“When is a time in your life where you felt really connected with that FIRE you talk about Niamh?” a trusted friend recently asked me. I was scanning my brain for a firey memory and nothing was really standing out at me… until I suddenly got a strong visceral feeling in my stomach (trust those feelings).
“YES! I remember when I felt it.” I said.
And there kicked off a conversation that now lead me to sharing these 11 life lessons with you.
➡️ LESSON 1. Connect with your sense of purpose
I was volunteering at a woman’s centre for women from the Nairobi slums in 2014. I got to know those women. They are the same as you and me… except they were born into completely different circumstances. I got to know and help some personally. I took risks, I fundraised, I pushed through when I was scared. I wasn’t scared of what they would think of me… well actually now that I think of it, I used to feel offended when some of them slept during my workshops, lol. But they were sick, they were traumatized, they had serious life-threatening issues going on. It’s amazing how focused they were actually, under the circumstances, now that I think about it. But that was meaningful work. I lived on the edge sometimes, but I felt ALIVE, I felt passion and I left very purposeful. My work is still very meaningful to me, but that was a particularly firey time in my life.
- Find a reference for a time you felt FIRE in your life and think about how you can recreate that now. It might not be so easy to recreate, but I bet there is a lot you are not seeing about how you can get that feeling again. 🔥
➡️ LESSON 2: If you want to succeed, you need passion for what you do
I worked as a trainer at the U.N. I was studying for my masters in education and started out with a course module that was aligned with my professional path. I found it insanely boring and knew I would need to switch to courses that interested me if I had any hope of getting my masters whilst juggling my work and family life too. I switched to Child Development and Dyslexia. Why dyslexia? I have no explanation for that beyond the fact that I cared about children who found learning hard and I felt a pull towards it. I ended up quitting my U.N. job and starting my first entrepreneurial venture called Love To Learn. Oh and I get to put the letters MEd after my name. 👩🎓
- Follow the pull when you feel passion for something. Trust that it will lead you to the right path. Don’t question it. Don’t let your logical mind prevent you from following your passion.
➡️ LESSON 3: If you want MOMENTUM, take ACTION
After doing some practical work at a school and feeling confident about my skill level, I rented a beautiful large room in a centre and got some brochures printed, sharing what I did. But the phone didn’t ring. I vividly remember that horrible stuck feeling that I was experiencing with having so few clients. I recall the head of the centre coming to see me in my office and I shared with her how I felt. I remember her explaining to me that I needed to take action, any action, to gain MOMENTUM. I didn’t really understand at that time, that action brings traction and when you don’t know what to do, just do something, but I decided to run an informational evening about dyslexia. 50 people showed up and the rest is history. I wasn’t sure what action to take, but I just take some action.
- Don’t get too caught up in the perfect strategy. The right next step will become clearer once you gain momentum and you can’t gain momentum without action. 💪
➡️ LESSON 4: Trust the nudges that are nudging you out
When I was 19, on a year out, I worked as a chambermaid in a small hotel in a sleepy village in Germany. I also had a job making parts at a local factory. We had no clue what the parts were for. Rumor had it that it was to make bombs. Anyway, I hated that job so much and how I was treated by the wife of the owner and I got really tired of cleaning toilets and ironing tablecloths on some big machine in the evenings too. A group of fun door-to-door sales people came to stay at the hotel. I got friendly with them. They were selling well known magazine subscriptions all over Germany and got to travel, stay in hotels all the time and “earn loads of money”… at least that’s what I thought . Anyway, they invited me to come work with them for a few days to try it out as my future career. My German didn’t feel good enough and I had incredible hang-ups about selling, so I didn’t sell any magazine subscriptions – plus I didn’t even really understand what I was selling. I had never read Der Spiegel! I do recall having a most interesting conversation over afternoon tea with some old man in his house though. (I often wonder how I am still alive considering some of the crazy things I did!) So I didn’t get to become “a traveling saleswoman”, but I got very clear that I could not continue in the jobs I was in.
- Trust the nudges that are nudging you out of situations that aren’t lifting you up. Oh and step out of the ordinary, try something different and exciting. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried and you, like me, will have a story to tell. You only live once. Make sure you have some fun and adventure along the way! 💃
➡️ LESSON 5. Connect with the love you feel to overcome your fear
My sister had been on daily home dialysis for years for type 1 diabetes related kidney failure. Her quality of life sucked and there are serious risks associated with long-term dialysis. She had had a kidney transplant but it rejected after a year. She was told that only a family kidney would work. 6 of us got tested. I got the golden ticket (think Willy Wonka ..) coming out a perfect 6/6 match (yes they graded us). I found that quite funny that the blood I had mailed to Ireland was still testable. It was funny writing “blood” on the envelope contents slip at the post office. Anyway, after the initial euphoria wore off of being the one who got to donate the kidney, a fear so intense came over me as I considered all the possible risks. My youngest of 3 children was just 1 year old. There were other challenges too and it all led me to pulling out. It was an extremely painful time in my life. However, after pulling out, my sister fell very ill. The fear of losing her left me in no doubt that I had to go ahead with the surgery. When I fully connected with my love for her behind the fear, it became an easy and firm decision which I will never regret. That kidney is still going strong inside her nearly 10 years later!
