Millions of people fail to reach their full potential. They feel “stuck” in unhappy relationships or they struggle on the job and financially. Some have experienced so much adversity that they’ve lost hope of improving their situations. Many want to improve their lives, but simply do not know how.
Successful Survivors is an “easy read” that provides compelling, relatable stories that emphasize the eight key elements of strength and character that anyone can use to overcome adversity and create personal and professional success.
Successful Survivors--The 8 Character Traits of Survivors and How You Can Attain
You Have Assets You Haven’t Yet Leveraged
Many people think that no good comes from painful experiences. Some would even say that I’m insensitive for even suggesting such a notion. But believe me when I say that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to surviving pain. Abandoned by my parents and raised by my mentally ill grandfather and my drug-addicted, alcoholic grandmother, I was brought up in a filthy shack the size of a small garage. For most of the first 16 years of my life, I lived in poverty and hunger. I was beaten, burned, yelled at, and cursed out for every reason under the sun (or for no reason at all). I emancipated myself from my status as a ward of the court in California’s child welfare system at age 16. I worked hard, saved my money, and bought my first house at 19, and I purchased my first rental property at 22. I started my first business at 27, and ultimately established, built, and sold two successful companies. I did all of this while my childhood neighbors went on to use and sell drugs, join gangs, have teenage pregnancies, and receive government assistance for years. Now, I write books and speak all over the United States to help others succeed—not just in spite of, but specifically because of what they have been through.
The concept that we are who we are specifically because of the pain we have endured is a difficult one for many people to accept. But the truth is that we all are who we are because of the events that influenced our lives and molded our character, regardless of whether those influences and their results are good or bad. Accepting this truth doesn’t condone what happened, but what’s done is done—you can’t go back and change your past. But you can turn negative events in your past into something positive, by mining the lessons out of your experiences and leveraging the character strengths and coping mechanisms you’ve developed through that pain.
As a result of poverty, I learned to be resourceful. I learned how to get by on next to nothing, and how to fix things that were broken because I couldn't afford to buy a replacement. This resourcefulness has served me well in many areas of life. For example, it was this resourcefulness that led me to figure out what I called “work-arounds” when it seemed there was no way to accomplish what needed to be done on the limited budget of a young entrepreneur with no resources, no family, and no safety net.
As a result of the abuse I suffered, I was bold enough to take risks, including leaving a good job to go into business for myself. I figured that a business failure couldn't hurt as much as those childhood beatings had. The pain of my childhood also made me strong enough to deal with the inevitable setbacks in business, ones that would have devastated other people. I also gained the empathy and the burning desire to see justice done for abuse victims that cannot be learned from a textbook in a classroom. These qualities empowered me to protect people and organizations that care for abused children, which has been my life’s work for over 30 years. The physical and emotional abuse I endured when I was too little to protect myself “inoculated” me, serving as a vaccine for the inevitable challenges and adversities I would face in the business world.
But this mining or digging up of lessons and characteristics from adversity isn't unique to me or my life. Every one of us has acquired characteristics that can help us succeed, both personally and professionally. We can mine these characteristics, coping mechanisms and lessons from all of our experiences—even from the most painful of them. The “good news” is, the more traumatic the experience, the more significant the lessons we can learn, and the stronger our successful survivor characteristics can become. But before we can accomplish this important, transformational work, we must first change the view we have of ourselves.
Survivors of adversity must change their mindset from being a victim to being a survivor. The truth is, victims are often repeatedly victimized; survivors survive. Once we’ve made the powerful shift in our thinking from victim to survivor, the next step is to rise up to the next level, becoming a “successful survivor.” Successful survivors don’t just survive—they thrive. They grow stronger after overcoming adversity. And the pivotal step to this important progression is nothing more than one’s choice of mindset and attitude.
Successful survivors are strong, capable, resilient, tenacious, courageous, resourceful, and so much more—characteristics that are valuable in every relationship, every industry, and every profession. While each successful survivor may not have every one of the characteristics included here, each of them has at least one that has been instrumental in helping them through difficult times. The great news is that all these characteristics can be acquired, developed, and leveraged to unlock and unleash the potential trapped inside those who have survived trauma.
