‘Get a grip girl, you have a long and happy life ahead,’ is perhaps one of the many thoughts that came to the mind of writer, dancer, public speaker, and life-coach Chen Lizra while she took control of the wheels of her life. This exceptional writer fought hard against all her dark thoughts, and emerged victorious to achieve absolute happiness.
As a child Chen’s life took a downward spiral owing to her mother’s mental illness which peaked some years after her parents’ divorce. “On the outside it looked like I was doing great – an athlete, healthy, amazing grades. But outside no one knew what was really going on. Her illness broke me. I grew up with bad habits – problems with boundaries, with trust, with showing vulnerability”, says Chen. Understanding and empathy as a life-coach comes to her naturally and easily because of dark struggles of her own that she has had to overcome. Chen says that she wrestled with suicidal thoughts for a decade, and then at 20 years old she found herself at a crossroads. “I was 20, when I hit rock bottom. I sat on a sidewalk in the sun and I asked myself the most difficult question – ‘Do you want to live or die?’ It wasn’t dramatic. It wasn’t about being a victim. I needed to know where my motivation and heart were. I sat for an hour waiting for an answer quietly, just waiting for it to come to me. Eventually it came. I had this surge of passion that went through my body and I realised, I still hadn’t done this and this and this… And at that moment I promised myself that no matter how long it took, I had to find a solution to how messed up I was.”
My TED talk was the turning point where I dared to say things I knew would be controversial without fear of what people would think of me. The message, the cause, became bigger than me.”
This enlightening moment made Chen push against the seemingly immovable door. But things don’t come easy just because you have one brave moment. It takes over a thousand brave moments to survive, and thrive. For that reason, Chen says, “Most people give up after a couple of months, a year, maybe 3. But, ten years, to keep going and believing that you can do it, that is the will power that can move mountains. So when I tackle things I want, I just don’t leave myself a way out. It has to happen. And so it does.”
As a life-coach, this writer transforms controversial topics into one of conversation, which is not a simple task. Thus, Chen needs to be stronger in her belief than those who are against it, or else she cannot cause a shift in how the subject matter is viewed. With this unwavering attitude Chen took the TED stage and moved the world. Speaking of her experience there the travel writer says, “I found my voice there. My TED talk was the turning point where I dared to say things I knew would be controversial without fear of what people would think of me. The message, the cause, became bigger than me.” Her website www.lizraconsulting.com is one of the spaces where she connects with people and works on their suggestions.
The Cuban people’s emotional intelligence is beyond anything that I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. They hold many social secrets that the Western World is in need of these days, in order to be happy.”
The enormous success of her book – ‘My Seductive Cuba’, a travel guide to Cuba, opened many doors for her. But with the book and the TED’s success came the misconceptions. Chen says, “My team and I understood that using the word seduction was actually working against us. People had misconceptions, and even though I was speaking about them, they were not dissolving. So we dug deeper into what seduction really was – inside us as human beings.” Chen relates most of her topics to her book and favourite place – Cuba, which is a great inspiration to her. The dancer and speaker explains the Cuban rhetoric, “I am inspired by the Cuban people’s ability to develop over the years their body motion into an art form of living, that releases natural chemicals in our bodies and make us feel joy, love, enjoyment, daring and more.” She further adds saying, “Their emotional intelligence is beyond anything that I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. They hold many social secrets that the Western World is in need of these days, in order to be happy.”
Get business knowledge – marketing, sales etc. It’s not enough to be good at something, today it’s about having 3-4 different skills that set you apart, and business skills are a gold mine.”
Chen Lizra takes life as a journey saying, “I have learned from the Cuban Spirit to enjoy the journey and not just the end result. I’m loving the process and growing with it. I wake up many days just inspired. That’s a blessed life in my mind.” One of the big projects Chen has set her mind to: a documentary in partnership with a famous Cuban director – Rolando Almirante, and the celebrated choreographer Santiago Alfonso (for which they are looking for funds). Considering how passionate and driven she is, we are certain it will be as big a hit as her book.
Despite her unique abilities and compassionate nature, Chen has had to deal with competition that stole her ideas, and many trying to imitate her and get ahead. Given those rough experiences, Chen shares valuable advice for anyone wanting to set out on their own, “Get business knowledge – marketing, sales etc. It’s not enough to be good at something, today it’s about having 3-4 different skills that set you apart, and business skills are a gold mine.”
Chen has proved that you just need that one moment of mighty boldness, but many indomitable thoughts to straighten the back and march on. Keeping it real and bold is dancer, writer, social entrepreneur, and life-coach Chen Lizra.