July 31, 2014

SPARKS: Moments of Creation Vol. 4




 


 CAN 2 WORDS CHANGE THE WORLD?
THESE 2 CAN!

YOU MATTER

I am constantly on the lookout for people who have chosen to follow their dream to find out what inspired them. (You can see how it all started here.) I became aware of this month's featured dreamer on Twitter. I noticed a post one morning asking for people to tweet inspiring messages to school children as part of a special event. "What a wonderful idea!" I thought, so I posted several quotes that I love. I found myself still thinking about it as the day went on and wondered what kind of event it was and who the genius behind it was. I messaged the author of the original tweet asking for more information about the program. I'd like to introduce you to that genius now.

ANGELA MAIERS 

Angela is on a mission to awaken the world to the significance that is all around us...spoiler alert, it's not things or gadgets, it's people. Further, she wants to awaken us to the significance within us as well - introduce us to our own inner genius and from the the video of the presentation given at Tedx in Des Moines, IA I'm convinced that she's on to something great. (watch it here)

Angela graciously consented to sharing her journey with us. 

What sparked the idea to start choose2matter?


It started with an epiphany I had in my second year of teaching - people need to matter. They want to be noticed, valued, and honored. They don't need to have their needs fulfilled - they need to be needed. This formed the basis of my teaching philosophy. A writer captured the concept very well in this piece, titled "Whispering to the World."

Two decades later, I was scheduled to give a talk at TEDx Des Moines on a topic I can't even recall. At 3 a.m., I realized that my topic was not going to change hearts, change minds, and change the world - but the topic "You Matter" would. The reaction to my talk was breathtaking, and I launched Choose2Matter in response to it.

When did you know it was time to move on your idea? Were you apprehensive?

When I saw how much people were moved by the words, "You matter." These weren't just people standing in front of me hearing the words; it included people who wrote me from all over the world, having seen the video.

Of course I was apprehensive. I still am, every day. But it's only when I am scared that I know I am being audacious enough. I recently began demanding that members of the audience come up on stage during my keynotes and declare their genius to the world. Most of the people who do so are very reluctant about it, and I never know how it will turn out. Yet it is always a very memorable moment.

 How does it feel to do something you're passionate about?

It is exhilarating, life-affirming, and frightening, because when you believe your mission matters, it puts a lot of pressure on you not to screw it up. But I'm never bored.

What challenges did you face early on? Now?

Early on, the biggest challenge was not believing in myself. Thinking that I wasn't enough, that no one was listening, that I could never make this work - and having others around me saying the same thing. The biggest challenge today is finding enough time, enough support, enough investment capital to make everything happen at once.

 What would you like to see happen from here?

I want the movement to grow to every corner of the earth. We want people of all ages to accept that they matter, accelerate the message to others, and take action to change the world. We hope to create a rich resource library to enable people to take effective action, as well as a program of "mentoring at mass scale" so that people with expertise can share that with others.


What's been most rewarding for you personally?

It enchants my soul to see people take ownership of their genius. Naturally, it moves me to tears when I see children stand up before their peers and their teachers and tell their story and take ownership of their genius to tackle problems that break their heart. But it is perhaps even more exciting when I see adults do the same thing, because they are further removed than students from the days when they believed they were super heroes.

 What advice would you give to someone who has a passion burning inside them who hasn't taken action on it yet?

I love Arthur Ashe's quote: "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can." Don't wait for tomorrow - tomorrow is the most dangerous word in the English language.
 
Thank you so much Angela for including us on your journey. I hope in doing so others will be inspired to move forward with their own dream as well.
 
 I highly suggest watching the Tedx talk at the link above. You will be as convinced as I am that indeed 2 words can change the world and once you realize just how much YOU MATTER, It's my greatest hope that you will take hold of your own inner genius and unleash it on the world. 

My life path has always been about teaching and communication. My twenty years as an educator and my passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave me the healthy dose of courage and skills that have led me through a wonderful variety of experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business.

July 21, 2014

To Thine Own Self Be True

This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. -Hamlet


I recently had an article published at Switch&Shift.com called A Case For Keeping Commitments.  (You can read it here if you missed it)  http://wp.me/p25GBV-3i5

I noticed almost immediately after submitting it that I'd left out one very important aspect of keeping commitments - the commitments we make to ourselves.

