Triumph Over Adversity
As a female entrepreneur and business leader, I have long admired Helen Keller. I think of her as my idol. I have an immense respect for her courage and ability to rise above it all; I am simply awe-struck by it.
Born in Alabama in 1880, Helen Keller suffered from an illness when she was two years old, leaving her blind and deaf, unable to communicate at all.
What was it like to live in darkness? Without sound? In my imagination, it was the worst kind of prison. How does one communicate? Or feel inside?
Searching for ways to help, the family were introduced to Anne Sullivan who became Helen Keller’s teacher and companion for over 40 years. The beginning of their relationship is perhaps the moment that has remained with me, ever since I discovered the story as a little girl. Sullivan taught Keller the word ‘water’ by placing her hand under the spout of a water pump and spelling out w‑a-t-e‑r on Helen’s other hand.
During her lifetime, Helen Keller became a well-known speaker, sharing her experiences and working on behalf of others with disabilities. Over the course of her lifetime, she represented the heroic efforts of ordinary people to overcome adversity.
Winning the Triumph Over Adversity award at the Growing Business Awards last week, I was reminded of Helen Keller. As ‘Broadsword’ was announced and I walked up to the stage to give my acceptance speech, a wave of emotion swept over me. This has been a big year for our company and winning this award really was a moment.
2020 — a year filled with darkness, in my professional and personal life. But sometimes being in that place, helps us to see things through a different lens and permits us to transform. In such a difficult situation, it was vital that we find a way up for air and once we reached the surface, stay afloat. In 2021, with the wind in our sails, we have rebuilt a successful business and our sights are set on new horizons.
I have often reflected where did that ‘will’ come from? That refusal to give up or give in however hard the struggle. Our collective determination and imagination.
Someone older and wiser recently told me that it comes from the heart.
To drive a business on, to triumph over adversity, I believe this to be true. Trusting in your instincts and actually allowing your emotions to guide you and play a part in your decision making, is a strength, not a weakness.
Helen Keller was endlessly determined to find a way to communicate, even though her world was filled with barriers. Throughout 2020 and 2021, we, as an events industry, have been intent on finding a way to facilitate communication for millions of people across the globe. We have been inventive, courageous, tenacious. A ‘rise above it all’ attitude is imprinted on our souls and will have lasting impact, standing us in such good stead for what is yet to come.