God chooses what we go through. We choose how we go through it.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved – Helen Keller
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear – Mark Twain
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present – Eleanor Roosevelt
Just a couple of months ago, while in a meeting in one of the Boards on which I serve in the US, I related, in my own words, the story of Danila, as an example of how to deal with adversity and obstacles in life with ultimate courage and character, everlasting optimism, tenacity and, above all, unquestionable resilience and determination to win.
It was then quite moving to me that, by coincidences of life, a few weeks later I received an e-mail from Danila asking if I would be willing to “write a few lines” about her and her book, to be used as foreword in the edition about to go to press.
I was deeply honored by her request, particularly since I am convinced she could have chosen as foreword any of the tens of eloquent and spontaneous letters she has received from family and friends along her journey, some of which she has included at the end of her book.
Having followed Danila’s journey, and having of course read her book, how could I decline such an invitation, even if I have never written for any book? Please understand that, after many years in P&G, I consider myself a pretty good business memo writer. But, business writing has nothing to do with story or book writing, even if it is only a few lines as foreword. Nevertheless, I gladly accepted and here I go.
Contrary to most of my colleagues at P&G, Danila does have a “gift” for writing. Her talent allows her to relate her profound story, her “journey” as she calls it, using simple, everyday language, yet so deep and full of emotions, both joyful and sad. Her use of the “four seasons” to set and describe the various characters in her life is so creative it makes you feel as if you were going along in the journey with her.
I have known Danila pretty much since she joined P&G, although at the beginning a bit at a distance. That is part of the P&G system. We, older and more senior folks, rely on the younger managers to be closer to the new talent entering the company. As years went by she developed into a well rounded and very capable manager with lots of potential for growth. And so, over the years, I got to know Danila a lot better and appreciate her as the great human being she is. I got even closer to the family as for example Ramon, her husband, to whom I have become a career coach and mentor in his development outside P&G. They do make a great couple and have a beautiful family.
Everyone who knows Danila will describe her as a very smart and intelligent lady, tenacious and determined to move forward, always ready to help others, always with a smile on her face. In sum, she is a super human being.
So, how could someone so young and bright, with so many attributes and doing so much good to all those around her, all of a sudden be faced with such adversity and have to endure so much suffering? It is not fair! Any small portion of what she has gone through would be more than enough to send us into a spin of depression.
But, that is where the real Danila appears. The one perhaps not even she knew existed. The one that not only faces her illness with strength, courage, tenacity, optimism and determination to move forward, but moreover, and this is where she catches us “off-guard” as we are not expecting it, she actually turns her tough experience into a positive journey, draws lessons to help others under similar circumstances and even reminds all of us of how beautiful life is and how we should live every moment to the fullest. This entire reflection, she now puts in our hands in her book My Four Seasons… quite a story from quite a woman!
As I said, I am proud to know Danila and honored to have been given the opportunity to write these few lines, even if in the end it still reads as a business note.
Jorge P Montoya
Ex – President – Procter & Gamble, Latin America
Member Board of Directors – Gap Inc. y The Kroger Co.