Fulfilling your life’s dreams can be a most rewarding and sometimes a most frightening journey. A journey with surprises and outcomes you may never have envisioned. I have reached many of my big fuzzy dreams of my youth and am marching forward toward new goals and dreams. Here are some of the tips I shared at the WBN’s AGM on how my own path of inspired growth created a life richer than I could have imagined:

1. Follow your dreams by keeping them top of mind. They may be a bit unclear, but the details will reveal themselves as you move toward your goals. I had a dream of starting my own business not knowing what kind, when, where or how. I never let go of that dream. Within 10 years I had fulfilled that dream and started a journey of growth, creativity, learning, challenges and success. I had no idea that I would be in catering!

2. Choose your own path and take the first steps. Trust your instincts and set out toward your goals. You will figure it out along the way. Listen to your own internal compass and not what other people want you to do. I was told not to be an engineer (‘not a good job for a woman’), and not to start my business (‘it’s a recession here in Canada’). We chose a strategy for Tulips & Maple that meant we did things the hard way and a different way to ensure top notch quality and unlimited creativity. The employees wanted an easier way, the customers wanted a cheaper way, but we stuck to our guns and reaped many rewards and awards as a result.

3. It’s how you view the barrier that determines how you grow. At first, I saw the hurdles to my goals as a test to my perseverance. Later and especially during my Tulips & Maple journey, when faced with a difficult problem I asked myself two questions. First, ‘what is the opportunity in this problem?’ and second, ‘what is the lesson for me in this problem?’ I would use the answers to create solutions for the betterment of the company and my own personal or professional growth. Each obstacle is a great opportunity for inspired growth!

4. The best way to grow is to step out of your comfort zone. I made decisions in my career path and personal life that purposely scared me. I was the first and only women hired in the three positions I held from Calgary, to Brussels, to Geneva before launching Tulips & Maple. I chose to study my MBA in a non-English speaking country to learn a new culture and language. I am currently using power tools that used to scare me as we fulfill another dream of building our own lake retreat. Doing something new or scary is a phenomenal way to achieve inspired and fulfilling growth.

5. There is a cost but the benefits are worth it. No sugar-coating please; there is always a cost to achieving a goal or fulfilling a dream. My dream of living and working in Europe meant I couldn’t see my family and friends as much. However, I met new friends from around the world, experienced historic world events first hand (the fall of the Berlin Wall) and led an exciting and adventurous life. Starting and growing a successful business implies a financial as well as emotional cost especially when working with a passionate group. The personal and professional growth derived from entrepreneurship is unparalleled with every up and down of that amazing ride.

I hope you blaze your own trail of inspired growth using your own compass to enjoy a fulfilling and enriched life better than you imagined!

Kristine van der Pas-Norenius, B.Sc. (EE), M.S.M.
Keynote Speaker, WBN AGM, Sept 2014