The Truth About Things That Suck with Mindy Henderson - From Chaos to Peace

Adversity is a distraction in and of itself, because the challenges we overcome cultivate the skills we need to achieve our goals. 

Today's guest, Mindy Henderson,  made it her mission is to move and inspire people to realize when they take responsibility and OWN their adversity, they become better, stronger people and their potential is revealed.

The very impressiv part about Mindy is, she's living life from a wheelchair, but it seems that the challenges she has to overcome every single day have cultivated the very skills in her that she needed to achieve almost every goal she's ever set for herself. 

Listen in to this very inpiring conversation about 

  • why and how she fought and won a battle with the government of China 
  • how challenges, if we look at them through the right lens, can become our biggest advantages
  • and how the common denominator between every single person who's ever either overcome something or accomplished a goal is, that they didn't quit

If you ever felt your life is too hard, listen to this inspiring conversation with Mindy who says:

Adversity is a distraction in and of itself. 

and how a gratitude practice can change your life and rewire your brain in a sense that gives you a new perspective on life. 

If you find value in this conversation with Mindy, please share this episode with family and friends, because if you found value in it, they will too. 

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by going to Apple Podcasts and write a 5-star review. This way more people will find this podcast and can move from chaos to peace in their life and business. 

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Mindy Henderson

is a Motivational Speaker, Writer, Health & Accountability 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 she has overcome cultivated the very skills in her that she needed to achieve almost every goal she's ever set for herself, to achieve great success and now make her uniquely qualified to motivate others to see their potential.

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Reading instead of Listening (Transcript) 

FYI: this text is not polished, I try to keep it as close as possible to how the guest expressed herself/himself . 

Conny Graf
Mindy, thanks so much for being guest on my podcast How are you today.

Mindy Henderson
I'm good, thank you so much for having me I've been looking forward to chatting with you.

Conny Graf
Yeah, me too, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I love the title of your podcast The Truth About Things That Suck and you also say that adversity is more or less a distraction, so I want to for sure hear more about that. But first, I want to know.. so despite of you being in a wheelchair you have so many things that you accomplished and one thing really caught my eye on your website. It said that you took on the government of China, can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Mindy Henderson
Absolutely, at the heart of my story is really my disability and having to sort of create a life around that, architect life around that and navigate all of the daily challenges that come up as a result of living life from a wheelchair.

But you know I've lived a lot of adversity that's not related to my disability as well. I've been through really bad car crashes that I've had to recover from, I've lost jobs and this one that you're asking about was in a roundabout kind of way related to my disability and is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done actually. Because I grew up, you know, just assuming that I would be a mom, and have a family and all of those things that we as women, some of us, not all of us, but a lot of us, dream of growing up. Being wives and mothers and having careers and, doing all the things. I knew from a pretty young age that having children biologically wasn't going to be in the cards for me because of my physical condition.

So my husband and I talked about that early on and we always pretty much had plans to adopt once we were ready to to expand our family. We had been married for a couple of years to three years, and we were ready and so we started to talk about adoption. We researched every possible option to adopt, we looked at all of the different countries that you could go to and adopt, we looked domestically here in the states, we looked at foster to adopt. The thing that really really spoke to our hearts was was adoption from China. I don't know how, something just clicked when we started looking at Chinese adoption, and we found an adoption agency that happens to be in Austin Texas where we live. They were the absolute specialists in their field, they were the specialists at Chinese adoption. And so we started talking to them, we filled out the application, we went to an information night, met some people. I should also say that we were looking for an older child probably around four or five because of my physical condition. Caring for a baby or an infant would all fall to my husband and it was something that I didn't feel right about and so we knew that there were a lot of kids that were older that needed families so knowing that we were looking for an older child.

We left that information night honestly, knowing that our daughter existed in China, and that she was waiting for us and I mean talk about urgency right, it created all of the urgency in us. And we filled out all of the paperwork and got it turned in, and ..... it was very promptly denied. You know, I think we always knew that my disability would be scrutinized a little bit that we'd have to justify some things, maybe answer some questions about how I would care for a child and our support system and all of those things. But I don't think either one of us was really expecting to be completely turned down. And I was in my office working the day that that phone call came in and the woman who I was talking to... you know I was used to making things happen, working problems and running things up the flagpole and Oh Is there a manager I can speak to, and so I said to her, there's got to be some kind of an appeals process, and she said, her voice just got really quiet, and she said, they've made up their minds, and these things are never overturned. I'm so sorry. We can't help you.

