Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Brenda Yoho
Title: Christian, Grandmother, Mother, Wife, Author
Organisation: Be the Solution Daily
Brenda Yoho: A Journey of Triumph and Inspiration
In a world filled with challenges and hardships, there are those remarkable individuals who rise above their circumstances and defy all odds. Brenda Yoho is one such person, whose life story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of resilience.
Born into a family in Illinois, Brenda's early years were marked by the shadows of adversity. With a significant age gap between her and her siblings, she navigated her childhood amidst the backdrop of her parents' struggle with illiteracy and a lack of education. Brenda's mother, having lost her father at a young age, took on the responsibility of caring for her siblings while her mother worked tirelessly on the family farm.
Trauma made its presence known in Brenda's life early on, with the loss of loved ones to cancer, and a horrifying incident at school that shattered her trust in teachers. Humiliated and misunderstood, Brenda faced an uphill battle in regaining her confidence and belief in herself. However, as fate would have it, high school proved to be a turning point for Brenda when she encountered a few remarkable teachers who helped her see her own worth.
After graduating from high school, Brenda's thirst for knowledge led her to pursue an Associates Degree in Applied Science at her local junior college. She married her high school sweetheart, David, who was in the United States Navy, and they embarked on a journey that took them to various places, including Saratoga Springs, New York, and Newport News, Virginia, where their daughter Sarah was born.
Tragedy struck again when the couple faced the untimely death of David's brother, prompting their return to their hometown in Illinois. Life continued to test Brenda's resilience as she battled her own health issues, including a diagnosis of Crohn's disease and a life-saving surgery. But her indomitable spirit persevered, and she emerged stronger from every setback.
Then came a fateful day when a catastrophic accident, involving a semi-truck crashing into their car, left Brenda with severe injuries. The prognosis was grim, and she was not expected to survive. But once again, Brenda defied the odds and embarked on a long and arduous journey of recovery.
Returning to her hometown, Brenda found solace and purpose in the field of education. Starting as a teaching assistant, she continued her education while working, earning her Teaching Degree and later pursuing a Masters Degree. She blazed a trail for her family as the first college graduate and forged a path in educational leadership.
Brenda's dedication and passion led her to positions such as Assistant Principal, Principal, and Director of Educational Support Programs. However, the toll of her injuries, combined with the stress of her demanding role and a court case related to the accident, took its toll on her health. Battling daily triggers of PTSD and debilitating migraines, Brenda was compelled to leave her beloved work behind.
Yet, as one door closed, another opened. Brenda's unwavering spirit led her to embark on a new journey as a writer. Through her blog, Bethesolutiondaily.com, she shares her unique perspective and experiences. Brenda poured her heart and soul into a book, outlining her philosophy of having only Two Rules, hoping to inspire others with her wisdom and insights.
Life's trials were not yet done testing Brenda's resolve. In December 2021, she received a life-altering phone call from her doctor, delivering the devastating news of her breast cancer diagnosis. The ground beneath her seemed to crumble, but she summoned the strength to face this new challenge head-on. And on April 25, 2022, Brenda rang the bell, signifying the completion of her treatments and the triumphant declaration of being cancer-free.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Time management is one of the biggest challenges in leadership and it would be what I find to be my biggest one. In today's fast-paced world, we all seem to want more time to accomplish our goals and fulfill our responsibilities. As a leader, it becomes even more crucial to effectively manage your time because if you don't, others will manage it for you.
Color coding your daily calendar is a fantastic way to visualize how you're allocating your time and identify areas where improvements can be made. I adopted this strategy many years ago and actually taught an administrator academy about managing time. Reflecting on your time allocation and analyzing the data allows you to make informed decisions on how to optimize your schedule and prioritize tasks.
Making time for a personalized approach with your team members is essential to the success of what you do. Remembering and acknowledging important details about their lives, such as family events or birthdays, shows genuine care and creates a positive work environment. It's a great practice to document these details and set reminders, ensuring that you don't miss an opportunity to reach out and show your support. Your thoughtfulness and preparedness with birthday cards and little gifts further demonstrate your commitment to your staff's well-being and happiness.
Utilizing technology, like having your secretary maintain records on a shared drive, is an excellent way to streamline administrative tasks and free up your time for more meaningful leadership activities. Delegating record-keeping allows you to focus on engaging with your staff and addressing their needs, rather than being bogged down by paperwork.
I recommend "The One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, also the author of "Who Moved My Cheese". Both books offer valuable insights into effective leadership and navigating change. Continuous learning and seeking inspiration from respected authors and leaders can greatly enhance your leadership skills and broaden your perspective.
