It is said that when life hands out lemons, you should make lemonade. In my lifetime I have made buckets full. When confronted with obstacles I plow through, undaunted and stubborn. Perhaps this single-minded approach was passed on by my British upbringing, and a mother who was an English gold medal ballroom dancer who would daily roar “head up, chin forward, shoulders back.” I was born of solid British stock where by necessity you must be waterproof and have a bulldog spirit to survive. Add the pervert father to the mix and I am a bona fide survivor.
I have become an expert in overcoming adversity, maximizing potential, and in the end, am proud to be changing the world positively. My fundraising life began when I turned out to be a mother to a profoundly disabled son. At his birth, I was told to “put him away.” I was told that my boy, Christopher, had no value. It was with this rejection, this roadblock, that I found the strength in myself to change the way people perceived my son and kids like him. Through his birth, I became a successful fundraiser and disability advocate.
Why do I tell you this? It’s because if I can do it, you too can find that strength. You can overcome anything. You must keep your chin up, put your shoulders back and make the world better by positively changing your life.
Find Your Purpose, Find Yourself
I found myself as a mom, a disability advocate, and a humanitarian. I found my greatest purpose in my admiration and love for my first-born son, a child born with the label of “disabled.” When you see your true purpose, you are taking the first step toward maximizing your potential. We all have our own skills, relationships, and gifts to bring to the table, and pure inspiration and purpose can help you make the most of them.
Take the time to think about who you are and what it is you want to achieve. So many people are out there working every day, yet so few genuinely feel blessed and satisfied by the work that they do. I started my life as a dancer and actress, then as an advocate and fundraiser for disability causes. In my various careers, I found the success in these endeavors came when done with love and with purpose. When you find your calling, you’ll be on the way to a bright and prosperous future.
Create Your Unique Value
Those unique gifts and skills that you have belong to you and you alone! No one else can offer precisely the same thing. Some of the most skilled, talented people shy away from speaking about their contributions and their skills, wanting to avoid boasting. However, it’s important to know your value – and offer real value to others. By identifying what you do well, you can maximize your skills and allow others to see the light that burns inside of you.
Gratitude is a Game-Changer
When you’re facing adversity, you may not see a clear path forward. But you can get on the right track again by adopting the power of gratitude for your own life. When we face negative experiences and difficult challenges, we know that life is deeply unfair. But we can also be grateful for those difficulties that we face, exposing us to new realities and transforming ourselves. When you learn from the situation that you face you can find new messages and meanings- and most importantly, you can bring them to others and share those gifts with the world.
Hard times and real challenges face all of us, and it’s OK if you don’t know the way out right away. Take your time, find yourself, realize your value – and you’ll be able to make the changes you need, not only for yourself but for the people and communities that you love.
Linda Smith is a fearless and tenacious non-profit fundraiser, author and motivational speaker. She is a survivor of child abuse, a philanthropist who has raised over one billion dollars for charity, and a disability advocate inspired by her son, Christopher, who was born with Down syndrome. Her incredible journey and brave heart will be detailed in her upcoming book, Unwanted.
Contact [email protected] to connect with Linda for information regarding speaking opportunities, disability resources and Las Vegas fundraising efforts.