Have you ever had a gift, strength or prompting that you took for granted or couldn’t see at all? If so, did it take you a long time (as it did me) to learn to acknowledge it and then offer it to others?
Little did I know where life would lead me as I took steps to learn my special gifts and mission for business and global service. I took comfort in the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s words:
Be patient with all that is unresolved
in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like doors
that are written in a foreign tongue.
Do not seek the answers
which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually
without noticing it,
live along some distant day
into the answer.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
The locked rooms and doors written in a foreign tongue are gradually becoming unlocked, giving me answers for my life journey. Themes of my life have emerged with each work situation to bring shape to my calling: consulting and training people and teams to lead others through effective transitions and a new leadership style based on global service.
First, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I learned what it is to become a global citizen, transcending my national sovereignty and self-interest to become a global citizen.
Next, I was a human resources manager at Pepperidge Farm, a division of a multinational corporation, Campbell Soup Company. What I did not understand, nor care about, is how my parent company was acting as a global citizen in the world.
When my brother’s request to have lunch with me one day when he was in a crisis came, I told him to wait till the next week so I could continue on my breakneck 15-hour day where I did not have any time for him, much less my child and husband. The next day at 5:30 am he was dead, killed by a drunken driver. It took me a long time to forgive myself. But my brother’s death taught me how to live.
So I did. I moved to San Francisco after having a dream that I was to move to San Francisco to become a consultant and let go of my ego. I volunteered there in organizations that resonated with my values of achieving balance. I still did not trust my gifts and calling, though.
I spent a lot of time on a beautiful mountain just outside of San Francisco– Mt. Tamalpais. I found my own place, a rock, that I came back to every day for 18 months. I learned a lot there about how to receive. At the end of 18 months, I was approached by a well-known organization to consult to them. They said they’d been watching me for two years.
After coming back to the East Coast and working as a consultant for five years, I felt a certainty in me one day to go to the United Nations in NYC. The Persian Gulf resolution had been passed in the Security Council and the UN was about to invade Kuwait. Instinctively, I knew it was wrong to do that. I thought the UN was supposed to be a peacemaking body. I knew violence would beget violence. I had to go and learn what was going on there.
I felt no fear. I got on a train and a woman sat down next to me who worked at the UN. She became my mentor and teacher. I did a master’s study about the United Nations and implemented a thesis project where I linked personal, interpersonal/relational/ group and global competencies to get a degree in Community Building in Organizations. I held a community building event where I learned to bring team building to a new level — building transpersonal bonds between people whereby tasks are more effectively achieved because people really care about one another.
The United Nations experience became a metaphor for my life so far and what was to follow. Trusting my inner knowing, my special gifts and unique calling. I learned more about my own leadership style which was very different from traditional American leadership at the UN.
At my master’s degree graduation, I met my husband Joseph. Joseph was introduced to me by a colleague who worked for him when he was working at the UN. I knew the instant we met, and trusted it, that we were to be married — but naturally I waited for him to agree! I’ve learned so much from him, as he is a diplomatic history scholar and author specializing in the United Nations. Together we started a consultation organization, The Center for Global Community (me) and World Law (Joseph). I became trained as a mediator.
First, we lived in Cambridge for six years when I opened my practice as a career counselor. Simultaneously, I was being certified as a professional holistic counselor from the New England Holistic Counselors Association where I was being mentored by a Salve Regina University professor and program director, a clinical psychologist. Two of my team members in my master’s program were holistic counselors and I was deeply impressed by their insights and ability to teach me how to help individual growth through community building. I was on the faculty of Salve Regina University’s holistic counseling master’s program where I taught course at the UN for the global level of their helix model that links personal skills to global skills: Designing and Implementing Interventions for Global Change.
Now I work in Worcester as an integrative leadership coach, counselor and career and life directions specialist helping people act from their own mission and special gifts. I also have clients who come to me as a life and work coach and mediator. Formerly, I worked for the Attorney General of Massachusetts and Worcester Community Action Council as a mediation coordinator for peer mediators at Burncoat High School. Children from thirty countries came together and it was partly my job to see they get along with one another and their teachers — a mini-UN.
I founded a business after I was in the UN on 9/11, The Institute for Global Leadership, to empower people and teams to lead others through effective transitions by consulting and training for those leaders to act from their unique calling and special gifts. I have trained others in the model I’ve developed, Reconciliation Leaders, to supply a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service. I’ve done pilot projects on five continents.
I have unlocked several of my rooms. I have lived the questions into the answers. The question I am living now is how can I support our children now as our future’s emerging leaders?
What questions are you living now?
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