Even on Days when it Rains: A True Story of Hardship and Maternal Love
Hardship and Leadership: Is There a Connection? :: Andrews University
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Books by Julia O'Donnell. Trivia About The Mother's Stor No trivia or quizzes yet. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. He was my soulmate, my friend, my companion, the one who walked with me to school every day and who waited for me at the end of school, carrying my bag the three or four city blocks to where we lived.
His untimely death devastated my mother and me, and we were left bereft of the quiet presence of my father in our lives as provider, mentor, and protector. How heavy my schoolbag was as I walked alone those blocks, how much I missed him when I got out of school and did not see him waiting for me. Many years later, I found a Heavenly Father and I embraced Him, and it was easy, because I already knew what a father meant and how much a father could love me.
I have faced many hardships in my life, and with the help of my Heavenly Father, I was able to bounce back and forge ahead. This is why many of the stories of hardship resonate with me. I feel the hurt, the anger, the loneliness. Human beings experience many kinds of hard circumstances, but they all go back to essential deep-seated sentiments: The students had been asked to write a narrative of how their lives as leaders were shaped by their life experiences, and how this impacted their leadership and their vision.
This introspective reflection is congruent with what Janson posits:. Understanding the stories leaders tell followers and themselves about their past experiences can provide valuable insight into which experiences leaders consider formative, and why. This is particularly relevant because the impact of a formative experience on a leader depends more on the meaning the leader can make of it rather than on the experience itself and because this knowledge can further help leaders develop new leaders.
As I read thirty life narratives, at that time with the only purpose of better acquainting myself with each one of the students in the program, it became evident that there was a common thread in all of them: One of them mentioned how when he was at the peak of his career, feeling arrogant and in control of his destiny, a near-fatal accident caused him to reframe his life. Another one mentioned that she was on a path of uninterrupted professional success until a long illness shattered her dreams.
For another, a traumatic demotion and work re-location was the beginning of many years of confusion and loss until he bounced back. Intrigued by what I was seeing as a possible connection between hardship and the way these leaders understood and practiced their leadership, I chose a purposeful sample of four of them, three males and one female.
All of them hold top leadership positions and all of them mentioned in their life narratives situations of hardship that were key factors in their development as leaders.
And all four of them are Christian leaders. I conducted two-hour-long interviews with each of them and later carried out a member check, to grasp the significance participants ascribed to their experiences with a greater degree of accuracy Janson, The conceptual framework for the present study lies in two theoretical approaches. One of them comes from Luthans and Avolio , who propose that leaders need to identify actual events that when reflected upon in retrospect contribute to their leadership development.
The interviews corroborated what is found in the literature on hardship and its relation to leadership. All of the leaders mentioned that hard circumstances in their lives contributed to a greater sense of their purpose and meaning and enabled them to empathize with others in a different way than before their adversity struck. When Sally was seven and her brother was six years old, their mother got very sick due to a brain aneurysm.
The Mother's Story: A Tale of Hardship and Maternal Love
For a long time, the mother battled for life. When she started recuperating, she would stare at her children, unable to recognize them. Sally and her brother spent hours showing pictures to their mother and seeing how hard she fought and clung to life. Sally says her mother taught her to fight in spite of hardship. Sally and her brother saw their teen years cut short.
They had to cook, clean, and take care of their mother. Yet Sally credits this hardship that truncated her childhood and teen years with the stamina and the strength to fight through many events in her life and to be today a top leader in a country with few women leaders. With this idea in mind, Van Velsor and McCauley present a model of leadership development that has three key elements: Experiencing hardship led Sally to assess and redefine her core values and the meaning of her life.
This quest for purpose and meaning Sally has also transferred to her workplace by encouraging her subordinates to seek a clearer mission and vision for their tasks and the way they approach their work. Being individually resilient has helped her to see her organization as also able to be resilient in uncertain times. Resilient leaders can teach other to be salient, and their example provides a model for others to emulate.
Pedro was born in a very poor household, yet his parents were loving Christians that instilled in their children the core values and beliefs that have sustained him up to now. His life has been a series of peaks and valleys. Pedro lived in a valley very far from big cities. One day when he was 10 or 11 years old, his father took him by the hand and they climbed a high peak.
Pedro had always been fascinated by planes and his father had told him that one day he would take him to a place where there would be an airport and he could see planes. On the way to the top of the mountain, Pedro was sure that he was going to see this city and the airport. But when they reached the peak, after hours of climbing, to his dismay he saw only more valleys and more peaks, all the way to the horizon. Profoundly disappointed, he turned to his father and said: And one day you will reach your last peak and then you will meet God.
Pedro wanted to study. One day the opportunity came for him to go to a distant city to enroll in higher education. His parents, extremely poor, were barely able to give him money for the bus fare. Before hugging her son and saying goodbye, his mother put in his hands the only treasure she had and her only connection to the outside world: It would be many years before Pedro was able to see his parents again, but that old radio was a constant reminder of his home and his own desire to gain an education and to rise above poverty.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?. A common theme in the lives of these four leaders is humility, the notion that without their faith and without the support of others, they cannot go forward in life. Sally mentions that she does not cry easily.
Hardship—the Great Life Equalizer
At home I can be weak; I have also others I can be weak with. One of the leaders shared the story of a near-fatal accident in which he almost drowned. Robert had been blessed with a rapid ascent into power positions. There was nothing that was not reachable. The more self-confident he became, the less confident he was that God was leading the way. As Robert told me about the drowning incident, I could picture the river, overflowing and running rapidly, and him and his friend gasping for air.
I could feel the utter helplessness of those seconds and minutes in which he tried frantically to hold on to life and not go under to never come back again. His mind, keenly alert in the moments of peril, flashed back all his life in front of him.
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He saw how arrogant he had been in his dealings with others. He saw the times in which he had not relied on God. In desperation Robert asked God to save him and give him the chance to become a better person, a better husband and father, and a better leader. It took a long time for Robert to reel back from this event.
He felt disoriented, lacking focus and understanding of what the future held.