Heather Monahan’s 3 Steps for Overcoming Adversity

February 28, 2023

ViB Editorial Team


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If you’ve been fired, Heather Monahan wants you to know you’re in good company. At age 43, she was let go from her role as CRO of a broadcast company — an event that could have sent her into the depths of despair. Instead, it was the catalyst behind an exciting career trajectory that’s led her to become a twice-published best-selling author, highly sought-after public speaker, and acclaimed podcast host.

“On the day it happened, I got in my car and drove three hours crying my eyes out, not knowing how I’d pay my bills, my mortgage, or take care of my son,” she says. But after a quick Google search, she discovered she wasn’t alone. Some of the most influential business people in the world, including Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, and Oprah Winfrey, had all been fired once.

Now, after launching her own successful business, the TEDx speaker and author of the newly released Overcome Your Villains is on a one-woman mission to help others break their limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors and overcome the obstacles standing between them and the life they want.

Recently, Heather joined us for the first edition of our Personal & Professional Performance webinar series to share more about how to handle negative people and toxic work environments, plus tips to achieve the success you deserve. 

During the webinar, she shared her three-step proven framework for overcoming adversity and building confidence, and a useful tip to stop negative self-talk once and for all.

The three steps to overcoming adversity

Here are Heather’s three steps to navigate setbacks and achieve success in your personal and professional life:

  1. Break your beliefs down to the most simplistic fact
    Limiting beliefs can be overwhelming, but often, they’re not rooted in truth. When you feel yourself beginning to spiral in the face of adversity, Heather suggests you distill things to the raw facts. Not only does this make the situation easier to handle, but it also helps you illuminate your next steps.

    “The day that I got fired, I was telling myself ‘I lost everything,’” she says. “But here’s the fact that I found: I lost a paycheck. I didn’t lose my network, I didn’t lose my expertise, I didn’t lose my credibility, I didn’t lose my knowledge, my personality, my family, or my health. I didn’t lose anything except a paycheck.”

  2. Take action immediately
    Heather didn’t wait weeks or months to reach out to her network. As soon as she was fired, she took action. “I posted to social media real quick, ‘I’ve been fired, and I need your help,’” she says. And when someone offered to lend a hand, she accepted it immediately because, as she points out, everyone is busy, and you can’t always reliably “circle back” to an offer later.

    While some people in her life thought her special media post was in poor taste, she maintains it was one of the best things she could have done at the time. Asking for help paved the way for future speaking gigs, books, and countless professional relationships. It also helped her work through the blow to her self-esteem.

    “When you shine a light on shame, it’s the only way you can ever extinguish it,” she says.

  3. Curate and intentionally access the right knowledge
    “If we stay in the same circle, the same bubble of people, or the same industry, we’re only going to access the same information that we already know,” Heather says. “Never take advice from someone who hasn’t been where you are going.”

    Shortly after her post about being fired went viral, she was contacted by a member of the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show team about coming on air for an interview. Taking this opportunity allowed her to have a conversation with someone she admired and learn from their experience and guidance.

“I jumped on a plane and went to meet with Elvis Duran — someone who is light years ahead of me and super, super successful and super supportive,” she says. When Elvis asked if she was writing a book, it prompted her to hire an editor and self-publish her first book, Confidence Creator.

One useful trick for firing your inner villains

As Heather notes, working in a toxic environment or dealing with negative people is draining. But, once you’ve removed yourself from those spaces or created distance from these people, it’s time to turn inward.

“The biggest villain you’ll face is the one between your own two ears,” she says. And to overcome the villain in your mind and rewrite your narrative, she says you have to be intentional. 

While inner villains can be loud, Heather discovered one trick to shut them up.

When she found herself giving in to negative self-talk, she would take out a photo of her son and try to convey that message to him. Suddenly, instead of saying, “You idiot, you dropped the ball again,” as she did to herself, she found herself saying, “I know you feel a little down right now, but I want you to know this is temporary — this is a learning experience, and I’m proud of you for getting back up because you’re a winner.”

Learning how to speak to herself the same way she talks to those she loves helped her conquer her inner villain and instead become her inner hero. Heather recommends keeping a photo of a loved one handy to help you quiet your inner villain and help foster more positive self-talk. This technique has enabled her to shine her own light a little brighter.

“When we dim our light in the hope that it might ignite someone else’s, it actually does the opposite,” she says. “We’re in a dark world right now, and we need to shine our lights as bright as we can.”

For more words of wisdom and uplifting advice, check out our recorded webinar, A Conversation with Entrepreneur Heather Monahan.

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