Lessons in Resilience With Change-Maker Nicolle Edwards
Nicolle Edwards is CEO and Founder of RizeUp, a charity that provides practical support to women and children affected by issues of domestic violence. With her incredible upbringing and backstory, which led to her groundbreaking work, I was honoured to have her on the Wealth Faculty Podcast. Here we share some provocative and important highlights from our chat.
Nicolle Edwards was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and at 10 years old emigrated to Australia with her brother and parents.
Her father’s motivation to move to a country on the other side of the world, with just $25,000, was to prevent his son, Nicolle’s older brother, being conscripted and forced to endure a decade of war as a young soldier.
“My dad had been in the war for 10 years and had a terrible time. He knew we needed to get out, he didn’t want the same life for his boy,” explains Nicolle, who on arriving in Australia soon came up against a fight of her own.
“There was a lot of racial injustice around me, and from a young age, I felt this fire in my tummy about it. Even at school, if someone was being bullied, it would just make me crazy.”
Six years ago, while working in a sales and marketing role, Nicolle was asked to help a friend of a friend, who had escaped a domestic violent situation, to find a new home. So began the seed that grew into RizeUp, which now has almost 500 volunteers and has helped house more than 1,000 families.
Here are six life lessons that Nicolle uses to propel her dream of being at the centre of Australia’s revolution against violence.
LESSON 1: DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A CHANGE
Like her father before her, Nicolle decided that while she was happy in her marketing career, making a change to run RizeUp full time was her true calling.
“I don’t think we ever go into anything thinking we’re going to do a half-arsed job. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. We’re going to change lives.”
While Nicolle admits that making a big change in life can feel daunting, any change starts in the same way. “You just start, you just take one step.”
LESSON 2: DON’T TURN A BLIND EYE
Recognising that something could be done better, or maybe isn’t working the way it should, is just the first step in making a difference to your own life and others.
What we really need to do, says Nicolle, is act.
“One in four Australian women are living in, or have experienced domestic violence. Police are called out every two minutes in Australia for a domestic violence incident. I remember thinking, I’ve got to do something.”
LESSON 3: ASK FOR HELP
“I’m a massive believer in the collective, because if we’re going to make any kind of change, it’s not a one-person race. It’s a community effort,” says Nicolle, who as well her almost 500-strong volunteer team, credits her husband and inner circle for making her dreams a reality.
“I’m a doer so that was a big lesson for me. I find it difficult to ask for help. But I have a big team now, and we have an incredibly healthy microcosm.
“There’s a saying that I love. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
LESSON 4: CONNECT YOUR PASSION WITH YOUR SKILLS
Some say the secret to living a happy life is being able to do something you love every day. For most of us that would ideally be our jobs. We spend around 13 years at work over our lifetime, so finding something we’re good at, and that gives us a sense of joy or satisfaction, is a great way to live.
“It’s about connecting your passion with your skill base,” says Nicolle. “Just because you’re in sales and marketing, doesn’t mean you can’t step into a different space. We have to give ourselves permission to venture out and do different things.”
LESSON 5: CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO
Through her work with RizeUp Nicolle admits she has had to come face-to-face with opinions of others that have left her shocked.
While it can be uncomfortable to question attitudes that you know to be wrong, Nicolle says it’s a vital aspect of being part of important change.
“We need to feel comfortable to respectfully hold our friends and family accountable for their attitudes and behaviours. Asking why a sexist or racist joke is funny, isn’t aiming to belittle the person telling the joke. It’s just driving a little bit of awareness.”
LESSON 6: DON’T LISTEN TO NEGATIVITY
Nicolle says the thing you will always encounter when you’re starting something new, are the people who say you can’t do it.
Tuning their unhelpful noise out is the best way to handle it.
“You will encounter so many naysayers. You really have to have courage and not be quick to throw the towel in. Lean in, put your head down and your bum up!”
KEEP MOVING FORWARD
For Nicolle, dedication and not giving up has been at the heart of achieving her dream to help some of the most vulnerable in our country. No doubt, the road has not been easy, but it has been worth it.
If there’s anything that the charity pioneer can teach us, it’s that resilience is something we all have inside ourselves but ultimately, it’s up to us how we use it to drive change and move forward.
By Jason Whitton – Group CEO Positive Real Estate