Welcome to YOU Make a Difference.  Stories...observations and reflection on our Leadership Journey!


I grew up in a very small town in Canada that was literally in the middle of nowhere.

Even though I had a loving family and they did their best to make my childhood as happy as they could I just remember being unhappy most of the time. My restlessness and unhappiness escalated as I became a teenager and played it-self out in several different ways. The end result was that when I was fourteen we moved from the province of Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. I believe that this was in part so my Dad could take a sabbatical from his job to get his Master’s degree but I also believe it was to get me out of the rut I was in. It took a LONG time for me to adjust to the move but eventually I got through it and began to feel more at home and better about myself & my path. While the move was ultimately good for me, I believe that I have spent the majority of my life being restless and needing to just achieve or do one thing more….to have a feeling of belonging somewhere. 

Why does this come to top of mind? I was listening to one of my old playlists recently and “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson came on. So much of it that song feels like my story (cheesy I know). I was immediately transported back to when Jon and I made the life changing decision to leave Halifax, Nova Scotia and move to Toronto, Ontario for a year…that song was all over the airways at that time. 

For the first three months of my assignment there, I would fly to Toronto on a Monday and fly back to Halifax on a Friday. In my usual fashion of “wearing out a song” I listened to “Breakaway” a lot. Even in the early days of taking the new role, I knew it was going to be a challenge and that this had the potential to be a miserable experience. Having said that, I also knew that I had to forge forward because I was never going to get what I wanted out of my career and life unless I took risks and got out of my comfort zone. 

Here’s how the lyrics of the song resonated with me:

1.     I think the first three-four stanzas of the song are pretty self-explanatory and really captured how I felt growing up. I remember coming home from school…sitting on the cast iron radiator…staring outside at the snow or rain… and feeling like I really didn’t belong there but had no idea how to break free…or make my life any different.

2.     When I listen to the chorus…I can almost see myself back on the plane… looking out the window & convincing myself that this chance was worth taking…this was what I always dreamed I would do… and… even though it wasn’t working out as well as I had hoped it would I was at least stretching myself and breaking free. The other piece that was really important during that time… was that I had to ensure that I took Jon and the girls with me. I couldn’t forget the ones that I loved as I was getting caught up in the new job. 

3.     Lastly… as I traveled back and forth from the arctic freeze of Halifax to the arctic freeze of Toronto I did daydream a lot about living somewhere where there were palm trees and warm breezes. I kept secretly hoping that with the amount of money I was now making that we could afford a “real” vacation – not just the weekends away in Nova Scotia that was within our means.

So…what does this have to do with our leadership journey? I recently revisited an article by Deepak Chopra “The Conscious Lifestyle: Can a Leader Make (Their) Own Luck”. What I really like about it is the concept of Synchronicity as “meaningful coincidence” and the relationship to successful leaders. To many, successful leaders have been lucky in their career. It is that they kept taking risks even when things didn’t work out the way they planned and learned something at each turn which leads them forward in their journey. They found a way to break away!

As I reflect on all of this…I am not sure if it is synchronicity…daring to dream…taking risks…or daring to face failure that led me here. I DO know that I am at an unbelievable moment in my journey where I feel great about my family… my personal life as well as all that I have accomplished in my career to date. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and that there aren’t struggles or tough days. It simply means that…

…the young girl that used to stare out the window at the snow and rain

…dreaming of what could be

…would I end up happy

…NOW feels the warm breeze and sleeps under the palm trees

I could never imagined that as a child or as I winged my way back and forth between Halifax and Toronto that I would have the life I have in Phoenix, Arizona. That I would finally feel that I belonged somewhere and that my restlessness would lead to content. I’m by no means done….and I know there is so much more yet to come if I make a wish… take a risk… make a change and break away!

How about YOU?

Leadership questions of the week for YOU:

  • What is your most memorable “break away” story and what comes to mind for you in those lyrics for your journey?

  • Do you agree with the “make a wish, take a risk, make a change” concept for leaders throughout their journey even when they feel they have “arrived”?

  • Why do you think most leaders do not pay enough attention to the line “and I won’t forget all the ones that I love” as they rise to power in their careers?

  • How would you answer the question….On a scale of 1 to 10, how delighted are you with your life and why?

  • What do you think of Synchronicity and successful leaders?

Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!

Please continue the conversation by liking…commenting or sharing this article. You can also follow me on twitter @marciedwhite

10 Leadership Lessons from "The Boxer"

10 Leadership Lessons from "The Boxer"