Earlier this year I took my boys on a vacation to Hawaii. We went with another family. We all decided we would do a full day excursion that would allow us to kayak, hike, zip line and rope swing into beautiful swimming holes. This was the highlight of our trip. We were in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, creating this incredible experience with our children, and I was terrified. I am deathly afraid of heights. A fear of heights is primal and resides in your body defying logic. While I have no problem flying all over the world in planes of all sizes, anything that involves looking over a ledge is paralyzing to me. By the way, I went bungee jumping in college to try to overcome this fear – I jumped, and still was afraid. My fear has become more pronounced as I’ve gotten older. I can’t even ride a ferris wheel. My knees weaken and move towards the earth, I sweat and feel a tremor from my head down to my toes.
When we came to the zipline portion of the excursion, they asked that everyone who felt they might not be able to do it, to please go first, because they would have to drive us back. There were only two scaredy cats in the bunch, and I was one of them. The other scaredy cat went first. I felt her fear and could see it emanating from every pore in her body. My voice cracked when I yelled up my encouragement to her. I took a deep breath in when I watched her jump off the platform, and my stomach fell just witnessing her effort.
My two boys kissed me before I climbed the platform and everyone was clapping telling me that I could do it. I was just grateful to be wearing my sunglasses, because little did everyone know that my eyes were welling up with tears because I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to jump, and this failure in my character made me feel fragile and weirdly vulnerable – things that I loathe feeling and exposing.
When I got to the top a girl young enough to be my daughter, leaned in to me and said, “You’re going to be okay.” I nodded silently. “Your boys are looking up at you right now and you’re going to jump and they’re going to be so proud of you!” I was fighting back tears because I could hear them below shouting, “We love you, Chicarita!” She finished clipping me to the line and said, ”I’m going to count you down and then you’re going to step off and fly. You just have to make me one promise, okay? I want you to keep your eyes open the whole way, it’s so beautiful and I don’t want you to miss a second.”
I jumped off the platform full of fear and glided over treetops with my eyes open the whole way and the fading sound of my boys’ voices filling the distance with celebration at my small act of courage.
By now, you might be asking what in the Hell this has to do with my life’s work. Good question.
That girl young enough to be my daughter, weighing no more than a pixie and working in the jungle is not so different from me after all. I create a space that is safe for people and help them harness the courage to jump and watch them fly. I locate their courage, guide them, and let them know that they have it in them even if their terrified or lost.
I don’t cure diseases or solve world hunger, but I am able to help people fully realize their potential and overcome obstacles that impeded their success.
Identifying your life’s work is not always clear. I have always seen myself as an educator and trainer first. Coaching was something I did upon request, not something I sought. I still see myself as an educator and trainer, but I would say that the transformative, professional work that I’ve done as a coach is unquestionably some of the most fulfilling and profoundly rewarding work of my life.
For me part of the Millionaire Girls’ Movement is about living a rich life that is intellectually and professionally dynamic. I believe you should get paid your worth, but I hope that you will also find your purpose. If you are not able to support yourself with your life’s work, that’s okay – find a way to express your gifts in other ways. And just so you know, you can also become irritated with your life’s work, you won’t love every minute, but it’s good work if you can get it, because most of us will spend more time working than doing almost anything else.