Be willing to develop a growth mindset. When someone overcomes struggles, their mindset grows. Yet, people allow fear or discomfort to impede them from conquering challenges. Remember when I said be bold and audacious, the best time to use it is when someone feels scared. Resilient people know that the only way through, is through and on the other side of the challenge is growth.
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 Kimberly Young.
Kimberly Young is the founder of Forever Young Management Services, LLC, which empowers career driven women break free from an unfulfilled life and discover their purpose. Overcoming abuse, teen pregnancy, homelessness, among other obstacles, Kimberly went on a journey of self-discovery and uncovered her passion of helping others and seeing them succeed in their own life. Using her professional and personal accomplishments, Kimberly believes that anything is possible and inspires others to pursue their dreams.
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?
Thank you for having me. I am very excited to be here. For those who don’t know me, my name is Kimberly Young. I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL but I grew up in St. Mary, Jamaica. My siblings and I lived between Florida and Jamaica on and off. We officially moved back to Florida when I was 14 years old. Throughout my childhood, there were challenges which helped to cultivate my resilience level. I believe my early adulthood when there were daily setbacks (more about that later) was where I really harnessed resiliency. Through overcoming my own struggles, I found my path as an entrepreneur (and speaker) who helps women learn to be resilient to fulfill their purpose.
I am also a mom of three girls who are now 19, 14 and 11. Since I am a busy mom, any time I spend with them is very intentional. I love cooking and recently transitioned to being vegan (occasionally toggling between vegan and raw vegan). Travelling, exploring new places and cultures are some of my favorite things to do. I am always open to trying new things and looking for an adventure. However, when I do have down time, I like to catch a good movie with my daughters.
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?
This is actually an interesting story. My career launched at a boutique law firm where I was a paralegal but eventually moved to the Compliance Department. Not only was I new to the department, which was made up of my manager and myself, but I had no clue what to expect since Compliance wasn’t, and still isn’t, an area that most people are familiar with. Not to mention, my bachelor’s degree was not in Compliance. There were many times I questioned why I was in this new role. “How did I get to be so lucky?”, I always thought. I asked a million questions trying to get a grasp on my job responsibilities and to be honest, I probably drove my new boss (at the time) crazy. I pushed through, figuring that this would be a great skill to have under my belt and if anything, this might be a resume booster.
What I didn’t expect was that this department switch was the birth and blossoming of my business. Ironically when I switched departments, I started to converse with more coworkers whom I may have never had a conversation with. Our interactions started out very casually and turned into I can help them define their purpose or uncover their dreams. Unofficially, a few co-workers became “clients” (I was not getting paid by them). However, this is where I learned to showcase my gift.
Sometimes, you are placed in new environments and situations not because of what you know but, because of what you will gain from it. Biggest lesson I learned here is that when you think something isn’t a great fit for you, it really is — it can be the birth or blessing of something new in disguise.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I can answer that with one simple phrase: individualized attention. Each person I work with receives a personalized roadmap to obtain their goal/dream.
As I talked about earlier, I started meeting co-workers who were no longer dreaming about bringing their ideas to life. The typical story was that life (work, family priorities, school, health, etc.) got in the way which was pushing their dreams further away rather than driving them closer. I could truly relate to their struggles. I was raising my daughters, working full-time, and taking classes full-time to complete my bachelor’s degree while trying to have a social life. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and would fall asleep before my head hit the pillow! I began to wonder; how could I tell someone to focus on chasing their dream when there are other pressing priorities in their life? Or how do I tell someone to go after their dream when I was in the same boat, not going after mine? On my one of my 45-minutes commutes home, I put a game plan together and recorded it on my phone. Immediately, I killed 2 birds with one stone. From then on, I decided to use my commute time (or some evenings) to create their individualized roadmaps while working using my gifts. When I presented my clients (aka my non-paying coworkers) their roadmap on my lunch break, some ran with it, and some didn’t. In that moment I realized most people were willing to let their dreams die since it was easier rather than fight for it.
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?
This is a hard question for me because I wouldn’t say there is a particular person, but more like a collective of people that I am grateful for. I am a firm believer that every person you interact with impacts your life differently and shapes who you are as an individual. There are a few people that are a part of my inner circle that I consider gems and for that I am eternally grateful. However, if I have to pinpoint one person, there is a close friend that immediately comes to mind. After having my youngest daughter, she helped me discover that I was slowly falling into post-partum depression. I felt like I was a failure, and I didn’t have my life together (based on my standards) but, she urged me to find MY path. She reminded me it was never too late and that there was greatness within me.
