When we only focus on one person, one place, or one process, we block out our ability to see what’s possible in our lives. Meet four people who, like all of us, had to start somewhere in their careers and walked through their worlds without hesitation of how they could catch their dreams:
Kate Beirness, Anchor, TSN Sportsnet, Founder, HER MARK, @katebeirness
In 2013, Kate Beirness and Natasha Staniszewski formed Sportcentre’s first female anchor team. Beirness is also the founder of HER MARK, a one-day summit created to empower the next generation of women leaders.
Beirness started out in the sports business by booking travel and completing expenses for Sportsnet on-air commentators, so you wouldn’t necessarily expect her to be where she is today—it wasn’t until her boss at the time said, “if you are serious about this career, you need to leave and get on-air every day.” That’s when Beirness stepped out from behind-the-scenes and got out in front by volunteering with Rogers TV.
Beirness was born in a small town in Ontario with a dream to play in the WNBA. While an injury crushed that possibility, Beirness still found a way to revel in the sports she loves by bringing us highlights from teams and athletes around the world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian Novelist, Chimamanda.com
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author. You might know some of her novels such as Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah. She was recently awarded the PEN Pinter prize, which celebrates writers who take an “unflinching, unswerving” look at the world—judges recognized Adichie’s sophisticated approach to “gender, race, and global inequality.”
If you’re not familiar with Adichie’s work, get acquainted with her TEDGlobal Talk, The Danger of A Single Story. Adichie started reading at two-years-old and writing stories at seven-years-old. At that time, based on what she read, she said she didn’t know that people like her could exist in literature. Adichie said, “the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they’re untrue, but that they’re incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Adichie herself says she’s guilty of the single story and shares an experience from Mexico where she formed a perception of all Mexicans as abject immigrants.
Adichie as a storyteller encourages us to open our minds and see people as people, not base our opinions on what people in our lives have taught us or what the media would like us to believe.
Jay Shetty, Host, Storyteller, @JayShettyIW
Most people probably have the same reaction when they read one of Jay Shetty’s quotes or watch one of his videos: “how has he acquired so much wisdom, so young?”
Shetty became a monk at 22-years-old; he wanted a life of service, impact, and passion instead of money, fame, and power. Well, he got fame, but for his intended purpose: he helps his followers pay attention to their inner lives, so they can live and be as they choose. He shows us that what we say to ourselves, how we make others feel, and how we decide to lead our lives every day hinges on our happiness.
In one of his videos on YouTube he said, “All my plans failed. I had no money. I had rejected all my job offers, and I moved in with my parents with $25K of debt, and I’m thinking to myself what am I going to do? I literally had nothing...I had to find my meaning and purpose again.”
Shetty shows us that success is less about how much you can achieve by a certain age or in a specific role, and more about the attitude you choose to have in life. He recently interviewed Russell Brand who said about Shetty, “He has the eyes of a Bengal tiger and the mind of a sage.”
Ava DuVernay, Filmmaker, @avaduvernay
Ava DuVernay started her career as a publicist, though today she’s the third woman and the first black person in Hollywood history to direct a $100-million film. Incredible, right? We spotted her interview in the latest issue of Porter Magazine and learned a lot about her rise. She’s made nine films, with Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time being her latest. Her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere cost $50,000 and that was only six years ago.
We can learn a lot from DuVernay about following your fire and never giving up: she didn’t have any role models before her, so she had to figure it out on her own. “I want people to see that the least likely part in you - the vulnerability, the fear - can actually be the part that powers you through,” said DuVernay. “That’s my highest goal.”
We’re always going to have people in our lives who believe that we can’t achieve what we want. People tell you what they know, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who think like you and challenge you to rise up. In the moments when these people might not be available to you, turn to role models like Beirness, Adichie, Shetty and DuVernay to find willpower and imagination.