In the earliest days of humanity's existence, everything that happened beyond anyone's control or understanding was blamed on - or credited to - the gods. It was a deeply spiritual world until the pendulum swung well over to the side of science, with a new demand for facts, hard evidence and proof rather than mere belief.
In recent decades, the pendulum has begun to swing back again in an effort to find balance. We've been returning to a more spiritual outlook on life, its meaning, and our purpose.
One increasingly common view is that each of us is meant to fulfill a particular destiny, and that the challenges of life give clues as to what that destiny might be.
Whether or not this is the truth, I am always intrigued by stories of people who have turned a profoundly difficult time - or even a life-altering moment - into a journey well spent by offering powerful and positive contributions to the world.
International best-selling author and speaker, Teresa de Grosbois, has just such a story.
The youngest of nine, de Grosbois says, "Importance became important to me at a very young age...I was often getting left behind even though I had really great siblings." The family spent summers in a remote wilderness cabin, the isolation serving as perfect nourishment in creating strong bonds with one another. "The family really became a source of strength for me," she adds softly.
"If you could pick your family, I'd pick mine," offers de Grosbois. "At the same time...I know what it's like to be lonely in a crowded room."
Influence expert de Grosbois recalls a defining moment that years later would change the course of her life. At the tender age of three, one day the entire family including cousins crowded into the tiny kitchen of their old home. The atmosphere was electric with excitement. It was a very big day; Grandmother was taking everyone to see "The Love Bug", a mightily popular film at the time, making it an extra special occasion, the kind that just didn't happen in the de Grosbois family.
"My staunchly Catholic mother was seriously concerned with the morals of movie makers...so she never let us go to the movies but on that day, she rescinded...I looked across the room and she said, 'Teresa can't go; she's too little.' [At three years old], I'm utterly devastated. I start bawling my eyes out and the thing I tell myself in that moment is 'I'm too small to play with the big kids' and that inner conversation sticks."
As a result of that "inner conversation", de Grosbois began doing one of two things. "I started spending all my time trying to prove that I'm not too small to play with the big kids, or being desperately terrified that I am."
This motivated her to learn what makes people influential and "...help emerging thought leaders step into their own power and influence. 'I'm too small to play with the big kids' was playing in terms of motivating me to create the EBC (Evolutionary Business Council) because I didn't want other people to be driven and ruled by inner dialogue that stops them. Especially when you see good people get stopped from doing a good thing because of their inner conversation."
Powerfully poised and quietly confident, de Grosbois is a source of strength, leadership and inspiration to many. Yet she remembers her "Really Bad Year", during which she experienced a complete collapse of several important areas of life all at once. Within the first six months of that year, her beloved father died, her marriage ended, she lost her house and her company failed.
Always having enjoyed home renovations, de Grosbois bought a 'fixer-upper' and recalls a specific moment that changed her life. "I'm sitting in the bathroom of my post-marriage break-up condo, surrounded by tools with tears pouring down my face. The only thought in my head was that it's me that needs renovating." But where to start?
With all of the "outward trappings of success" over 20 years of life, she adds, "I couldn't remember when I was last lit up and happy about my life."
Understanding that she was her next "project", she began therapy, got more serious about yoga and meditation, changed her diet and lifestyle. Slowly, a better and more empowered version of herself began to emerge. No longer was she prepared to settle for a half-life. It was time to seize life by the throat and do what she loved: influence positive change in others and in the world. Those six words uttered by her mother decades earlier and that had inadvertently inflicted so much pain had revealed her soul's purpose.
I asked de Grosbois how her young daughters fared throughout that difficult adjustment period. "A really cool thing happened," she replied. "One of the things I created with my kids was that maybe we would be a family that was the champion of each other's dreams. So I enrolled my kids in the notion that they could be my heroes by supporting me."
More than coping with the many changes in their lives, de Groisbois' children flourished in the raw honesty of their mother's courageous and emotional journey. When almost everything external had been stripped away during that "Really Bad Year," de Grosbois had only one place to go. A deep and gratifying journey into her soul allowed her to reconnect with 'Too-Small-Teresa' offering love and healing, and to show her - and the rest of the world - that she is, indeed, more than qualified to play with the big kids.
Now, she is a beacon of light and inspiration, a shining example of wisdom and leadership for people all over the world.
How blessed we are that one of her greatest gifts is her beautiful ability to encourage thousands of others to shine, too.
For more about Teresa de Grosbois, click here.
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