“What is worse than being blind? Having sight and no vision.”
~ Helen Keller
Three seemingly inconsequential personal decisions changed the course of a young woman’s life forever. To know the true depth of how profoundly different life can be, you first need to know who this incredible woman was.
I meet many inspiring women and recently spent time listening to a truly incredible life story and learnt much about how one woman created her compelling future. Born in jail to a young drug addicted mother she moved between institutions and foster homes from birth to the age of 16. In this time she was exposed to sadness, poverty and violence. At age 16 she ran away, deciding she was “old enough” to leave and lived on the streets and in boarding houses, mixing with the wrong crowd and earning a living through prostitution. She survived a violent knife attack and glassing in the face. At age 19 she had a breakdown. She describes it as the moment she finally asked herself, “who am I, what’s my story, what is my life purpose?” Now, more than 20 years later she is a remarkable gift to the world.
My question to her was how did she create a compelling future for herself, and more importantly make it a reality?
The incredible shift came when she made just three distinctions.
The first distinction was that she decided that life events are neither good nor bad, and so she didn’t need to label them. She told me that everything in life just “is” and when she stopped beating herself up by labelling everything as either good or bad she became more peaceful and much happier. She used to label being born in jail as “bad” until she decided that it simply was and she did not need to give it a negative.
Secondly she decided that she was resourceful. A youth worker volunteer she’d connected with spent what she describes as a good few years continually reinforcing to her that she was an incredibly streetwise and resourceful person. When this was reinforced enough, she decided one day to actually believe it to be true and to use this skill to make her life better.
Thirdly she decided that she could trust herself, and part of this was making trustworthy decisions and not cheating on herself. In small ways she started being trustworthy to herself in small everyday events and then expanded on this when she had the evidence.
And who is this woman today. For a start she is now 35 years old and is a gift to humanity.
The pathway was incredibly rough. Her scars will be with her for life as a reminder of the circumstances she was in as a child and troubled teen. The rest of her is a truly remarkable example of the power of mind to overcome the dread, fear and sadness of a life labelled “bad” and make it something worth living for.
In my thinking the resources she used to create a compelling future seem so distant from what one might imagine was needed. I am sure the three decisions she told me about were just a starting point. What is truly remarkable is the power of the human mind to make decisions and to step up to a higher level or meaning, trust, discipline and success. This amazing woman created this from a depth that I cannot fathom, and yet, for each one of us to apply her distinctions is an internal self made choice.
She lives in Brisbane and has created an incredible vision for her life. She went to TAFE to finish year 12, then went on to study social work. Today she mentors young women who like her late mother are mixed up in drugs, crime and motherhood. In her own life she is happily married, has two children who she describes as her best creations and lives in a leafy suburb.
Madelaine Cohen Author
Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader, Certified NLP Trainer (ABNLP), entrepreneur and Master NLP Practitioner Madelaine Cohen. Sharing information and joining forces with people who choose to lead. Madelaine has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing, executive coaching and healthcare. She takes a leading role in mentoring executives and training business leadership in large and small enterprises. Why? Inspire people to lead and together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can lead with even more authenticity and ease, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning.