You will have to be courageous. To build resilience and get through turbulence, courage will have to be apart of the process. I faced obstacles unknown, but the feeling I have afterwards when I displayed my courage, circumvented what I was enduring. I’ve been lied on and to, falsely judged and ridiculed for just being myself, and so much more, but courage helped me shield against those daggers.
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 Terri R. Alexander.
Terri R. Alexander is a mother of 6, a veteran and a small business owner. As the owner of Nside 2 Out Consulting LLC, she is currently working as a business and lifestyle consultant. After writing her first book, “Becoming Your Better” in 2017, she began to study what an individual can do to transition their lives for success and became a solution-based consultant for both business and personal success.
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 am a Jamaican who was adopted as a child to American parents. They had jobs that they worked for 15+ years but no one wanted to go into business like I had an interest in doing. My adolescence was filled with major controversy from my adoptive family and the people I went to school with, but I was able to create my own identity within this, sometimes, one-sided world. I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 11 but didn’t start my business pursuit until age 18. My parents wanted me to work in the medical field, but I wanted to help people create successfully sustained businesses. Although my focus was on business and the needs of businesses, I also centered my strategy development around the people of the business. By age 30, I knew that the capabilities of a business relied heavily on the people who were apart of it. So, I expanded my education into more philanthropic studies. I have an M.B.A. and am currently working on my Ph.D. along with several certifications, and I have worked with many on creating their ideal lives whether in business or personally.
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?
I realized early into my career that many people need instant gratification. I’ve had business and lifestyle consulting clients who may have had different needs for their growth, but their mindset was usually the same: “I want it done quick and fast with minimal involvement and maximum reward.” People will remain in tough and unnecessary situations because of instant gratification. I once had a lifestyle consulting client that wanted to focus on her career growth and relationship sustainability. Her husband has had a mistress for 15 years of their marriage but her only concern were the financial gains since she concluded that the cheating would not cease. She even created a fictitious life in which she felt she was victorious in cooperating with her husband’s affairs by allowing him a “vacation” to be with his mistress only if she could enjoy the luxuries from his career and a few gentleman callers of her own. The true feelings she faced were the hurt and disappointment along with the lack of self-security one would feel in a more monogamous relationship. She chose a life of material over happiness.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Although we started primarily as a business consulting firm, our endeavors with helping people grew. This is what lead to the path of lifestyle consulting. A lot of people who are apart of these businesses, whether owners or workers, were dealing with some very harsh life challenges, and we wanted to help in this area. “A business is only as successful as the people within it. -Terri R. Alexander” It became such a focus that the education in finance, accounting, human resources, psychology, marketing (to include digital), real estate and etc were a huge help in assisting people in their lives. Who knew?
Our first life transitions story was that of a single mother who was stuck in her life with nothing going on. This was a moment where life was living her, instead of the other way around. We took an approach to better her circumstances by creating opportunities for better circumstances. We worked on her personal self and how she identified herself in the life she wanted, and from there, we moved into career, finances, social, relationships, housing, and education. This was a more in-depth lifestyle consulting focus, but the help was needed, and it was a great experience watching this young lady’s world expand. What started as a Lyft ride through her mother became a chance for helping an individual create a better version of themselves and their life. We took what she was naturally interested in and built a plan to work with just that. It revealed that people do better if what their doing benefits their self-confidence and creates circumstances of growth.
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?
Initially, I would say myself because NO ONE believed in me for years. I am the product of alienation. Currently, my fiancé has been a real gem in my success process. Never had I had someone accept me and believe in me like he does. I always wondered if I were meant for a life of solitude and then I met a person more loving and giving than myself. He’s always encouraging me and a lot of the childhood traumas that I endured from a family that was not my own, left through his ability to love me for who I am…genuinely. I am so grateful to have finally experienced love outside of my children who you think are born to love you. I never cared about love as much as I did success until I witnessed its genuineness.
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 would define resilience as the ability to bounce back from life’s trials and tribulations and still go forward with the original goal. That’s not easy to do because life can put these trials and tribulations on repeat, and it’ll appear as if the cycle won’t end. The characteristics of resilient people are intelligence, confidence, gratitude, self-control, curiosity, and optimism.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage resembles resilience since you must get through something unforeseen and challenging to get to a better end point. On the contrary, courage is a one-time feat that subsides with a particular challenge, whereas being resilient is continual for all of life’s challenges.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I wouldn’t say a person, but a group of people. Africans during the slave trade and the Jewish who endured the Holocaust is my main depiction of resilience. They were put into a system set up for them to fail, in which failure usually meant “death”, but they persevered and created massive reformation in the world we know today. Although I never faced anything like those groups of people, I have witnessed systems that were one sided and wanted me to fail. Resilience is the world’s history.
