Do your own research, don’t just follow what someone else tells you even if they are an expert in their field. Prove the answer to yourself. A recent example of this is a month ago, I was told I had Lupus due to a test result. It didn’t seem to make any sense to me as I had no real symptoms of the disease. I did research & found out that many initial screenings are false positives and more testing is needed. I asked my Doctors to do further testing based on online research I did & thankfully I don’t have it. But for the 1st week or 2 of the news, I thought my life was about to change drastically and then I told myself ok it’s time to go into action mode and face this challenge head on and find the outcome I wanted.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenn Jerzey.
Jenn Jerzey, an Executive Assistant from NJ who has dabbled in the Entertainment business & has a passion for helping others.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I have faced a lot of challenging circumstances in my life that have needed me to prove my resilience. From being adopted as a child, to facing abusive relationships, being homeless & surviving a terminal illness along with other health challenges.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Most interesting story from my career is probably that I created my own path. As a young college student in the 90’s before all the social media we have today, I convinced a company who was not hiring to take me on as a paid intern, even though they never had interns previously. That job opportunity led to several years in the music business & had me moving to NY from Massachusetts where I grew up, on my own at 19 yrs old & shaped the woman I am. The lesson I learned from that experience is go after what you want specifically even if it may not seem available to you at the time & be bold & brave to overcome any obstacles that may appear as roadblocks. Just as we learned as small children, blocks should be looked at as tools to build upon.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Those who truly helped me get to where I am today, 1st and foremost is my higher power. Without getting too specific since we all have different belief systems, I have been saved so many times by what I feel is divine protection from the God I serve and without him I would not be here. Secondly is all those who took me in and provided me with shelter when I had no where to go. Even though I always have had great jobs, there where times I needed to abruptly leave my home, leave all my clothes and belongings behind within minutes & escape a toxic environment. This happened repeatedly over the course of several years and I have amazing friends who dropped anything they were doing during those moments to help me find safety and to be a true refuge for me. I have slept on floors, couches in places the size of a closest or even in a friend’s business office, during those times that I needed to find a safe place to sleep.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is being adaptable to the environment or circumstances thrown upon you. It takes humility to do this. You may have to lower your standards for a time to accept the cards you have been dealt. You may have to lower your pride or ego to admit you need help & do the work to ask for it & then receive it. Some people struggle with the idea of trusting others to see their realities & allow them to be a helping hand in their journey. Some people say I was born alone, & I will die alone so I don’t need any help. Well we were not born alone, we had the help of at least 2 co-creators and 3 if you want to get spiritual with it. Our journey in life is like a relay race & it requires the hand off to others & the receiving from others to truly finish the course & succeed. So to cultivate the resilience to be strong & fight through your challenges, remember to also be strong enough to stay humble, face your own limitations & allow others to give to you, so that you both receive the blessings of that exchange.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Well for me I tend to worry about what can happen when I hear of a problem or challenge & I usually prepare myself for the worst outcome before the best outcome. It is a survival mechanism so I can try to strengthen myself for what I’m about to go through. In doing that I often do not feel courageous at the onset of a problem, even though I know I have great resiliency & a proven track record of success. However once I face my obstacle head on & overcome it, I feel so extremely courageous & proud of myself for the courage, strength, wisdom & resiliency I displayed.I then marvel at seeing that I am often more courageous then I even thought I was. But going back to an earlier question, I know I didn’t succeed alone on my own merits completely and I humbly appreciate those who aided me like soldiers in my personal battle.