It’s coming up on four years since my youngest child Avery was born, immediately changing my life forever with an unexpected diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Time has allowed me to adjust to a new vision of my family’s future, and while there are certainly many unforeseen challenges ahead, it feels appropriate to reflect on a key lesson I’ve learned – the power of attitude.
Comparing my current attitude to those early days after Avery’s arrival, I note a key evolution…from dreading every failure, to celebrating every achievement. This was understandably part of the process, and I am constantly reminded that seeing your child make progress (albeit on a delayed timeline) is rewarding no matter the surrounding circumstances. I’ve learned that focusing on achievements has a positive impact on how I handle stressful situations. While there is time to evaluate disappointments and to strategize improvements, constant improvement does not require constant critique.
Avery is approaching her first day of school in September, and naturally I have fears around whether she will thrive in an environment that tests social acceptance. Then I observe her approach to life, and realize that her own attitude is not impacted by her abilities. She may not be the strongest or most coordinated, but she will run, climb and balance her way across an obstacle if it means keeping up with her siblings. She still has a way to go with her speech, but she will sing and dance (in a group or by herself) to a number of favourite songs that have struck a chord in her heart. What she lacks in ability she makes up for in effort, leaving me with no doubt that she will be successful. Avery has shown me the power of attitude can overcome insurmountable challenges and redefine success!
I am more aware of the need to manage my own attitude, working to maximize outcomes while minimizing negative impact on my emotional energy. In the office, I’m loyal to my team because they are pivotal in MEDUCOM’s accomplishments and I want to reciprocate by providing rewarding careers. With clients, I’m committed to strive for perfection because they trust critical aspects of their business to us and I want MEDUCOM to play a role in their long term success. And at home, I’m devoted to the happiness and well-being of my family because the legacy of the lifelong journey we share surpasses all other goals. Keeping these attitudes steadfast in my mind guides me through many decisions, and often shows me the right approach even before I’ve rationalized it to myself.
This World Down Syndrome Day, take a moment to assess the attitude you bring to every situation. Draw inspiration from those who face challenges far greater than what most of us encounter each day. Don’t let situations drive your attitude. Rather, let your attitude be the constant driving force that powers you through even the toughest situations with poise and precision.