Dare To Dream That You Can Make a Difference

by Daryn Kagan

FA - 3.31.08Daryn Kagan

Here, former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan shares how what seems like a disaster can actually be the catalyst that kickstarts your dreams, and also how service, in its many forms, can lead to new business ideas.

This is going to be easy. Because you’re already in Ladies Who Launch, I know in many ways I’m preaching to the choir. I know you have dreams, and many of you have dreams of taking your business or nonprofit idea and making a big difference in the world.

I’m here to tell you it’s possible! I know because I’m reporting from the front lines of “What’s Possible!” In fact, that’s the title of my new and first (yay!) book that comes out April 8.

The big ol’ title is “What’s Possible: 50 True Stories of People Who Dared to Dream They Could Make a Difference.” I’ve interviewed everyday people who have overcome all sorts of obstacles to go on and make their dream come true. You talk to enough of these folks, as I did last summer, and you start to see some trends developing, some things all of these people have in common, even though they are dreaming in all sorts of directions.

Thanks to Ladies Who Launch, I now get to pass on some of the things I learned to you as you go for your dream.

That Big Bummer Could Be Your Big Chance!

This is actually true in my own case. There I was, a CNN news anchor for 12 years. Talk about a great gig: I got to do everything from travel to Africa with Bono to cover war to work the red carpet at the Oscars. And my main job was manning the news desk for the late morning hours. For someone like me who loves breaking news and live television, it was a wonderful ride.

In January 2006, the big boss called me in. I honestly thought he was going to compliment me on the fantastic job I did handling the latest Osama bin Laden tape. Uh, no. Actually, he wanted me to know that after 12 years, CNN would not be renewing my contract. I never bothered to ask why, as every news anchor knows that moment will one day come.

While I wasn’t so interested in hearing what the boss had to say that day, I did hear another voice saying, “Daryn, it’s time.”

“Time for what?” I could’ve said, except that I didn’t want to get into that conversation with the voice in my head right there in the boss’ office!

What I did figure out over the following months is that it was time to go do something else, something more meaningful than reporting doom and gloom all day long. It was time to follow my heart, which for me was telling my favorite kinds of stories, the inspiring ones, the ones that make your heart go “ZING!”

DarynKagan.com launched in November 2006, six weeks after I left CNN. It has become the Web’s one-stop destination for inspiring news. Every story fits the theme “Show the World What’s Possible!”

From that came two documentaries and now my first book.

Talk about a really great gig! It’s now my job to talk to inspiring people all day long. The only downside is that it’s now hard to have a bad day or pity party. As soon as that little downturn seems to be coming on, as it does for all of us, I’m on the phone with some awesome person who is doing incredible things. And yes, often their journey began with an event they would never pick: losing a job, going through a divorce, a physical challenge, sometimes even the unbearable grief of losing a child.

I honestly believe hard times are an invitation for each one of us to grow. In putting together “What’s Possible!,” I met some incredible women and men who accepted that invitation big time. Since we are among Ladies here, I’ll share the stories of a few of the women:

Leigh Hurst is actually a Ladies Who Launch alum who went through the Incubator in Harrisburg, PA. Leigh was a healthy, active 30-something executive when she discovered a lump in her breast. As she was going through treatment for breast cancer, she started telling her girlfriends, “You really need to feel your boobies!” Meaning, whatever it takes, get your hands on your breasts. It could save your life. Leigh traded in the jet-set consultant life and founded “Feel Your Boobies” (www.FeelYourBoobies.org), a nonprofit organization encouraging young women across the country to do breast self-exams. You have to love that name. Cracks me up every time I say it.

Leigh shared with me that she now thinks she has found her purpose in life, thanks to breast cancer. She passes on to others who are facing a tough time physically or otherwise, “I think you have to be open to the possibility that there is something happening right now that might not make any sense, but if you are aware of what’s going on with you, it can change into something pretty good.”

Service Leads to Healing

I can’t think of anyone who would choose to have breast cancer, or face other life crises like losing a job or going through a divorce. I know I’m inspired by the many people I’ve met and interviewed who have found that service is their ticket to healing.

Paula Lucas is a great example of that. She managed to survive an abusive marriage for many years while living in Dubai. As she was struggling to get out, she was shocked and frightened to learn about the lack of resources and power American women have while living overseas. She discusses her dramatic escape with her three young sons back to the U.S. in the book. She also shares her journey of setting up the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line (www.866uswomen.org). She and her organization now reach out and help women who are in that same life-threatening situation.

Service can also take you to your dream business. That’s what Adrienne Simpson found out. She survived not one, but two corporate layoffs and found herself sitting around with not much to do, so her elderly mother asked for help in moving back to their home state of Michigan. Adrienne did such a great job that all her mother’s friends asked for help. That led to Smooth Moooves, Adrienne’s moving company that caters especially to moving seniors (www.WeMoveSeniors.com). She’s well on her way to making it a million-dollar company. Again, Adrienne feels like she has found her purpose in life.

There are more tips to pass along, including what to do with all those critics trying to discourage you. Also, I want to share why a business plan is important, but a belief plan is vital for your dream success. But I’ll get to that in next month’s Ladies Who Launch magazine …