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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Jul 16, 2019

Dr. Carla Cooke might be what you’d call a late bloomer. Her stories about her late teens and early 20s aren’t about a driven, ambitious young woman. She worked hard in whatever job she had, but that often wasn’t enough to break through barriers. It took a painful experience with racism for her to realize her first calling to counseling and psychology. She knew there was more to that behavior than what she could see, and her compassion for every being was on full display.

She started to see her gifts as an intuitive and active listener and observer as her calling. Once she figured out the nature of these skills, she was highly motivated to learn more and grow to help others.

After decades of helping people through her counseling practice, she started to feel too comfortable. Not bored, though what she was doing in her work no longer excited her as it used to. She still loved it, she still valued it, but the day-to-day work didn’t fit the same way it. During our conversation, we used the analogy of clothes she wore 20 years ago: They still fit, but differently. Things have shifted.

She was asked to present a session at a women’s event and jumped at the opportunity. My favorite part of our conversation was this story:

As Dr. Cooke was walking the hallways of the conference venue, a participant walked up to her to have a conversation. This participant hadn’t actually attended her session, but said she felt like she had benefitted from it. She had been in discussions with women who were there, and the session was so insightful and relevant that the discussions were carrying over into buzzing, energetic conversations with women who didn’t attend it.

The women said to Dr. Cooke: “You need to do this more. This topic is important and you make a difference!”

It took her a few days to process what happened, and to choose to make a substantial shift in her practice and her business, but it didn’t take long once she made that choice. And it didn’t take long for her to realize she was absolutely on the right path, the one where she could and did make the positive impact on people’s lives that she KNEW was her calling this time around.

Connect with Dr. Carla Cooke on LinkedIn, check out her website to learn more, and I highly recommend her workbook, On Being Well.