Bits and bites of everyday life


Be among the special 2 percent: dare to start a parade!

True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more:
Some of Alberte's colleagues and friends,
planning a parade in 2007

Last week, I headed for La Maison du Citoyen in the Hull sector of Gatineau with my friend Lucie who shares a lot of common interests with me. Jean-Marc Chaput would be speaking that evening. Celebrating forty years of motivational seminars and presentations, Jean-Marc Chaput doesn’t look eighty and still has the energy and wit of a young “buck”. He is famous for driving his messages across with humour. I laughed so hard, I had to wipe my eyes several times. But his messages are clear and right on target. They will make you think, re-evaluate, question… they will motivate you, transform your way of looking at things… 

Here are some of the things I came away with that evening: 

Do you have projects? Do you have dreams? Many of us play it safe; we stall and get into a funk. Do you remember when you were young and your dreams were incredible? You could fly or you could go long distances in clear blue water with a single breast stroke! I used to dream there was a secret cavern on the side of the hilltop at the farm. I was the only one who could access that cavern which contained gorgeous furniture, accessories and much more. I wanted to be independent, to have a private room of my own, so in my dreams, I would convert part of the summer kitchen into a “pad” of my own. I would bring back gifts for my family so they didn’t feel left out. 

I never gave up that dream. That cavern was my potential but no one ever told me. In fact, I probably never shared that dream with anyone. I had a goal: freedom to be me… to express who I really was! It took a while to achieve this. I needed tools and guidance in order to reach my goal. Education was the most important one. This tool enabled me to go into teaching, another dream. It gave meaning to my life, gave me purpose. Everyone needs to feel they are useful. This implies working for and with other people. Albert Jacquard said, “I am because you are”. 

I am a people person who wants to make a difference. Jean-Marc Chaput says 2% of the people put on a parade, 8% watch the parade and 90% miss the parade all together! Teaching puts you in a leading role and I have so many good memories of small personal successes: putting on a wonderful class act for a Christmas concert, seeing one of my young students persevere and achieve better marks or enjoy school for the very first time, watching my daughter’s stories being published before I could be published myself and students winning prizes for their projects, their art or their writing. 

Young people need to be involved; they must find their voice. They need encouragement. They need to see themselves as winners. This is what teaching brought into my life. It grounded me and gave me the chance to continue and prosper when my private life exploded. As Jean-Marc Chaput admits, there are uncontrollable circumstances in everyone’s life. As he says, “You can’t always get what you want!” This is how Jean-Marc Chaput became such a well-known speaker. At one time, his company went bankrupt and he had to start from the ground up again and rebuild himself. He did not throw in the towel or stall, instead he persevered.  

I went through the same thing at age thirty. I had to start my life anew and this is when freedom came at last. Jean-Marc advises his audience to start with small victories and to slowly build momentum. Find a coach who will guide you along so that your talent and effort pay off and lead you to success. My guide, in those difficult years, was a dear friend and teaching colleague. Rachel supported my honest efforts, listened when I needed to talk about my struggles and applauded my small victories. She could be brutally honest but that’s what I needed as I had a tendency to let people take advantage of my good will.  

Jean-Marc Chaput offered three pointers during the evening: 

  1. Be daring. Go for your dream. Make it come true.
  2. Communicate and be willing to listen.
  3. Be professional. Offer a quality product or performance.

And let’s not forget that during our finite voyage on this earth, what matters most are our relationships as they are the key to proper grounding. Jean-Marc Chaput has been married to his wife, Céline, for sixty years. This very strong bond has been the building block for other special relationships with his five children and their respective families. A loving, supportive mate who shares your life is instrumental in helping you discover who you really are and attain your full potential. 

Friendships with colleagues and friends are also of prime importance. If you respect your self and others, if you interact with “savoir-vivre” and remember to be youthful and open-minded, no matter what your age, you will fulfill your dream of a meaningful life. 

Jean-Marc Chaput cautions us not to become slaves of our possessions or our status. Instead, he invites us to use our God-given gifts to good avail and do so with “class”. 

This world still needs “class” mixed in with daily doses of kindness, honesty and serenity. 

What a soothing balm when so many of us are struggling to make sense of Colonel Russell Williams’ sick and depraved secret life which he so painstakingly documented and which is splattered daily all over the medias! 

Let’s avoid dwelling on these things for too long for “they are vexations to the spirit” (as written in the famous poem Desiderata). Let’s focus on the positive aspects of life, on all the worthwhile parades: United Way, cure for cancer walks and so many others. 

So share love and respect others! And may you find a wonderful coach to guide and encourage you on your life’s journey! I certainly appreciated Jean-Marc Chaput’s wise counsel. 

Blessings to all!

And don’t be shy; organize your own parade!