Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by Michele Ashley

“Katherine” the Great
Having the Confidence of a Child

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of informally interviewing a young lady of noble character. In my life it has been my good fortune to have met many amazing, beautiful, innovative, inspiring and brilliant people. On occasion I’ll meet someone that inspires me and moves my spirit. Let’s just say, I’m not easy to impress. To my amazement, such was the case recently when I met such a young lady—“Katherine” the Great. Since I’ve never been one to advocate exploitation of young folks, especially when it comes to social media, let’s just call her “Katherine” for the sake of this post.

I first met “Katherine” on a fluke, through her father, while she was in transit to Brooklyn, N.Y. to visit her grandparents for summer vacation. On first impression you instantly warm to her congeniality and genuine openness. Though at first she appears soft spoken, her hearty laughter and quick wit shines through in no time.

She even successfully carried off an English accent for an entire hour and it wasn’t until days later her father revealed to me it was all for show for me. Katherine and her family live in Upper Marlboro, MD – “in the meadows,” as she jokingly puts it. Trust me she lives far from the “meadows”—tipping cows is not on this young lady’s agenda.

What makes “Katherine” so special you may ask? Well, for starters if you were to lay eyes on her you might think it was the beauty of innocence etched on her mocha complexion or the loveliness of her hair void of chemicals, virgin in its cadence that she normally wears in a ponytail — but that’s not it. What makes “Katherine” so very special is her utter confidence in who she is as a person, and how she intends to move through this journey we call life.

Ok, not very special you think? Well…did I mention my “Katherine” the Great is 12 years old? Right – take a moment and keep reading.

When the opportunity to “interview” Katherine presented itself several weeks had gone by since our first meeting and so it was only our second time together. Despite this fact, her spirit had only grown more endearing to me. You see Katherine is that rare young girl who still maintains the innocence of a child while remaining inquisitive of the world around her. Not only is she respectful and easy-going, but she moves with the spirit and “knowing” of one far beyond her years. She is what you might call “an old soul”. They are rare and when you meet one it truly is magical.

Though you will catch glimpses of her youthful energy while she enjoys activities such as playing soccer, walking a tightrope for fun, canoeing with her Dad, playing miniature golf, and on occasion acting as her father’s personal fitness coach (yes, they even have a video to prove it!), it’s when you sit to speak with “Katherine” that her true self unfolds. To speak to “Katherine” is to forget she is only 12 years old.

Like poetry in motion, when asked questions like who inspires her (her answer: Michelle Obama – 1 point for “Katherine”—my favorite as well) and where does she see herself in 10 years (her answer: very successful, powerful and brave), she responds effortlessly as if she had actually read my mind and had only waited patiently for me to realize my questions. Her answers were clear lacking any confusion or hesitancy. Her face bright with the knowledge that her vision would not one day be her reality – but her reality was in the now.

On this particular evening, we had just finished watching the movie ‘Soul Surfer’ and I wanted to know her thoughts regarding the main character Bethany Hamilton. ‘Soul Surfer’ (for those who have never seen it) is a movie about a teenage surfer girl who summons the courage to go back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack. When I asked “Katherine” what impacted her the most about the movie, she replied “…that she continued doing what she loved despite her disability.”

If only we all had the heart and spirit of Bethany (whatever your “disability get back in the water!) and the clarity of thought like “Katherine” (get clear – stay focused), how much further would we be in achieving some of our own life goals and plans. To have the confidence of a child is a remarkable thing—almost magical. For many of us we’ve forgotten how to grasp that kind of magic in our lives today.

Remember when you feared nothing, the world was your oyster and at bedtime your dreams were your haven to safely map your journey for your life? Remember when it was safe to dream big and planning for a better tomorrow was more than just a whimsical thought but a youthful expectancy for your life?

Remember when?

To a young lady with doe eyes and an unshakable spirit, I am grateful. I’m grateful to have met “Katherine” for reminding me what it looks like, feels like and sounds like to have the confidence of a child; to walk boldly and confidently in the direction of one’s dream. To visualize and speak that which has not yet come into existence but which you look for on the horizon with utter anticipation.

I have no doubt “Katherine” will do great things in her life mainly because of her spirit, her vision and her attitude. She’s a heck of a girl who is gracefully on her way to becoming a woman of substance. Here’s to all the youthful Katherine’s who surround us every day. Take the time to learn, feast and grow with those who will come after you.

Remember, in life inspiration comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. It’s not about the wrapping on the gift but what lies beneath and within. Life in all its complexities can feel daunting and challenging on any given day. Yet from the mouth of babes as “Katherine” put it: “I’m afraid of sanity. You could be crazy…just be whoever you want to be…just be yourself!”

Here is to insanity – may we all have the courage to be crazy enough to have the confidence of a child.

–Dedicated to a young lady who is far from tipping cows in Upper Marlboro, MD–

Michele Ashley is Founder and CEO of CORE Compass Coaching where she works as the chief facilitator of women empowerment coaching programs internationally.
Ms. Ashley serves as the Chairperson for WEST Inc. a non-profit organization based in New York City whose mission and vision is to build a diverse network of women through forums, projects, programs, workshops, and partnership initiatives. She is a member of the Women’s Information Network (WIN) and has recently been appointed the new Women’s Global Summit Event Director for New York City and Washington, D.C. for 2012. For information on CORE programs please contact Ms. Ashley at or .