I have noticed that there is a certain drive that motivates great leaders to try harder, reach further, and persist in the face of challenges. Famed football coach Lou Holtz once said, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”
We all have challenges in life. The question is how we handle them. Do we press on and remain positive or do we “throw in the towel.” Author Napoleon Hill noted, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”
Michelle Phillips, vice president of operations with Bladder Health Network, LLC (BHN), is one of those leaders who is driven to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles life may throw her way. Phillips grew up in Richland, Mississippi, and married and started a family just out of high school.
With bills to pay and young family, she decided to pursue nursing so she earned a degree from Hinds Community College. She spent the early years of her nursing career at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and with Dr. Ken Perry.
In 2001, she received a call from Dr. Bob Harris, who she had met earlier in her career, to come work at Women’s Specialty Center. Phillips noted, “Dr. Harris really helped me develop as a leader. He provided me opportunities to lead in a clinical setting and took time to help me develop my long term goals.” She also credits Dr. Harris with helping her to always take the high road as a leader and remain calm under pressure.
In 2009, Phillips had the opportunity to work full time for Bladder Health Network, LLC. BHN works with ob/gyn and urology clinics around the country to provide cutting edge medical care for patients suffering from incontinence. Phillips shared about former BHN CEO John Spivey, “I originally was managing the clinical operations of the company, and John helped me to expand my business skills and assume broader operational responsibilities. He is a great people person and modeled for me how to be an encouraging leader.” Today, Phillips is a senior executive with the company and manages all day-to-day operations including overseeing over 30 nurses and technicians. She shared, “I am passionate about what we are doing at BHN because we are helping patients improve the quality of their lives.”
Phillips, formerly a single mother, is now re-married with a family of five. She noted that it has not always been easy juggling life’s responsibilities, but that she has learned from the challenges she has faced and grown personally and professionally. She said, “I always encourage people to never let adversity stand in your way. You can achieve whatever you want if you are willing to work hard enough towards your goals.” As a leader she believes in establishing clear objectives and allowing her team to have the freedom to act independently. She said, “I am definitely not a micro-manager. I try to treat people with respect and expect the best from my team.”
Too often as adults we abandon our dreams and simply go through the motions of life. I am encouraged by Phillips’ drive and passion for excellence. It is rare in life that anything worth doing is easy. Phillips reminds us that we can courageously pursue our dreams in life and not let let’s challenges defeat us.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.