Adversity and Motivation: The Catalysts to Successful Leadership


By Siddarth Sankaran

HOUSTON: The role of a great leader is not just to lead but to inspire others. Great leaders also seem to use their experiences- even the negative ones – to shape their message to the world. During my second YLDP session at the Lighthouse of Houston, I was given the chance to meet two individuals who epitomized these ideas of leadership: Sandhya Rao and Gibson M. DuTerroil. Rao, who was born with visual impairments and physical difficulties, spoke about her challenges and her life. Rao has built a successful career –she attended Stanford University for education and currently works as a law clerk – and she simply attributed her accomplishments to her ability to transcend adversity. The next speaker DuTerroil, the current president of the Lighthouse of Houston, explained his role in the Lighthouse of Houston.


He shed light on how the organization provides unique assistance to those with visual impairments by helping them become more autonomous in their daily lives.

When my YLDP group and I reflected on the two speakers afterwards, we realized that Rao did not let her adversity dictate her life; she used her obstacles to become a stronger person.  She was able to harness the challenges that came with her disabilities into a positive outlook through her resilience. In the case of DuTerroil my group and I could almost feel his passion for the cause he worked for.  His simple yet poignant motivation to help others at the Lighthouse was unprecedented.


Overall, the speeches of Rao and DuTerroil allowed me to conclude that adversity is inevitable and having the right motivation can pay in dividends. We observed that instead of succumbing to pressures we can grow internally and learn more about ourselves while having the right motivation. On that day, my YLDP group and I had witnessed two individuals who perfectly represented what it means to be a leader. They had not only guided me and my other YLDP peers but they had personally inspired me to see life differently.