January 1, 2004
A single encounter or loss, an event or crisis, even a book or news story can alter your course forever-or serve to solidify the path you’re already on. It is that lasting, life-affirming impact that makes it what we call a “moment of truth.”
Last July, we asked six high achievers to revisit the make-or-break turning points of their lives in hopes that their experiences would enlighten and uplift you as you go through your own (see “My Moment of Truth,” July 2003). The response was so overwhelming that we’ve opted to do that again. The following dynamic and successful individuals generously share the most meaningful-and in some cases, painful-moments of their lives. More importantly, they share how those moments affected them.
One lost a parent, one lost his health, another lost her way, and one sought the family he thought he’d lost forever. Although the personalities and lifestyles of these successful professionals and entrepreneurs are vastly different, all of their stories testify to the fact that what doesn’t kill us not only makes us stronger, for better or worse, it also makes us who we are. Here are their stories of guts-and glory.
Her Mother’s Daughter
When Fran Harris was asked to identify her most significant moment of truth, she didn’t hesitate. It wasn’t in 1988, when her dreams caved in as she narrowly missed making the women’s Olympic basketball team. Nor was it in 1997, when she came back to beat more than 200 top competitors in securing a spot on Houston’s first WNBA team, which went on to win that year’s championship.
For Harris, the pivotal moment of her life occurred when she was just 16, and, at 38, she is still constantly reminded of its rippling effects.
“I had gotten into a student exchange program where you went to live with a family in Mexico for a month,” Harris recalls. “My mother was so excited about it. From the beginning, she kept saying, ‘You have to go. Don’t worry about me. Just go.’ I can so clearly remember her dropping me at the airport and saying goodbye.” Harris boarded the plane from Dallas to Mexico City. Her mother went home, had a heart attack, and died.
“That night, I had a dream and woke up and ran into the bedroom of the people I was staying with and said, ‘I have to call my mother.’ I was in such a state because I knew something had happened to her, but they didn’t have a phone.”
The next morning Harris was told that she had to return home because her grandmother was ill. She knew in her gut that wasn’t true. As she packed, she overheard the family she was living with say in Spanish that her mother had died. She then made the trip home to Dallas alone, swallowing hard against that odd mix of dread and hope-hope that it somehow wasn’t so.
But it was. The minute Harris looked through the glass airport doors and saw her sister waiting for her instead of