A story that comes to mind is when I gave her a piece of advice pertaining to her dream and goals. She looked at me and said “the things that come to your mind are so thought-provoking and profound. Yet you don’t share these thoughts with anyone but me”. I didn’t have a response for that since I never thought of myself in that light. I always knew that I was destined for big things, but I would downplay myself and talk myself out of things. Yet when she said that — it was like my eyes were opened. She believed in me long before I could believe in myself. For me that was huge since I wasn’t used to having a huge support system in my adult life.
I could not have gotten this far without the support and reassurance from a lot of people in my life but, she was just influential in sharing my gifts. She persuaded me to share my gifts and really live without boundaries. I learned that close friends (and sometimes family members) see things in you that you don’t see in yourself; they encourage and push you to level up. Those are the people you should keep near and dear to you.
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?
I define resilience as having the skill to bounce back from difficult circumstances quickly. Or possessing the ability to move on from a situation without allowing it to stop/slow down the flow of life. It’s finding and using your inner strength to push for solutions to rectify the problem rather than standing stagnant.
Off the top of my head, there are eight traits that I think resilient people possess. Characteristics such as perseverance, grit, discipline, determination, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, mentally strong (or mental fortitude as I call like it) and being a solution finder are what come to mind. Additionally, I believe that most people are confident in who they are as an individual and their decisions. Ok, so maybe there are nine traits that come to the top of mind.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
This is a great question! In my opinion there isn’t a difference between courage and resilience. I believe you have to be courageous to be resilient. You have to be bold and audacious to overcome setbacks without allowing fear to set in. You must have the capability to muster up the strength to push through and have that elasticity to bounce back when situations occur. In my opinion, courage is a steppingstone in getting to and building up resilience.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I had the luxury of experiencing two generations of resilient women in my life, my mom and grandmother. Of course, their answer would differ from mine. They would simply say they were doing what they had to do for their family. However, in my mind, I saw it otherwise. Growing up, I watched my mother struggle with raising my siblings and myself. When jobs didn’t work out, she was unemployed for long periods of time and couldn’t put food on the table, so she quickly found solutions. She always made a way when it seemed impossible. I never saw her cry when times were harsh (I never understood how she didn’t). When I was clearly worried about a meal — she wasn’t. I know now that deep down inside, she was constantly worried but she couldn’t let that stop her. We were depending on her and that’s all she knew. As I became older, I realized her mental health was at stake practically every day. A topic that was taboo and rarely discussed so she never discussed it. I just knew she kept pushing through to the next thing; never giving up.
As for my grandmother, in Jamaica, she was an entrepreneur selling chicken, eggs, and crops. She raised six kids (she had four of her own and her nieces). Sometimes there were seven kids, if the neighbor’s daughter came to stay. As you can imagine, she overcame financial burdens, a harsh childhood, single handedly raising 6–7 kids while managing all aspects of her business in Jamaica. I would be remiss not to mention that she helped raise my siblings and I when we lived in Jamaica and Florida. She fought every step of the way for the life she has today.
Again, I was beyond blessed to witness these situations so, I knew what it took to bounce back.
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?
I think that living or being the impossible is the theme of my whole life in a nutshell. My mom always tells the story of when I was a baby and frequently in and out the hospital the first year of my life. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and didn’t believe I would live past the age of one. Only to prove them wrong and live to be older than 25 years old (The readers can try to guess my age if they would like to).
Or the fact that I was told I would be another statistic since I had my first daughter at 19 years old. I was told that I would fall into depression, not obtain a skill set, live off government assistance forever, will have more kids and will fall into a category of most unlikely to succeed (based on society’s criteria). I wasn’t told that something was unfeasible but the odds that were stacked against me made things seem impossible.
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?
Absolutely! After I had my last daughter, I was dead broke and without any financial backing. I couldn’t afford to do anything let alone a simple meal. And for me, that was probably one of my lowest points; not being able to feed my little humans. It felt like everything I was trying to do to get back on my feet was failing. I went to seek rental assistance from a church (who will remain unnamed), and they basically denied me stating the reason as they believed I would keep making the same mistakes again. And quite honestly, that is how my life looked! I was pregnant at 19, homeless by 24, living off government assistance to get back on my feet, domestic violence survivor, no stable income and falling down the path society said I would. Little did the church realize that this was my turning point. I was fed up with how I was living life. I had to do better because my kids deserved it. That was the beginning of me becoming the best version of myself. I immediately went into overdrive with launching a plan, working my plan, putting my goals into action steps, and creating small wins daily.
