Elizabeth’s Story: When Your Attitude Becomes a Barrier to Success

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It can happen to any of us, a disease strikes and our life is turned upside down. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, or another ailment, dealing with and recovering from a serious illness can be a long process and can dramatically alter our careers, relationships and even personalities. 

For Elizabeth, suffering a stroke derailed her career and caused her to leave work for several years to recover, as she needed to adjust to her newly acquired disability and the lifestyle changes it required. When it was time to re-enter the workforce Elizabeth struggled on many fronts. Being out of work for so long meant there was a gap in Elizabeth’s resume - which was also out of date.  She also had lost track of many of her former contacts as she focused on her recovery, creating a barrier to professional networking. However, the biggest barrier Elizabeth faced was her own attitude. 

Struggling with a change in her abilities made identifying a realistic job target difficult for Elizabeth. She came to Champions hoping we could help update her resume, improve her networking skills and maybe connect her to an employer. Yet she was not ready to accept how her disability may have impacted her career path. When participating in one of our workshops Elizabeth was asked, “What have you gained as a result of your disability?” to which she struggled and ultimately refused to answer. For Elizabeth, not being able to correctly ascertain her own abilities, mostly because she refused to, had become her biggest barrier to employment. Not only did this mean she couldn't be honest about realistic job targets, but also meant she couldn’t identify how she would perform essential job tasks if she received the job. 

It was the day after she attended this workshop that Elizabeth had an epiphany. Spending the night carefully reflecting on her present situation, and life path, resulted in Elizabeth seeing her disability in a new light. Her different abilities weren’t a barrier to employment, but just a part of her evolution as a person. Pride had been an unaddressed issue for her even before the stroke. Looking ahead she could now see a whole new set of possibilities. As she continues her job search, she knows that it isn’t her resume or networking contacts which will ultimately get her a new position, but her newly discovered positive attitude.


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