Negotiate a Course Adjustment by Being Reslient

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September 29, 2014
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November 26, 2014

Many many years ago on 1 Oct I made a decision to join the Air Force. It’s proof that one slight course adjustment can impact an entire lifetime. I remember almost backing out at the last minute. I had enlisted under the Delayed Enlistment Program on May 27th of the year I joined. What that meant was that my actual date to enter the Air Force was delayed until 1 Oct. When it came down to time for me to go I almost backed out at the last minute but in the end I decided to go.

That one slight adjustment in the trajectory of my life had a huge impact on my entire life journey. Before I went in the Air Force I was a high school dropout working at Woolco (which went out of business not long after I joined the military). I was hanging out with a lot of people that were going nowhere other than my one friend that came in the military 6 months after me and we have been like sisters ever since.

I was homeless at 18. Yes, homeless, out on the street with nowhere to go. No family, no friends that would take me in because I was with a boyfriend who I let isolate me from all my friends so I had no one to turn to. My dad left me high and dry to fend for myself. I came home and found the house empty. He had moved to Florida. I didn’t know where other than Pensacola. There was a note of eviction on the door from the landlord that said be out by the end of the month (which was only a few days away) and anything left behind belongs to the landlord. I had a job but I had no place to go. I had a few short days to get my belongings out of the house and find a place to live.

What did I do? I moved into a cheap apartment with a mattress, a box spring and a Doberman Pinscher named Shema. I had a few other belongings but not much. I guess I’ve always had an unstoppable spirit. Even in my darkest times, I still managed to keep moving forward even if it was at a snail’s pace.

If I had to choose one word to describe myself it would be resilient. There are two definitions of resilient.

  1. bouncing or springing back into shape, position, etc. after being stretched, bent, or, esp., compressed
  2. recovering strength, spirits, good humor, etc. quickly; buoyant

I can relate to both of those as I seem to have been stretched, bent and compressed in so many different areas of my life and have managed to spring back and recover my strength, spirits and good humor. I made a lot of bad choices in my life which caused me to have to be resilient to recover from those. Bad relationships that nearly got me killed from the abuse, friendships that were with people who harmed me in some way, business dealings that took my money and provided a lot of lessons but nothing more than pain otherwise. I could have folded and given up each time but chose to brush myself off and keep moving forward.

Being resilient is a quality I am grateful to have. I know of friends and others who are in such bad places and staying there. Some of them don’t have income and keep making the same bad choices over and over again putting themselves in a spin cycle of bad situations. Some are a victim of circumstances but have nothing to fall back on.  I have often thought about what I’d do if I lost everything and had no place to go.  I have a few contingency plans that could be executed if that ever happened.

Some of you know I was helping a homeless female veteran for awhile but when she started slinging abuse at me I had to set a boundary and step back. It was becoming unhealthy for me and it was clear that she didn’t want to do the work to change her situation. You can’t make someone do the work. After 6 months I had to step out and let her go. I feel sad that she couldn’t get out of her spin. I continue to pray for her though.

As I always say, the power is in the work.

The bottom line in this negotiation is that one slight course adjustment will change the trajectory of your entire life. There’s always time to make that slight tweak that will change your life for the better or worse depending on your choice. Choose wisely, your whole life depends on it.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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