Many people search for their purpose. For Mindy Henderson, purpose found her. She gave her first speech at the age of 4. Mindy was the Texas representative for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Telethon.
I was honored to talk with speaker, author and coach Mindy Henderson about change, determination and life as an entrepreneur. She was recently recognized by Austin Woman Magazine as a Woman to Watch.
Mindy Henderson is a Motivational Speaker, Writer, Coach, Host of “The Truth About Things That Suck” podcast and guest contributor of “Morning Motivational Tips” on CBS Austin’s “We Are Austin” lifestyle morning show.
Living life from a wheelchair, the challenges Mindy has overcome have cultivated the very skills she needed to achieve almost every goal she's ever set for herself. This makes her uniquely qualified to motivate others to see their potential.
Despite living life from a wheelchair, on her list of credits are:
• Bachelors and Masters degrees
• A 15-year career in software, leading teams of highly skilled professionals
• Multiple singing appearances on national television
• A CD recorded with George Strait’s guitar and bass players accompanying her
• A long list of public speaking credits, addressing thousands of volunteers of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), MDA staff and corporate executives
• A one-on-one battle fought and won with the government of China and a successful trip to one of the least wheelchair accessible countries on the planet to adopt her daughter
• A passion for making the impossible, possible.
Mindy helps people see how to live more productively and positively, to roll with the punches and to work to accomplish all they are capable of. Her mission is to move and inspire people to realize when they take responsibility, stop making excuses and OWN their adversity, they become better, stronger people and their potential is revealed.
Host of “The Truth About Things That Suck” Podcast
Website - www.mindyhendersonspeaks.com
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/mindyhendersonspeaks/Support the show
Welcome to Stories of Change and Creativity. I'm Judy Oskam, a university professor and Gallup Strengths Coach. On this podcast, we feature purpose driven individuals who inspire, motivate and educate on today's episode. I'm excited to share my conversation with Mindy Henderson of Austin, Texas. She's a motivational speaker, writer, coach, and host of the podcast. The Truth about Things that Suck. Mindy earned a bachelor's and a master's degree and had a long career in h igh t ech. Now her mission is to inspire others through speaking, teaching and coaching. Living life in a wheelchair, Mindy faces adversity every day. As a coach, she helps others take responsibility, transform and take action.Mindy Henderson:
So I wear a lot of different hats, but at the, at the end of the day, really my mission is to just bring positivity to the world. I don't think we can ever have enough of that. Um, you know, I'm trying to do my part to bring about disability awareness and to advocate for things like universal design. Um, and then really, you know, living by from a wheelchair, I've had the opportunity to experience and learn to navigate adversity really well. And so, you know, part of what I do is also in the interest of , um , trying to share what I've learned and the do's and don'ts of it and , and try to help set up other people to face the challenges in their lives.Judy Oskam :
And this, this program is called Stories of Change and Creativity. I like to focus on what are the strengths that allow you to do that? So talk about some of your challenges.Mindy Henderson:
You know, it's , um, it's interesting because, you know, I, I liked, I liked to kind of, I think it all comes down to perspective really, because I tell people a lot that , um, you know, I, I grew up from a wheelchair. I grew up with a disability. I was diagnosed when I was only 15 months old with this condition, but really at the end of the day, my, my disability is not my problem. It's the, it's the, you know, anywhere from, I don't know, three to 27 little bite size byproduct sort of problems that my disability causes as I go about my day. And so, you know, needing help, changing clothes, getting out of bed , um, all of those things. And I think that when you break down your challenges that way and take it sort of one thing at a time, it makes it a lot easier to face you. And so that's, that's how I've really, I think, gotten through a lot of it in my life. I think that there's a lot of good things to that adversity, you know, as hard as it, as it may be to go through the challenges and the struggles in our lives. I think there's a lot of good things that it teaches us and that it brings us. And in fact, I would go so far to say that, you know, the, the, the adversity and the challenges is the very thing that instills in us, the qualities and the characteristics that we need to then get through other challenges or to accomplish goals in our lives. Because, you know, going after a goal or getting through a challenge in your life, those are both hard things. And so things like patience and perseverance and determination are all qualities that you need to go on and , and kind of maximize your life and accomplish goals and achieve things and go after your dreams . So, you know, I've, I've also learned along the way that there's a lot of good that can come from our struggles. If you choose to look at it that way. And then finally, you know, it , it really comes down to you get to choose how you live your life and you choose as it turns out if you're going to be a happy person and, you know, live in the pursuit of joy, or if you're going to be angry and bitter and frustrated, and every single day of our lives, when we wake up, we have that choice to make. And I learned a long time ago that it was a lot more fun to live from a happy, joyful perspective. Um, soJudy Oskam :
