I like using highlighters.
You know, those fluoro pens you use to make certain passages or sentences stand out in books. Or that function on your Word document that does the same job in the digital space. When I highlight something, it’s because it stands out for me and I want to remember it and to find it again easily when I return to that piece of information.
The same can be said for looking at life. There are certain things that stand out for me – most of them good memories, but some of them unpleasant.
Highlight the successes
It has been said that we learn the most from our failures, from the difficult things of life and that our successes teach us very little. There is truth in that and I encourage people to find their unique superpowers in the difficult things of life – the ground is so fertile there!
However, it is easy to gloss over our successes when we feel we’ve not reached the goals we set for ourselves. And it is here, when we are perhaps being hard on ourselves, that it is important to look back at what we have achieved, and see what our successes can teach us.
My life’s highlight reel
I am mother to three amazing men, two of whom are married, and I now have six grandchildren. I’ve learnt that mothering never stops – I sometimes wish I could make things better with a Band-Aid and a kiss as I did when they were little. But it is our relationships as adults that has challenged and delighted me the most.
A bungee jump off Auckland Bridge showed me that I’m a risk-taker.
This jump was prophetic – within the space of 12 months I had ‘jumped’ into a completely new phase of my life.
I volunteered to be part of The Salvation Army’s work with asylum seekers on Nauru and then returned in a full-time capacity as the religious liaison officer.
This experience, although short (about eight months) changed my life. My capacity as a human being expanded enormously and I discovered some of the hidden things about myself – which have since become the basis of my speaking and coaching business.
I always wanted to get a degree but did not follow that path straight out of school.
But, that dream was not forsaken, and I completed an honours degree in theology, focusing my 20,000-word paper on evaluating Australia’s response to asylum seekers and refugee in light of the ethics of the book of Isaiah – an edited version of which has since been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
At times I felt as if I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but as one of my sons said, “Mum, if it was easy, everyone would do it!”
I stepped outside my comfort zone and invested a significant amount of money in business coaching. The result? Speaking in Los Angeles to an international audience and meeting Al Pacino, interviewing Fredrick Eklund and being coached by Hugh Hilton!
I am now doing what I dreamed of – speaking professionally and running my own events! And earlier this year, my first book, “Powered by your Past” was released and my next book, “I Have Seen The Moon” – a memoir of my experiences working with refugees on Nauru – is due for release in December.
But aren’t you just bragging?
Yep. I’m bragging…but in a healthy way.
Bragging is generally seen as a negative thing to do because we suspect that the braggart is making more of their achievements than is realistic or true. And because of this perception, we so often don’t celebrate any of our successes.
But we should celebrate what we have done with our lives. We only get the one life and if we get to the end and can’t look back with some joy and satisfaction then what has been the point?
Your highlight real
No, that’s not typo.
I deliberately wrote ‘highlight real’ because I want you to celebrate what is real in your life, what you have really achieved, what the real successes have been. Take a look back over the last five years and note the highlights and write them down. Now, look back over the previous ten years…look for the successes of all shapes and sizes.
Don’t discard things that you think are not world changing – if they changed your world, or someone else’s world, in some way then they are world-changing!
So…what’s in your highlight real? If you’d like a space to share…add some of your highlights in the comments below.
Let’s celebrate together.