- Connect with the love you feel for the people your actions will impact in order to overcome your fear of showing up the way you want to.
➡️ LESSON 6: Honor your truth, not other people’s expectations
The 6th story is a bit personal so I’m not going to go into it too much, but it was something that required an enormous amount of courage and strength. I left the family home in 2017 and my children live between me and their dad. He’s a great dad and I have a lot of respect for him. I knew that my decision would cause a lot of pain for many people and I would be judged for it. But I couldn’t let other people’s judgments stand in the way of what I felt I needed to do. I chose to honor and live by my truth not other people’s expectations and a situation that they had no right to judge. We humans judge so flippantly, based on very little knowledge of people’s situations and feelings.
- Don’t let other people’s judgments hold you back from a decision you know you need to take.
➡️ LESSON 7: Trust everything and never underestimate the role that you might be playing in another’s destiny.
I dated a CERN physicist for a week when I was 21. Our love didn’t last, but during that week, he introduced me to an Irish girl called Nadine at the local pool, who became one of my best life friends. It was due to her that we packed up and went to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a year.
- Trust that all the people in your life play a role. If you look back on your life, think about how certain situations came about because of “chance encounters”. I’m so glad I dated that CERN physicist and met my incredible friend!
➡️ LESSON 8: Try your luck if you feel the calling. You might just win!
When I was living in Geneva at the age of 23, I was home visiting my family and noticed an add in my local newspaper, advertising green cards in a U.S. lottery. I felt quite unattached (I had a boyfriend in Geneva at the time), but I put my name in. I recall the moment my mother called me in Geneva and said “Niamh, you won the lotto”. On a side-note, I hope to hear those words again, lol.
Since my boss at the time at the World Health Organization was friends with a senior V.P. at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, where my aunt lived, I tried my luck and ended up working in the executive offices there on the 25th floor. I don’t think I have ever again walked on a carpet as thick as that one!
- If you’re not in, you can’t win. Put yourself forward for things. It might just change your life!
➡️ LESSON 9. Don’t let your limiting beliefs limit what life is gifting you.
I bumped into this nice woman at a local playground 10 years ago. My son was friends with her son. We hit it off. I asked her what she did and she mumbled something about owning some shoe shop and beauty shop. I didn’t pay too much attention but loved her energy. Shortly after, I found out that she had been on the front cover of Time magazine Canada before she was 30 and a few other incredible things about her including that she is a serial entrepreneur, has been mentioned by Oprah, interviewed by Dr Oz and many more incredible people. I mildly hyperventilated thinking she was outside of the “zone” of people I could be friends with. I then realized that if I dropped that ridiculous belief that I couldn’t have a friend like that, that I then COULD have a friend like that. It was that simple. She is one of my closest friends to this day – and a great hiking buddy!
- Drop the beliefs that people, experiences and dreams are outside of your “zone”. Expand your mind and definitely expand your zone of what a friend of yours should look like. You might just gain an incredible new friend!
➡️ LESSON 10. Even if it seems crazy, ridiculous and absurd… if your gut says yes, do it!
We fell in love with an abandoned dog on Facebook. I paid her flight from Turkey and the paperwork to come live with us. I met a lady off the motorway who handed her over. It sounds insane but Sacha has enriched our lives incredibly. I have zero regrets for doing such a “crazy, ridiculous and absurd” (according to some) thing. It hadn’t been my intention to do such a thing, but I trusted my gut and I’m so glad I did. She’s an extra special dog!
- Follow your gut even if it seems ridiculous to others.
➡️ LESSON 11. Hire A Great Coach
Nearly all of the above realizations came from an incredible coaching conversation I had this morning with a great coach friend. Coaching with a skilled coach ROCKS! If you don’t have a coach in your life, GET ONE. It will bring you increased clarity, increased self-awareness, increased confidence, increased courage, increased motivation and many other benefits. Imagine how much your life will benefit from that. Imagine what you can achieve with that kind of support, that you would not have otherwise achieved. What a waste of potential that would be.
- Hire a great coach
If my message resonates with you and you are ready to feel that fire in your veins, then dare to leap with me. Book in to discover how I can best help you.
P.S. I’d love you to share your best life lessons in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Life Lessons” so I’m sure to see your message. I’d love to hear from you as you have no doubt had unique learning moments in your life too.
P.P.S. If you found this article useful, please share. Maybe someone needs to read it today.