About the Author: Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Transformation Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Reiki Master with a practice in the Seattle area, Northern Lights Life Coaching. She offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group life coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding path, purpose and peace. She focuses on integration of mind, body and spirit wellness. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and change facilitation. She is passionate about creativity, travel, the environment, personal growth and living with joyful purpose. She has a second wellness-related business offering Salt Therapy, Salt Works Saltariums. Salt Therapy offers an all natural treatment solution for respiratory and skin problems.
We all have experiences in life that are defining and life changing; making us who we are. The lessons they teach us are important and usually meant to guide us on our journey. We sometimes forget them though, and it takes an event to remind us and get us back to our true self. I had one of those experiences last year. I was invited to attend the National Personal Development Symposium held at the Harvard Faculty Club in Boston, MA. It was an honor, an opportunity and a great learning experience. I had the opportunity to speak to very prestigious colleagues from across the country and to learn from them. It was, however, with great hesitation that I decided to participate at the event. My hesitation was due to my long-held fear and anxiety over speaking in front of large groups. As I listened to these polished and inspiring speakers, I will have to say that my anxiety was growing and I was having doubts as to actually pulling off this challenge with any degree of competence, let alone "grace". Then a beautiful and very exuberant woman stepped onto the stage with more enthusiasm than you can imagine. There was something very, well- "shiny" about her and she sparkled, quite literally with bright colorful stars. She had them on her face and she passed them out to her audience. She was Shiny Burcu Unsal, "The Shiny One". She told her story of who she was and introduced her book, You Are A Star; Become A Galactic Leader in 5 Steps. Shiny teaches NLP (Neurolinguistics Programming) with her own “shiny” style and is an inspiring coach and thought leader living in Los Angeles, CA. Her book is definitely worth a read and her talk was inspiring. It had a special meaning for me, because her shiny stars brought back a childhood memory that motivated me just when I needed it.
I committed to speaking at the symposium at the last minute and chose my topic, "How to Inspire Clients to Embrace the Simple Grace of Change" with the thought in mind that I, myself, was embracing change and hoping to do so with some grace. As I listened to the other speakers, it was through that memory of gold stars that I garnered the courage and had the confidence to face my fears, knowing that I could overcome them. Thank you so much, Shiny!
My memory was of first grade at Catholic School and reading aloud from our readers. Learning to read did not come easily to me at first, though I quickly came to love it. Reading was a challenge, as I was slightly dyslexic and very shy, so reading aloud was difficult. My teacher, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, was pretty strict and demanded perfection. We were expected to volunteer to read or she would call on us. We were awarded gold stars for our performance, that were put in neat rows in the front of our book. The best reader for the day was selected to put the stars in the books and it was an honor to be chosen. It was a big deal and I wanted more than anything to have those gold stars and be the person to put them in the books, but I was too afraid to volunteer. One day I was chosen to read and finally picked to put the stars in the books! I was so excited! Perhaps, I was overexcited or something got out of hand and I got a little carried away with the stars. I not only put a star in my book and everyone else’s book, as I was supposed to do, but I put lots of stars in my book and everyone else’s. Everyone seemed very happy with the extra stars and so was I. I still remember the proud and beaming little faces and I remember looking at those neat little rows of stars and feeling proud, confident and well, a kind of satisfaction that I can’t describe. It was simply empowering!
When I went home that night, my Mom noticed all the extra stars and after some coaxing, I was forced to tell her about getting carried away and putting more stars than I was supposed to in my book and everyone’s books. She seemed to understand, but insisted that I tell Sister Mary the first thing the next morning. My Mom told me that the gold stars were nice, but that I should know that I was reading my very best, whether I got a gold star or not and that I should read well enough every day to deserve all those gold stars! I promised her and myself that I would. When I told Sister Mary what I had done, she was not happy and told me that I would never again get to give out the stars. I had to stay after school for several days and write my name on the board, which was a punishment, kind of a "shame" listing. Strangely, this did not deter my determination to prove that I deserved all those gold stars and from then on, I volunteered to read every day and knew that I read very well. I noticed also the smiles from everyone when I read and that they too seemed to read with more confidence. I always wondered If they were earning their star too, and if Sister Mary noticed the special "magic'" that those gold stars seemed to have! Yes, I knew that I had been wrong in not following directions and getting carried away with the stars, but I blamed it on the "magic" of those shiny gold stars to inspire my courage. Going forward gold stars have always had that effect on me and so, with Shiny's star on my right hand, it was with courage and confidence that I gave my presentation at the National Personal Development Symposium. Although, I told the group at my table my story, no one else in the room knew of the magic power those tiny shiny stars held! I hope that the next time you face a challenge you have your own gold stars or other “magic” to help you along!
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