It might not seem that keeping commitments to ourselves is such a big deal. After all no one else is disappointed and there are no negative consequences to face up to. We don't have to worry about "losing face" in front of others and so forth. While it may be true that others may never be the wiser, it is completely false that there are no negative consequences. I'd even go as far as to say that the consequences are much more serious long term. 

When we make and keep commitments to others we are sending the message "you matter." "I value you.' When we break commitments, the opposite messages are being sent. What does it do to us then when we tell ourselves "you don't matter and I don't value you?" What are the consequences? I can only speak from my own experience, but I hope in sharing you'll be motivated to examine the consequences in your own life and weigh them carefully.

When I break commitments to myself, I "feel" the "I don't value you" loud and clear. I find that it makes it hard to take myself seriously. I also notice that I make less and less commitments to myself because I don't trust myself to follow through and not to disappoint myself.

I've always believed that we can draw a straight line between our values, how well we live them and our self esteem. When we are living in accordance with what we value, our self esteem is high. We feel authentic - genuine. Our confidence is high and we feel adequate. When those two things get misaligned, our self esteem drops. We begin to feel like a fraud. 

We may want to believe we can leave all of that at home, but we're only fooling ourselves. Our self esteem follows us out the door and into the world wherever we go. When we want to do something grand, it reminds us that we have failed ourselves before. The chatter in our heads doesn't want us to forget that we've fallen short in the past, and questions why we think this time will be any different. Dialog is added to the endless stream of doubt that can plague us on our best days and cripple us on our worst.

There is a price to be paid for not keeping the commitments we make to ourselves and it's an unreasonably high one. While we may not lose face to those around us, they no longer get the best "us". They get the broken down version laced with fear, self doubt, and apprehension. 

How then can we make sure that we don't find ourselves in this downward spiral? One good way is to under promise and over deliver. Make smaller commitments and start slowly to rebuild trust. Another way may be to examine our habits.

I recently read an article that made a very convincing argument for the power of habits. It put forth the notion that we, as creatures of habit, can change our lives simply by changing our habits. It went on to say that we can succeed at anything that we're willing to build supportive habits around. 

One compelling idea is that it's easier to build habits around identity than any other method. It goes like this: We begin by saying "I'm the kind of person who _______________ (fill in the blank.) For instance, I'm the kind of person who values getting plenty of rest." We then go on to "prove" this to ourselves by getting adequate sleep. Each time we are successful, we build trust in our ability to do it again until it's become a hard habit, or a natural part of our routine much like brushing our teeth before going to bed.

Once anything becomes a "hard habit" it ceases to take up mental energy. We don't have to "decide" each time we're confronted with any given situation how we are going to respond. We automatically respond by being consistent with our "identity."

I'm sure there are a lot of other strategies that might also help. It's important to find one that works well for us. It doesn't have to be complicated, just effective.

Building a new identity - "I'm the type of person who always keeps the commitments I make to myself" or incorporating other strategies will take effort and it may not be easy, but how easy is it to face the one person we do lose face with when we fail to keep commitments to ourselves - the one that looks back at us every morning from the mirror and knows.



July 10, 2014

3 Benefits Of Aging

Yes...you read it right. I said BENEFITS of AGING.

If you haven't reached the age where you've been blessed to start enjoying those "benefits" the idea that they actually exist might sound looney to you. If you've reached the age where you're feeling the aging, and missing the benefits, it may still sound looney to you.

Well, I'm looney. Let's just get that out there right up front. So here's my top 3 benefits of aging in no particular order:


1. WISDOM  A few months ago, after a woman's gathering, a young mother came up to me and said: "You're SO wise." because of some comments I'd made during a discussion. "Yes" I said, "And it only cost me my youth and beauty. Care to trade?" Needless to say, I'm still old and wise. 

Wisdom is the applied application of knowledge. As I age, I find myself actually taking the advice I've given to others for years.  Age old wisdom is still wisdom after eons because there really is nothing new under the sun.

While youth and beauty are great in their season - almost like a type of protective coloration for our naivety - I can say I wouldn't trade one year of my life's experience to have either of them back again. (ask me again in 5 years.)

2. LETTING GO   Letting go is a crucial part of life that comes a lot more easily now than it did in my youth. When I was young, everything seemed gravely important. The color of fingernail polish seemed to hold as much prominence as relationships and world affairs. I think it takes getting banged up a few times and living to tell the tale to realize that so much of what we worry about just doesn't matter. Even forgiving is easier now.  (It may be because I can't remember what I was upset about to begin with but it's still a bonus.)

