“Dame Stephanie Shirley‘s two-level apartment in Henley-on-Thames is a sanctuary of calm and order. Flawless cream carpets stretch from off-white wall to off-white wall. Peaceful artworks, most of them abstract, punctuate the clutter-free space.
Shirley hasn’t always inhabited such a serene environment. Her story is one of meeting adversities head-on, and turning them into opportunities. She arrived in Britain as a five-year-old Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, clutching nothing but a teddy bear and her elder sister’s hand. She retired a multimillionaire at the helm of an 8,500-strong IT empire of her own making, and since then she has set about ridding herself of her fortune: to date she has donated £67m and is revelling in the good work it is doing”.
Dame Stephanie Shirley
(Software pioneer and philanthropist)
If you’ve ever felt demotivated to work, felt disappointed that life turned out to be harder than you imagined, felt exhausted by emotional struggles or felt aggrieved that you’ve suffered more than your peers – you’re not alone.
And that’s not all.
That’s not your end.
Those seeming negatives can be channelled into great achievements, becoming the fuel to wonderful successes that lie ahead. They can be your unique selling point, teaching you how to conquer difficulty, how to inspire others and how to empathise and give something back.
Sometimes, it’s role models who get us through the tough times in life, who transform our moods and mindsets in ways that we could never imagine.
Yesterday, this lady changed me.
She opened my heart and mind.
I found myself telling as many people about what I’d read as possible, inspired by her incredible tale of fragility and fortitude. Inspired that if she could do it, we all could.
Read Dame Stephanie Shirley’s inspiring tale of adversity, success and generosity in The Financial Times, here, and see how difficulty can be channelled to create huge personal and professional victories.
And if that article leaves you reeling as it did me, you can watch her in this short Ted Talk, “Why Do Women Have Flat Heads?“