As an optimist, I am wired to remain hopeful, bright-side focussed and always looking for solutions.
Growing up as a shy child, I lived most of my life not wanting to be seen or heard for fear my words would lead others into difficulties. I stifled my staunch environmentalist voice.
Important messages I wanted to shout were mere whispers at best. I envied those brave enough to stand on stage and rally support for causes I believed in, dedicating their lives to being leaders of change.
I yearned to do more but I did what I could in my small quiet faceless behind-the-scenes way - building and selling rain-barrels, volunteering with a local environmental group, developing a not-for-profit program for a local business, and joining a few rallies that were pro-change (not anti-problem).
I dimmed my flame and consoled my soul by telling myself I was doing what I could - until I could no longer live that lie.
I searched for the courage to follow my intuition. I knew I needed to do more but my ego was fighting me, desperate to keep me safe and playing small. I had no choice but to surrender and allow the answer to find me. What I found was the moment I lost my voice and my confidence. The moment I shrank and decided to hide.
I was six years old and although the incident may seem trivial to you, it shaped the rest of my life.
It was my first day of Kindergarten. We were all instructed to sit at round tables. In front of each of us lay a small booklet. I can still smell the purply-blue ink of the freshly Xeroxed pages as I flipped through admiring the carefully drawn outlines of pieces of fruit, the names of which were neatly printed near the top of each page, the letters spaced evenly between three horizontal lines.
I was thrilled Kindergarten would be just like home where my mother encouraged art and praised creativity. I set to work colouring each picture. Soon one of my table-mates asked which picture we were supposed to colour. "All of them", I confidently replied. "Which colour are we supposed to use?", asked another classmate. "All of them", I replied again, reaching for another fat crayon.
The teacher circled the class checking our progress. As she neared our table, I was excited for her admiration of my work. Head-down, I continued colouring expecting her to stop when she got to me. Standing at the opposite side of the table, I heard her ask, "Who told you to colour all the pictures?" "Carolin", my new friends replied in unison. I looked up to find five pudgy forefingers pointed directly at me. I raised my glance further, smiling proudly at my teacher. She however did not appear happy.
"Well, I told you to colour one picture. Don't listen to Carolin. She doesn't know what she is talking about."
She then collected our booklets and threw them in the trash. We had to sit quietly while the rest of the class finished their work. My table mates scowled at me. I felt horrible! I had sunken the ship and had taken them down with me. Because of my words, we were all punished. I never wanted to feel that way again. In my coddled innocence I believed her adult words and I took them to heart. "She's a teacher therefore she is right," I thought. "What I said got me and five others into trouble. What I have to say does not matter. No-one should listen to me."
My self-perception pivoted. I went from "I can do anything!" and "Look at me!" to "Don't listen to me because I don't know anything" and "Don't look at me! Because if you're all looking at me, I must have done something wrong." In that moment, I made an unconscious vow to remain forever quiet.
The Moment That Changed Who I Was
Taking Back My Power
Uncovering this core belief has been a game-changer for me. Everything made sense when I saw it through my innocent eyes. I thanked my six-year-old self for making such a smart decision to protect me from future hurt. I thanked her for all the gifts I had learned throughout my life as a quiet observer. And I thanked her for the gift of writing, because when one has a fire burning inside and a message needing to be heard, it must come out somehow. Writing has been my avenue. It allows me the time to carefully choose my words, because I know too well their power.
I was born an optimist. I have always known the importance of a positive outlook and the need to find solutions rather than dwell on the problems. I have always believed that each of us can make a difference. Growing up, I learned to appreciate nature and the need to protect it. And I have always enjoyed languages, inspiring quotes, clever turns of phrase and the way words can shape our understanding and perception. These are the reasons I created a business helping change-makers write powerful content so people care about your work as much as you do.
Powerfully written content certainly is important in connecting people with the impact of your change-making work and I love helping entrepreneurs do just that, however it was now apparent it wasn't enough. With my voice and confidence reclaimed and my conviction buoyed, my mission became larger and even more clear. I needed to help as many change-makers as I could get their positive voices out into the world - business owners who would shift our economic thinking while providing solutions for social and environmental issues; entrepreneurs who are dedicated to making the world a better place.
I was driven to make up for lost time. I needed to find a way to make greater change happen faster.
My vision is to create a global community of change-preneurs.
A group where those whose mission it is to make the world a better place have an opportunity to learn from one another.
A network where support, sharing, collaboration and conversations take place with the purpose of helping each other grow stronger, more profitable, more effective change-making businesses.
I believe there are answers to each of the problems we face today. As change-makers, you have the solutions. Together, we can make a greater difference faster.
It takes courage, perseverance, optimism, dedication and leadership to be the change we want to see in the world. These are the qualities I am proud to bring to this table.
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Oh, in case you're wondering, I don't blame my Kindergarten teacher for a moment. She was a kind and gentle woman and I know she meant no harm. I've had a wonderful life, learned great skills because of that incident, and wouldn't change anything because every moment lead to creating this network and working with people like you.