I hung up the phone and I cried, and I went home and I cried and I called my mom and we both cried. And then you know that the tide started to turn. And I went from crying to getting really really angry. And I thought to myself, you don't know me, they know me on paper, they know that I have a disability but they don't know what I've overcome, what I've navigated the life, what I've built. And so I remembered a woman that we had met on this information night and I sent her a desperate email, asking her if there's anything she could do to help us. She was 100% the right person to email because I got an email back from her within about five minutes, and she said, This isn't over. Hold on.

She enlisted the help of the woman who owned the adoption agency, who was very well connected in China and in the government of China. Basically the three of us proceeded to gang up on the Chinese government for the next nine or 10 months until they finally let it happen. It was this cycle, over the course, it was agonizing, we had to get documentation from my doctors, from my employer, from friends, from family, everyone that we could get to write letters on our behalf to justify things. We had documentation being routed all over the country to try and make this happen. And at one point, they would say, okay, we're going to allow it. Then they would take it back, and then they would say okay we're going to allow it, and then they would change their minds again. So it was this rollercoaster,

I didn't believe it basically until we were on an airplane headed for Beijing, that this was actually going to happen. It was one of the hardest things that I've ever done, but, oh my gosh, I would do it 1000 times over, because we've got the most incredible daughter as a result.

Conny Graf
Oh wow, how long ago was that?

Mindy Henderson
it was a little while ago. We adopted her when she was five, and oh gosh in a couple of months she's gonna be 20, we're so proud of her

Conny Graf
Well, that's so awesome when I read that, I thought that this is how I'm gonna start because like you talk about adversity and you talk about on your podcast about adversity and you call adversity distraction and I thought you know, if somebody can take on the Chinese government, I want to hear about it. And then whatever you say afterwards we all just be like... we have to kind of bow down and say, if she can take on the Chinese government then we better listen when she's saying something.

Mindy Henderson
I also just want to say I am so grateful to them for seeing me and my husband for who we were, the capable people that we are, and the capable parents that we've been. I will be eternally grateful to them for giving us, not just a daughter, but this daughter. Yeah it was it was a hard road, but it ended well and I'm grateful that they finally saw the potential in us to be really really good parents, which I hope she would say that we've been to her.

Conny Graf
I'm pretty sure she would. And so, I mean, this is an amazing story, and you are an amazing story , so I want to really hear a little bit more about how you got here, where you are now. How you developed the strength to take on .... because I could imagine thos months, they must have been devastating. Especially when you say when it looked like it would happen and it didn't. So how do you keep up, I don't even want to say positivity, I want to just say how do you keep up fighting?

Mindy Henderson
Yeah, it's hard. And I don't want to make light of it because it's not easy and for anyone who's listening who's going through a struggle, you know it's it's hard. But I think that is at the end of the day, what makes us the resilient beings that we are. I believe with all my heart that if we look at our challenges through the right lens, we can actually see that our challenges and our adversities can become our biggest advantages.

Because it's our challenges that instill in us the qualities like patience and determination and perseverance and creativity and problem solving and all of these things that, applied later in life, those are the things that are going to get you to your goals. So this adoption story, it was part adversity and part one of these dream goals that we had. It was kind of interesting because we were working the adversity and the goal at the same time, but I had all of this adversity in my past, that where I had to acquire a certain amount of strength and determination. I am incredibly stubborn but the best way to get me to do something is to tell me NO. And so, I think that was kind of instilled in me early on and so China didn't know what hit them when they told me NO. Stand assured that's the best way for me to fight fight fight,

I think that growing up with a disability going through all of these things... my daily life it's funny because I tell people all the time my disability is not my problem. My problem is, all of the individual little challenges that come up 20 times a day. Like changing my clothes, or dropping a stupid pen on the ground while I'm in the middle of something and I need the pen or, any number of things that come up over the course of a day. I think that builds up the calluses almost, that makes you better and better and better at facing these challenges and not letting the little things sort of distract you from your end goal. And yes it's hard and yes, I get exhausted and I get frustrated and I get angry. But if you want something badly enough, I've learned that the only way to get it is to not quit.

Keeping that in mind, the common denominator, between every single person who's ever either overcome something or accomplished a goal is that they didn't quit. That's really boiling it down to something that sounds really simple, but it's true. No matter how big the frustration, how hard the challenge, how tired and exhausted you are from fighting, if you really want it, get back up again, don't quit. And, ultimately, you'll get to a better place.

Conny Graf
But like you said, that's the hard part, you have to find the strength to not give up So, you need a strong goal or a strong vision I would imagine, to be able to overcome obstacles and adversity....