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?
As I spoke about earlier, I had a front row seat in witnessing two generations of women develop resilience. However, it’s important to point out that just because I had front row seats doesn’t mean that I knew what it took to overcome obstacles until I experienced it first-hand. It out as a child moving back and forth between two countries, I had to assimilate to a new environment, school, societal and cultural norms to make friends and fit in. My setbacks really started in my early adulthood, when I had my first daughter at 19 years old, I didn’t have familial support. I was spiraling down a path that I didn’t know how to escape from. At the time these seemed like horrible things that I went through but, those are the things that made me. Everything that seemed bad really cultivated resilience within me and I truly appreciate those setbacks.
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.
In my opinion, everyone is resilient in their own way (some people have higher thresholds of resilience than others) but, like anything else, it can be built up. I like to think of these steps as secrets to unlock a new level of resilience. The characteristics I discussed earlier tie into these steps perfectly.
Step 1: Be willing to develop a growth mindset. When someone overcomes struggles, their mindset grows. Yet, people allow fear or discomfort to impede them from conquering challenges. Remember when I said be bold and audacious, the best time to use it is when someone feels scared. Resilient people know that the only way through, is through and on the other side of the challenge is growth.
Step 2: There is a lesson about resiliency in every experience, especially the bad ones. Take some time to think about how you bounced back. Was it quickly? Slowly? What could you have done better? Recognizing your level of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and mental fortitude play maybe something that you need to build up as well.
Let’s not forget that anyone can develop resilience through daily disciplined actions. David Goggins always talks about running in the rain. Similar to him, there are days that I exercise in 40–50-degree weather. (Yes, there are times it gets that cold in north Florida!) It’s about building mental strength to push through the hard times. The times that you least expect it, yield resilience.
Step 3: Become a solution finder and be confident in the choices you make regardless of the outcome. When setbacks occurred, I used to jot down notes to help me own how I felt about them as well as solutions. I found that if I didn’t do this then I was in a disarray with my thoughts and experienced anxiety. Creating solutions led to the confidence I needed to move on from situations knowing that nothing was looming over my head. And maybe I will revisit the situation later mentally — maybe I missed a blind spot or maybe there is an easier way to handle it. But by the time I move on from the situation, I want to feel confident that I made the best decision for me in that moment regardless of the conclusion. So, when the next big thing comes along, I don’t necessarily feel emotionally bombarded.
Step 4: Reflect on any lessons you learned and regardless of the size of the lesson — be proud of it. Overcoming trials and situations are tough and it isn’t something that should be tossed to the side like it never happened. Every experience makes you, you. Use them to shape the characteristics I stated earlier. Not to mention, wins help you build the confidence I talked about earlier.
Step 5: Implement what you learned and always continue learning. Continue to do little things daily to build up resiliency by practicing solving problems, being bold, feeling confident, becoming self-aware, handling emotions rationally, etc. Using these steps only becomes easier with time to bounce back from obstacles. It all adds up and before you know it you are on your way to being resilient.
There are two reminders worth noting: Building resilience is not developed overnight — It’s a journey. And hindsight is 20/20 — those setbacks and trials only propel and build you up. Lastly, I like to tell people to choose to be the victor and not the victim in every experience. Ok, so three reminders to mention.
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. 🙂
I have a huge passion to mentor kids between the ages of 10–17. I would like to run a summer camp for black and brown kids addressing topics such as developing resilience, increasing emotional intelligence, creating solutions, becoming self-aware, adaptability, and crisis management. While experience is the best teacher, I believe that resiliency can be built without having to overcome adversity and hardships. This camp would also help to harness skills like public speaking, networking and more.
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 would like to meet with Tyler Perry. There are interviews where he discusses his upbringing that not only helped shape his path, but helped forge resiliency as well. He is also a man of faith that is a strong testimony of leaning in and listening to what God had to say.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I would love to hear from the readers. My mission is to inspire and help others realize their dreams are possible.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you so much for having me.