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Someone who has inspired me in the past 6 years or so since I learned of him is Mario Armstrong. He is a Content Creator, Entrepreneur, Mentor, Husband, Father & all around one of the most positive & motivating persons on this planet. He has successfully shown resilience by overcoming a time when he lost all of his finances to a business deal that fell through, all while supporting his family & raising a son. He & his wife Nicole, pulled themselves out of that situation to reach their business goals with content they created & with Mario being a successful public speaker now sought after by top media networks, to winning 2 Emmys for his shows, employing approx 30 or so others in his own company, earning the admiration of some of today’s top billionaires, entrepreneurs & media figures, not to mention he gained back everything he lost and then some on top of it and he now gives back 100% of his time to teaching anyone & everyone on how to do this for themselves. How to not let obstacles define your outcome, & how to truly be your best authentic self, how to cultivate resiliency. I could go on for days about how special this man is, & his family, but please tell your readers to discover him for themselves by following his Instagram page: https://instagram.com/marioarmstrong?utm_medium=copy_link and one thing I can tell you for a certainty, during his most difficult dark days, he humbly allowed others to help & as I mentioned earlier that is a key to being resilient.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes and I love this question. It is so important to “know” that “no” is only 1 side of the coin. Every situation has at least 2 outcomes, 2 chances, 2 sides of the coin. Keep trying, keep researching, keep investing, exploring & keep flipping the coin to see what the destination can be. It is never too late to try something different to find a different result. You have the power to flip the coin & start over, pick again & not everything has only one correct answer. Specifically a time this impacted me the most is back in 2013 when I was formally diagnosed with a rare type of bone marrow blood cancer, called Primary Myelofibrosis, after years of tests & guesses as to what health condition I had. That day in the doctor’s office I will never forget those words & being told this is a terminal illness & that “the average survival rate was 3 to 5 years”. I heard that statement from my Doctor but I refused to accept it as the only outcome. I wasn’t in denial but I knew that I was up for the challenge to take on my biggest battle, against the odds & against my own body. I researched as much as I good for days, weeks, months, and I knew that I was strong enough to keep my focus & determination to find the best doctors, the best hospital, healthcare & I knew I had been through so much before including a rare tumor which almost took my life years earlier in 2004 & I was ready to be resilient. I cried, I prayed, I laughed & I became determined to live my best life & keep it in God’s hands & I decided I would use whatever time I had left on this earth to do the most good to others that I could, do show my appreciation for my blessings & to be a light in someone’s darkness. And almost 9 years later as it will be 9 years this April, I am elated to be here now sharing this moment with you & proud of myself for not accepting that side of the coin. I kept flipping it till I got the outcome I wanted.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
How did I cultivate this resilience? Well my gut tells me I learned this as a child in my darkest moments of facing abuse. It is something I am still coping with 40 years later & probably always will for the rest of my life. I can’t get into specifics but many others who have faced childhood trauma know that it either breaks them or makes them as to who they are today.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
5 steps that others can take:
1)Believe in yourself & your abilities. You are your greatest strength
2)Know your limitations & what areas to ask for help in
3) Remain humble, never afraid to ask for or receive something from others
4) Do your own research, don’t just follow what someone else tells you even if they are an expert in their field. Prove the answer to yourself. A recent example of this is a month ago, I was told I had Lupus due to a test result. It didn’t seem to make any sense to me as I had no real symptoms of the disease. I did research & found out that many initial screenings are false positives and more testing is needed. I asked my Doctors to do further testing based on online research I did & thankfully I don’t have it. But for the 1st week or 2 of the news, I thought my life was about to change drastically and then I told myself ok it’s time to go into action mode and face this challenge head on and find the outcome I wanted.
5) Stay close to a higher power. Whatever your belief system is, tapping into that energy through prayerful mediation is invaluable.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I would love to inspire is kindness. Be kind to others, empathetic to their journey, giving of yourself as much as you can. You never know when you will be in those circumstances & need that same loving kindness in return. As I said before, life is a relay race & there is always a time to give & a time to receive.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I am a huge reality show fan. It is my favorite pastime & I really enjoy watching the Kardashian family, mostly because of the way they support each other emotionally & their resilience in various life circumstances. Probably the one I would want to meet the most is Kris, the mom, as I would love one of her motherly pep talks, a pre-Covid hug & to taste her famous pasta & lemon cake lol.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
If anyone wishes to connect with me the best way to reach me is via email: [email protected]
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!