Leadership Lessons From Real Life Heroes

By: Robert White Friday July 12, 2013 comments

Years ago I had the pleasure of attending a Beverly Hills fundraiser for the Children’s Environmental Health Coalition (CHEC). CHEC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public, and especially parents and other child caregivers, about environmental toxins that negatively affect children’s health. CHEC was founded by Nancy and Jim Chuda, to honor the life of their daughter Colette. Colette died at age 10 from a form of cancer almost certainly connected to her Mother’s exposure to pesticides while she was pregnant.


Out of this tragedy, these grief stricken parents created this wonderful organization to help all parents and all children. From the CHEC website, a quote from the Chuda’s:

“Of course, at the time we had all we could do just to survive the overwhelming loss. We were dazed. But the seed of an idea was planted; one that has actually helped us over time transform our pain into a hope that we can do something to help others avoid what we went through.”

Jim and Nancy have managed to converted the almost unimaginable grief and loss of losing their daughter to the commitment, support from others, energy and finances to make a positive difference for children everywhere.

It was a truly exciting and inspiring evening. On my way home, I thought about the Chudas and the many other examples of people who have experienced really terrible events and chose to convert their pain into something positive and of value to others.

What can you and I learn from these “real life heroes” about how we handle our problems – big or small? We can learn that events are just events until we add our own personal beliefs, feelings and attitudes. We are each in the driver’s seat of our responses. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself that could aid you in that response

  1. What belief will you form or reinforce or let go of as a result of the event?
  2. What emotions are you feeling and do you want to feel in the future?
  3. Will you fall victim to your reactive mind or will you move to choice?
  4. What behaviors will you choose – private and public?
  5. What will the impact and consequences of your choices be on you and others in your life?

If you can accept the premise that we can’t always control events but we can make choices about our resulting beliefs, feelings, actions, consequences and actions, then the following guidelines might be very useful in choosing to live an extraordinary life:

Your expanding awareness allows you to gain a richer, deeper understanding of the events in your life. It’s only with that awareness that learning and growth can begin. The question “why did this happen to me?” can be asked in a whining, victim tone or it can be asked as a genuine inquiry including making a space for your own accountability. This could represent the beginning of an incredible life adventure. It’s a choice. In fact, it’s your choice.

Lastly, listen and speak from the heart. Miracles flow when you choose to truly communicate.

To the best of my knowledge, we’ve all got only one go-around in this physical form we call “life.” Events will happen. It seems strategically sound to learn how to better handle them for our own personal satisfaction and happiness. And, as Jim and Nancy Chuda and many others have shown the way, we could choose to use those events to make a positive contribution, to do some real good in a world, our world, that increasingly needs examples of people choosing to live an extraordinary life.

The events in your life represent a kind of test on the fabric of who you are. It is challenging, often unwelcome but ultimately an exhilarating experience. I invite you to join me – and Nancy and Jim Chuda – in embracing “bad things” as opportunities for growth and leadership development into our full potential as extraordinary people.

Robert White

About the Author: Robert White

Robert White is a Speaker, Author, Leadership Trainer and Executive Mentor who teaches the art and science of mastering executive challenges. He specializes in integrating a heart centered, result-oriented and transformational leadership approach to being effective. His experience includes founding and leading companies doing high-impact experiential learning events with over one million graduates.

Robert’s culture change work has been praised by corporations like JPMorganChase, Progressive Insurance, Duke Energy and The American Cancer Society.

Additionally top business experts and authors Ken Blanchard, Jimmy Calano, Kathy Gardarian, and Robert Wright, plus thousands of training and mentoring clients, have endorsed his professional knowledge and skills.

Robert authored the best-seller “Living an Extraordinary Life” available in English and Mandarin. He is a contributing author to “Being Fuller” a compilation from students of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller and “One World, One People,” a photo journal of mankind’s journey to oneness.

Today you’ll find him speaking at conferences, hosting masterminds, mentoring today’s emerging business leaders and teaching everything he knows about fostering entrepreneurial success and building an entrepreneurial mindset in established, growth-oriented companies.

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