Introductions are important. This is why we rely so heavily on referrals and recommendations from trusted sources. First we probably want to know about professional credentials. And once you have those, learning someone’s back-story can help you determine if their personality will be a good fit for you and your organization.
Credentials are the easy stuff to reveal. It's all about what you have accomplished. What education you have secured. For example, I am a certified leadership and performance coach who graduated from Dalhousie University. I hold a certificate from Mount Royal University in alternative dispute resolution. I am a successful and accomplished Author including fiction and nonfiction works (Currently 9 novels and 2 non-fiction books plus a whole host of shorter eBooks and materials) a certified international speaker and an experienced mediator. My careers have spanned health care, law enforcement, airlines, and government.
But none of this actually speaks to who I am or why I have become so embedded in the topic of conflict and communication. Or why I advocate so strongly for building community as a resilience strategy - at work, at home and in your neighbourhood.
Truth be told, I am a conflict magnet! I enjoy the challenge of walking through emotional conflict and living to tell about it.
Naturally, this is a lot less painful when it is someone else's conflict that I am navigating - one that doesn't gut me with heart break and worry. Standing on the sideline often offers a clearer perspective than when I am the one mired in the muck and feeling the despair. Perhaps you can relate?
Truth is - all your life experiences have prepared you for who you are today. We are a combination of our education, experience and environment. Some helpful - some less helpful.
Me? I learned early on the power of surrounding myself by positive and resourceful people. Experience taught me that those folks would be the most valuable when things got messy.
Born a twin, I spent my childhood running and playing with a built in best friend. No need to worry about making friends or having to tackle new experiences on my own. No first day of school jitters. No lonely summer days. I really had a pretty care-free childhood, filled with camping adventures and lots of hide and seek and games of kick the can. My teen years were a bit tougher – more self doubt. My sister and I attended separate schools and I was suddenly having to figure out who I was when she wasn’t around. I was in an identity crisis. Through those years, I struggled - anorexia and defeating self talk. By graduation, I became a mom.
A single Mother of three by 24, my 20s were spent being responsible and flat broke. I worked two jobs most of the time just to pay the sitter and keep the lights on. We ate popcorn on Friday nights because the paycheque didn’t clear until Saturday morning, when I could buy groceries. The bright side? The children didn’t know that. They remembered Friday night popcorn and movies (or dancing in an empty living room) as super fun family night. I had to learn to stop beating myself up for what I couldn't do and focus on what we could.
When you are on your own, you meet your neighbours. Game nights, potluck dinners and collaborative house cleaning are all part of your survival strategy.
As I neared the end of my 20s, I bought a home for my little family - super proud moment. Then, I met and married the most amazing man whom I still share my life with today. And we began the challenge of blended parenting.
During my 30’s, I was working hard to get noticed in my career. Working in a male dominated arena and struggling to be treated as an equal. I was on the front line of conflict and stress. I learned so much in this role - through traditional education and mostly from embarrassing experiences.
In my 40s, I left law enforcement and invested in my own company. No longer part of a large work team, I had to build community through networking and mastermind groups. The children began leaving the nest and the next chapter of grandchildren started emerging.
By the time I entered my 50s, we had moved geographically and then the pandemic arrived. Stopping my main income earning stream in its tracks. Thankfully, we have learned our hardest lessons in life by the time we reach this age. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but hopefully not ourselves.
“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but then you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way before.”
Perhaps that knowing is the inherent gift of reaching this stage of life – still in one piece.
I know you may be facing some pretty big conflicts and challenges right now. And I I hope you will trust me when I say – this too shall pass. If you feel called to work with me, I can help you find your inner strength, tenacity and sense of humour until the crisis passes.