Mindy Henderson
...yeah not to interrupt you, but I think it's two things. I think having a strong goal is absolutely part of it. Because, particularly if it's something that's hard, and that's gonna take a while and you are going to have to exert a lot of effort and you're going to keep coming up against obstacles and things. Absolutely. The goal itself, and why you want it, and how it's important to you, all of those things are going to keep you going.

But the other thing that I'll say is that I think that there's pre-emptive work that we can do our whole entire lives to prepare us for these moments when we're either going through something hard, or we're facing a challenge. What I'm talking about there is things like gratitude practices, things that you can do consistently every single day. You may think yourself a grateful person, and I'm sure you are, but until you sit down and you commit to a 30 day gratitude practice, and you have to find three or five unique things from the past 24 hours every single day to be grateful for, it becomes more and more challenging. By doing that you live your life, or better you go through your life looking for things constantly to be grateful for because you know that you're gonna have to write them down every day.

I think what that does is it really does kind of rewire your brain in a sense and it gives you a new perspective on life. So that when something hard comes up, you're positioned much better for your immediate response, your natural response, to be more constructive and more positive. You can spend a little less time in your pity party and move straight into action if you do things like gratitude practices. I also think that it's really important to know who you are and what's important to you. I also encourage people to watch the people around them who they admire and isolate what it is that they admire about those people, and then try to emulate those things.

There are a lot of things that we can do, all of this list of things that I've just kind of rattled off. I think that those are practices and sort of intentional exercises that we can all do in our life, even if it's the happiest of times. Do these couple of things, because inevitably something hard is going to show up, and these things will help get you as ready as you can possibly be to take it on, and to have the strength, which was your original question, to wade through it and to forge your way through it.

Conny Graf
Yeah, so you just said something very very important that I experienced myself. You said even if happy, if life is happy and everything is going good, you need these practices. I feel like that's often when we forget about these practices, at least I had that experience once which made me very aware of it. I thought, this is kind of silly so when life goes good, I'm living less intentional and with less awareness. But really especially when life is going good you need to have all these practices like you just said, gratitude and seeing why it's going good and being aware that it is going good.

Mindy Henderson
Absolutely. And you can be as happy as a clam and enjoy that. Those moments to your heart's content but, like you say it's really easy to take our foot off the pedal in thos moments and to go a little bit on autopilot, because everything seems fine. But by doing something like a gratitude practice, honestly, it takes less than five minutes a day, and so, even on your best day take five minutes and write down what you were grateful for. Because you're exactly right, you never want to lose sight of that gratitude and have those values that you have and the person that you want to be, because, life goes in cycles.

Conny Graf
Yeah, totally you always come back to it just on a different level.

Mindy Henderson
Yeah, it's true.

Conny Graf
I know you help people, and I would say you are the best person to help people when they're facing adversity or obstacles or struggles. So when they come to you, is that how you start them off to with a gratitude practice? Or do you have other ways how you start them off to become more resilient and more capable?

Mindy Henderson
It depends, because I work with people who have wildly different goals and things that they're working on. But you know I'm kind of going through the list of my clients in my mind and they're very few, honestly, I can't even think of one right now, who I have not recommended a gratitude practice to. That's how much I believe in it.

But yeah, I work with people who are working on everything from health and weight loss to starting a new business to getting a promotion at work to getting out of debt. And so, I will say that it depends on the person but I don't think it's ever wrong to have gratitude. And so I do suggest that sometimes more assertively than other times with people that I work with. Typically what we'll do is I like to start out by giving people an assessment of all of the different areas in their life because I want to understand what their goals are. I also want to understand their competing priorities and other parts of their life that may be a bit off kilter and could affect the work that we're doing on this goal. And so I break down their life into things like finances and relationships and spiritual stuff and mental health and physical health.

I think I've actually got a list of like 12 areas where people sort of rate themselves, just to see how balanced all of the different parts and pieces of their life are so that if we need to incorporate other things into the specific goal that they've articulated to me that they want to work on, we can we can try and address multiple things in our time together.

Conny Graf
Yeah, that's awesome that reminds me of the wheel of life where you're look at these areas of your life, and a lot of people have neglect one area or a few areas and others areas are really good and then the idea is that then your wheel is not rolling really and looks bumpy then your life is bumpy....

Mindy Henderson
Exactly, if one area is kind of deflated or out of whack, it's it's surprising sometimes how the other parts of our lives and our psyche and all of that can be affect. And so, you know, even if we're not going to add that that pie piece of the wheel to the list of things that we work on it's at least good to be aware of with what we're working on because it could be something that we need to know about that's affecting or impeding them from achieving this goal.

