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“Better, Not Bitter”: Leadership Live Presents Suzan Nguyen

Leadership Live, a student-run speaker series that focuses on career, leadership, and life skills, kicked off their 2022-2023 season with author, TED Talk presenter, and motivational coach Suzan Nguyen.

Ms. Nguyen, a Houstonian, has gained national prominence by sharing her story of overcoming adversity to help audiences learn ways to build resilience and hope. In a fast-paced and upbeat presentation, she connected with the students by explaining that feelings of pain are universal, no matter if caused by the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship, or the struggle with personal conflict. She talked about surviving a car wreck at age 22, which led to her arm being amputated above the elbow. Ms. Nguyen told IWA students that when she first learned she had lost her arm, she was overcome with anger and bitterness. One day, she hit the tipping point and decided to start believing in happiness. Her mantra, "Better, Not Bitter," was born and led to her writing a book, "One Armed But Not Unarmed."

Among the many great ideas that she shared with the students included four tips that can help people deal with adversity:

  1. Instead of regretting the past or thinking about the future, try to live in the present and have gratitude for the people and things that are good in your life.

  2. If you find yourself repeatedly thinking negative thoughts, call them out. Stop the habit and learn to reframe thoughts, which will retrain your brain.

  3. Check your environment. Be sure you are spending time with people and activities that bring out the highest version of you.

  4. Remember that your self-worth is not tied to the clothes you wear, your appearance, or your social circles.

In a lively Q&A with the students, Ms. Nguyen admitted that she still has bad days, but now she has developed the tools to help her get through difficult times. After she learned to be vulnerable, accept her reality, and share her story and struggles, she says, “the magic started to happen.”

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