Have you ever wanted to learn a new skill or accomplish something that would take lots of courage and support from others in order to accomplish?
I always felt a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t know how to swim. The idea of diving freely into the water was so scary to me! Don’t get me wrong, I love going by the lake, a beautiful beach or a swimming pool, but I looked for excuses not to go into the water. My favorite one was “I almost drawn in a swimming pool when I was young”. So, you’d always find me walking by the beach, laying down to tan, reading a great book by the pool or watching everyone swim while I was feeling impotent about it.
I’ve been okay with that for many years using all those excuses until I was inspired by Maria Conceicao, who founded The Maria Cristina Foundation in 2005 and raises funds to help the poor in Bangladesh, a country South of Asia affected severally by poverty. Read her full story here.
I met Maria during one of my International Maxwell Certifications in Orlando, Florida in 2017. She was a guest speaker and shared how she was inspired to start the foundation. Long story short, she envisioned to make a difference in children living in Bangladesh, lift them out of poverty and transform their lives through education. What impacted me the most is how she started participating in extreme physical challenges to raise funds and awareness about her non-for-profit charity. Even though she never participated in sports and wasn’t considered athletic, she entered many male dominated challenges like mountain climbing. She’s one of the most persevering women I’ve ever met with an unbelievable drive and passion not to mention stamina, endurance and mental strength to accomplish what she has! She’s earned 8 Guinness World Records (maybe more by now!) for Endurance Sports including Ironmans, Ultra, Half and Full Marathons and for climbing Mount Elbrus. She’s on track to finish climbing 7 of the highest mountains in each continents with 2 more to go to complete the seven summits AND she was the first Portuguese female to do the Last Degree to the North Pole and to summit the Everest
Guess what? Maria also swam across the English Channel in 2016 for seven hours! What inspired me about this is that she learned how to swim to be able to do it! So, yes, you can imagine how privileged I felt to have met her.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to stop using excuses and learn how to swim. It’s taking lots of courage and discipline to get in the water and practice but I’m building strength and self confidence and know I can do this!
My beautiful friend Dr Maribel Lopez, encouraged me as well this week. I remember having a conversation with her during our missions trip to Peru about her fear of flying in October 2017. The only reason she agreed to “fly” and be part of this long trip was her passion to inspire young women and empower them to greatness. We ended up sitting next to each other and she was definitely very scared to fly. I was non-stop talking to her and asking her lots of questions in an effort to distract her from the fobia I could perceive she had during take-off, flying AND landing 🙂
So, when I saw her announcements this week that she was about to fly on a 2 -seat jet with our lovely friend and “Pilotina”, Jacqueline Camacho, someone deserving of much admiration, I was so proud of her!
Maria Conceicao, Dr Maribel and Jacqueline are just some examples of women that inspire me. I’ve learned that nothing will stop a woman determined to achieve something that will allow her to help others! Putting Faith over fear is a key and, yes, the sky is the limit! Let’s grow together!
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It certainly took me a long time to build a strong network of influencing men and women that I’m able to introduce to each other now and see magic happen! Some people might think it helps to be a high “I” based on the Maxwell DISC personality profile assessment. However, for those of you that know my story of growing up, a very shy and insecure person, it wasn’t until the more recent years in my life that I’ve been able create a huge network of amazing people. I’ll share 3 things I did:
- Make it about them. I used to ask “who do you know that I should know” when I was building my network, asking lots of questions, applying the law of curiosity and showing up to endless number of meetings and events. There was a point in my life that my network of influence grew to the point of asking “Who do I know that you should know” making the importance of connecting no longer about me but about them.
- Invest in Personal Development. Most of us tend to be attracted to people similar to ourselves, with same interests, missions in life and life perspectives, but this is not always the case. I always encourage people to invest in personal development because the more you grow and understand yourself, the more you can adjust to people’s personalities and understand them better, making a deep connection possible.
- Connect the right person to the right cause. We all can identify a “taker” from a “giver” and there are many people whom literally simply want to get a hold of your rolodex for the wrong reasons. I’ve had to work with some people “from a distance” because our interests and missions in life do not align. I’ve learned from my mentor, Pastor Steve Hage, that trusting God and loving people will keep me away from disappointments. So, even though I love people, I need to ensure their life values align with mine and those I’m making an introduction to, in order for it to become a significant relationship.
It’s humbling to read messages such as, and I quote “Norma! Thank you for connecting me with awesome people. You shine, always! When I grow up, I want to be like you” or “Norma you truly are a master connector and influencer. I am so grateful for your friendship and sisterhood. Your light truly shines from the inside out.” or “Norma, there are no words to describe how awesome you are! You truly have a way to connecting people. I am so blessed to have you in my life. I love you”. These are from the ladies I introduced to each other this past weekend! I knew that would instantly connect! In my opinion good connections happen when people sense how much you care or as my mentor, John Maxwell would say: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
People could sense how much my mom cared for them and this allowed her to be one of the best examples to me of what an amazing networker should be like, or better yet, a master connector!