“I'm right where I belong”... I've never really felt this way or associated myself with these song lyrics by Good Charlotte. Until now.
I'm sitting on a flight to Melbourne, it's a Friday night and the sense of sheer happiness is unbelievable, it's infectious, it’s pulsing inside me and spilling out in fits of silent laughter, mixed with happy tears and a smile that keeps creeping out across my face to change the way I see the world around me.
If not for the four (4) sleeping businessmen sitting in the rows surrounding me, I'd be very keen to chat with someone right now.. But it seems that I was meant to spend this time talking with you. It's time I told my story from beginning to end and some of the in between. I've been writing an autobiography in spurts and pieces for the last 10 years or so and I finally know what the tone of the words will sound like. The story is far from over but I feel like I finally know myself well enough to know the tone of the story and the main message I need to tell you, for you to know "my story"...the key pieces that make me, me and finally, proud of it.
To start at the end seems logical at this point. To tell you who I am and why I feel it's important to share this information with you, now. The realisation that I am now "living a life on purpose" as Jack Delosa would say, has allowed me to truly be grateful for both the support and inspiration I receive from those around me. Jack Delosa, founder of The Entourage, has been a major influence in my Entrepreneurial journey over the last 5 years and even more so in the last year. His personal growth and willingness to share his journey inspires me. His ability to bring out the best in the people around him encourages me to do the same, and his passion for life is what's prompted me to jump on a plane and fly to Melbourne to volunteer at the UNconvention. My purpose - Live the Life you Imagine...
To me, having purpose is about enjoying the path I take, the challenges I need to work through and the support I receive along the way. My purpose is to "live the life I imagine" so my skills and abilities (whatever they may be today) can be shared with others. Listening to many speakers talk about Entrepreneurship over the years; from Branson, to Opera, to my colleagues and the media... I've always felt uneasy saying "I'm an entrepreneur". But, that's what I am. "I'm an Entrepreneur!" Now I realise, it's not a job title reserved for tech-startups that go from $0 to $1m overnight, or a jealously spoken term for people who sit on a beach blogging about travel... It's a way of thinking, a way of acting, a spiritual understanding of the world we live in, the world we effect with each of our interactions and the world we will gift to future generations.
After a wonderfully exhausting day at the UNconvention in Melbourne, "enabling greatness", I am once again on a flight back to Sydney. Sitting next to two lovely ladies who are on a trip to Sydney to visit their sister in hospital. They are funny, well-spoken and open about themselves. Our conversation has been real, it's been about the current moment and most of all, there's no mask, it feels genuine. I also had a similarly open conversation with the cab driver on the way to the airport this evening. He's a cabby on Friday & Saturday nights, works as a mechanic on Monday through Wednesday and he's passionate about his family. He loves the technical challenge of being a mechanic and working in a small business. The cab helps him earn extra money for his family. So why am I including their stories within a BLOG about my story?? Because without telling their story, I cannot begin to tell you just how humbling it is to realise that we all have a story that is worth sharing once we drop the mask, allow people to share in our fears, our desires, our innermost self. The true version of ourselves we would love the world to see, and support, and love.
It's been interesting to listen to all the stories I was told today about where people were at in business and what their aspirations are. It's been interesting to observe where people were at in their "entrepreneurial quest" and how many ONION layers they will uncover before they can let the inner voice speak-out. One such story I heard throughout today made me realise that sometimes, these ONION layers need to be played out, need to be experienced and lived before they are ready to be peeled back, to uncover a truer version of that person...and that's something I'm willing to wait for, when I can see that below their outer layer is a story that I'd love to get to know, and to share.
So, back to my story. I've worked with coaches since I was very young; gymnastics, debating, school sports, elite rowing, and now business. The support from the business advisors at The Entourage has been amazing. It's made me think deeper about the decisions I make within my business and have helped scaffold the growth Early Links has achieved over the last 2 years. The S&S community is a wonderful place to "test-out" each new version of myself as I uncovered them. It's a "safe-fail" environment that encourages a mentality of 'test-iterate-reiterate' and for that I'm thankful. In January this year, I sat down in a coffee shop with Barry Magliarditi and he challenged me to consider what the best version of me would do/think/feel/have achieved in just one year. It was confronting, it was challenging, it was scary, but without that moment of sheer terror, I would not have the opportunity to say today, "I am so grateful"... Looking within yourself, learning to listen to your inner voice and act upon it, has allowed me to peel back more layers in the last 9 months than in my whole life.
