In an article titled *Understanding Yourself* author Ching Ning Chu described Coco Chanel, the famous French fashion designer, as starting her career not as a designer but as a well-to-do society lady. She always dressed in the manner she liked, regardless of current trends. Her unique style, particularly her bobbed hair and raised hemline, went against ALL fashion standards of the time. Even though at first she was heavily criticized for her eccentricities, she ended up providing a basis of the radical changes in fashions of the 1920s.
Now nearly a century plus later, her name, Coco Chanel, epitomizes the very best in the world of haute couture. As Style.com’s profile on the designer showcased “The little black dress, the tweed suit, the quilted leather handbag, and the first-ever designer perfume—these are just some of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s lasting contributions to fashion. Little did she know when she opened her small millinery shop in Paris in 1913 that she was laying the foundation for what would become one of the world’s most illustrious fashion houses.”
France’s Marion Bartoli retired from tennis just six weeks after winning her first grand slam title at Wimbledon. “My body just can’t do it anymore. I’ve already been through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year. I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really pushed through and left it all during that Wimbledon. I really felt I gave all the energy I have left in my body. I made my dream a reality and it will stay with me forever, but now my body just can’t cope with everything. I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play. I’ve been doing this for so long, and body-wise I just can’t do it anymore.”
As I listened to a Bartoli interview on the BBC, this young woman expressed her dislike for the word retirement. She was also amazed that so many were weighing in and saying that they hoped she wouldn’t regret her decision including her captain in France’s 2004 Fed Cup team, Guy Forget who said “I hope she is going to change her mind. You don’t want to have regrets looking back. Being a professional player is such an exceptional job and you don’t want to look back in a few months or years later and think, ‘Why did I stop?’ But Marion is holding fast. She was certain that she should listen to her body and retire from tennis. “It’s not the end of my life,” she said, “I’ve just closed one chapter and I’m opening another.”
Two women, born at different times (Coco – 1883, Marion – 1984) but with a definiteness about them that is to be admired. We get to read about women like Coco and Marion and are inspired by them but often not enough to actually take action in our own lives. We feel that they are operating at a genius level that we will probably never approach; that they are gifted and a special breed and while we salute their accomplishments as women, we could NEVER be and do things the way they do!
Napoleon Hill, bestselling author of Think and Grow Rich, provides us with a definition of genius that should change our collective perspective. In an essay called *Learn How to Live Your Own Life*, Hill says “It must have been the Creator’s purpose to encourage us to live our own lives, to think our own thoughts, WITHOUT interference from others. Otherwise we would not have been provided with such a clear dominion over our minds. Simply by exercising this profound prerogative over your own mind and life, you may lift yourself to great heights of achievement in ANY field of endeavour you choose. Exercising this prerogative is the ONLY real approach to GENIUS. A GENIUS is simply one who has taken full possession of his own mind and directed it toward objectives of his own choosing, without permitting outside influences to discourage or mislead him.”
Coco dressed as she saw fit, not permitting outside influences to affect her own vision regarding fashion. Marion listened to her body and knew without a shadow of a doubt that she should retire after winning her Wimbledon title. It takes COURAGE to lead from within, when every message around us leads us down contrary paths. With so many schools of thought, and messages abounding on what to wear, what to eat, how to dress for success and how to singlehandedly conquer the world, no wonder we struggle, remain confused and feel overwhelmed about what we should do: with our lives, regarding our finances, in our relationships, and around our careers.
Here’s the secret that I believe both Coco and Marion discovered, either intuitively or unconsciously: the better we know ourselves – WHO WE ARE – the more confident we become in making choices because we will know without doubt, that the choices that we are making, serve us best. When you create your life around your truest self – EVERYTHING ELSE will fall into place. As you make this transformation all those things that are not serving this REAL you will fall away. This is not a journey to be taken lightly. You will need to be willing, courageous and determined because things might breakdown before the breakthrough.
For some the “aha” might come instantly. For others it might take much longer but contemplate and be encouraged by bestselling author Neale Donald Walsch’s words “We’ve been trying to get the better job, the better partner, the better lifestyle, the better town, all of it . . . without realizing that those things in and of themselves simply don’t matter when it comes to creating a life that’s the full expression of your truest self. When you live as that expression, your life will naturally reflect what you most care about and are drawn to in wonderfully fulfilling ways. When you align your day-to-day actions with your soul, life will provide you with everything you could possibly want . . . and, perhaps even more importantly, everything you need.”
If you feel as if you have everything but life still seems empty or incomplete and conversely if you feel as if you’re constantly struggling and striving, having to fight to get what little you got, start the process to self-rediscovery by asking yourself the following questions, and listening as your soul gives you the life-saving answers you need:
“Am I happy with the choices I’m making? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I following my intuition and guidance?” If you answered NO to any or all of these questions then it’s time for you to REDISCOVER WHO YOU ARE. You will save your life!