"Our stories are in us from a long time ago," says DeeDee Myers -- leadership expert, triathlete and mother of quadruplets, twins and three other children. One of her first stories came at age 16 on her first date. She met a cute boy at a football game. It was chilly and she had on a jacket. When he came to pick her up at her house to meet her parents she greeted him at the door and saw the look on his face. She said, "I thought, 'Oh my God, he doesn't want to go out with me because I only have one arm.'"
In that moment she decided to go on the date just to see what it was like to be with someone who didn't like her. The guy was miserable the whole time.
"I felt not wanted, invisible, humiliated, hurt," says Myers. Then she looked at him and saw something surprising. He was really hurting. Myers' inner strength surfaced and she said do herself, 'I can handle this." A few hours later she asked him if he wanted to take her home.
This event catalyzed a key world view for Myers and became the early seeds for her work with women and leadership. "I knew I had to love and accept myself and continue connecting to who I am as a person and to connect to purpose."
When she got home Myers took out some paper and made a line down middle. On one side she listed what was good about herself. On the other side she listed what was bad. On the "good" side she wrote. "I've got smarts. I'm not pregnant. I'm not sexually active. I do my chores. I follow rules. I go to school. I'm a nice person."
On the "bad" side she wrote...well, nothing. "I had a really hard time finding something wrong from the inside out. I don't like to dust and mom wants me to dust. That was a pivotal moment for me then. Writing became a powerful tool for self reflection."
Today Myers keeps the essence of what's on her list in mind. She stays focused on bringing out who she is no matter what she looks like on the outside. Even when she glances down at her sagging stomach, which she calls her "kangaroo pouch", the aftermath of having quadruplets. She stops herself and says, "No. I make an offer in the world. I make a difference."
Another practice she began after breaking her back kick boxing was to imagine a tea candle inside herself right below belly button. She took pain killers, as the pain was extreme, so she could continue to work as she was on the speaking circuit. Some days on stage the flame was tall and strong. But on other days it so small a light wind could kick it out.
At those times she would say to herself, "No DeeDee. How can you feed the flame?" She kept visualizing what she wanted with her kids. Myers says that we can locate virtues inside our bodies. For example, she houses courage in her diaphragm. That's where she goes to find the energy to do a handstand in Yoga. Continuing to find the places where we house strengths can be self generative. By locating those parts we continually connect to what's good in us.
This is not just an occasional practice. Myers practices being in the mind-set that her body is fulfilling on what it's made for. She also envisions a happy future that helps drive the present. She'll be 68 when her quadruplets graduate from high school. What's important to her is to be able to run, laugh and enjoy her children and that she can also live fully in her body and be alive, alert, healthy, happy.
Deedee Myers is an executive leadership coach who supports sustainable changes for individuals, teams and organizations. She is a motivational speaker and author, teacher and coach on leadership practices, effective coordination in teams and living a life of Purpose and balance. As a former triathlete and ultramarathoner Deedee is well schooled in pacing as CEO of the Advancing Leadership Institute, and mother of 9 including twins and quadruplets.
Susan Harrow is the author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul. She runs a Media Consultancy where she helps everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs to celebrity chefs, entrepreneurs to authors grow their business through media coaching and the power of PR. For more information please contact Susan.