I believe the life of an Entrepreneur is about resilience. Having the resilience to know that you're not perfect but yet, to take your own fears and frustrations, to acknowledge they are what make you great, what make your purpose real...and turn them into actions to change the lives of future generations. Being an entrepreneur is about vulnerability. Being ok, with being vulnerable and letting people know that you're not perfect. Because without that moment of vulnerability, you cannot share your story, you cannot connect with the people who can help you most, the people who have been there and experienced your fears and frustrations, problem solved, and continued to grow. And it doesn't matter if that growth is upwards, outwards or refining the structures within, both personally and in business.
Keeping these two key values in mind; resilience & vulnerability - I am ready to share the beginning of my story. This part of my story begins in 2011 when I attended the Sensory Defensiveness course with international speakers and Occupational Therapists Patricia Willbaragar and Tracey Stackhouse. I remember the specific moment when the "penny dropped", like it was yesterday. Sitting in the middle of the lecture hall listening to Tracey talk about the errors in neurological processing involved with sensory defensiveness, the neurophysiological symptoms and the anxiety often associated with compensatory strategies. I frantically made a list, re-read it and knew...this explained me, it all made sense now, there was a name for it (Moderate Sensory Defensiveness) and more importantly, a solution. I had gone to this course with the viewpoint of learning something to help my clients, and had left there knowing how to help myself.
I will admit, I have indulged myself in quiet moments (over the years) where I wondered what would have been different in my life if I did not have this condition or if I had not found a way to cope with the symptoms, to achieve the success in school and sports that I had. I wondered what if, this condition had been diagnosed and treated when I was younger, I wondered why it was not noticed, not treated. To be brutally honest, I looked in envy at the children I treated in my clinic, who were receiving early intervention.
What I now realise is that the resilience my parents taught me from an extremely young age had actually prepared me for anything life had to throw at me... including Sensory Defensiveness. It was the greatest gift they could have given me, because my personal experience of coping and compensating and getting on with the daily activities of life, now gives me a unique story to tell. A unique perspective to share with you about how I have found my passion and my purpose for helping others to Live the Life you Imagine, regardless of the challenges you face.
I am truly grateful that my parents showed me how to be independent, to be a problem solver, to take a moment to reflect before making decisions. Because when I was growing up there was nothing spoken about Sensory Processing Disorders, or Sensory Defensiveness. And most certainly, nothing was ever mentioned to my parents about me ‘not coping’ each day, each aspect of my life - infact, I found a way to excel at school and become a leader in every activity, because it was easier, more predictable and I could be in control of what happened and what to expect. It was my way of coping with the world and the symptoms of Sensory Defensiveness. It was just that, “my way” of coping - and, I’m sure there are many other ways, that you choose to “cope” with the challenges you face in your own life, as do many other children and adults.
Growing up, the phrases "toughen up" and "get over it" we're always surrounded by love and the mindset that if you are able to simply acknowledge your initial 'reaction' to panic in a challenging situation, then you will be in the right mindset to overcome any challenge life has to throw at you. And that’s what resilience is all about.
Speaking about vulnerability and the role it has played in allowing me to feel so entirely comfortable with who I am and where I’m heading, is key to explaining my story. I’ve never been someone to share my thoughts and feeling with anyone, and that’s probably why I have never been on a date, and there are only a few people I would say are close friends. Being vulnerable is more than being able to scream out that you need help or sharing your inner voice with others… it’s about recognising just how much you have to share with others and believing that you already have people in your life who are there to support you, who love you and who can see through the layers of protection we all surround ourselves with.
There are many more elements in my story, and I’m sure your story is just as colourful and complex. I will be sharing information and learnings, and hopefully you will gain some insight into the importance of your own story from these messages. While this BLOG post has been many years in the thought-process and even longer in the making, it’s actually been the easiest 2000 words I have ever written.
Remember “Live the Life you Imagine” and you will be “Changing Lives of Future Generations”
As with each one of my BLOG posts, I now throw a challenge out to you… This time, it’s a two part challenge - first, visit our Facebook page and share a small part of your story - it can be anything, anything you feel comfortable sharing. Second, reflect on the story you shared and think about how you could uncover the ONION layer surrounding your shared story, think about the people who will be there to support you and the new outlook on life you would have. What situation would be easier to approach if this ONION layer was gone…
If you’d like to share the second part of the challenge with me - call me - 0430 935 016
If you feel ready to be vulnerable - share the second part of this challenge on our Facebook page, including what you recognised as a “learning” that would help other people too