I had the opportunity to attend the Guelph YMCA – YWCA, Women of Distinction Awards for the 2nd time last night at the Guelph River Run Centre.
I jumped at the opportunity to get a quick photo of the keynote speaker Lisa Lisson when I saw her walk by. Her daughter in attendance was gracious enough to snap the photo. The annual event celebrates 20 amazing women doing incredible things in the Guelph and Wellington County communities.
Lisson began her talk by checking her watch and said she would only take the 20 minutes alloted for her to speak. Everyone chuckled when she said, “I will be right on time!” For those who may not know Lisa Lisson is the first women President of FedEx Canada.
The theme of the 2019 Women of Distinction awards was, “MY JOURNEY”. The packed audience was very attentive when Lisson shared her amazing journey with us. Her motto she lives by and shares with all of her employees at FedEx is “you can have it all, family and career without sacrificing one for the other.”
Lisson was just 21 years old when her father passed of brain cancer just 2 weeks before she was to graduate at the University of Guelph. Lisson shared her soon to be Mother In Law was diagnosed with brain cancer as well so her and her fiance Patrick decided to bump up their wedding date so Mother and son could share a dance at their wedding. Her Mother in Law passed soon after her wedding.
Lisson shared she was living a dream life. She was married to her highschool sweetheart, 4 beautiful daughters, a loving home and a successful career.
Her world came crushing down when one day she heard a thump and when she called for her husband he didn’t answer. She found her 38-year-old husband was on the ground unresponsive he had suffered a major heart attack. She tried CPR and he was rushed to the hospital where he was seriously ill and was in a vegetative state.
Immediately her response was “does this hospital believe in miracles?” He survived for 2 years after his heart attack with her trying every method and idea she could research to try to bring him back to her. Sadly he passed 2 years after that fateful evening.
She didn’t realize at the time this would lead her to learning more about resiliency and how it would change her life journey.
Within a year of loosing her husband, then Vice President of FedEx Lisson said she received a phone call congratulating her. Her response was “on what?” “You are the first women President of FedEx Canada!” She couldn’t believe what she heard, she said “but wait, don’t you want to interview me!”
Lisson found strength with her Mother’s help. She certainly had her share of dark days but over and over she would try to believe that “everything would be OK!” She shared that one of the things that she really values is carving out “whitespace” for herself to recharge.” She said without that she doesn’t know how she could function. She said she would tell her daughters, “don’t knock on the bedroom door unless the house is burning down, Mom is reading for 2 hours.”
I loved everything this incredible women shared. Her wise words and her suggestion of putting one foot in front of the other despite all of the challenges she faced has inspired me and countless others to keep going and to always BELIEVE and to live a life of GRATITUDE!
Lisson is the author of a book called Resilience, here is the link to purchase, http://lisalisson.ca/resilience-the-book/ Last night the proceeds of the book were donated to the #GuelphY. For more information about this event, check out this link, https://www.guelphy.org/en/community-events-and-programs/women-of-distinction.aspx.