From adversity to advantage

You’ve heard the saying, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. People who meet life’s challenges head on have a better chance of succeeding.

Building a small business and dealing with a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis have a lot in common: managing your fears, finding ways to turn a liability into an asset, staying motivated and positive.

Cathy Kerns of Orlando Fl was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in her late 30s. Cathy left the corporate world and launched Style Stick&©, a home-based Internet business that makes colorful, fashion-forward walking canes for those with limited mobility. When MS forced Cathy to use a cane she began designing colorful sticks to match each outfit she wore. The novelty of this new walking tool as a unique fashion accessory soon spread to others needing mobility assistance.

Now after 15 years the Style Stick© is recognized around the world as a unique accessory for those not wishing to give up
their sense of style when faced with a disability.

The emotional stress of being diagnosed with a chronic illness is often compounded by an instant lack of confidence in what the future will bring. Style Stick© helped Cathy keep her chin up to face her uncertain future and offer assistance to others also needing a positive boost after devastating news affecting their ability to walk.

I too have a similar situation. While growing my business, writing my syndicated column and publishing a book, I was experiencing a numbness in my left leg. Over time, I saw three neurologists. The first one said I did not have Multiple Sclerosis, the second neurologist said I did have MS and he third one said I had pre-MS. I thought he said PMS…scared the hell out of me. I was diagnosed with MS about a year ago. I am still growing my business, writing my column, promoting my book, speaking and doing this new radio series for the Smallbiz America Radio Network.

Moral of the story: I’ve found the three most important things in battling adversity are determination, hope and a sense of humor. My grandmother who fled religious persecution and arrived in America just in time to raise 5 children during the Great Depression of the 1920’s often said to me “You only have two choices in this world, you can laugh or you can cry”. I’ve chosen to laugh.

I’m Professor Bruce. Thank you for listening.