Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.

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Adapt and overcome

Q: Carla Cohen, who died recently, was as well-known in the D.C. area as a bookstore owner could be. But before she co-founded the renowned Politics & Prose decades ago, she lost her job, and it took her a couple of years to resolve to pursue something "that would bring nothing but pleasure to other people." Have you ever had a fallow period that eventually led to a breakthrough? How did you get out of it?

The Center for Creative Leadership has found that the number one "learning experience" for successful leaders has been "going through a failure." Having to navigate a downturn or other fallow period often leads to a breakthrough in a person's life view. During negative times, we are forced to reflect on our wants, needs, desires, and purpose. With resolve and creativity, we can emerge on the other side with confidence.

I personally follow one of the military sayings: "Adapt and overcome."

During a very negative time, I was out of job, had two small children under 4 years old, and career prospects that were wonderful but would have involved excessive travel away from my family.

After long discussions with colleagues and family, I redefined "success" and made a list of what was really important to me. Four months later I had a tenure-level university position and the start of my own consulting company. Up until that point, I had never seen myself as an independent consultant and thought that I wouldn't teach until I retired.

That picture of myself in my head had to go through a transformation -- something that only happened because I found myself up against a wall. By being knocked down, I was forced to look inward and rely on my true strengths and passion. That gave me the energy to forge another path.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  October 18, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Adapting to change Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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