Conny Graf
Now I have a little bit of another question, I read on your website that you wrote your master's degree on accountability, so, is that correct? I wanted to know how important is accountability in your eyes for people. Do they come to you mostly for inspiration and the tools, or do you feel like you hold them more accountable to what they want to do.

Mindy Henderson
I would like to think that it's both. I definitely think that people come to me with a goal in mind, and I think there's two aspects to what I do that makes people successful in their work with me. The first one is, I love to project manage things and kind of a natural born project manager and I worked as a project manager for a number of years in the corporate world. So I love to take a goal and break it down into manageable chunks, create a timeline, create milestones. and all of these different things and manage people sort of through their goals.

But I also do think that a lot of people come to me and we talk about the level of accountability that you get from working with any coach. If you know that you've got to get on the phone with somebody once a week, and report back to them on what progress you've made on your next steps, that helps. I do understand life comes up and things happen so if people come back and say oh I did this, but this happened and I didn't have time to get to this other task or whatever. But maybe that one thing they wouldn't have done if they didn't have a coach to report back to, you know. And so you're right that I wrote my thesis on accountability for my master's program and I think that it's one of the most important things that you can implement in your life.

I also talk about accountability a lot in the talks that I give, and I think that accountability is really key to successfully navigating adversity. If you really really boil it down there are two ways that adversity comes into our life. Sometimes we contribute to things that go wrong in our lives in any number of ways, we don't pay enough attention to our diet or nutrition and we create health problems or, we say the wrong thing to our boss and create a problem for ourselves at work. But then there are also times in life when things just happen.

Like my disability is a really good example of that. Nobody caused this, nobody created it, nobody contributed to it, it's just one of those things that happen. I argue that it's easy to look at the first one and say, well sure you ate too many brownies, now take responsibility for it, fix it, change your diet. But, in the second scenario you can also have accountability and what that looks like is just owning your response. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can always control the way that we react or respond to it. That takes some intention and some accountability and ownership of what it is that is going on.

I could sit around and cry all day, because I can't ride a bike, but number one, my life is not going to be very fun, and number two, it's not going to fix it. I can't have a really happy positive successful life, if I choose to respond to my disability in that kind of way. I also will say that when I think about my corporate experience, I've managed a lot of teams, and I've had people on my team who have caused problems and have taken no responsibility for it. I've also had people who have caused problems and had taken all the responsibility for it, owned up to it , orked with me, collaborated with me to fix it, did what they needed to do. Regardless of what you did wrong, if you take ownership and accountability for fixing the situation and learning from it and all of those things, I have so much respect for that, and not that it negates what happened, but almost.

Conny Graf
Sh*t happens right, that's just what it is , it's what happens after that is the important part . Because we are all humans not machines, even though machines can mess up too but I mean as humans, there is the human component that always can mess up

Mindy Henderson
Yes, the person who won't take responsibility for what happened, I'm probably not going to get a lot more responsibility to. So, I think, in every part of our lives, accountability is just a trait and a value in people that I really admire and respect. It's something that over the course of growing up myself, I've realized how much better the outcome of things are, if I have accountability for what I do and for what happens to me.

Conny Graf
Yes, so do you feel we always need outside accountability, or can we develop that ourselves like. I would assume, and it's an assumption, that you have a lot of self-integrity and accountability yourself because otherwise you wouldn't have reached all these things. I doubt that there was always somebody next to you telling you, go for it, Mindy, go for it.

Mindy Henderson
Just a little voice in my head.

Conny Graf
So what do you think is the difference? Why do some people have this voice in their head that holds them accountable, and others need the outside accountability otherwise nothing happens?

Mindy Henderson
That's a good question. I think it could be a lot of different things. I happened to grow up in a family that held me accountable, that didn't let me make excuses, that had high expectations for me. I also had really good role models, my dad was an executive in healthcare, he worked for hospital system and ran hospitals. My mom was a good example, I've also had several managers that I've worked for that set really good examples of work ethic and accountability for me.

So, I guess that's the first thing that comes to mind is maybe it's a person who hasn't either had those expectations set of them, or they haven't had the examples to follow. But then, you know, this is where I'm a little out of my depth. I'm not a psychologist, but I think that there's probably some innate traits in certain people that they're just kind of born with. Things like ambition, or determination, or things like that. I could be completely wrong, but I feel like, probably, those are some things that either get developed in us, a number of different ways or that maybe, maybe we're born with them, I don't know.

Conny Graf
Yeah, I was just wondering, I am no expert in it either. But I feel like we're all experts in our own life and our own experiences so we can talk from there.

