If you think making it through Harvard Business School successfully is a challenge, imagine receiving your diploma with a child on each hip. It’s not something for the faint of heart, but that’s exactly what Sheila Lirio Marcelo did.
Marcelo, the 45-year old founder and CEO of Care.com, did start a family, did graduate from Harvard, and did much much more. Although she is largely successful today, her struggles as an immigrant with no other landed relations in America are an excellent source of learning, Sheila Marcelo’s story is a perfect example of how to stay calm, cool, and in control.
When her son, Ryan, was a toddler, Marcelo pleaded with her parents to move from the Philippines, so that they could act as caregivers while Marcelo and her husband were at work. Marcelo’s parents were eventually convinced, but after a short while of babysitting little Ryan, Marcelo’s father had a severe heart attack. Immediately, Marcelo’s situation had worsened tenfold: her son had nobody to watch him, her father was seriously ill, and she had to put her career on hold to ensure that her family was okay. Therein lies the idea that fuelled Marcelo’s online company, Care.com. A website that helps provide people with sitters and local home care, so nobody has to be in the same situation that she was. While family struggles are not a conventional way to get an idea for a new company, these hurdles gave Marcelo a new perspective that we can all learn from: all downfalls in life are relative.
In her 20’s, Marcelo would have grieved over a poor grade on her final economics paper; however, after experiencing the reality of health and mortality, Marcelo says that she hardly ever frets over the minor details of life any more.
Now that is a lesson we can all learn. Something goes bad, say to yourself, “Have I been through worse? Yes.” “Did I make it out alive? Yes.”
When you’re upset that city transit is down and you have to walk a little further (in the rain), think about the man you just passed on the corner who is begging for a bus fare and curled up under a street lamp. Do you still feel so bad for yourself? Is your life really as horrible as you just tweeted?
We have to remember, everybody has been through something. We all struggle in some way or another; perhaps not to the same degree. Nevertheless, when you run across obstacles in life that get you down, remember that time you made it through, or remember that friend who has it worse than you, and calm your mind. By accounting for the unexpected things in life, Sheila managed to grow a company based on home care, and turned a devastating situation around.
We can learn from her story how to take bad news and negativity in our stride and how to be a little more mindful of the world around us!