Deb Rae has turned tragedy into purpose, pain into a drive to excel, and healing into a pathway to success.
To say Deb Rae is a coach, is to too narrowly categorise her vast and inherant skills. Certainly, coaching is one string to her bow. But in a regional community like Mackay – and to the rural and remote reaches on the periphery – her brand of engagement and connection is weighed with a special kind of grit and gravitas.
Through her Mackay-based enterprise, Deb Rae Solutions, facilitation, community connectivity, grief support, authorship, culture development, public speaking and personal and business mentoring are part of the gig.
In Project Leap’s break-out podcast episode, Deb tells Meredith and Tara that for her, the line between fear and excitement is a fine one.
And, it’s in a strong and positive mindset that you can redirect and reshape where you’re headed, and enable yourself to push through the fear and find the excitement.
So let’s go back a decade or so. 13 years ago, to be exact.
It was December 15 and in an instant, Deb’s life was thrown way off course.
She was living and working overseas with her husband. Life was fabulous. They were living their dreams.
Then, the unthinkable. Deb’s husband was killed in an accident and in an instant, everything changed.
The grief, loss, murky lack of direction, and the existence-as-opposed-to-living stuff that followed kind of goes without saying. But it was that moment, and the subsequent, that punctuated Deb’s life and set her on the path to where she is now.
“I really had to reassess a lot things that were happening to me. I really struggled to understand grief and what was happening in my own mind; and with my own mind set and I spent a lot of time trying to understand that,” she says.
It was not a smooth path. And it wasn’t until almost everything in her life was at breaking point that she set her sights on recovery and adopted the mindset she needed.
“I like to see how far I can push things until they are just about to break; so I would try to push things as far as I could, and get away with whatever I could, until I couldn’t.
“I did it with my health, to the point where it became quite dangerous. I pushed my family until they said, ‘enough is enough’; and then, later, in terms of my business, it was a huge mindshift from being an employee to being a business owner.
“I got myself into a position where I had to be successful. It was quite scary, but I enjoy a challenge, and I had the determination to make it work.”
“Look if there is an easy way out, I am happy to take it. But I made sure there were no easy ways out. I put myself in a position where I had to change my mindset.
It was that process that led her to writing her book, Getting There: Grief to Peace for Young Widows, to working in a community sector organisation, and to working in the broader community to develop Grief and Loss Support groups.
Then, another fork in the road. Having worked hard and progressed in the community sector, the organisation she was working for lost funding. Deb was once again forced to employ her mindset in not only finding a solution, but forging a path to success. That’s when she started her own business.
“I learnt in dealing with grief … there is the grief for the person who died, but there is the grief for when things don’t turn out they way you thought they would,” Deb says.
“You can spend a lot of time being worried or disappointed. I understood I could never change what happened to me and the situation I was in; but I really didn’t like the position I was in and I spent a lot of time fighting against that.
“It became about identifying what I really wanted and then I could decide what mindset I needed to be what I wanted to be.
“If you think that you can’t then you can’t. So, it is about changing that mindset and sometimes that is about finding some hope,” Deb says.
“Because, you can do it. You know you can do it.”
“On the outside, it can seem like everyone else has it together and I am the only one who is here not knowing how to do this. But everyone has been through something.”
In the end, though, it all comes back to the power of mindset; enabling her to push the boundaries and enjoy the challenges.
“That can be terrifying, but then it becomes about mindset once again. Once you know why you’re fearful, and that it’s about the unknown and that’s what’s scary, I break it down into the steps again and I know there is something for me to learn.
“That gives me the confidence then, to not focus on the fear, but focus on what it is I want.
“A lot of the fears don’t really matter in the long run. Life is too short. It’s too short to have stood back and say it was too scary so I didn’t want to try it.”
Deb says bringing down the drama and even being flippant about it is a good first step. Then, break down the fear, one step at a time, and understand that it is there.
“Also, it’s important to know that fear is very close to excitement – the only difference between the two is how we perceive them.
“So you can look at that fear and think this is going to completely overwhelm me … or you can say look how excited I am and this is going to charge me through this experience,” she says.
“Okay, this is scary, and there is a lot of emotion attached to it, but it is completely possible.
“The mindset you have affects eveything,” she says.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but whatever it is I know I have a mindset to deal with it.”
Finally, don’t just take our word about how incredible this fabulous regional woman is… Read her bio here and hear for yourself, the incredible power of Deb Rae’s words…