Mindy Henderson
Absolutely, yeah, and I would say if there's maybe a young person who's listening, somebody who's young in their career and maybe can't identify any of those role models yet, seek out some mentors. Look for some people who you can get to know, who can really kind of stretch you and and have some influence on you in those areas and give you the opportunity to to experience and to learn some of those things.

Conny Graf
I totally agree. I think I, too, am the person I am because I had certain role models and mentors that asked me to do a little bit more than I felt I would be able to do and they helped me stretch myself ....

Mindy Henderson
You know what, this will make you laugh. I had a friend, she's actually, my best friend Eileen, who I met through work. I had only been out of college for maybe five years or something when I met her and so I was still really young in my career. She was a little bit older than me but not much, but she had an MBA from the University of Texas, and was at a different level in her career than I was. I really looked up to her from the very first moment that we said hello and eventually it developed into this great friendship and now she's just my best friend on the planet.

I think that she is one of the the big influences that I've had in my life that really taught me how much people respect accountability. Because I would sit in meetings with her and listened to her and I remember the first time somebody called out a mistake in a meeting in front of other people. Without batting an eye she said "Oh, oh yeah I screwed up" and I was just shocked. I couldn't believe that she would call herself on the carpet that way and a meeting full of people. But the more I saw this side of her I was like this is cool as hell. What a great person to be able to own up to this stuff and she was brilliant at her job, it wasn't that she was always screwing up. But she was the first one to say so if she did.

It was such a great lesson for me, she's the one who influenced me to go back to grad school and so if she's listening, I hope she knows that I love her dearly.

Conny Graf
Shout out to Elaine.

Mindy Henderson
Yes, Eileen.

Conny Graf
Oh, Eileen okay Eileen sorry. So, Mindy, I feel, you could be such a role model for somebody who is looking for a role model so where could they find you? Tell us all the places.

Mindy Henderson
So my website is just www.MindyHendersonspeaks.com, and I try and keep things simple, so my Instagram handle is also @MindyHendersonSpeaks. I'm on LinkedIn just under my name and I'm on Facebook under my name. So yeah, you can find me just about anywhere and I really love hearing from people. I answer all of my own email and my DMs and so I hope people will reach out and connect with me.

Conny Graf
Do you have a favorite platform is maybe Instagram your favorite ones or does it not matter?

Mindy Henderson
It honestly doesn't matter I'm on every single one every day, yeah, I'm on all of them all the time.

Conny Graf
Ok and do you have anything exciting coming up that you would want to speak about that people could maybe join?

Mindy Henderson
Yeah, so actually, um, I don't know my calendar off the top of my head, but if you do follow me on Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, you'll hear about all of these things. I'll be posting about them.

I'm actually giving a live zoom public speaking course on February, 11 2021. I know that off the top of my head. There's a link, you can either email or contact us at www.MindyAndersonSpeaks.com and I'll send you the Eventbrite link to it. Or you can go to the link in my bio on Instagram and find it that way. There's a 25% off code that people could use, it's just "bizsummit", biz summit, all one word. So you'll get 25% off if you do that.

If you sign up for my emails on my website, I've got a seven day positivity challenge that will get emailed automatically to you and it's free and hopefully it will be an encouraging thing to get you through some hard days. I've also got another conference or two coming up in February and March so just keep an eye out on Instagram or Facebook for all of those

Conny Graf
Okay well I will put all the links in the show notes so people can click on the links and then end up on your website or your Instagram and can figure that all out. So this was really amazing, I'm really grateful that you took the time Mindy. Do you have any last words of wisdom, not that you haven't spread wisdom already generously, or a tip or anything that you want to leave us with before we wrap up?

Mindy Henderson
Well first of all thank you for having me, it's been wonderful talking with you. I hope that this was helpful to some people who are listening. 

As far as parting words, I just want to say..... well, a couple of things. If you're going through something hard right now, know that most adversity is temporary. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to it, even if it's something that feels like it's going to go on forever, there's an end point. Just know that whatever it is you can get through it. Try humor, stay away from tear jerker, watch comedies on TV. Try to stay upbeat, look for things to be grateful for and reach out for help if you need it.

I think a lot of us are hesitant to ask for help, but people are so happy to give help if they can. Think about how good it makes you feel to be able to help somebody else, well that's a gift that you're giving to somebody else. If you let them help you through whatever it is that you're going through right now. Then the other thing is, I believe, and I think that my career is an example of, all things being possible if you just don't quit. Yeah, so, take another step, if you're tired, take a rest, but don't quit. Just don't quit!

Conny Graf
Such beautiful words, I don't even want to say more thanks so much Mindy for being on.


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