July 31, 2014

SPARKS: Moments of Creation Vol. 4




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 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.

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