A story from Courage Does Not Always Roar.
"Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing."
Life can take you in unexpected directions - sometimes in ways you definitely wouldn't choose. But, if you stick to your vision and your values, you can find a greater purpose.
For my friends Tammy and Tom, it was love at first sight. It took just a few dates for them to know that they had each found their soul mate. They married and had two beautiful children. Both were busy professionals, but if the phone rang and it was an important issue for the family, they were there for each other.
After their children were born, Tom started his own business conducting leadership conferences. He was a naturally gifted leader and speaker and had a passion for inspiring and teaching others. For him, having a business that fostered relationships, was a dream come true.
As the company grew, Tom hired one of his best friends, David. Tom's philosophy was if you were going to have great business success, financially and professionally, you might as well enjoy the journey with your friends and family. Both Tom and David were extreme sports enthusiasts who enjoyed water skiing, snow skiing, and mountain biking.
On a 4th of July vacation, Tom and Tammy's lives changed in an instant. Tom and David were mountain biking when Tom's front bike tire hit a rock, flipping him over the front of his bike and breaking his neck. Tom was only 51 years old when he died.
This was never something Tammy expected. Why did this happen to Tom? He was a great athlete and did crazy things, but always landed on his feet. Tammy was conservative and thoughtful about the decisions she made. This tragedy was absolutely devastating and didn't make any sense. She and Tom had a strong Christian faith, and she knew she would have to lean on her faith in God because she was not prepared to face this journey alone.
Tammy was suddenly thrown into the role of being a single parent and the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. She started contacting sponsors and attendees, assuring them that she was fine and very capable of continuing Tom's work and vision.
Tammy was strong for her children and for everyone working at the company, but didn't have much time to think about herself; the tasks at hand were immense and needed attention. Her courage came by staying true to the life vision she and Tom had created together. She successfully ran the business before selling it, executing a deal that relieved her from the day-to-day business and allowing her to focus on her children and the children's foundation that she started with Tom.
Tammy continued Tom's legacy by working on some of the projects he started including a book and movie idea. She also expanded their children's foundation to include a high school charity basketball tournament that teaches teens the importance of giving back to their communities. After only two years, this basketball tournament grew to be the largest in the United States with more than 250 college coaches attending and offering scholarships to players.
With such overwhelming responsibilities in such a short-time, Tammy could easily have become paralyzed with fear. But she wasn't afraid to ask for help if she needed it. Waking up each day to the reality that Tom is no longer there took her a long time to accept, and is a reminder to enjoy every precious day with her family and friends.
Tammy tells her story with grace and confidence - knowing that she is driven by a higher faith and bigger purpose. She has an amazing spirit and energy that is immediately contagious. Tom and Tammy believed that because life blessed them with success, it was important for them to help others. Together, they knew the importance of believing in your dreams and then pursuing them with a vengeance.
We don't know what tomorrow may bring, but even when events turn your life upside down, it's important to have empathy for others, as Tammy did. Your problems may seem overwhelming or unbearable, but the next person you meet may need your friendship or love today. Sharing your stories of how you overcame your struggles may give them the strength to move forward with their dreams.