Every story has a “Once Upon a Time.” The place where the intricate weave of values, experiences, and influences begins to shape the fabric of our lives.
As a speech coach, I guide my clients to revisit their own “Once Upon a Time”, unraveling the threads of their past to better understand the tapestry of their present. It is here, in our early years, where the essence of our unique voices and our authentic selves are formed. My “Once Upon a Time” has etched a distinct pattern into my professional journey. Growing up in a time and place with limited expectations for girls, I began to envision a life that starkly deviated from the norm of a small town in the South of England. As a small girl, it was the vision and wisdom from my parents that laid the foundation for my approach as a speech coach and set the stage for a life I had dared to imagine and have very much enjoyed.
“Once Upon a Time”
As a speech coach, I always ask my new clients to go back to the beginning of their lives to tell me where they were born and what did their parents do? What advice did they give that helped to form who they are now? What other influences did they have? This is what I call my “Once Upon a Time” technique.
When I was growing up in England, it was a time when nobody expected much of girls. Although I could not articulate it, I realized I did not want the same lives my friends had planned for themselves. We were expected to have a job for a few years, then get married and have children.
My brother Robert Fripp and I, grew up hearing our mother tell us stories of World War 11 and how Prime Minister Winston Churchill would get on the radio and just with the power of his well-crafted words inspire and energize the nation as many huddled in bomb shelters and all queued up for an hour for an orange. Little did I know then, the realization of the power of well-chosen and well-crafted words would eventually become my life’s work.
When I was twelve, I knew I was more artistic than academic and enjoyed engaging with, and learning from, adults.
It seemed a good idea to become a hairstylist in a high-class salon. That was my goal and vision for the future.
My father was a successful auctioneer and real estate agent. We lived above his business premises. One Sunday, sitting in his front office, I was looking through the Sunday newspapers. In the News of The World was a photo of a glamorous movie star, wearing a designer suit with a mink coat over her shoulders. She was posed standing at the door of a plane, a perfect frame to the photo.
Suddenly, I felt a burst of energy go through my body.
What I would now compare to the power surge of rebooting your computer. At that moment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that one day, I was going to have a job where I would wear glamorous clothes, drape mink coats over my shoulders, and travel the world on airplanes.
This vision as a twelve-year-old did not fit my reality or understanding. However, I can still see that image and feel the energy.
At age fifteen, for six days a week, I sat upstairs on the #24 bus going to Bournemouth where I served my hairstyling apprenticeship. Surrounded by my friends who were also working their first jobs, we would chat and discuss our lives and plans for the future. One morning, my chums were talking about growing up and marrying millionaires. We didn’t know any, especially in the age range we were likely to meet someone and marry! Decades later, I still vividly remember thinking, “It is much more practical to be a millionaire than marry one.” I had no idea how that would happen. I just knew my life would be different from my friends.
It might interest you to know, that my mother and father gave me advice that my friends did not get from their parents. The first day of my apprenticeship, as my dad said goodbye he said, “In your career, do not concentrate on making a lot of money. Rather concentrate on becoming the type of person others want to do business with and you most likely will make a lot of money.” My very glamorous mother said, “Of course, it is the inner you that is important. However, you have to dress up and look good so that you can attract people who will then find out how nice and smart you are and value you can be to them.”
Now that you have heard mine, how does your “Once Upon a Time” story begin?
Where has it taken you? Where will it take you?
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