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! Definitely. My adoptive mother once told me, “No one (of African descent) makes money as a business consultant.” I was in my early twenties when she told me this, but by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I created a six-figured1 income for myself as a business consultant despite her disbelief in my career choice. Neither of my parents made a combined income of $100k or more, but I exceeded them before I was even in the core of my career. I just knew I was meant to do it, and it was all I could talk about, think about, and dream about.
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?
Sure have! I have been the odd man out since I could remember, and life just created a broader picture of that scenario for me with strangers as opposed to my “so-called” family members. I’ve had my life changed in the most dramatic ways through being a single mother, facing homelessness, legal issues surrounding me and my children, having a son be diagnosed with leukemia but cured, a daughter diagnosed as Autistic after her birth as a preemie of 2.2 lbs., discrimination, biases, judgements, and so much more. My greatest setback were the legal issues surrounding me and my children. It affected me the most since my children were involved, but once I saw that people go through things of various difficulties, I decided to live my life in the present sense while letting the past be a learned lesson and not a crutch or a blockage. Shit happens, and the more resilient you are, the better your success looks.
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?
My resilience developed as a child. Since I was “different”, I was treated that way but not in a positive way. I’ve had to defend myself against so many since age 7, that I just developed a strong resilience. I was always fearless and confident, and the first time I remember my resilience being tested was when we moved to the south. Originally, we lived in Connecticut, but my parents needed a financial break from the north and moved to the south (Alabama). Not only was there the huge culture shock and difference of mentalities, but it is also where my treatment of “different” occurred. I was bullied by “so-called” family members first, then my peers, and then the teachers or parents of those peers. To this day, I hate Alabama and never try to visit in any way.
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.
- The first step is creating confidence by knowing who you are in this world. In the past, I would try to hide who I felt I was to be in the good graces of those around me, but by age 16, I no longer gave a fudge about how others viewed me since my entire childhood was centered around being accepted. I realized that when setbacks happen, the first thing attacked is one’s confidence. Confidence has a role to play in self-esteem and decision making. It is safe to say, the better the confidence, the better the self-esteem and the decision made. It is confidence that rules out doubt, and doubt is what either causes the turbulence or causes it to last longer. Strengthening confidence is a great start to becoming more resilient.
- Next, is a support system. Technically, this means a group of people (family, friends, peers, etc) that are a part of your inner circle who you can go to for advice and other helpful notions to get through Life’s challenges. But that’s not always realistic or feasible. Social media like YouTube and many others, on the other hand, have a perfect online platform with many influencers who create content specifically for situations like this. Growing an online community will help create support systems for all that Life will throw at you, and sometimes, it’s more assuring than dealing with people you may know on a personal level. I usually had enough support to get through what I was going through even if the relationship didn’t last long whether it was my parents, a friend, acquaintance, or love interest. For every one of my setbacks, I had at least one person I could talk to that helped me maintain my confidence in myself.
- Being grateful is another step and probably the toughest. You must appreciate and believe in the process the turbulence is causing (as cliche as that may sound). I would always look at what I accomplished despite my setbacks, and my accomplishments would always win. This created a great sense of gratitude within me, and I was so grateful that I was better than what I was going through.
- Another step is to be “curious”. You never know what’s on the other side of the turbulence if you don’t go through it with eyes wide open. There’s always a lesson and milestone within the turbulence and curiosity can take away a lot of the pressure we put on ourselves to get through it. I was once locked up for a fight, and my life felt like it was crumbling in the outside world. I used that time in lock up to focus on the things I was curious about. I would look at the inmates and think of ways I could help them. I was curious about what this time in my life was creating for me, and it began to show me a lot of my truth. I never knew how privileged I was to be of sound mind and internally happy until my curiosity had me question everything. The curiosity didn’t leave once I was free but remained. It was the same curiosity I remember having as a child.
- Last, you will have to be courageous. To build resilience and get through turbulence, courage will have to be apart of the process. I faced obstacles unknown, but the feeling I have afterwards when I displayed my courage, circumvented what I was enduring. I’ve been lied on and to, falsely judged and ridiculed for just being myself, and so much more, but courage helped me shield against those daggers.
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. 🙂
A movement I would create would be the “Live Life for Yourself” movement. Can you believe we cause a lot of the turbulence we need resilience for? This is not a bad thing. It is how life is set up. I learned a great deal about myself, my strengths, and what I wanted out of life during the times I had to be resilient. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life and how it is progressing.
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 🙂
Oprah. Her story was the first story I heard regarding resilience, and I felt a connection to her. We also have a lot in common; like, we’re both Aquarius’s and make a lot of differences in people’s lives.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I am on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/nsd2out/ , Instagram @jamaicanmade_americanpaid, and currently write articles for Wildone Forever.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!