Well, and, and I'm, you know, Mindy, I'm always fascinated with the journey we take and the choices we make. And I think, I don't know which comes first. I think the choices we make defines the journey,Mindy Henderson:
so true.Judy Oskam :
And yeah, and you , you really are just a living, breathing example of that. Well, when you're coaching and speaking to people, what are some of the pain points? You know, you, you have people that are, that are needing your support from how are you able to convince, because change is not always what someone wants to hear.Mindy Henderson:
Well, I think that, you know, a lot of what I talk about is , um, you know, I , I think that we need to feel all of the emotions that go around, whatever we might be going through and anger and sadness and frustration are all very real and very, probably necessary parts of that. Um , I , I tell people all the time too, I'm not a therapist, I just play one, you know, on the, as a motivational speaker. But , um, you know, I do recognize that it's kind of like, you know , the mourning process, it, when you, when you lose someone, there's a process of emotions that you have to go through. And I think that that's true of the struggles in our lives, too. I think that there are, there's, there's a cycle of emotion . Yeah . That may or may not be different for everybody, but I think that you need to give them all their space and it's okay to not, I actually interviewed a gentleman named Shawn Achor, are you familiar with him? He's a , he's a happiness researcher and has written a couple of books and things. And, and he said very simply to me that sometimes it's okay not to be okay. And, you know, I like to remind people of that because there can be a lot of pressure to, you know , just get over it or to just put a smile on your face or whatever. And sometimes that's not what we actually need, and that is not, what's healthy for us. And so I try to give that a lot of , um, of space in the things that I talk about because those emotions are valid. Some people work through them and different ways and different time frames and all of that , that , um, but I think we all know when we're ready to move on to a more productive, constructive, happy place also. And , and so I try to be sensitive to what people are going through of course , um, but also encourage them to that moment when they're ready to start moving forward and taking additional all steps. Um, you know, I, I, I think that there are a lot of tools and sort of tricks trade that can also do their part to help. Um, almost, I don't want to say snap you out of that place, but a little bit, you know, things like taking action. That's something that always makes me feel better. The second that I start to make a plan or think about how I can move forward or make something good come out of this, or, you know, whatever, or , um, I decide to do with it. I, it, it puts you back in control. And I talk a lot about accountability also with respect to, because there are different ways that adversity comes into our lives. Sometimes we contribute to the problems that we have, and it's easy to look at those situations and say, well , sure, you know, do better, fix it, whatever, but also things that just happen like my disability and nobody caused that. Nobody asked for it. Um, but I believe that I can still be accountable for this thing in my life, in the way that I choose to respond to it and react to it, and the way that I choose to live out the rest of, of my life. So , um, you know, those are some of the things that , that I try to talk to people about , um, to try to help them through whatever they might be going through.Judy Oskam :
And I don't know about you, but, but I'm noticing with my students at the university and other other people that I'm dealing with is I think there's a , a more pressing need for s elf-compassion now. And I think, you know, with the pandemic over, it's just still a veil over the world and I'm seeing, why do you think people might be, u m, it's easier to be compassionate towards someone else than ourselves. Why, why is that?Mindy Henderson:
I wish I knew the answer to that. You know, we're so hard on ourselves and I'm guilty of it too, you know, I'm , I'm my own worst critic. Um, and I, I don't, I don't know, I don't know if it has something to do with, you know, the other people in our lives that we feel like we're supposed to take care of or be present for, or the responsibilities that we have, and these other kind of competing things in our lives that make it hard for us to take a second, to just be kind to ourselves and to practice some self-care and some compassion for ourselves. Um, because it's true, you know, if you listened to the loop that plays in your head, the things that we say to ourselves, we would never ever say to somebody else. And I do think that with what's happened with the pandemic and all that's gone on over the past year, I think that it's created, you know, a little , uh, a little bit, or maybe a lot of, a bit of , of a crisis in terms of mental health and, you know, the isolation that people have felt and the jobs that have been lost and , and just all of the fallout from the pandemic that's happened. I think it's really magnified the need for us to just take a minute and, and, you know, be compassionate and think about , um , slowing down a little bit and connecting with people, connecting with our families and, and paying more attention to some of those more positive things. Any time we're going through something hard. So often my kind of alluded to this earlier, but, you know, it can feel so out of our control. And I think that taking action is what gives some of the control back to you. And even if you don't know how it's going to play out, long-term even if you don't know what the full plan is taking one step sort of uncovers the next step and the next step after that. So it's, yeah, it's , it's a process.Judy Oskam :
