July 2020 is the Female Wave of Change Story telling month: Stories matter and we want you to share yours! Today Viola Edward shares her story from being a serial migrant to growing into a serial awardee.
From Serial Migrant to Serial Awardee
“I am a relational being, passionate, adventurous, and in love with humanity, people, and nature. I am an eternal student, a traveler who is madly in love with psychology. I am a polyglot, a sister, a wife, a real and true friend for many.
Together is better
As a creative social entrepreneur, business consultant, and advisor, I guide senior leaders and their teams to evolve their organizations’ thinking. We work together to build an inclusive culture that encourages dialogue and engagement. I integrate systemic breathing, thinking practices, and emotional efficiency to workplaces. As a synergist, I am continuously developing innovative schemes. I recently introduced breathwork to address rehabilitation from addiction, a recovery journey I know too well. I thrive on collaboration and partnerships because I believe that Together is Better.
I started working at the age of thirteen
In 1972, I migrated with my mother and sister from Lebanon to Venezuela, it was my second migration, and it had a significant impact on my life. We left Lebanon due to heightened political instability ending in a war that lasted for 15 years. It became the end of my childhood as I started working so early in life, at the age of thirteen. While it could sound daunting for many, it makes me who I am today. It built my resilience, humility, and compassion, which I use today with my clients in my self-development practice.
I felt a sense of responsibility to care for myself, others and the world
I had to navigate the challenges of life. I felt a sense of responsibility to care for myself, others, and the world. I wanted to make a difference to support those who go through the same experience when they most need it.
As a kid, I was reticent and silent – not at all the lively, bubbly person that I am today. I suddenly lost my father at the age of 3, and my mother was pregnant with my sister. We were shocked, and it was a tragedy. As a child, I shut down my emotions at a very early age. I felt my family had enough issues, and this led me to become a bookish girl causing no trouble at all, which changed when I moved to Venezuela. I woke up; I had to survive.
I always wanted to be a psychotherapist and teacher. When we migrated to Venezuela, I had to work to support my mother as I was the eldest sister. At that time – in the ’70s, I home-schooled myself. I kept looking until I found a solution. I found a school that admitted youngsters from the age of 16, I was not that age yet, but right there and then, I negotiated my way to admission. Since then, I followed the alternative education system. And this is what I teach today.
I want to deliver a lasting impact on society
For 21 years, I worked in the corporate world and then I left to pursue my purpose and desire to serve others differently. I wanted to deliver a lasting impact on society, and this purpose inspires my leadership journey to date.
Since the nineties, I have been pioneering and developing mental health fitness and wellbeing in the workplace, bridging the space between breathwork therapy and business management. I do systemic consulting for organizations, as I believe that everything is interconnected. What happens in one area of the workplace will affect others. People are the heart of any organization, be it public or private. They reflect the impact of a situation, but the cause can be on other levels of the organization. Therefore, I look at the structure, strategy, vision, operational processes, systems and rewards.
In our consulting work, we apply the “triple impact” approach in business to deliver impactful solutions that can serve all. It focuses on productivity, people, and the planet (B Corp). I am also an advocate of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and I focus on helping my clients to integrate their profit with what is right for society and the planet. During this process, we raise awareness of sustainability and how organizations can navigate a challenging external environment while socially responsible. I mentor the client(s) to deal with the changes and lead the process in their organization. I develop a clear roadmap for success and milestones, which is a pivotal step to ensure that we translate strategies into action.
My recipe for success is simple: love, belief in humanity, and being action-oriented.
I work on myself continuously- clearing my path and focusing on improving. I have a clear purpose, joy in my work. I believe that we are Better Together – we can form smart alliances while respecting our differences. In turn, this gives us a higher capacity to be flexible and adapt to the changes that life brings. In this way, we can make a difference in the world.
It all starts with the individual
It is part of my mission to advocate for peace, respect for human rights, and gender equality. Only through the full activation of the 17th SDG will we be able to progress on the significant challenges facing humanity; it all starts with the individual.
My mother embedded in me the idea to support those in need. My love and bond towards women hold a special place in my heart. My goal is to help others become the best version of themselves. I created several knowledge-based courses, tools, and methodologies to enable people to uplift themselves, find happiness, and be resilient. We need to develop the self-first, which in turn improves society.
Breathwork brought it all together for me
To keep up with all the challenges and the “joie de vivre”, my love of life and family sustained me. In my youth, when that foundation was shaken, I went into private and group psychotherapy for years. I practiced meditation and mindfulness. Breathwork was the one practice that brought it all together for me. Today, I keep learning, improving myself, and sharing my GRIT with others.
As for my strategies, my intuition is my strong suit. I rely on it a lot, I keep an open mind and heart and continue learning. Also, in business as in personal life, I learned how to set boundaries at an early stage, this allows me to be kind and generous. It also provides an organic space for the relationship with others to develop steadily and grow healthy strengthening the discernment. I don’t pursue perfectionism, but I do my best always.
I think perfectionism is one of the major enemies of women
I think perfectionism is one of the major enemies of women. It causes so much disappointment and hinders success. I think we can have it all, no matter how short or long our life is. Life still provides us with the opportunity to create, give, receive, have, and change.
One of my biggest passions is Mentoring women to change this belief system from the need for perfectionism to creating excellence and being in the present moment. To enjoy what they have here and now and break free from limitations that still holds them back.
My plans for the future
To keep teaching and training GRIT Coaches and Systemic Breathworkers Mentors around the world through our GRIT Academy. It is especially crucial for our wellbeing and mental health fitness. I love being globally connected and contributing to helping others find their best path in life. I also want to be able to support more NGOs and foundations working for human rights and gender equality; all that in balance with family life.
I aspire to see a rise in the number of empathetic, conscious, and compassionate leaders who can inspire and be inclusive of the people they lead. I want the future to be sustainable and for communities to grow through partnerships that can truly deliver and resolve complex societal issues.”
Viola Edward gave Female Wave of Change permission to publish her story