In conclusion, time management remains a significant challenge for leaders, but by implementing strategies like color coding calendars, personalizing interactions, utilizing technology, and seeking guidance from valuable resources, you can become a more efficient and effective leader. Remember that effective time management not only benefits you but also empowers your team and contributes to the overall success of your organization.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became a leader due to the immense support systems in my life that encouraged me, provided opportunities for me to showcase my abilities, and allowed me to live my purpose and passion. High school teachers played a significant role in boosting my self-esteem and fostering my growth. However, even before that, my church and particularly my minister had already begun nurturing these qualities in me.
Within the church, I was given responsibilities such as being a Sunday school teacher for young children, serving as part of the youth group's leadership team, and taking on leadership roles at church camps. These experiences helped me develop my leadership skills and allowed me to make a positive impact on others.
When I became a Teaching Assistant, the Principal recognized my potential and entrusted me with additional duties. I took charge of overseeing the morning cafeteria, where students gathered before heading to their classrooms or catching the bus to other schools. I designed a weekly program with different activities for each day, fostering an environment of fun, critical thinking, and physical activity.
Moreover, the Principal supported my initiative to launch an all-school program called Shining Stars, focusing on promoting children's well-being and safety. This program incorporated character development and education on stranger danger, laying the foundation for my philosophy of the Two Rules: feeling good and feeling safe.
During my student teaching experience in a larger school district, the Principal there expressed high praise and suggested that I consider becoming a Principal myself. Her words of encouragement left a lasting impact on me, as she was an exceptional leader whom I greatly admired. Inspired by her, I began to envision myself as a Principal, aiming to emulate her exemplary leadership style.
In summary, the combination of support from my teachers, my church community, and influential figures like the Principal in the larger school district paved the way for me to step into leadership. These individuals believed in me, provided opportunities for growth, and instilled a sense of purpose and passion within me. Their encouragement and guidance shaped my journey toward leadership and inspired me to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have a well-structured and fulfilling work day that allows me to balance my personal and professional life. Starting my day with a cup of coffee and watching the news with my husband is a pleasant way to ease into the day. It's wonderful that we both have our own businesses, which enables us to enjoy lunch together and spend quality time throughout the day.
Mornings seem to be my most productive time, where I engage in reading and writing, which are activities I truly enjoy. Taking breaks for lunch and enjoying nature outside, surrounded by flowers, birds, and wildlife, adds a refreshing touch to my work routine. I stay updated on current issues and problems, reading responses and proposed solutions, which can serve as valuable material for my blog posts.
My work days have certainly changed since retirement, allowing me more flexibility and the freedom to indulge in activities like fishing with my husband, attending events for my grandchildren and painting. It's important to have time for leisure and connecting with nature, as it provides a sense of rejuvenation and fulfillment. My purpose and passion lie in helping others, and I prioritize self-care.
Reflecting on my past experiences, I wish I had practiced more self-care and serves as a reminder of the importance of taking care of oneself. It's never too late to implement positive changes and make self-care a priority. I am striving to give more than I receive and focusing on helping others, it is my hope to contribute to making a positive impact in the world.
My overall structured work day seems well-balanced, allowing me time to pursue my passions, enjoy quality time with my husband and family, and make a difference in the lives of others. It is much different now than when I was working in my previous job.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I wanted to share a recent experience that reminded me of the challenges of facing rejection as a leader. It is never easy to invest considerable effort into something and receive a brief response in return. While in the past, I have encountered rejection through phone calls and even a letter in the mailbox, this recent instance arrived as a single sentence in an email.
Undeniably, it can be disheartening to witness the culmination of countless hours of hard work reduced to a mere dismissal. I have always advised others not to take rejections personally, and I still stand by that guidance. The individuals on the other side of the email exchange lack a deep understanding of who we are as individuals. They solely assess the materials we present, and even after making adjustments and investing months of effort, the outcome may still be a resounding "no."
However, amidst the disappointment and frustration, I find solace in reminding myself of the essence of the work we do. Our endeavors revolve around sharing the true stories of children who, through our collective efforts, have chosen to defy the darkness within and embrace life. Our work bears the potential to inspire and empower, making a genuine impact on those who need it the most.
Therefore, I refuse to let rejection deter my determination. I firmly believe in the significance of our mission and will persistently strive to bring our work to the world, even if it means taking small steps at a time. Each rejection serves as a valuable lesson, guiding us toward growth and improvement. It reinforces our resilience and fuels the fire within to continue forging ahead.