Well, and, and, and I love that, that you're now doing a podcast and it's called The Truth about Things that Suck. A , that's an interesting title. Where did that come from?Mindy Henderson:
You know, it just hit me one day. I , um, I had been speaking about overcoming adversity for awhile and I , um, I, I, I'm , I'm kind of a bottom liner and it's, you know, it's the truth about these challenges in our lives is that they suck, you know, and there's, there's no way around that it's, you know, call a spade a spade. Um, and, and that's, that's what it is. And I think people , um, sort of , um, relate to that, that honesty and, and the way of referring to these hard things in our lives. But the way I see it, there are a few truths about these things. The first truth is that they suck and they're hard, and they're, you know, they're painful sometimes they're, you know, traumatic or , or devastating, you know, what, whatever the adjective is that describes your situation. But the second truth is like I was saying earlier, there are also a lot of beautiful things that we can find in those hard moments in our lives, in terms of the lessons that they teach us, the compassion that they instill in us. Um, sometimes the, the journeys that they take us on lead us to destinations that we would have never imagined or would have never have chosen. So , um, you know, that's, that's kind of the , the silver lining piece of these things that I try to focusJudy Oskam :
On well, and, you know, people always say, find your purpose, go find your purpose, but in a way, purpose found you at a very early age. And I love how you've just built your life around that. And it's really helping a lot of people. ThankMindy Henderson:
You. I appreciate that. And, you know, it's interesting that you say that because, you know, it did it , um, and it's something I've always been sort of, you know, on a stage talking about it in some way or fashion. I was the poster child for muscular dystrophy and for the state of Texas and gave my first speech when I was four and worked with them pretty much my whole life. Um, you know, just talking about , um, what they've done for me and my family over the years and what they've taught us and , and all of those things. And then I went on and I had a 20 year career in high tech. And you and I talked about this the other day. Um, and it was a great career. I had some amazing opportunities and I was in a really good place when the last company I was working for was acquired by another company. And I ended up being laid off of my job. They decided to open another facility in Lithuania of all places and move a lot of our operations over there. And I thought that I was going to go onto the next thing, stay in the corporate world, find my new home. Um, after a couple of months and 10 months later, I was still looking for the right thing. And it hit me kind of like a ton of bricks one day that what I needed to do with this time was write a book. And so I decided in this moment to write a book about overcoming adversity while I was sitting in this huge pile of adversity and to pursue this, this speaking career. So that's what I've been doing ever since.Judy Oskam :
So purpose Found you purpose found you and hit you right on the head. It sounds likeMindy Henderson:
It really did. And you know, sometimes life forces your hand and , and, and like I said, it, it takes us in a new trajectory that , that we really didn't expect. So, But I think I, you know, Mindy, you were open to the change. You embrace the change, and sometimes we're forced there. You, like you said, but the fact that you were okay, I think that's what I really want people to hear on this podcast is in life we pivot and we have to be open to what might be next. There's no one path to any of this. Absolutely. And I am one of the most risk averse people you will ever find in your life. And I was, I was very well cut out for the corporate world and knowing exactly where my paychecks were going to come from. Never thought I would be an entrepreneur. And, you know, I , I spent 10 months slamming my head against a wall trying to make this thing that was so hard happen. And then the second that, like you said, I kind of opened my mind and decided that maybe there was another path here. It started to just fall into place. And literally people were put in my path in my physical path that were ready to kind of help me on this journey. And it was, it's been amazing.Judy Oskam :
And I do think you need to pat yourself on the back a little bit here and realize , you know , realize that you have some natural talents and strengths, which have allowed you to, to make all those transitions, not just in that one corporate change, but in your life. Right. Positivity, I'm sure is one of your strengths, right? Yes .Mindy Henderson:
