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Although I was often the top student in high school math classes and solved science problems effortlessly, I had no desire to express these natural abilities in a career. Dancing was my passion. I both lost and found myself moving my body to the rhythm of my soul. My parents didn’t believe I could earn a living as a dancer, and I had doubts, so my passion was relegated to a social activity.
During my final year of high school, my father suggested that I apply for entry into Pharmacy College. I followed his advice because I couldn’t think of another alternative. From the start, however, I was more interested in playing poker and ping-pong than attending classes. At the end of each school year, I worked in a pharmacy, a curriculum requirement. I watched the clock continually and prayed for the end of each day.
It didn’t feel right and I knew I had to do something about it.
After evaluating my options and reflecting on questions that connected me to my purpose, I decided to pursue teaching. I had developed a reverence for knowledge, and it felt right. What’s more, I had often dreamed of traveling the world and meeting people from different cultures. I could now fulfill this dream during the long semester breaks. I have never looked back —and my career has never felt like work! I taught junior high school science, then senior year high school physics and chemistry, and ultimately chaired the high school science department.
I loved challenging my students with mischievous, zany problems to solve and they were willing participants.
They entered my classroom grinning, wondering what each lesson would bring. Gratefully, I achieved my purpose at that time: to make learning synonymous with fun. My teaching career evolved to encompass a love of languages, and my deepest professional commitment, Optimal Thinking, the basis of personal and professional optimization.
Since 1980, I have presented seminars in corporations and educational organizations and to individuals throughout the world. Initially, I adopted the “think positive” principle, but quickly recognized that this paradigm had serious shortcomings. I recall the following message from a well-known motivation expert: “Positive thinkers are the winners in this world. Negative thinkers are the losers. You wouldn’t enter someone’s home and dump a load of trash in his or her living room. Your behavior is equally offensive when you dump your emotional garbage on others. Fake it until you make it!” I was uncomfortable with this duplicity and lack of compassion.
Although my words had not always matched my actions, I was unwilling to consciously choose hypocrisy or to sacrifice my soul to a bravado image. I responded by isolating myself from others when I felt sad or uncomfortable, because I felt guilty imposing my negative thoughts and feelings on them. I also became the quintessential optimist. I disregarded warning signals and held unrealistic expectations of people and of life.
For a brief period, I disappointed and betrayed myself with wishful thinking. This was a wonderful gift—it led me to Optimal Thinking.
In the late 1980’s, I began to challenge the deficiencies of positive thinking and formulated Optimal Thinking. Soon the media was at my doorstep. One article described me as “Australia’s most successful woman in her field.” One day, however, a journalist referred to me as “Australia’s most successful woman.” What a leap! Then came an interview with a veteran journalist who asked: “What makes you Australia’s most successful woman?” Embarrassed, I responded: “Who am I to say who is more successful? Is mom at home doing her best to raise decent children any less successful than the corporate executive who optimizes profits?” “With thinking like that, you have to be Australia’s most successful woman!” he replied.
I appeared on hundreds of shows answering questions about Optimal Thinking, and even hosted my own radio and television programs. It was fun!
When an invitation to write a book arrived unexpectedly, I agreed. For sixteen years I had researched and explored this universal, peak form of thinking and the core beliefs that prevent us from thinking optimally. Along the way I discovered the five greatest shortcomings of positive thinking. What a joy! Optimal Thinking has now been translated into 17 languages.
Every time I deliver an Optimal Thinking seminar, I connect my best self with the participants. My executive coaching and life optimization programs allow me the privilege of contributing Optimal Thinking one on one. I interact with all kinds of wonderful people, including CEOs and senior executives of large corporations, small-business owners, working moms, educators, politicians, compassionate service providers, and even members of royal families. When they gain the tools to make the most of their lives, they often say: “I feel like flying out of here!” Needless to say, I love my career.
I work with a joyful heart and am blessed with endless satisfaction.
That’s because I have the privilege of helping you to consistently place your best self in charge of every situation!