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“Some days I just can’t do this. I don’t want to get out of bed today. I feel like there’s a ton of bricks on me.” Does that sentiment sound familiar? Ron Clark is famous as an educator and leader, but his words ring true for those of us who must fight a chronic illness every day. Learn the five ways you can be a leader over your chronic illness and how to find the positive in the middle of your health challenges.
The BB&T Leadership Series shares insights on leadership topics from some of today’s best and brightest thought leaders. Ron Clark is an American educator and author who has worked with disadvantaged students in rural North Carolina and New York City, and founded the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. The Ron Clark Academy is a highly-acclaimed, nonprofit middle school located in Southeast Atlanta. The Academy has received both national and international recognition for its success in educating students with academic rigor, passion, and creativity balanced by a strict code of discipline. Their 5th – 8th grade students represent various socio-economic and academic backgrounds and communities from across the metro region.
Here are Ron’s top five leadership traits (including quotes from Ron himself to go along with each one) and how you can use them to be a leader over your chronic illness.
- Be Happy. “I force myself to be happy. I pretend I’m in a good mood… and ten minutes later… I’m actually in a good mood.”
It’s the old adage ‘mind over matter.’ The first thing I do every morning before I even get out of bed is practice my gratitudes. With an autoimmune disease, I never know what kind of day I’m going to wake up to. However, I can be thankful and happy for waking up alive to live a new day. Even on the roughest of health days, there is still plenty to be thankful for and happy about.
- Be the Driver. “You are the driver of your bus. You are in charge. Have passion. Believe in yourself.”
Ron calls it being the driver of your bus. I call it fortitude. Whatever you call it, it’s that fire within to keep you going. It’s that drive to take ownership of your life and not be a victim. It’s that passion to believe in yourself despite how you feel or what kind of day you are having.
- Change Your Mindset. “You have the power through your personality and your energy to spread positive energy if you can just change your mindset. You might not be able to accelerate right now, but uplift others and you are moving.”
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first steps I took to inner healing was to uplift others. I remember sitting in the waiting room for my appointments and in the infusion room during chemo. Everyone was so sad. I mean, it’s cancer, I get it. I talked to everyone I saw. “Hi, I’m Holly. What is your name?” “What are you in here for?” “How are you feeling today?” Within minutes, I was fully engaged in uplifting a new friend and temporarily forgot about the pain and the cancer. I actually felt better. And happier.
- Surround Yourself. “The key to acceleration is who you surround yourself with.”
I am blessed to have a husband, stepson, four parents, and a ton of friends who love me and support me. Carter proposed 48 hours after I was diagnosed with cancer. My stepson kept me company on the couch and said that “watching SpongeBob will make me feel better.” (He was right!) My mother taught me to have fortitude through my health challenges. My father taught me if you don’t go after something, you don’t get it. My mother-in-law shaved my head when my hair fell out. My father-in-law somehow managed to turn a conversation about cancer into his former slicing machine business (He’s 89. Don’t ask.).
- Live with Purpose. “When you live your life with purpose… it’s going to make you happier… you’re going to have a better life.”
Little did I know how these two significant health challenges would have turned my life around and into a passion to help others. I wake up every day with a new sense of purpose. And on my toughest days, it’s that drive to help others that gets me out of bed and moving forward.
You can watch the BB&T Leadership Series and the full interview with Kelly King, BB&T Chairman and CEO and Ron Clark here:
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.