All you can do is all you can do. I was a single mother raising a child that literally abused me. At the same time, I owned my own business, and I was exhausted. I needed a few mantras, and this was one of them.
I had the pleasure of interviewing resilience expert Anne Grady. Anne is an internationally recognized speaker and author. Anne shares humor, humility, refreshing honesty, and practical strategies anyone can use to triumph over adversity and master change. She is the author of “Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience, and Triumph,” and “52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work.” Learn more at www.AnneGradyGroup.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I have been a professional trainer/speaker for the last 20 years. When I began my career as a corporate trainer, I quickly learned that I’m not made out for a corporate 9–5 job. I decided to start consulting and shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant. I had no money, no sales experience, and my husband left. My son Evan, now 16, is severely mentally ill and autistic, which I cover in more detail in my TEDx talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ-bCUXZaEI). He tried to kill me when he was three. By the age of 4 he was on his first anti-psychotic. His first psychiatric hospitalization was when he was 7. I later remarried and my new husband and I lived in the Ronald McDonald House for two months while he received treatment. In 2014, after hospitalizing my son for a second time, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my salivary gland that resulted in facial paralysis, eye surgery, 6 weeks of radiation, and a broken foot. Throw in hubby’s motorcycle accident and a horrible fall off a ladder, and you have my backstory. I have a master’s degree in organizational communication and was already training and speaking on communication and leadership, but my life has necessitated the need for resilience. I’ve learned some things along the way about practical ways we can build resilience and grit, and I love helping people proactively build the tools they need to have resilience when they need it the most.
Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I feel like the last 20 years have been a pretty interesting story. Certainly not the fairytale I’d imagined, but a story nonetheless. The facial paralysis really threw me for a loop, but I kept speaking. Three weeks after completing radiation, I spoke in India, and my first book came out that week.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was in one of my first corporate jobs, I worked at a fancy golf resort. We were told not to fraternize with the celebrity guests. I was a HUGE Matthew McConaughey fan. A friend that worked in the men’s locker/restaurant snuck me in there to meet Matthew. One of the managers sent an email to the entire organization explaining that I had made a bad choice and was now fired. After confronting my boss in tears, I realized that he made up a fake email address (that was very similar to the all-company address), and hadn’t sent it to anyone but me. That was an interesting convo with my boss.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes! I am working on a third book and a resilience development series. The book is called “Mind Over Moment: The Science of Resilience.” The resilience series is a combination of virtual facilitation and video.
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 about that?
Absolutely. I had a mentor for 10 years that taught me how to sell, facilitate, build a business, and so much more. I’m incredibly grateful for all of the time he invested in me. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
When I was starting out, I cold-called over 100 businesses a day, trying to persuade them to bring me in to provide training and professional development. We went on dozens of appointments while I learned my sales pitch, refined my questions, and got the hang of it. In retrospect, I am so eternally grateful I was supported through that process.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?
1. Live on purpose. Rather than react your way through your life, build it on purpose.
2. Get clear on your priorities and make sure where you spend your time reflects that.
3. Practice gratitude. It’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself. It changes your brain and can transform your life.
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
My favorite book growing up was “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I could relate to wanting something so badly that you would do anything to make it happen. It’s not how amazing we are that makes us successful. It’s how hard we are willing to work for it. I loved the lessons of that book. As an adult, John Maxwell, Brené Brown, Rick Hansen, and so many others.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
A mental health movement. We focus on physical health (which is incredibly important), but we have a long way to go with mental health. The rate of suicide, depression, and self-medication is higher in the Western world than any place on Earth, yet we are no happier, healthier, or better. There have been virtually no services for my son or family. If we didn’t have the resources to care for him, he would either be homeless, in jail, or dead. This is unacceptable. One in five children and adults suffer from a mental health issue. We have a lot of work to do.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am a mental health advocate. A portion of all of my book proceeds goes to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Central Texas. I work every day to reduce the stigma of mental illness. We are all impacted by mental health.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.):
1. All you can do is all you can do. I was a single mother raising a child that literally abused me. At the same time, I owned my own business, and I was exhausted. I needed a few mantras, and this was one of them.
2. It’s more important to get it right than it is to be right. You might win the battle but lose the war. For example, let’s say you craft the perfect email, anticipating questions and providing info to answer them only to have someone ask a question you clearly answered. Most of us go to our sent folder and forward the original email saying something snarky like, “As per my original email…”. You might technically be right, but you still lose.
3. Choose your mindset. I grew up fearing failure (still do sometimes). But the most successful people believe failure is just part of success. Don’t compare yourself to others; know that your talent and ability will only get you so far, and that you have to work your butt off whether you think it’s fair or not.
4. You are enough. Regardless of how much money you make or how much success you have, you are enough. I am incredibly goal-oriented and always focused on the next achievement. Sometimes you have to be okay where you are and know that you are enough.
5. Practice gratitude. My favorite song lyric is by Ray Wylie Hubbard. He says, “The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations…well, I have really good days.” There will always be things to complain about. Focus on what is right. Look for the blessings in your life because you find what you look for. Even when I have been at rock bottom, there is always something to be grateful for.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
It would be the song lyric I mentioned above. It might also be a quote from my Grammy: “Annie, if you act like an ass, don’t be surprised if people try to ride you.”
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Of course there is Brené Brown. She’s my professional crush. But since we’re going for it, I’d have to say Mariska Hargitay. Olivia Benson is my jam, and the more I learn about Mariska, the more I like her. Her charity has helped countless women go from victims to survivors, and she has impacted so many people. I’d love to hear her stories of guest stars and drama.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
FB: @AnneGradyGroup (https://www.facebook.com/AnneGradyGroup/)
Twitter: @AnneGradyGroup (https://twitter.com/AnneGradyGroup)
LinkedIn: @AnneGradyGroup (https://www.linkedin.com/company/anne-grady-group)
Thank you for all of these great insights!