we lived in Dulwich Hill in my Uncle’s house with their family. Then we moved when I was almost two years old to Wagga Wagga, a little country town where they ran a fish and chips shop with their friends. They saw opportunity and moved to Haberfield when I was three; this is where I remember spending my childhood years. My parents ran a ‘milk bar’ called the ‘HMD Milk Bar’ short for Home Made Delicatessens seven days a week. We lived on the premises; it had all the basic necessities and a decent sized yard to play in. It was a popular shop in a strip of businesses in a nice neighbourhood.
I had two brothers, John was four years older than me and Tony was seven years younger. I was a bit of a tomboy as well as a girly girl. We’d play cowboys and Indians, army games, touch football and soccer. I would play with my brothers and neighbours. I was quite good at soccer and played in school my teacher wanted me to play after school in the team but my Dad wouldn’t have a bar of it. ‘That’s a boys sport’. I would watch my brother train in karate at the hall in the back of our house, mesmerized. I wanted to do karate, but again I got ‘that’s not for girls’. Oh how things have changed his granddaughter plays touch football now and he couldn’t be prouder. There were parks close by where we would spend hours playing and hanging upside down on the monkey bars or swirling round and round on the witch’s hat. I was very active and would spent hours outdoors riding my bike, and later in my teens roller skating or skateboarding.
I spent my quiet time devouring books and would get lost in the world of fantasy. My favourite author was Enid Blyton at that time and the library was right at the back of our house, I would visit it often. I loved watching all the popular shows Jeanie, Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman and would make believe I had their powers. Because my parents were always busy working we learnt how to entertain ourselves.
I went to Greek school till the end of primary and learnt how to read and write Greek. I had a lot of relatives and family friends and I was close with my cousins. We had lots of outings and big get togethers. My parents were very strict more so because I was a girl as my brothers had a lot more freedom than I ever did. In those days it was very different.
I went to Haberfield Demonstration School, starting school not being able to speak English very well, because Mum insisted on talking to us in Greek. I had to attend special English classes despite this setback I finished in the top ten as the seventh smartest in school and went on to Fort Street a selective high school in Petersham. It was a friendly neighbourhood with many customers that lived in and around the area including local ministers, mayors, senators and police all befriending my family and looking out for each other; they were very helpful and protective towards my family. In those days you were allowed to have guns to protect your business. The area was filled with many Italians. It was a very popular shop with schools close by and became the local hangout for kids and teens after school especially when they installed pin ball machines and space invaders games. I would play pin ball and space invaders for hours and even got to challenge some older customers.
It was a happy carefree time in my life where things were simple, I remember it fondly. We moved to Brighton Le Sands near the beach when I was almost 13 and I changed school and made new friends. Although my parents were very busy trying to provide for us, I felt loved and safe.
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?
When I published my first book Stronger in 2015 I thought I had done all the work, it took five years from start to completion. Then I realized I have so much more work to do, I have to promote it. I had to overcome my biggest fear and learn how to how to speak in public and articulate my message. It wasn’t easy because it was one of my biggest fears and it really is something I never wanted to do until that moment in time, when I realized this is what I had to do.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I have real life experience backed by a Diploma in Life Skills Counseling and I am studying Diploma in Counseling. I have achieved a lot of success in my life but I also have been through a lot of adversity and difficult times that tested me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I have been through cancer twice and many complications and setbacks so I know the dark days, the physical, mental and emotional challenges and struggles one has to deal with. I’ve learnt how to build resilience and heal to help others succeed.
I am a mentor and life coach who wants to help others with the changes they want to make, but are unsure how to, or they are stuck. I offer life skills counseling and coaching services. I have a purpose to make a difference in helping transform people’s lives. To help prevent suicide, increase mental health, happiness and wellbeing. I walk my talk and these techniques are proven to work by science and research and I am living proof they work. I receive messages often that I am one of the most inspirational people they have seen or met which gives them hope and inspires them that they can get through things and can achieve the things they want. I am also an author and inspirational speaker and I do presentations and workshops to groups.