As a leader, I understand that setbacks are an inevitable part of the journey. However, it is how we respond to those setbacks that defines our true character. I am committed to embracing these challenges, learning from them, and emerging stronger with each experience.
I want to thank you and all for the continued support and encouragement. Let us remain steadfast in our pursuit, knowing that together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of those we touch. Wishing you resilience and success in all your endeavors.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
As an avid reader, I am constantly amazed by the profound impact books have had on my life. I have a long list of books that have provided me with resources, motivation, inspiration, and guidance. Among them, there is one recent gem by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley that I believe is essential reading for every leader: "Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust in Making Common Sense Common Practice."
Among the 52 powerful insights in this book, one particular truth resonates deeply with me: #41, which states, "#Trust is always trending. Doing the right thing never goes out of style." This truth has become one of my favorites, reminding me that building trust and being trusted is not an optional aspect of leadership but an absolute necessity.
In a world where trust is often fragile and easily eroded, this truth serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of integrity. Our values should guide our decisions, especially as leaders. Unfortunately, some leaders tend to rationalize the truth, seeking ways to shape it to their advantage, convincing themselves that they are being honest without revealing the full story. However, in reality, telling half-truths is akin to telling half-lies.
The heart of trustworthiness lies in maintaining unwavering integrity. It is a quality that I have always emphasized to my students, reminding them that true integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. It means always telling the truth and being honest, no matter the circumstances.
In a world where trust is often fragile and easily eroded, it is essential for leaders to embrace and embody this simple truth. By consistently choosing integrity and honesty, leaders can lay a solid foundation of trust, fostering healthy relationships and inspiring others to do the same.
Blanchard and Conley's book, "Simple Truths of Leadership," offers a wealth of wisdom and practical guidance for leaders who strive to be servant leaders and cultivate trust. It is a resource that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking to enhance their leadership skills and make a positive impact on those they lead.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Remember, leadership is not about doing everything on your own; it's about inspiring and empowering others to reach their full potential. Show your human side: It's important for your team to see you as a person, not just a leader. Share your passions, interests, and stories that make you who you are. Be approachable and transparent, and let your team know that you are there to support them. By establishing trust and building relationships, you create an environment where collaboration and teamwork can thrive.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Once upon a time, in the realm of education, there lived a dedicated leader who had spent decades shaping the lives of young minds. This leader believed in the power of education to make a lasting impact, to ignite hope, and to guide children on their journey through life. With gratitude and thankfulness in their heart, they often pondered the lives they had touched and hoped they had made a difference.
Among the many stories engraved in the leader's memory, one stood out, captured forever in the pages of their book. It was a tale about a young lady, a student who had entered their life during the tumultuous years of middle school. This student, burdened with a troubled family life, sought solace in the journaling ritual that unfolded between her and the compassionate leader.
Every day, the student would drop off the journal at the leader's secretary's desk, and at day's end, retrieve it, eagerly reading the heartfelt words exchanged between them. While the young girl sought counsel from external and internal sources, her connection with the leader through those pages became her anchor in the storm.
As the school year progressed, the student's circumstances took a toll, leading to a move and a change in the leader's position. Their paths diverged, and they lost touch for years, until fate intervened, and the student, now a grown woman, sought out her mentor. A lengthy letter arrived, carrying within it the weight of gratitude and an extraordinary revelation.
In her letter, the woman expressed how she had treasured those journals, safeguarding them throughout the years. Through the trials and tribulations she faced, the words written by the leader became a lifeline, helping her navigate the darkest of moments. The journals had saved her life, carrying her through moments when despair threatened to consume her. She revealed that the leader's unwavering support and the time they spent together had meant the world to her.
Now working as a nurse and pursuing a Master's degree, the woman credited the leader's philosophy and guidance for teaching her resilience and the will to survive. Their connection had not only impacted her journey but had shaped the course of her life. Despite the passing years, the leader and the woman maintained contact, and with each conversation, the leader's heart ached to hear the stories of the woman's ongoing struggles.
Grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference, the leader was humbled by the profound impact they had on a young life. It reinforced their belief in the importance of kindness, compassion, and unwavering support in the realm of education. The leader knew that they were blessed to have been entrusted with the task of guiding children and vowed to continue making a positive difference in the lives they touched.
And so, the leader's story served as a poignant reminder of the immense power an educator holds, even in the limited time they spend with their students. It echoed the truth that the smallest acts of kindness, the words written from the heart, and the time dedicated to nurturing young souls can shape destinies and save lives. Inspired by this tale, the leader vowed to carry their philosophy forward, forever impacting the lives of those entrusted to their care.