“My youth and adolescent years gave me two essential values: determination and work ethic” – Bonnie C. Hathcock
As I examined my childhood past the last decade, I learned a lot about myself and those that were a part of my life. When I was in my 20's, I never thought much about how childhood shapes a person or how some people overcome their past to achieve or why so many remain stuck. The ability to examine my past has given me the tools and skills to grow as an adult and comfort in understanding how I think and react. I was delighted to read the new book Lilac Dreams – My Journey from a Sewer Drain to the Boardroom by Bonnie C. Hathcock. Bonnie's book is a journey through her adolescence and how she was shaped to become the leader that she is today.
Bonnie C. Hathcock has 35 years of experience in corporate America. For most of those years, she held corporate leadership positions at the top of Fortune 100 and 200 corporations. Bonnie began her career at Xerox Corporation and was often the only woman in the boardroom. Bonnie recently retired and decided to come forward to share her simple but difficult childhood to help others find joy.
Bonnie’s book is not a complete journey from her childhood streets to corporate America sharing all of her successes and tribulations. Her story leads us from childhood through her college years and ends with some of her personal reflections. Initially, I was disappointed that her story did not continue to map her path to corporate success like other leadership journey books. Upon reflection, I understood why Bonnie chose the story that she shares and why she focused on certain timeframes. She wants the reader to understand her childhood with all of its pain, challenges, and disappointments. You see, these experiences shaped her and offered her stronger determination and most importantly, blessed her with an infallible work ethic. Life dealt her a weak deck of cards, but she was able to use her unique skills and strengths to become successful and impact others.
I was amazed at the details in Bonnie's journey at each stage of her life. Each detail that she shares including sights, smells, feelings, and sounds are a part of her and impacted her in some way. The details she introduces to us assist the reader in being a part of her vision. For instance, her neighbor Miss Nancy had a beautiful purple fragrant Lilac tree in her lush garden that provided Bonnie a sanctuary in which to dream. Her description of the tree and lush surroundings inject us right into the scene with her, and I could even smell lilac as I read. The tree becomes symbolic of the hopes and dreams that a young Bonnie shares with us. While you may think that the life events the author shares are just that, they are more. Not only did they add to her shame in growing up poor and humble, but they impacted her character and laid the foundation for her success as an adult.
Bonnie wants us all to reflect on those who have blessed us by being in our lives because they were instrumental in shaping us. Her parting advice to all of us is to face that which scares us, humbles us, or has limited our growth. She wrote Lilac Dreams to ultimately share her hope that we all find joy in our lives. To do so we may need to reflect on our past or face memories that we have locked away. At the end of sharing her childhood struggles, Bonnie offers a sound lesson from her life experiences, "The one lesson I have learned above all; Joy is within each one of us. We just have to choose it". Some may initially think that her story is just that, a story. However, Bonnie leads us down a path of discovery. It is up to us whether we choose to grow and be happy or if we are to remain stagnate and unhappy. Perhaps this book will help you remember some of your childhood Lilac Dreams?