Three weeks ago, on my last day in Italy, I decided to dine at a nice fancy restaurant. Sipping wine watching people walk past me, I breathed several very deep sighs of relief and feeling an overwhelming gratefulness. It’s really, really hard to comprehend the fact that I was in Europe – let alone I was only told that I need to go to Italy for a meeting the week before. The fact that it is so easy for me to go overseas now and get on a plane is difficult to get my head around when 15 years ago, all I could do was to dream of being on a plane.
This year has been a really difficult year, but I have never felt more grateful. Every few days or weeks, I am challenged, inspired and overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratefulness because I have the people that I have in my life. People who inspire me every single day, challenges me every once in a while and more importantly, believed in me and push me that one step further.
Growing up certainly wasn’t easy, although it was one of the best times of my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have grown up in an environment that I did, learning the true meaning of a community and the essence of home.
To get from where I was to where I am now is, to me, an extraordinary privilege and I am eternally grateful. Sipping my beer, writing this, memories and names flood through me as I struggle to find a way to put thoughts into words in an eloquent manner. Or perhaps, I’ll never be able to but here goes.
Today I am grateful. I am grateful for all the opportunities I am given to change my own world. I am incredibly lucky to be given these opportunities and I am incredibly lucky to have the people in my life.
I am grateful for all the things I never had, I didn’t have and I still don’t have, but more importantly, today, I count myself very lucky to have all the things I have right now – the lessons I have learnt, the challenges I have faced and the people I have met.
The people I have met – the incredible people who believed in me, trusted me and invested in me. The people saw something in me that I didn’t see and encouraged me to continue to be the rebel that I always was and to put them to good use. I am very fortunate to call these people friends, teachers and some, employers who have been instrumental in all the sharp turning points of my life – Karen Burke da Silva, Deanne Gannaway, Jack Heath, Sarah Moran, Catherine Williams, Brad Krauskopf and Sam Thomson.
I am very fortunate because I have mentors who believed in me and, worked with my abilities to make me stronger, more capable and a greater, humble leader. They didn’t see me as a young person who needed guidance, instead they saw me as an individual who have the potentials of every young person to be who they want to be – Jan Owen AM, Stacey Monk, Steve Walz, Angus Stuart, Dawn O’Neil AM and Jeanette Miller.
And then I have two mentors who have walked with me, sat with me patiently and guided me every time I got lost – they never lost their patience nor have they ever doubted me (well, maybe quietly). They invested their time, energy, and everything they can including money into me so that I can be a better person and a better leader in the process. They very patiently, and with a lot of craft, skills and experiences, helped me shape my future that I have chose and guide me as I walk towards my vision. I am insanely, insanely grateful to call them my mentors and to have them in my life – Kerry Graham and Aleem Ali.
My parents believed in me whole-heartedly, love me unconditionally and gave me the trust I needed when I chose to go down an unconventional career path and took the road less taken. They nurtured me and they worked ridiculously hard so that I have all the opportunities to change my own world and for all that and more, I cannot thank them enough.
And last but most importantly, I am forever grateful to my very tight knit of friends who share their love, support and pride with me as I journey through the things I do. A few of them challenge me, enable me and inspire me and stuck by me even when others doubted me – they joined me on this crazy adventure and they are still with me a few months on as muddle through this difficult period with me – Lee Crockford, Mark Payne, Damon Klotz and all those who are a part of Soften the Fck Up.
If you’re reading this and we’ve been connected in some ways, thank you.
And on Thanksgiving and in honour of all of you, I am investing in a local entrepreneur in Tanzania so that she can help her kids shape their future and create the change in the world that they want to see. I hope that in some ways, you are proud of me for the person I am today, and the only way I can pay back is to be the best person that I can be and pass own this privilege that have been given to me by you.
This year, I am again a part of Epic Thanks, a global celebration that aims to change the world through the power of gratitude. This is very close to my heart because I feel these kids, and in many ways, I feel very connected to them. I know what its like to want to have your dream come true so bad, you’re willing to do all that you can to achieve them.
These kids have done their hard work – in 2006, we helped Mama Lucy, a former chicken farmer who used all her savings to build a primary school so that all the 500 kids in her village can go to school. Last year, they came second in the national exams out of the 168 schools in the village. They are not taking this opportunity for granted, and given the opportunity, I believe that they will do amazing things.
So, we are building them a secondary school this year. In honour of all of you, my amazing friends, family and mentors who have helped me transformed my life, I am investing $200 into these kids so that they can transform their lives. More importantly, I invite you to invest into these children as well through the widget on the right hand side.
At the end of the day, what matters to me isn’t about what we or I have achieved – what matters to me is what we can all achieve, together.
Thank you for being you and for being a part of my life.