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“Successful Survivors helps survivors of trauma by showing them that it is possible to recover and to thrive following trauma—a message from which we can all benefit.” —Dr. Karen Bergstrom, Executive Director, Safe Families
“Successful Survivors tells what we foster parents have known all along, that people who have experienced severe adversity can become some of the strongest, most resilient and resourceful people around. Many survivors of abuse have used the character traits within them to create successful lives, and this book will help many more to do the same.” —Irene Clements, Executive Director, National Foster Parent Association
“It is my wish for every person who had a rough childhood to let their painful experiences develop in them the characteristics described in this book. If they do that, and if they are honest and hard-working, they can create a good life for themselves.” —Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and Chancellor, Ave Maria University
“Each of us has a cause for which we were created. Along with that cause we have the seeds of the characteristics we’ll need to fulfill our unique cause. Successful Survivors gives practical advice for nurturing, developing, and leveraging those characteristics necessary for success.” —Matthew Barnett, founder of The Dream Center and New York Times bestselling author, The Cause within You
“Rhonda captures your heart with her powerful story of surviving against all odds. She has the reader dig deep to mine the nuggets of truth that chases away the darkness and lights your world! No matter how bleak the day, no matter where you are in your journey, you can rise above your circumstances. Powerful…motivating…a must read!” —Wayne Tesch, Co-Founder, Royal Family KIDS
“Successful Survivors shows us that we have within us the seeds of greatness that, when nurtured, are the characteristics we can use to fulfill our unique purpose.” —Mark Tennant, Founder, ALL IN Family Ministries and Arrow Child & Family Ministries
“Rhonda’s message of not being too broken to be fixed comes through loud and clear in Successful Survivors. Every one of us can mine the lessons out of the adversity we’ve experienced and use those lessons to create our own unique brand of successful living.” —Sandie Morgan, Ph.D., R.N., Director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice
“Experience as a psychologist and foster parent has shown me that resilience, persistence, determination, and all the other character traits of successful survivors truly do overcome adversity. Not only does Successful Survivors tell of these important traits and how to develop them, but it illustrates the point through true-life examples of successful survivors of adversity.” —Dr. John DeGarmo, leading foster care and parenting expert
“Trauma can make people feel isolated, and when trauma involves personal violence, it often leads to feelings of being unwanted and unloved. So the logical solution to the sense of isolation and being unwanted is to be included by people who identify and celebrate the value within. Successful Survivors does exactly that. It shows us through the stories of successful survivors that we have valuable character traits that can connect us to others and be the catalyst for healing broken hearts.” —Amelia Franck Meyer, M.S., M.S.W., A.P.S.W., L.I.S.W., CEO, Alia (www.aliainnovations.org)
“Successful Survivors embodies the hopeful voice that resonates throughout Rhonda’s courageous life story of overcoming difficult odds. The power of this book is its ability to identify characteristics of greatness that will encourage and equip a generation of survivors to reach their fullest, God-given potential.” —Mark Rodgers, Principal, The Clapham Group
“Too many people live lives of quiet desperation, believing that there is no hope for success for them. Yet, within each of us are the gifts we need to succeed in living with meaning and purpose. Successful Survivors blasts the myth that there is no hope, and shows readers how they can turn the adversity they’ve experienced into their greatest advantage and share their strengths with others!” —Derenda Schubert, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Bridge Meadows Executive Director
“Successful Survivors shifts our focus from the superficial to the substantive—the characteristics that can be honed to create and enjoy a good life.” —Marty Dutch, Assistant Vice President, Philanthropy Services, First Foundation
“The stories of people who have used the character traits within them to create successful lives following serious adversity inspires us all to dig deep, identify our untapped potential, and to succeed, not just despite what we’ve been through, but specifically because of having been forced to use those character traits that were in us all along.” —Kim Phagan-Hansel, editor of Fostering Families Today and The Kinship Parenting Toolbox
“Successful Survivors overflows with hope! Everyone who’s gone through some kind of trauma would benefit from reading this book.” —Connie R. Clendenan, M.S.W., CEO Valley Teen Ranch