I've come to realize that sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes things are just rained out, and that's OK. We lick our wounds, dust ourselves off, and live to fight another day.  When I was young, I believed that pain was a life sentence, that loss could not be overcome, and that losing was the end of playing instead of just the end of that game. I love the perspective that took decades to accumulate that tells me differently now. It allows me to let go knowing that "this too shall pass" and I will heal - like it or not.

3. FREEDOM  The kind of freedom I'm talking about comes when we walk out of the self imposed imprisonment of "What will they think of me?"  

Freedom comes in learning the truth in this adage: "You wouldn't care so much what people think of you if you realized how seldom they do." We live our lives, to some degree, in a type of tunnel vision of mirrors that all point back at us. In high school, the appearance of a pimple could mean fear of certain isolation. It took years for me to figure out that everyone was too focused on their own imperfection de jour to have time to worry about mine.
I'm enjoying the freedom that comes with being comfortable enough with who I am that I don't need outside sanctioning to feel OK. I no longer feel the need to say "yes" on occasions when "no" is not only the sane thing to say, but is what I really mean. 

I'm OK knowing that I can't please everyone. I've finally figured out that's not what I'm here for anyway.

So there you have it! My top 3 Benefits of Aging. I'm sure you have your own list as well. I'd love to hear some that I may have missed. If you add yours we'll all have something to think about other than our creaky knees.


July 1, 2014

SPARKS: Moments of Creation Vol. 3


 

“At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.”

                               –  Christopher Reeve

The above quote opens the beautiful website by this months featured interviewee.

In following my passion of helping people dream and live their dreams I'm always searching for inspiring stories of that magic moment when an idea becomes a passion. To see how this journey began began see: 


I became aware of this kindhearted woman and her mission on Twitter. I was impressed by her posts enough to visit her website where I instantly became inspired by her and her work. I can't wait for you to meet:

GINGER KADLEC

Ginger's love of children started young as a babysitter and big sister to neighborhood children. She left an executive position in the technology sector to pursue an opportunity as a child advocate and her passion began to take shape.

 "As executive director of Chaucie’s Place, I had the opportunity to work with children who were alleged victims of sexual or physical abuse and neglect.  I became a trained child forensic interviewer and guest instructor for the Child First/Finding Words program in Indiana. A volunteer “Smart Steps” instructor, I also teach a “good touch/bad touch” body safety program to elementary school students, in addition to helping with various fund raising events. I am also honored to be a member of the Board of Directors for the child advocacy center in my hometown, Boone County CAC.
My work in child advocacy inspired me to raise awareness on a larger scale about child sexual and physical abuse, as well as become active in education and prevention efforts to protect children. As an extension of what I now believe to be my calling to help children, I one day dream of writing children’s books about real-life issues and hope their message becomes a conduit for developmental and safety discussions between children and adults around the world." 

Ginger graciously agreed to share her journey with us. I hope her insights and sharing her journey will inspire you as much as it did me and ignite in you the desire to find or pursue your life's passion.

1. What was it that SPARKED the idea to start 4 Ur Kids. Take us thru your process.

Would you believe it came to me during a walk on the beach with my dog? 
I was vacationing with my husband, euphoric about life with our new puppy. As we enjoyed walking the shoreline, and I found myself reflecting on my career. My professional journey had taken me to a variety of venues including financial services, manufacturing and even Internet and software technology management. About six years ago, those seemingly divergent paths magically converged when I was asked to serve as interim executive director for a child advocacy center. I had previous experience working in public relations for the United Way and served on several boards of directors for non-profit organizations, but I had not worked in the field of child protection. 
You know those pivotal points where there's no goin' back? Well, that one opportunity forever changed my life. 
I had the opportunity to work with children who were alleged victims of sexual or physical abuse and neglect and became a trained child forensic interviewer and guest instructor for the Child First/Finding Words program in Indiana. As a child advocate, I began to truly understand how many people are impacted by child abuse. Some know about the horrors of abuse first-hand, others have some knowledge and awareness that abuse exists in their communities, while others don't wish to discuss such an awful subject and think it only happens to 'other people'. 
It suddenly hit me that morning on the beach... Could I tap into my various experiences in child advocacy, technology and marketing to possibly make a difference in child protection around the world? Could I help educate parents about ways to keep their children safe from sexual predators? Could I raise awareness about the child abuse pandemic among other caring adults? The answer was "Yes, I think I can."
I continued noodling about how I could actually put my dream into action and started doing some research. I connected with a couple of marketing colleagues to develop a plan of action. I took a book writing class offered by Nicole Gebhardt of "The Remarkable Way". I collaborated with Dana Neuts of "Virtaully Yourz" to develop my website. In terms of utilizing social media to build the 4UrKids community, I literally dove in head-first as I went along. I found some wonderful resources online that helped me with tools, strategies and ideas to share information and help raise awareness. I was fortunate to connect with people via Twitter and Facebook who have also offered ideas and suggestions to help grow the community. 
I'm now a little over a year into this and have, frankly, been humbled and overwhelmed with the support 4UrKids has received from around the globe. Right now, over 51,000 people have joined the 4UrKids Twitter community and our Facebook friends now total nearly 3,600. The 4UrKids website at gingerkadlec.com is on-par to have over a million page views by the end of this year. I'm simply blown away by the support from other caring adults around the world who wish to see all forms of child abuse abolished. 
This is an evolving work in progress. :-) In fact, I'm happy to share that we are changing our name to "Be A Kid's Hero" in the next few weeks. Stay tuned! 

