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When Things Really Go Wrong

 

Almost inevitably in a corporate or professional career there will, at some point, be a major event or
episode which will rock your equilibrium and create a significant amount of stress and angst in your
life.

That is when your ability to be resilient and tenacious really gets put to the test.

In my book “ A Woman’s Place – Life, leadership and lessons from the boardroom” I have dedicated
a chapter to my experience as a director on the Feltex board through the period when the Company
listed on the NZX to a subsequent profit downgrade during the critical forecast period post the Initial
Public Offering.

At the risk of being accused of spruiking my book, I can tell you I have detailed a lot of learnings in
that chapter, but in the context of tenacity and resilience it was a situation where the adage “what
doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is absolutely true.

If I hadn’t had a supportive husband and family through that period, I don’t know how I would have
survived.

There were headlines in the business section of the newspaper almost every day at the time of the
initial profit downgrade and because of the legal action taken by some shareholders, the saga still
rolls on.

I felt initially as if I was in a vortex and the impact on me was profound. I found it hard to eat, I lost a
lot of weight and for the first time in my life I had difficulty sleeping.

What I learned is that you have to keep going. It would have been easy to stay under the duvet every
day and avoid the conversations and opinions that were inevitable in the circles I was moving in, as
Feltex was definitely the business topic du jour.

You need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You need to find a sanctuary where you can,
for a period of time each day, get distracted enough that you don’t think about the problem.
You learn very quickly who your real supporters are – the people who say to you “I know you feel
terrible at the moment but it will pass and you will be alright.”

Thank goodness that was true.

Watch my friend and colleague Cathy Quinn’s video piece on her greatest learning in the context of
facing challenges.

Joan Withers