It’s a line straight from great-grandma: ‘children should be seen and not heard…’ However I’ve had cause to reflect on this concept of visibility, of being noticed, of being seen, and the power and impact of that.
Recently I was talking with some girlfriends while hiking about a school camp that I attended when I was around 11 years old. It wasn’t a typical school camp in that the whole year level went along; rather I was ‘selected’ to go along, chosen by a teacher, and it was an incredible experience. Eleven year old me left my city home and travelled to what was then the ‘country’ to stay in a dorm with a gaggle of other kids who I’d never met before. I stepped out of my shell and just talked to other kids from other places, where we learnt about playing to our strengths and working as a team to achieve great outcomes while playing games and eating fun food. I learnt so much about myself as an individual, and how strong, courageous, clever and kind I could be.
Many years later, I found out that the specific camp I went to was actually for ‘kids at risk’. I was gobsmacked and cried and cried when I discovered this.
Why did I cry when it was truly one of the best camps I ever went to?
Well, simply because it meant I actually had the realisation that “someone noticed”……maybe it was my teacher, maybe it was someone else at the school, I will never know. It happened far too long ago for me to be able to even find out how I got that seat on the bus to that camp. But it meant someone noticed ME and that at the time, they noticed things were not quite right for me and guessed there were issues at home. They weren’t wrong. You see, I grew up in an abusive household. My dad was an alcoholic and that alcoholism would lead to violence and intimidation in our home. That said, I thought I did a marvellous job at hiding that fact. It was never, EVER something I thought I’d ever displayed outwardly at school.
Move forward 10 years and there I was in the workforce. I won’t go into my rather long work history as that is a story you can read a smidge about it right here but I was fortunate at nearly every work place I was employed in that “someone noticed”. They noticed my drive and need to achieve and succeed, and, well, in they stepped as mentors and taught me how to read numbers and people and trends in their marketplace, or bosses that saw my strengths and played to them by giving me increased responsibilities, which was then like a cycle of achieving and succeeding. If I failed they saw that I analysed that failure to death so I would do as much as possible to avoid failure at the same thing again.
So, why have I gone full steam ahead in the area of small business mentoring? Because “I notice”. I notice when people are working really, really hard at, on and in their businesses and want to be successful and thrive and I damn-well want to be able to support them, nurture them and tell them that they are great at what they do and to keep going. The success and achievements will be theirs.
For the last 20 years, I have been helping people with small businesses with their numbers and mentoring them. In this work, I was noticing. Noticing them. Their strengths. Their drivers and motivations. And now, as I am greying I know in my heart of hearts that this my purpose, this is my passion.
As an adult, I’ve always been careful to prevent my upbringing from holding me back or defining me- and for that I’m grateful every-damn-day but that was because, put simply “someone noticed”. So, as you are growing in yourself and in your passion and purpose, don’t forget to “notice”, because the impact that you make on that person’s day could be life-changing.