2. How does it feel to be working in an area that you're passionate about.

In a word... amazing. It's a pleasure getting up in the morning to do something that your heart just knows is right. My dream of helping others protect children extends to educating children on know how to help keep themselves safe. While the subject matter is often sad and depressing, I do my best to inject a sense of hope in my message. It's taken me about 20 years to discover this passion, but all the experiences leading up to this was time well spent. 

3. What has been the most rewarding experience for you?

It's tough to pick just one. While this may sound a bit cliche, I think connecting with others through this effort has validated for me that the world IS full of good people; people who care about protecting little ones in their lives and truly want to make the world a better place. That "faith in mankind" thing... yah, I now believe it's true. I have also been moved to tears on occasion by the stories child abuse survivors have shared. Survivors continue to inspire me daily and I thank them for trusting in me and for having the courage to share their experiences and journeys of healing. All of these people confirm for me that indeed, "Life Isn't Broken." 


4. What challenges have you faced?

I'm chuckling as I type... oh, where do I begin? ;-) From an 'operations' perspective, my toughest challenge has been that it's just me doing this. Now, I have a lot of support and help from others for content and information sharing (thank you to those in the 4UrKids community - YOU ROCK!), but the operations are squarely on my shoulders. It's been a lot 'o O.J.T. (aka On-The-Job Training) which includes learning the ins-and-outs of WordPress, social media strategies and various online tools... some things have gone smoothly, while others have not. I've just had to figure it out as I go. 

As this community continues to grow, I hate to admit that I also face the challenge of responding in a timely manner to inquiries on Twitter, Facebook, email and LinkedIn, as well as posting to all of those online venues plus others such as Pinterest and Instagram. I view these as wonderful challenges, though... they are certainly good problems to have. ;-)  When I get to a point where I actually publish a book (or more!), I might be able to secure additional resources to help. Wish me luck!

5. Where would you like to see this go in the future?

I have BIG dreams! Bottom line... I want child protection to be top-of-mind with every single person around the world. I want people to feel empowered to take action if they suspect a child is being harmed in any way, rather than turning a blind eye. I want children who live in fear to feel safe and know there are people who care about their welfare. I want to live in a world where children are valued as our MOST precious resource... like air, food and water, we MUST be compelled to raise emotionally and physically healthy children to secure our collective future. The more we collaborate to address the issue of child abuse, the less power abusers will have. If we have any hope of stopping this pandemic, it needs to be removed from the shadows and placed center-stage. 

For my part in helping those dreams become reality, I would LOVE to see the soon-to-be "Be A Kid's Hero" online community grow exponentially each year. I also plan to write and publish books for parents to help them teach their children about ways to stay safe, as well as what to do in the event something unthinkable should ever happen to their child. Longer-term, my dream is to publish a line of children's books that address important developmental issues including body safety, defining boundaries, self-esteem and relationships. 

6. What advice do you have for people who have a dream but have not yet stepped into it?

"Just Do It!"

If you believe in your mission and your passion is sincere, you will be surprised at the warm welcome and support people will offer you. 


Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide pandemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger regularly blogs about child protection issues and has released a report for parents and other caring adults, “10 Scary Apps.”  Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at gingerkadlec.com.
  
Thank you so much Ginger for sharing your story with us and all that you do to improve the world. I encourage everyone to get to know more about Ginger and her amazing work and to join her in her mission to improve the world one child at a time!