Growing up, I always wanted to a cheerleader.
In fact, it was one of the determining factors when choosing which University to attend. But when I got into a very reputable & competitive theatre school, even though it didn’t have a cheerleading squad, I had to say yes. I mean, even bigger than my desire to be a cheerleader was my dream to be on Broadway.
Well, I never did see my name in shining lights or make the Rocketts kick line. I never even got to wear one of those tiny cheerleading outfits (thank goodness!) But you don’t have to wave pom poms professionally in order to be a cheerleader.
My biggest cheerleader was anything but typical. And I can totally picture her face scorning at those little outfits. And yet my mother was at every opening and every closing of every show I ever did. And she believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
My mum wore a wig to my 21st birthday party. She wasn’t wearing a costume, braving a new look, or trying to make a fashion statement. She was going through chemotherapy - and yet nobody knew.
She fought it, her hair eventually grew back, and we moved on. It was as if it never even happened….
Until it came back. And this time, with a vengeance.
I eventually moved back home to look after her, and felt purpose for the first time in my life. I finally didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t skinny enough or blond enough to land the role or get the gig. I was exactly where I needed to be.
And then she passed away.
And in an instant, I lost my #1, I lost my purpose, I lost me.
I used to think in order to honour her legacy I had to live in the world of grief and death and end-of-life. Without my Mum there to cheer me on, I wasn’t brave enough to face life head on. And so, I ran away.
Volunteering at HIV+ orphanages in Thailand to Ashrams in India to vans in Zealand. And from dreadlocks to shaving my head to raise money for breast cancer. I’ve lived in 16 different countries, volcano boarded in Nicaragua, surfed in Peru, summited climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, even bungee jumped in my birthday suit (it was a dare!) And I recently did a Remote Year, living in a new country every month for the course of a year. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, you’ve really lived BIG!” Indeed I certainly lived my own version of Eat, Pray, Love…. And yet I wasn’t living big at all. I was escaping big. I was hiding big.
And then one day I realized I had to do more with my life.
If I learned anything from losing my #1 fan, my Mum, way before I was ready, it’s that life is too short to not live big and be brave. Brave enough to show up. Brave enough to make things happen. Brave enough to be you.
And whether sharing insights on stage, taking women skydiving, or climbing Kilimanjaro, now I get to be the cheerleader my mother was for me to anyone else who’s in need of a little pom pom action.
Apparently when I was 12, after my parents acknowledged they had made a bad call on something, I responded with: “It’s okay, there’s no dress rehearsal for being a parent” (using the theatre analogies already from a young age!)
It’s true. You don’t get a dress rehearsal for being a parent. And you don’t get a dress rehearsal for life.
So it’s time to get your BRĀV on.
And now the ‘Professional’ stuff everyone expects…
An authority on brave leadership and founder of The BRĀV Institute, Carol Schulte has been educating, empowering, and entertaining audiences internationally for almost a decade. She is committed to getting you out of your comfort zone and into your B.R.A.V.E. Zone ~ where you’re not afraid to show up, speak out, and get into action long before you feel ready.
She holds a BFA in Theatre Performance, an MA in Communication, two postgraduate certificates in coaching and mentoring, and has worked with Fortune 500 companies, International Associations, and thousands of leaders to get their brāv on. Whether it be asking for a raise or promotion, nailing a presentation, or climbing Africa’s highest peak, her clients attribute her insights and inspiration to them achieving what they never thought possible.
Carol is a published author, been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts, and is a returning guest expert on Rogers TV. Having lived and worked in 16 countries including Ashrams in India and vans in New Zealand, rocked dreadlocks in Thailand and shaved her head for breast cancer, she certainly walks her talk and brings a global perspective to all she does. When she’s not traveling or speaking on stage, you can find her volunteering as a bereavement facilitator, training for her next triathlon, or practicing her serious carpool karaoke game.