First up on my inspirational people list: Leah B. Mazzola


Coach

Photo courtesy of Leah B. Mazzola

Ever meet someone and just marvel at his or her accomplishments? I sure have, and I’ll be showcasing some of the amazing people that I encounter –individuals who are an inspiration, those who make a difference and give back using their unique set of gifts and talents.

The first person on my “inspirational people” list is Leah B. Mazzola. In her LinkedIn summary, Leah writes: “I’m passionate about using my powers for good.” She’s living up to her words. Owner of the Snug Agency: The Coaching Boutique for Her, based in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area, Leah is committed to coaching teens and young women in the areas of social and emotional intelligence, academic, career, recovery, negotiation/mediation, and conflict resolution.

Oh, did I mention that Leah and her husband are raising 4 children? How about that Leah overcame huge obstacles early in her life, and is earning her Ph.D in juvenile forensic psychology while successfully balancing life as an entrepreneur, student, wife and mother? To get to know Leah better and understand what motivates her, I asked a few questions:

What are your top 3 goals, personal or professional?

First, three is hard. I have a lot of goals! These are my top.

  • To finish my dissertation in under a year, six months preferably. That means ringing in Dr. Leah in 2015!
  • To build our dream home in the next year and focus on family travels while the kids are still young enough to want to spend time with us.
  • To grow my coaching practice and coach training program to the go-to places for restorative, science-based high-risk youth/young adult interventions.
  • To grow my non-profit into a low-key scholarship/grant giving program for high-risk youth and young adults demonstrating persistent progress toward positive transformation.
  • To be a leading expert in juvenile forensic psychology.

What drives you? 

Meaning and purpose. I draw happiness from tailoring my pursuits to make a positive difference. I need my children to understand that we are not here to live a life unto ourselves. Whether we know it or not, our lives affect those around us. It’s up to us to decide if that impact is positive or negative, empowering or defeating.

I also need them to know they are only limited by their own doubt. They can accomplish anything they want to if they’re willing to suffer for it. We’re here to learn and grow. Growth means greater capacity to help. Growth requires always pushing beyond our current limits. It requires adaptability, flexibility, and humility; willingness to accept the things we can’t control and accountability for what we can. Growth and pain are synonymous. It will get hard. It will hurt. You will fall short. You will fail. You will question yourself. You will need to pick yourself up, apply the lessons, and keep moving forward. It will often be lonely, lonely isn’t so bad, it will be worth it.

Recently, my son came in to talk to me while I was wrapping up a day full of writing papers. He said, “Mom, I think you’re the reason I’m so smart, because you motivate me to get all my work done. Since I always see you sitting at your computer doing all of your work before anything else, you motivate me to get all my homework done at school before anything else, even when other kids are doing other things.” That’s what drives me. Knowing they’re always watching and my example carries weight.

What are you most proud of? 

  • That I made a decision at 17 to stop using my past as an excuse to screw up my life.
  • That I refused to allow my son to grow up in a detrimental environment and did what I had to protect him and raise him happy and healthy. Even when that meant working three jobs while pursuing a degree full-time as a single mom to push us through to a comfortable living.
  • That my children live every day in a safe, healthy home environment with two parents who love and support them.
  • That the possibility of going to college never entered my mind as a teen and I’m now a PhD student. I’ll hold four degrees upon completion in 2015 (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD). I’ll take a break for a bit to focus on family and go back for a J.D. when the older kids are off to college.
  • That I found a way to do what I love for a living.
  • That I get to apply my experience, strengths, and passion to helping other young people and women understand that no past must define your future, to challenge them to be more and do more.
  • That I get to train other professionals to do the same.

What do you want people to know about you?

I’m a worker bee and a happy extreme introvert. I actually don’t talk much without someone coming to me to initiate a conversation. I listen and analyze. I’m a complex thinker. That’s kind of why I make a pretty awesome coach! I was born to listen and offer deep insights. I thrive on productivity. I rarely come up to breathe, but I function best that way. I’m also a helper. I will help anyone in any way I can. I’m wired for helping professions.

Who or what inspires you?

    • My family.
    • My children.
    • People who defy the odds and thrive regardless of suffering.
    • People who consistently push themselves to the next level.
    • People who are grateful for what they have.
    • People who are not afraid of hard work.
    • People who remain humble despite ridiculous success.

What “ah-ha” moments or life lessons do you want to share?

We live by the stories we tell ourselves. My greatest ah-ha moment was checking what I believed about myself, and then challenging it; stripping the helpful from the unhelpful and leaving the unhelpful behind. We define self. We are either our greatest support or our own worst enemy. I propelled forward when I chose to rethink my self-concept and build a healthy, helpful view of me for me, no one else. I live to evolve, to learn, and grow. It’s the only way to be. Approaching life from that vantage point means no good or bad experience is ever just good or bad. Both are a learning and growth opportunity. Both make me wiser than I was yesterday. “Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Caesar

Despite her own “ridiculous success,” Leah remains humble, and an inspiration!