Just on 10 weeks ago, my beautiful sister, who is also my best friend, was diagnosed with advanced localised breast cancer. This has obviously rocked our world, not only as it came out of nowhere, but also because she’s been through so much in her life already.

She is tackling this horrible disease head-on.  She is being brave, positive and as resilient as ever, and we have every confidence she will beat this. For me, she is and has always been, the poster child for resilience and kindness.  Because of this, I really believe what she has experienced will set her up to conquer this.

Resilience comes from the Latin word resilire which means to leap back.

It's a trait I’ve always been strong in, and I really believe the more you go through both personally and professionally, the stronger you get. The deeper your ability becomes to see the challenging times and people in your life as gifts and to identify and apply the lessons learnt from these to propel you forward.

Receiving this shocking news about my sister, I knew I had to keep going. For her, me and for our family, and for my business and my clients.

I knew that how I was showing up and who I was being had and will have a direct impact on her.

She asked me to go about my life as usual and be as normal as possible.  I managed to do this and compartmentalise my work and my feelings to be in service to the moment. That was until 1.5 weeks later when I was in coaching and mentoring a senior leader I have worked with for many years. Twenty minutes into the session, he bought up something I would normally delve into and challenge to get to an outcome. For the first time ever, after coaching thousands of clients, I just couldn't be present and in service.

Resilience Threshold

My mind was struggling to comprehend what he was saying without comparing it to what my sister was going through. I judged and perceived his issue to be trivial in the scheme of things and kindly stood up and explained I would have to postpone the session. This client didn’t know anything about my sister, and after asking if I was okay, he walked me out. I sat in my car for about 15 minutes after this happened, shocked I had left and also proud of myself for realising I had hit what I am going to call a “Resilience Threshold”.

Threshold – the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.

 I realised within a moment I had reached this threshold where I couldn't be in service to my client as this goes against all that I stand for and value in my work.

As much as difficult and challenging situations and people can bring us down, I really believe we need to adopt what I call a “Gift Mindset™”. This mindset helps us to see not only the challenging situations and people as gifts but also the great things and people we encounter as gifts also. Many gifts keep on giving if we can learn the lesson and share this, especially as leaders in our profession and our lives.

[bctt tweet=”By having a deep awareness of what life throws at us and accepting this with true belief I believe we are more open to the lesson and can then share and action this to grow ourselves and others along the way.” username=”Renee_Giarrusso”]

This all adds up to us being able to be limitless in whatever we do.

Keys to a gift mindset:


Invest in the time to stop and reflect on what is going on and why. Too often, we act as human doings instead of human beings, and we need to reflect and recalibrate to really see a situation for what it really is.

It may be a crappy situation you are in, or a toxic person is in your space, just remember your thoughts are not you, and either is the situation you are in. This is external to you, and by being aware of it, warts and all is the first step to identifying past, present, future and hidden gifts. When I had to cancel my client as soon as I was aware I wasn't in service to him, I knew I had to accept this and do something.


By being aware of the current situation and having true belief that you can accept it and move forward, you are then in a position to open the space for progress. Accepting something doesn't mean you have to like, want, or support whatever it is that you're accepting. All I will say is that we can create undue suffering when we struggle against the pain — by resisting it and/or rejecting it.

After postponing the coaching session with my client, I accepted it was for the best, in that moment of time, for both he and I.


Once we are clearly aware of “the Gift” and have accepted it for what it is, we can identify what the lesson may be. I’m a realist and know it’s not always easy to see good in anything when you are in the midst of a crisis or unpleasant situation or experience. The lesson is the ‘gold' here.

  • What have I learnt?
  • What has changed or is different?
  • How can I replicate this and share this moving forward for greater good?

In the case of my client story, the lesson for me was I had actually hit a threshold of resilience, something I’ve never consciously experienced before. It taught me that at times I need to have more “attention in” and deeper awareness of my feelings and that by doing this, my actions and outcomes will have even more meaning.

This whole experience has taught me the ‘Gift of Resilience'

My client and I chatted the day after and when I told him about the situation he said he had so much respect and admiration for me calling the session off. He also said it was great to see that I am only human and that in itself was another gift for me…the “Gift of Growth!”

As always, I would love to hear how you embrace the “Gift Mindset”?

Lead to be Limitless

For more of my tips on how change can equate to growth, get in touch. I look forward to working with you in the future!

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Renée is a mentor, coach, expert facilitator and keynote speaker. She is the author of ‘Limitless Leadership’ and co-author of ‘Leaders of Influence’.

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