“Successful Survivors says what Royal Family KIDS stands for—the truth that each of us has untapped potential within us. There is value in each of us, and Successful Survivors helps us find it in ourselves and others.” —Christian Carmichael, President, Royal Family KIDS
“Young people who have faced adversity are capable of doing amazing things in life. A key component to reaching that level of success is the list of character traits Rhonda breaks down in Successful Survivors. This is a message that needs to be told in a big way!” —Jordan Bartlett, Director of Good, Doing Good Works
“Though hundreds of books have been written by people who come from brokenness, how many of those stories include life lessons to help us reframe the past? How many offer tools to keep us in moving forward? Rhonda is a person I trust to give us direction on how to flip our story to work for us, instead of against us!” —Glenn Garvin, author, A Seed of Hope in Toxic Soil
“Rhonda shares her passion and insight born from personal experience about how trials, struggles, and hardships—no matter how bad they were—can forge in us great gifts. These gifts are traits that can be used to walk a pathway to a successful life instead of living a life of defeat and victimhood. She does not say the experiences were good, but what they can end up creating in us are golden. Rhonda is a force of nature, much of whose genesis was born out of horrific circumstances that she has used to help achieve great things.” —Ron L. Storm, M.S., Moody Global Ministries
“Every one of us can operate at genius level, and Successful Survivors connects the dots between the trauma we experience and our personal genius that leads to success.” —Scott Henderson, Head Dot Connector, Doing Good Works
“Life change happens when our thinking is transformed, and that is the power of Successful Survivors. Rhonda champions people to turn their pain into purpose and live an abundantly successful life.” —Crystal Van Kempen-McClanahan, Ed.D.
“Rhonda’s writing is pure and powerful. Her book inspires and encourages us all to embrace our tough beginnings, turn our pain into progress, and then watch our disappointments transform into our destiny. This is a must read for everyone that’s ever heard those crushing words: “You can’t”…because Rhonda Sciortino proves that YOU CAN!” —Brian D. Molitor, Founder, Molitor International
“Rhonda Sciortino is a force to be reckoned with. Her ability to communicate the ins and outs of how to be a successful survivor stems from her experience with some of the toughest circumstances anyone could live through. Not only has she gone from survival to success, but she’s showing others how to run after their destiny and to be a successful survivor too.” —Torrian Scott, author of Running After Destiny and Founder, Masters in the Marketplace
“Two words appear often in Successful Survivors: ‘value’ and ‘hope’. It is well established in business that all sales situations degenerate to price in the absence of a value interpreter. So it is with people. If they can’t see their value, they rarely don’t have hope. But just inspiring hope isn’t enough if it can’t be sustained—for that, they need to see a pathway out. Successful Survivors provides that pathway as only Rhonda Sciortino can.” —Robert J. Martin, Vice-Chair, Alliance for HOPE International
“I know far too many people who think they are trapped by their childhood experiences. Rhonda’s message in Successful Survivors is perfect for helping them break out of that trap and find success. I cannot wait to give copies of this book to family, friends, and clients.” —Deborah Ausburn, former foster parent and attorney for youth organizations
"Author Rhonda Sciortino is a survivor of a trauma-filled early childhood, raised by her abusive grandfather and drug addicted grandmother. While that start alone may have given her cause to wallow in the challenges of her life, Sciortino did the exact opposite. She got a job and emancipated herself from their care at 16, started her own business and has continued to create her own success story. Now she’s hoping to pass along all that she’s learned through the new book, “Successful Survivors.”In the book, Sciortino shares not only her own personal success story, but the success stories of others who have overcome great odds in their lives to become successful individuals. She focuses on several character traits — Strength and Determination; Tenacity, Persistence and Assertiveness; Optimism and Positivity; Adaptability, Bravery and Responsiveness; Resiliency; Courage; Conscientiousness; and Resourcefulness. Sciortino shares stories of those who have relied on these character traits to build success in their lives despite overcoming adversity.“Successful Survivors” provides inspiration to the readers and solid suggestions for achieving success. The stories of other successful survivors makes this book special in that it provides a glimpse into the lives of those who have experienced extreme challenges, but yet, found ways to overcome and become successful. “Successful Survivors” is a great guide for anyone who needs a little inspiration and extra encouragement trying to make their lives success stories. The book will be especially powerful for those who have experienced many difficulties and are driven to improve their lives.— Kim Phagan-Hanselk, editor Fostering Families Today magazine