“Survive to Thrive”: Spotlighting Hilary Beard’s Story, Part I

Entrepreneurs are praised for their triumphs, but what about their struggles and the journeys that brought them to success? In their new book, “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders,” Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman let us look behind the curtain, sharing stories of now-thriving, prominent figures of business, like Julie Wainwright and Andy Sack.

Each story focuses on one of nine essential principles needed to overcome adversity and seize opportunities:

I AM:

  • A person people can like and love
  • Loving and empathetic
  • Willing to be responsible for what I do

I HAVE:

  • People I trust and who love me, no matter what
  • Role models
  • Health, education, and support

I CAN:

  • Communicate
  • Manage feelings and solve problems
  • Seek out trusting relationships

Offered as affirmations for success, the authors give take-away lessons and daily practices that can be incorporated in your own professional journey. Read Hilary Beard’s story, as told in a four-part series of blog posts, in which she struggles to claim her own vocation, not as a lawyer, but as a New York Times best-selling author and writing coach. To read more stories that redefine success and empower your own career, visit http://survivetothrive.pub/.

 

I Have the Power to Be Fearless, Part I

“I wanted to be fearless.”

Beard has been an avid reader and writer for as long as she can remember. Actually, she counters, even before she could understand what she was reading, as a toddler she would pick up any book. In her childhood in suburban Shaker Heights, Ohio, Beard spent many hours writing and illustrating her own stories. Among her favorite books were A Tale of Two Cities and Moby Dick, iconic examples of literature that fueled her imagination and fed her growing desire to become a writer and visual artist.

The vision she had for a creative career was abruptly shelved when Beard was just a senior in high school. It wouldn’t resurface again until more than two decades later. Back when she was 17, attending an art college and pursuing a creative career was not a practical enough path to satisfy her father, who was concerned about his daughter’s employment prospects after graduation. Beard says she understood his perspective. Her father was a black man who had survived the segregation and racial injustices of the South, only to move to the North and endure even more discrimination. He was only looking out for her best interests, Beard asserts, and he wanted to make sure she had the ability to support herself in an unfriendly world. So Beard says she pushed down her own passion and instead applied to Princeton. “I was aware of the creative writing program, but my father and my community socialization was such that I had no other point of reference,” she says. His message would drown out her inner voice. Beard kept herself away from literature and writing, and went on to earn a degree in political science.

That did not mean she knew what to do with her life post-graduation, even though she knew exactly what she wanted to be. However, it would prove to be a short-lived period of uncertainty. Just before Beard got her diploma, her father had a stroke. She says she had no choice but to get a job.

This decision was fraught with familial responsibility. As the eldest child, Beard says she had a responsibility to contribute to her younger siblings’ schooling, not just because her parents needed financial assistance. Beard’s need to step up was rooted in her reflections on her ancestors. Genealogical research became an absorbing passion. Digging through historical records, Beard uncovered stories of incredible courage. “My great-great grandparents were enslaved,” she recounts, “I learned that when one of them was going to be sold away from her children, she chopped off her own big toe,” in order to be less desirable to a prospective owner. Others resisted slavery and escaped through the Underground Railroad.

In more recent times, Beard says, her mother was a part of sit-ins, even when she was pregnant. When her father heard that his wife was among peaceful protesters, he promptly left work to get her, Beard says, adding, “My mother’s instinct was to forge a world where her daughter could be safe.”

Learning what others did to help future generations be free was humbling for Beard and had a profound effect on her psyche. “I didn’t want to be a coward when all these people made these sacrifices for me to go to Princeton.” Beard says that entering a working world that her heart wasn’t in paled in comparison to the hardships faced by people in other parts of the world that had no relation to her. “Some people are living under terrorism, yet they made decisions for something greater than them,” she muses. Beard realized that fear of doing something that was not completely her choice made her disappointed in herself. “How could I be cowardly in the face of such courage?”

 

Read the rest of Hilary Beard’s story in the upcoming post, “‘Survive to Thrive’: Sharing Hiliary Beard’s Story, Part II.”

Reprinted with permission of the authors from “Survive to Thrive:  27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015) by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman.  Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman.  All rights reserved.

Categories: Best Practices Coaching Entrepreneurial Journey general Goal Setting Inspirational Interview Lessons Learned Make a Mark Women Entrepreneurs

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