In May, many of our teammates had the opportunity to hear Melissa Stockwell present at the Express seminar in Orlando. A highly decorated Soldier who was injured in Iraq on April 13, 2004, Melissa lost her left leg above her knee to a roadside bomb on the streets of Iraq.
After this life-changing injury, she had two choices—give up or get up. To honor her fellow service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, Melissa chose the latter.
A life of meaning, success
Thirteen years later, she has built a life full of meaning and success. Since her injury, Melissa has danced with a U.S. president, started a family and won a bronze medal in the triathlon at the Rio Paralympics.
Melissa is truly one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Her adversity speaks to the challenges the best customers in the world must contend with and is a reminder of our responsibility to always treat them with respect and compassion.
We can all learn from Melissa. While our challenges many times pale in comparison to hers, each of us has decisions to make every day about which direction we choose to proceed. Our response to obstacles is typically a statement about who we are and what we value.
I read an article recently that talked about ways great leaders handle adversity. The first technique the article highlights is to ask, “I wonder, what will this teach me?”
Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, focus on what you can change. Something as simple as adjusting your mindset can significantly alter the course you may be heading.
Four questions to ask
We all have choices. Some are simple and others more difficult. When something happens, experts say to answer these questions:
- What is the outcome I want most?
- What other outcomes would be good as well?
- What stands in my way from making these outcomes happen?
- Whom do I know that has overcome similar obstacles that stand in my way?
Lessons along the path
No matter what path we take, each journey provides lessons along the way. I would like to think events that did not initially go how I expected or happened without warning eventually positively shaped my life.
We can all think of someone who overcame insurmountable odds with grace, poise and a positive spirit. It is these people whom I draw strength from when faced with difficulty.
Melissa is making the most of life despite circumstances beyond her control. In a time of chaos, she chose to take charge. It’s a decision that has paid dividends ever since the day she lost a limb while serving our Nation.
I encourage you to reflect on those moments when hope seemed elusive and how you persevered to ultimately make things better than they were before.
Focusing on what is in our control
Our organization is full of strong and resilient people who regularly go above and beyond to succeed even when challenges arise.
The Exchange has faced immense challenges in recent years. Increasing competition and reduced troop strength are outside our collective sphere of influence.
Our team focused on what was within our control and took action to protect and preserve service members’ hard-earned Exchange benefit. It is your hard work, dedication and optimistic approach that have allowed us to thrive as forces beyond our control have threatened our long-term viability.
We have risen to the challenge and today are stronger than ever.
There will be more challenges ahead, but I am confident in your ability to face them head on for the benefit of those we are honored to serve.
Melissa Stockwell’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity. Like Melissa, your commitment to constant improvement is a source of inspiration and further proof nothing is impossible when we work together to find solutions to ensure success.
Read “Three Ways Great Leaders Handle Adversity.” The first technique is to ask, “I wonder, what will this teach me?”