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?
Leon Nacson from Balboa Press was very helpful in helping me publish my first book Stronger. Rostrum GC Club 27 was very encouraging and offered a lot of support and I learnt a lot when I started public speaking this helped me gain confidence, so did Sam Cawthorn from Speakers Institute in workshops, Speakers tribe and boot camp. My parents are my rocks and were there for me through both cancers.
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?
The traits of resilient people are they keep getting up no matter how many times they get knocked down. They know what they want and will do anything to achieve it, no matter what obstacle or challenge that comes their way. They are able to go through hard times and learn from them to become stronger and better able to deal with things. They are self aware, have discipline, are motivated, and optimistic. They look to find ways they can achieve their goals, quitting is not an option.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Nelson Mandela is a true example of resilience, to be able to still hold onto what he believed in and not turn bitter with being jailed for such a long time 27 years, and forgive is a massive feat in itself. He was an advocate for peace and racial discrimination fighting for democracy. Then being elected as president the man is amazing.
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?
Probably a few times, my husband and I had a dream to live on the waterfront in Sydney and someone thought we might have been dreaming too high. We started out with 7,000 dollars when we got married, we achieved this in 2001 and then again on the Gold Coast in 2004. Also, if you had told me in 2007 that I would get through all the things I have gone through since I was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, complications, setbacks, viruses, infections, donor issues, chronic fatigue, steroid induced diabetes, kidney damage, I nearly went blind, a near death experience, a divorce and a second cancer 10 years later to name a few things. I would have thought it was impossible. The fact that I have gotten through it all and I feel great, fit and strong again is mind blowing and feels surreal it’s making the impossible possible. Which is the theme of my second book called ‘The Perfect Storm’ in the Herstory global Women’s Empowerment anthology.
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?
Yes when I first got cancer in 2007 and I had to have one of the most intensive chemotherapies and a bone marrow transplant. My donor was not a good match, I had many setbacks and complications over many years. It took me a long time, but I persisted to get to where I was, fit strong and healthy again. I bounced back stronger than ever. I published my first book aptly named Stronger, You Can Overcome and Bounce Back from Adversity in 2015.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Not really, I was quite protected up until my friend died whilst we were in school age 17 in a car accident and my brother died when I was 23, I really didn’t deal with it well. I was depressed for a long time, it does change you though. I built my resilience when I was going through cancer and the ongoing complications, setbacks and trials I had to go through and the things that followed in its wake.
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.
- Find what you truly want to achieve.
- Find ways to achieve what you want. Develop new skills, do a course, learn as much as you can about it, study, research.
- Become self aware — monitor your thoughts, actions, patterns, habits, beliefs. What do you need to change to get to where you want?
- Seek support, have an emotional support network, be that friends, family, a partner, a counselor. We all need support especially when things get hard, having a friend, family or someone you can talk to helps you emotionally.
- Overcome road blocks, challenges and setbacks. This is part of the journey of building resilience and resilient people know this. Keep getting up and try again.
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. 🙂
My life skills and resilience program would be in schools as part of the curriculum and my books would also be available in primary and high schools as part of the curriculum across Australia and globally. Educating our youth with these skills will help them achieve the things they want. It will help arm children and teens with life skills and resilience skills to be able to deal with life better. It will also help prevent suicide, help with mental health issues and substance abuse. It’s a holistic approach that will be good for their wellbeing and happiness levels. Our children are our future these skills need to be taught as young as possible because life is not fair, or easy, it’s full of challenges, obstacles and at times adversity.
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 🙂
Oprah Winfrey and Anthony Robbins because they are amazing and inspiring. They have been through a lot of adversity and have achieved so much and made such a difference in the world, helping people and changing their lives. I would love to ask them questions.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can subscribe to my website www.roulaselinas.com and YouTube channel Roula Selinas
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!