Yes. Well, thank you for that. And , um, you know, and it , it has been a crazy ton of hard work over the last two and a half years as I've, I've built this business. Um, but it's been truly the most rewarding, fulfilling thing that I have ever done. And I genuinely wake up every day now, so grateful for what I get to do every day. And it doesn't feel like work. Um, and it's, it's really been amazing. So yeah, I, 100% agree with you that , um, you know, just be open to the idea that there is more than one path and let yourself be led a little bit.Judy Oskam :
And, and, you know, if we all would love to have our life align with our purpose, and that to me is something I've always tried to do when I've worked in education. I was in television before. I actually I'll tell you, Mindy. I was , uh , I was a reporter in Southern Oklahoma and covered the Jerry Lewis telethon. We did the telethon. Yeah . So I very much know about Jerry's kids and, and we, we collected money in the fishbowl and, you know, center words . So I , I, I do think it's, it's all we have to be open to a lot of that path, but yeah .Mindy Henderson:
Well, and let me just thank you for doing that because I've been behind the scenes at a lot of those telethons, and I know how hard everybody works, so I appreciate you getting behind it and supportingJudy Oskam :
It. Well, it, it, it was, it wasn't as a great cause and, and very well-deserved. And so it , that was just a top-notch operation, you know, the whole Jerry Lewis telethon. Absolutely. Absolutely Well, I wanted to get, get your advice. Now you could share with our audience as someone who's been in corporate and someone who is now entrepreneur, what, what advice do you have for, for people who might be thinking of starting their own business or doing a side hustle with the pandemic? A lot of people have been shifting over the year. Yeah.Mindy Henderson:
Oh my gosh. So much. I don't even know where to start. Um, I think the first thing is , um, go with it . It's so hard being an entrepreneur. There is nobody standing over you telling you what to do or having expectations of you. And they're , you spend a lot of time as an entrepreneur, listening to crickets, you know, and, and running on a hamster wheel and trying to make things happen. And I think it's important to realize that you're laying a foundation and that is hard, hard work, but if you choose something that you're passionate about, it's not going to be as hard and you're , you're going to enjoy it a lot more. But the thing is, and it took me awhile to kind of get into a groove and realize that, you know, what happens is you run on this hamster wheel, you listen to the crickets and then suddenly something exceptional happens, you know, and you have an amazing day and you get to see the product of all of your hard work. And then you listened to crickets again, and you run on your hamster wheel. And it was, it was a hard thing for me to get used to , um, you know, not having something one of those exceptional days, every single day, and to know how important those foundational workdays are , um, when you're doing 27 tasks and making the phone calls and having the meetings and , and all of those things. Um, but it's really, really exciting when you start to see things happen. And then just know that if again, you hear crickets the next day, it's not because things aren't happening. It's because you've still got more work to do, you know? And so, so that's one of the things that I like to , um, to tell people about this, this path. I also, again, we'll just say, you know, to choose something that you're passionate about and don't stop, don't quit. You know, the , that someone said to me, once that the common denominator between every single person who's ever reached a goal is that they didn't quit. And there may be a million times when you want to quit. And you're wondering why you're working so hard, just don't quit. And I it's going to pay off. It absolutely is if you just don't. I love that. And again, I just think that's such great advice for, for our listeners who might be in a transition stage or might be thinking of making some transition in the future. Um, don't quit. Yeah. And I would say, you know, if you're unsure or if you have the luxury of, you know, working a job and having a side hustle, or do you have the luxury of it, you know, ease into something, you don't have to go full bore into something right away , um, you know, figure out how much time do you want to commit to something, look at your calendar. And if you see that you've got three or five or 10 hours a week, when you could choose to either stream Netflix, or you could to work toward a big, lofty, exciting goal, you know, commit that time and see where it is .Judy Oskam :
Well, I love that on, on your website, you know, you have the information that says Mindy's mission is to move and inspire people. To realize that when they take responsibility and own their adversity, they become better, stronger people. And their potential is revealed. We need you out here, Mindy, to keep pushing that message, keep pushing that message. Mindy ,Mindy Henderson:
Thank you so much. And I need it from the bottom of my heart. You know, we are in charge of our lives and you know, what we do and how we look at the world and who we show up as. And so , um, you know, you get to decide and that's, you know, it's a lot of responsibility, but it's exciting to you. And it's where the hard work happens. And it's where you make your , your goals, a reality,Judy Oskam :
Mindy Henderson. Thank you so much for joining us today.Mindy Henderson:
Thank you for having me. I loved it. [inaudible] .