When Lisa Ryan, BBA '95, MBA '98, walked across the 2000 degree burning coals with her bare feet, she knew she could do pretty much anything.
"I have to admit that I had an 'oh crap' moment, where I kind of paused and looked at the fire and realized it was hot…," she laughed.
"It wasn't until the next morning that I was even sure that my feet weren't burned."
It was 1987, and Ryan was participating in one of popular life coach Tony Robbins' early seminars which culminated in a firewalk, where attendees traverse a 12-foot bed of white hot embers.
"I have no idea how we can do it," she admitted.
But she did, and it turns out that the year 1987 quite literally redirected the course of her life. In part because of the firewalk, but largely because she was introduced to the power of positive thinking.
"It set the core of who I became," she said.
Today, Ryan makes her living as an appreciation strategist and founder of Grategy, a company that evangelizes the idea that gratitude and appreciation can do a lot for business.
People balk at the idea, but Ryan knows that it works, because she's seen it work for her.
When she was nearing her 30th birthday, she slid into a depression. Life, it seemed, wasn't going as smoothly as it was for her friends. But it wasn't only until she found the beauty in her life that she saw a turnaround.
Some years later when her six-figure medical sales job of 7 years was abruptly eliminated, she was forced to choose to deplore the unknown or embrace the opportunity that awaited. Ryan chose the latter and, as before, she quickly rebounded, moving into her life's passion as a motivational speaker.
There are detailed studies, ideas, whole philosophies, even, that suggest positive thinking attracts good things your way. Ryan has probably read most of them. She spouts off stats as matter of factly as she recounts the details of her life, but for her, it's really a matter of the heart.
"I was blindsided when my [medical sales] job left," she said.
"I went through all of that anger and depression, but I also made the conscious decision to look for things that I could be grateful for."
Ryan urges other people who are facing challenges to do the same. She records her appreciation in a gratitude journal she started a few years back, daily listing 3-5 items about life that are worth a smile.
Even if you try it for 30 days, Ryan makes this promise.
"I can guarantee you, at the end of 30 days, your life will be different."
Break the ice and look smart with CSU fun facts. You never know when these bragging points may come in handy!
CSU ranks among America's top 250 universities in a field of 6,000 by U.S. News & World Report.
Established: 1964 (we turn 50 next year)
President: Ronald M. Berkman, Ph.D.
Enrollment: Approximately 18,000 — 68 percent from Cuyahoga County; 88 percent from Ohio
Fall 2013 freshmen have ACT scores and grade point averages that top the national average.
Graduates: More than 120,000 — 80 percent live in the area
Campus: More than 85 acres (largest footprint in downtown Cleveland)
Student profile: 57 percent women, 43 percent men. Close to 1,200 international students
Partnerships/Collaborations: More than 250, including the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, NASA Glenn Research Center, business/industry, federal government, and more
Academic programs: More than 1,000 courses support 200 major fields of study, including the Honors Program for talented and highly motivated students
Athletics: NCAA Division I, Horizon League. Team name: Vikings.
Student activities: 11 fraternities, 13 sororities and more than 200 student organizations
The National Science Foundation ranks CSU among the top 20 percent of universities in the United States for research and development, with $55 million in annual research and development expenditures.
The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs is again ranked second in the nation for the graduate specialty of City Management and Urban Policy by U.S. News & World Report.
The new Arts Campus flourishes amid the nation's second largest performing-arts center, where students hone their skills alongside professionals through an unparalleled partnership with PlayhouseSquare and Cleveland Play House. The Arts Campus includes the brilliantly refurbished Allen Theatre, Middough Building and Galleries at CSU, a stunning new exhibition space.