Growing up, I was a fairly easy-going person. I took people at their word. I didn’t sweat the small stuff. I took whatever life threw at me and muddled through it. In fact, I was fairly unobservant about what was going on around me. I painfully know this just by looking at photos on Facebook of people I went to high school with and for the life of me I can’t remember anything about them! I guess I wasn’t really paying attention.
And as I developed into my professional life, I was equally laid back. I let things happen. I didn’t worry about details. While I enjoyed success, I didn’t plot or plan it. I just let it happen.
Then, in my 30s, my marriage fell apart and I was suddenly looking at a custody battle for my two young children. I learned a really hard lesson.
I was, of course, in the fight of my life. I was in the fight for their lives. I needed to protect their futures and I couldn’t let anything derail that.
Going into a court room to fight the battle, I learned the lesson that you cannot just make bogus claims to the judge. You must prove your claims. It was a pivotal moment for me that became completely engrained in how I think and approach problem solving.
Fortunately, I was a fast learner, and I was able to provide facts on all assertions and claims I made. Also, fortunately, I won that custody battle and I happy to say my children’s futures were secured – and they’re doing GREAT!
The aftereffects, professionally, for me were that I never (knowingly) ever made a claim that I couldn’t substantiate. If I was proposing a project, I made sure I could deliver what I was proposing. Hope was not (and is not) a strategy. If I was talking with a customer, I never provided information that wasn’t verifiable. If I was delivering a performance review, I made sure that all my ratings had substance, details, and concrete examples. I operated at a higher level of accountability. I was ready to be judged and questioned.
I wouldn’t advise anyone to willingly embark on a custody battle. But I do encourage others to stop, take stock of those pivotal moments, and understand what was learned from them. I learned to use that difficult training to make the work I performed even better. It raised the bar of quality for me. And the final lesson from that moment is to take a pivotal moment - good or bad – and turn the lesson into a superpower.
Jodi Henson is an entrepreneur and business consultant. She works with prospective and existing small business owners to help them overcome challenges and attain their goals. Jodi lives in NE Florida with her husband and family. You can contact her at email@example.com.