As far back as I can remember, my sister Ciara has been fearless (well, fearless minus frogs and lizards). As a child she was a tree climbing, downhill racing, competitive swinging, force of nature. By comparison, I was a book reading, doll playing, tea party having, little lady.
As a result, she has always astounded me. Right after passing her GCSE O’Levels she decided that she wanted to study abroad and was ready to leave Trinidad right away. She had never lived away from home and she couldn’t cook to save her life – but she was going. And she told anyone who would listen. I remember my mum being a bit taken aback and insisting that she was too young and needed to complete her GCE A’ Levels first. She did, grudgingly, while placing most of her time and energy into acing the SATs. Pretty soon she had a scholarship to study in the US.
After a first degree completed in an area of the US where we had family, and at a school where there were many students from the Caribbean, she set her sights on her Masters. She wanted to go to the best school for her subject of choice – Applied Financial Mathematics. It didn’t matter that it was in the middle of nowhere, where she knew no one and had no family, and where there were barely any other Caribbean students. She was going. What is most incredible about this story is that she started to tell us she was going to that school, like it was a definite, even before it all panned out. And just as she spoke, so it was. She set her sights on it, won yet another scholarship and was on her way.
Fast forward to the end of her Masters. She returned to Trinidad and got a job in financial services. It was a job that fit her experience, background and studies. A suited and booted, very corporate type job with an intense commute. She knew almost right away that it wasn’t right for her and that she needed to do something else. I remember the conversation where she was telling me she wanted to start her own business. I believe I said something super encouraging like “Why don’t you keep working and start your business on the side?” She heard me, but then she quit anyway. I knew she would. She’s always telling me “Why do you keep doing things you don’t want to do?” Or “You know you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, right?” She left to make space for the things she wanted in her life and ultimately she launched her own businesses. Yep. You read that right. She has 2!
Today my sister owns both Jeune Mariée Bridal and Limitless Learning TT. With Jeune Mariée, in addition to planning weddings she has a chance to work with her hands and indulge her creative side. With Limitless Learning she brings her passion for and love of learning and Mathematics to students with her own brand of energy and enthusiasm.
Under her creative vision her business continues to grow and become so much more than it was when she started. She’s started to work with homeschooled students. She’s hired other teachers to work alongside her. She offers specialised, fun learning for grownups – Art & Wine, Cocktails & Calligraphy, Craft & Sip (Are you sensing a theme?).
And she still continues to surprise me. Last year she decided that to take her business to the next level she needed office space. Even the thought of it gave me palpitations. A fledgling business taking on a long-term financial commitment? It was something I had avoided for my own business. But she was sure. She ran the numbers. She knew it was right for her. And she moved heaven and earth to make it happen. By July Limitless Learning TT was in beautiful state of the art premises in Central Trinidad.
I have learned so much from watching my sister navigate life. You may not think this about me, but I am risk averse – conservative even. And she, well I told you, she is something else altogether. With that in mind, let’s think about the lessons we can learn from this story to apply to our own lives and goals:
How big are your goals? Are you sticking to what’s conservative? Is there space to grow and go even bigger than you planned? Do you speak the things you want for yourself out loud in order to make them reality? Will the goals that you have chosen to pursue make you happy? If not, are you willing to forego them to find goals that do?
Challenge yourself to make Ciara-sized goals. Speak the things you want into existence, and put all your effort behind them. Because when Ciara sets her mind to something, she always manages to make that thing a reality. And finally, make sure that the things you choose for yourself bring you joy. Ciara always chooses the things that make her happy.