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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lipstick Leadership: "No Matter What" - Ardice Farrow's Story!

"I was six. The youngest and the smallest of all the neighborhood kids and the family of cousins. I was a bit frail, not very athletic. My tiny system was susceptible to any cold, flu, ear, nose or throat infection in the near vicinity and I was treated on a regular basis with high doses of penicillin. Add to that the fact I was the youngest member of an angry, somewhat dysfunctional and highly suppressed family. My emotional anxiety played havoc on a sensitive stomach, and I could be counted on to throw up when the emotional tensions or expectations rose too high.

It was the summer before first grade and inspired by my playful and wonderful adopted 'Aunt Ginka', my family and two other families rented houses at the beach. Southern California beaches are noted for turbulent waves and rapid undertows. At the time, I had an unfounded and exaggerated fear of water, so as the older kids frolicked in the waves, I was more than happy to build sand castles and run down for an occasional bucket of water. But my Aunt Ginka, ever the creative adventurer, was determined to open up my world of experience.

She pulled two old inner tubes down to the water's edge and began to explain in great details the rules of the 'No Matter What' game we were about to play. Rule One - You had to face away from the incoming waves so you had no idea what was coming. Rule Two - You had to hang onto your inner tube 'No Matter What'. For a kid who was terrified by the shallow end of a suburban pool, I was in way over my head. My heart pounded as the water beneath us was sucked away to build a wave of unknown size that would soon be rushing toward us. With each wave, the thrill of the game escalated. We turned upside down, sideways, spun in any direction and yet we held on. With each pending wave, we screamed out to each other, 'No Matter What!'

The impact of my 'Aunt Ginka' did not stop at the end of the summer. Months later, she convinced my mother, who elevated anyone who went to medical school to the level of an omnipotent god, to take me to a different doctor. The new doctor immediately determined that the constant antibiotics had diminished my immune system and I was on a downward health spiral that would never end. He reversed the treatment with heavy doses of iron and a vitamin regiment. Within months, I was as healthy as any child you could imagine.

I don't know if I have ever thought of my Aunt Ginka in this way or realized and acknowledged how her courage and playfulness impacted my life. But I will tell you I am never sick. I am ridiculously healthy and live a life of adventure at every level. I love the ocean more than I can say. It is a ceaseless source of inspiration, peace and play. I have body surfed the most challenging waves on Hawaiian beaches. I have lived on a sailboat, sailed the Pacific, survived wild ocean storms and life-threatening conditions. I have swam with the dolphins, dove tropical waters, explored spectacular deep underwater caves and have never said no to an ocean adventure no matter how challenging. I have hiked exotic jungles and traversed steep mountain trails. I have lived and traveled alone without concern in other countries. And I have taken on huge business and creative adventures, never looking for what is safe but always seeking what might be possible and creating and imagining the unknown.

I have fearlessly sought the wisdom of life and traveled near and far to learn from masters and experts. Unconsciously, I have adopted my Aunt Ginka's philosophy that the simplest things I do can touch another and change someone else's life forever. From Aunt Ginka, I learned that when you stop looking for or trying to make life safe, you can experience the thrill and the wonder of life and call forth the best in you. When you give up being safe, you are instilled with the courage to follow your instinct and intuition and find new solutions to what seem impossible challenges. And you easily step forth to lead and inspire others which is what we are doing with our Wake Up Women publishing group and the Wake Up Women books.

I realize as I write this that thanks to my Aunt Ginka, I live each day with the attitude that life is an adventure, an unpredictable thrill that will surprise and amaze me No Matter What."

- Ardice Farrow, founder and co-publisher of Wake Up Women, www.wuwbestseller.com, www.ardicefarrow.com

For more of "Mom's Wisdom" to apply in your workplace for success, check out my new book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership" available in local bookstores and online at BarnesAndNoble.com!

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