Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.
When a child is facing a learning challenge – a term I don’t like to use to describe Brooklyn’s ADHD – there are days that seem impossible. On these days, time becomes the enemy and energy becomes an underachiever.
Meetings are canceled to give more attention to Brook and her studies, and dinner is ordered from a local eatery because even making a family meal seems a bridge too far. While these days are rare, they do happen and they turn my week into a game of “catch-up.”
And that’s OK.
For me, there are no secrets to success. I believe one of the main things needed to be successful – whether it is in academics, business or in life – is an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Before attempting to conquer the world, you must understand your abilities.
Capitalizing on your strengths is how you become successful, and that is what I try to teach Brooklyn and Evian.
Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The growing pains, or scroll down to explore more of her story
My weakness has always been time management.
I always think I can do more in the next 24 hours than I did in the last 24, and while that optimism can be considered a strength at times, not accepting the limits of time can hinder my progress. I’ve learned not to dwell on my weaknesses — say, a missed meeting or a late deadline — but instead I focus on working around them. I apply a more fluid schedule to accommodate my business and family needs.
I schedule meetings, and sometimes work at Worcester Public Library on Mondays, and the rest of the week is broken down into categories (though I try to stay flexible). Thursdays include extra study time for Brook. Fridays, for example, are catch-up days and weekly scheduling. Saturdays are “girls day” – the one day a week Brook, Evian and I forget about work and go out to explore what New England has to offer.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with Brooklyn.
Time is her adversary. Often she stares at the clock, constantly racing against its movement.
That race against the clock, for me, is how I produce my best work (despite it driving everyone else crazy). It does not have the same impact on Brooklyn, which is something we work on every day.
Fortunately, we can give her a schedule that can accommodate her battle against time at such a young age. Every Thursday, we sit and evaluate the amount of work she has completed during the week and figure out if there are any questions about upcoming topics and projects.
We work on larger projects on Thursdays so she can have my undivided attention, and we usually end the day early, to give her time to take a mental break. Gratefully, with TEC Connections Academy — the online school curriculum we follow — we have access to a bank of resources to help us through these challenges.
That first step — understanding your strengths and weaknesses — is what can produce truly impressive results. It is the true predictor of success and the only way I’ve found to achieve a positive perception in life. Many people doubt themselves because they believe society demands we must be great in all we do. “Be perfect and achieve greatness,” seems to be the slogan I hear from many people, but they fail to realize our weaknesses help make us who we are. The earlier we can learn more about ourselves, the earlier we can conquer our obstacles.
In our house, we have the “no excuses” rule.
We learn to work hard on developing ourselves to be able to achieve what we want. If we fail at something, we don’t overlook it. We take the time to understand why we failed and if it was something we could control.
People always wonder how I get through the week and, to be honest, it is just how I have grown to be. I don’t just try to live the entrepreneurial life, I actually embody it. It is part of who I am and for years, I have always worked around my weaknesses to be able to accomplish what I need.
When you come from a background of limited financial means, there is a trigger within you that keeps you on the move. It is part of who I am, and I believe that it raised me to fully understand the meaning of being grateful. Understanding yourself means understanding your goals and how to achieve them.
Brooklyn is still young, and while I expose her to a lot of creative outlets to show her what the world has to offer, I always tell her that talent means nothing if you don’t work hard. Being an entrepreneur isn’t about having talent or a big idea. It is about self-awareness and years of hard work.
For Brooklyn, her current grades reflect just that. Working hard over the last year has elevated her understanding of herself, her talents and how to improve on her weaknesses.
Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning: