Constance Zacharias

The Journey to Success

 Constance's Story:

I was born and raised in Singapore, a vibrant, multicultural city and country. Together with my three brothers, three sisters, my parents and my grandmother we lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment. I am the youngest of the seven children in a Chinese Singaporean household. 

My dad was the sole bread winner in the house. I don't remember much of him when I was younger. I just remember that he wasn't there when I went to bed or when I got up in the morning. I was told that my dad had many jobs. One of them was that of a sailor. That accounts for him not being around much. 

To help us get by financially, my Grandma and Mom would make delicious cakes, dumpling and pastries for my siblings to sell. My siblings would go storey to storey at all the apartment buildings around our area. Sometimes, my Grandma would go the open market and sell them there. As I recall, she was arrested several times for selling without a permit. Since most vendors at the market did not have a permit, they would flee when the police came around. Unfortunately, my Grandma was not agile enough to flee like the rest. 

As I was growing up there was a lot of quarrelling between my paternal Grandmother and my Mom whenever my Dad was not around. I could tell that my Grandmother did not like my Mom, which, given the hierarchal structure of Chinese culture, made for an intensely strained relationship. My second sister would ask me to tell my Grandmother and Mom to stop quarrelling as the rest of my siblings left for school, putting me in a difficult position.  My Grandmother held the reins in the family and she alone determined all that we could or could not do or have. As a child, I never knew we were poor. I thought that we were being very frugal and stingy. My clothes were all hand-me-downs and dresses became tops as I grew. But we were always neat and clean. 

Ever since I was young, I was told repeatedly by one of my siblings that I was picked up from the garbage, that I was ugly, stupid, not good enough and would amount to nothing. I wasn't allowed to go out to play with other kids. We had no toys to play with. There were times I pretended to be a teacher, singer or opera singer but was mocked at, laughed at, and told I was making a fool of myself and would amount to nothing. I spent most of my time at the balcony watching the lives of people on other balconies and in the streets from our seventh-storey apartment. They were like live picture books to me. Other times I would watch the formations of the clouds and imagine characters and make up stories. At times I would draw pictures of a girl with pimples all over her face, tears streaming down her face. I wanted to run away. 

Eventually my dad started his own business repairing televisions after the electronics company he worked for went bankrupt. That's when he was finally home and the split of our family started. My dad needed a place to do his business and he took my mom and my brothers along with him. I volunteered to go with them because Dad needed someone to run errands for him and I saw it as my chance to get away from a negative environment. That's when I no longer heard the squabbling. There was peace at last! 

I recall, when I was eleven I accompanied my Mom to the doctor. I sat outside the room when it was my Mom's turn to see the doctor. I heard the doctor raise her voice angrily at my Mom, "you either admit yourself to the hospital right now or you go home and die!”    In disbelief I wondered if I had heard wrong. My Mom came out of the doctor's room, grabbed my hand and walked sadly with me. The truth was that she had a serious case of diabetes. She kept it secret as she didn't want my grandmother to scold her. 

When we got home I did not remember exactly what was said. I just remember that we were in a hurry to pack up some clothing for Mom and we drove her to the hospital. During that time I wept for fear that I might lose my Mom. From that moment on I felt like I grew up quickly as I took the role of my Mom in the house. I washed all the laundry by hand for my brothers and my Dad, went to the market to buy grocery and attempted to cook. I began to question life and death. What's life all about? What's the purpose of life? Why do we exist and die? Why is there sickness? Why is there good and evil? Why are there so many gods and the need to appease them? A couple of my aunts on my mom's side were into black magic as they struggled to obtain their parents' wealth. Because of this I wondered why the gods would be biased as to who they bless or curse. 

I entered High School just before my Mom was released from the hospital. It was then that I was invited to a youth club and introduced to the message of God. I was moved by the love of God that came to us rather than us trying to appease Him. I was affirmed that I am a precious child of God, that I am loved, I am worthy and I have a future. I wept, feeling accepted and loved. My newfound faith though, would remain a secret from my family for years. 

At the youth club, I was asked to take some leadership responsibility that pushed me Cont'd at Right...


 

out of my comfort zone. Fast forward to my late teens… I joined a music team and met the Choir Director. He was a visionary. He saw the best in people and brought out their strengths. I was intrigued with the choreography and it stirred something in me. He saw that spark and surrounded me with people to develop skills in me. He believed in me, gave me greater leadership responsibility and through his guidance, I moved up the ladder of leadership and growth. 

With each step of faith, each risk, I moved further out of my comfort zone. I eventually left my homeland, friends and family and moved to Canada for training. To go with what I felt was my calling despite everyone's objection and strong opinions to the contrary.  Instead of the three years I thought I would be in Canada, I met my husband and made Canada my home.

After working several years in accounting and customer service, I became a stay-at-home mom after our second child was born. When my son started school, I re-entered the business world and bought a cafe. Learning to run it stretched me mentality, physically and emotionally. I discovered abilities and talents that I didn't know I had.  It caused me to consider what else I was capable of doing.  Eventually, I found the business was taking a toll on my children, so I sold the business. Even so, the experience had a profound impact on me.

After I sold the business, I found myself asking “What's my purpose now?" Then I heard a voice asking me, 'what do you want?" "I don't know” I responded, “Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it." "No. What do you want?" The voice replied.

Thus began some deep soul searching and reflecting.  I remembered that the happiest time in my life was when I was making an impact on people's lives. I had experienced someone who believed in me, saw my worth, saw the spark in me. I wanted to do the same for others. That's when I started my research and began studying self-development and later on, coaching.

However, in my journey of learning, I realized that the more I learned the less I knew. It has been more of a journey of change for me. 

I realized there were grudges and anger that I held onto from the hurts and pain in the past.  I learned to let go of these. I held myself in low esteem and placed little value on me. As a result I struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempted to end my life. However, in the journey of personal growth and spirituality, it helped me change my perspective.  

In the process I have taken the words "amounting to nothing", that I heard growing up and evolved from that belief. In doing so I have been “transformed into something meaningful”. I took my coaching certification and training. I have co-authored with Mike Litman, author of Conversation with Millionaires. Invited by Linda Eastman, I co-authored with 32 other coaches and consultants on a book, The Female Leader. I have collaborated with 5 other ladies to create and facilitate two additional events. I’ve been certified as Coach/Trainer/Teacher with John Maxwell Team, conducted and trained at various workshops and facilitated mastermind groups.

Life is not what the past was but the continuing journey of learning, loving and being ‘on purpose’. As I learn and evolve, I discover what really matters and change how I look at things. Growth starts within to see without. As Wayne Dyer said, "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

If you are like me and are struggling to believe in yourself and your abilities, know that you have greatness in you. We all see things from our particular perspective and often this perspective is not based in truth. You have innate abilities that can help and serve the world. Your worth and value are not based what others see you but how you see and value yourself. Take classes and seek out coaches or mentors who can help you become who you can be. Let go of what is not serving you and let your greatness shine through. 

Find out more about Constance & Her Coaching Business by visiting her website, following her on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+&/or Pinterest 

 

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