This is the full script for my six minute story at 1 Million Cups Colorado Springs. The picture shows my three reasons why: my three daughters. And now you know the rest of the story. Thanks Kauffman Foundation for creating this opportunity and thanks to the Colorado Springs organizers for asking me to share why I created 360º Life Strategies.
When I was a young girl, the youngest of four girls in San Antonio Texas, I lived in my imagination — in the trees, in the streams and fields behind our house or the neighbor’s house. I collected army worms who had strayed from the big oak trees in our yard and kept them safe in a little colony I created out of a cardboard box. My pet lizard lived on the end of a string tied to a safety pin so it could crawl around my shirt.
I sold rocks door to door, first by stealing the rocks from your garden, then painting faces on them and selling them back to you for 25 cents. You might say I was born an entrepreneur. I hid all my money in the zipper pouch of my Dressy Betsy doll. I was star of my own make-believe reality TV series. (This was the 70s, guys, decades before reality TV.) In my imagination, cameras followed me and documented my every move. My personal secretary was the Bionic Woman.
Those were the halcyon days. The days before my parents went in and out of mental hospitals for disorders that are routinely treated today through therapy and moderate lifestyle changes. Those were the days before my alcoholic mother removed my army worm colony from the front porch and ran it over with the car. Those were the days before we had veteran services for PTSD to save my dad from alcohol addiction.
By the time I was 12, the Bionic Woman had left me for another job. We had left the house with the giant oak trees and lived in a trailer park near the border of Mexico. I had to trade my pet lizard for iguanas and javelinas, which did not fit on a string around my neck. There was no longer anyone to buy my rocks. I spent years of solitude hitting tennis balls against a backboard, mindlessly numbing my lonely life with every thwack of the ball. (I don’t recommend this, but it’s highly satisfying to paint faces on your tennis balls prior to slamming in them into the back board.)
I honestly can’t remember how old I was when my mother moved out, somewhere between 10 and 11, but I do remember how relieved I was that I didn’t need to dodge her fists and hateful words anymore. My dad dragged two young daughters around Texas from airport to airport looking for work that would suit a pilot grounded for life because he fell in the rain coming out of a bar. By the time I was 14, my dad’s addiction to alcohol had accelerated his PTSD into dementia to a point that he had forgotten my name. He died when I was 16. My mother was unfit to parent (and later committed suicide). Thankfully we had adult sisters who refused to leave us to the foster system and we spent the last of our high school days in happy homes.
Do you know what it means to be evicted from your first life and get a second chance? This young 16-year-old fatherless and motherless girl had a new chance to determine her future, or as Pumba from The Lion King would say, “It’s time to put your behind in the past. So, I walked into the high school counselor’s office and told her my story. “I want to go to college,” I said. “And I don’t know how.” She noticed that I had good grades and spoon fed me a path to college.” I graduated from the University of Texas mostly on scholarship thanks to the coaching of a woman whose name I do not remember.
I spent 25 years in corporate PR and marketing launching high tech starts ups and working as a broadband technology analyst back in the days of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing. (Those are the only words I remember and I only cite them to impress you with my intellect.) I moved into non profit work thinking that would satisfy my soul and it took me five years there and half a graduate degree to realize I was so focused on accomplishment and titles that I never took the time to understand what I’m hardwired to do. I never took the time to know myself.
The dreams of my childhood had been packed away after 10 moves in three years and I had moved in my head from that opportunity-seeking entrepreneur to a survivalist. Do you know what my degree was at the University of Texas? Journalism. Did I ever work in journalism. Not a day! (I don’t count the days writing technology reviews for a wireless magazine.) I worked in PR, catering to journalists, idolizing them but never becoming them.
I got certified as a coach because I thought the world would be happier if more of us behaved like grown ups. But when I applied at The Center for Creative Leadership did I apply to be a coach? No! I applied for a sales role. Two years in, I took a DISC assessment that showed me my natural style was inversely proportional to my adapted style as sales manager, which means I was living in extreme stress every day, just bearing through it, elbows out, trying to make that $3 million goal so someone would be happy with me. But I was miserable.
If only I had that high school counselor to provide me a bread crumb path to the life that I’m supposed to have found by now…that’s when I realized it. That’s what I’m here for — to curate life strategies and connect women like me who don’t have connections with the people who will help her create the path… to the life she was designed to live. There’s a lot of life out there for the woman who dares to live up to her potential. It’s my job in life to be a catalyst so YOU can live a life more abundant than you ever asked or imagined.
If you are ready to reinvent, there’s never been a better time. I’m looking for 12 women for an intensive coaching mastermind weekend planned November 14-17, 2019, at the Garden of the Gods Resort. Are you one of them? Maybe we should talk.
360º Life Strategies curates strategies to live your whole life on purpose and connects women to catalyze a life together that’s bigger than any of us can do alone. We specialize in women’s leadership development through coaching, teams and life-changing mastermind retreats. www.360lifestrategies.com