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The Moment That Changed Your Life

By September 7, 2016February 2nd, 2021Leadership

On a recent interview with Zen teacher Caitriona Reed, I was asked only 2 questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What was a decisive moment that changed your life?

For close to 20 minutes, we got to explore the depth of just these two questions.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer. I’d been given the 2 questions ahead of time with a warning that Question #1 was not to be answered with a standard elevator speech. (Thank God, because those elevator speeches aren’t my favorite).

I do a lot of work around core values and inner genius, so answering the first question didn’t feel daunting. I can describe myself as an insatiably curious person who loves to find out what makes people tick and see the gifts in them they can’t see.

But that second question… I was stumped at first.

I’ve had a lot of defining moments in life, but singling one out was hard.

Then, for  some reason, DEATH came to mind.

Aztec death mask

Growing up in a big family, we had a lot of funerals to go to. We weren’t that family who left the kids at home so the adults could go out, we traveled like a tribe wherever we went. And seriously, somebody was ALWAYS dying. Aunts, uncles, cousins, distant relatives, the school janitor, grandparents… it was a constant.

I saw my first dead body at age 5. He was our school custodian, Manuel. I remember looking at him in the casket, his cheeks rosy. He didn’t look dead. He didn’t look real, come to think of it. I didn’t make much of it, but when I grew up and learned that most of my peers were sheltered from ever seeing death, I realized it was a defining moment of my life to have funerals as a regular part of life. Death didn’t hold a big charge over me, it just WAS.

Countless funerals ensued. I was told I had to get up and read a prayer at my uncle’s funeral and it was at that moment I fell in love with public speaking. I became our family’s go-to eulogy giver and dedication maker at several rosaries and funerals that followed. By the time my parents passed away, I was a veteran funeral speaker,  able to make people laugh with loving memories of the dearly departed.

These were definitely defining moments: life events that clearly delineated a BEFORE and AFTER.

My careers have always included public speaking, so I can say that death was a pivotal ingredient in my growth as a speaker.

Now, back to the two interview questions.

Death was the first to come to mind as a moment that changed my life, but I had to ask myself: What else has been instrumental in shaping who I am?

My way of figuring things like this is to NOT try to figure them out. I allow my mind to wander. And suddenly it hit me.

I looked at the work I do in mentoring leaders and entrepreneurs. Secretly, just between you and I, it’s all about helping people understand themselves.

A tool I use to help people understand themselves is to listen closely, and do what I call “Collecting and Connecting”. I gather information about a person (their values, strengths, skills, life experiences), then I start connecting the dots of who they are and reflect back to them the unique gift that is their genius.

Yes, it’s a gift. And yes, a lot of intuition is used to formulate all that left-brain data.

But here’s the OTHER defining moment that changed my life:

I had a few clients who were teachers of psychic arts; they taught things like intuitive development, energy healing, and reading auras. They were incredible at what they did both as psychics and as teachers.

They hired me because their work was too hard to describe, they needed someone to translate what they did into credible terms so people would take them seriously and see the immense value in the work they do.

I used my “Collecting and Connecting” technique and each of them came back to me with the same comments: “Oh my goodness, Nancy, you’re so CLAIRVOYANT!”

I looked over my shoulder, as if to look for that OTHER Nancy who might have been in the room, for surely they weren’t talking to me. I was NOT a clairvoyant. Clairvoyants have crystalline offices in Sedona, wear lots of purple, and have really bad websites. No ma’am, that’s not me!

crystal ball

Again and again, these clients commented on my clairvoyance. “Wow, your 7th chakra is so open!” was even thrown in. I wasn’t quite sure if that was a good thing or not, but I decided to stay curious and stay in the question.

I was supposed to be coaching them on talking about their businesses, but I had to butt in finally. “Can you tell me more what you mean when you say I’m clairvoyant?”

EVERYONE has the ability to connect to extrasensory perception (ESP), it’s how we tap into our intuition. You have it, I have it. It’s just for some people, the volume is turned down too low to get the messages.

Clairvoyance means “clear seeing”. These are mental images that show a future state. When I’m working with a client and I can “see” their message, or “see” them doing something, that’s clairvoyance in action.

Since I’ve brought up the topic, I better list out the other “clairs” so you know there are more than one (and you can recognize which one/s you have).

  • Clairaudient means “clear hearing”. You hear things, you pick up telepathic thoughts (“I just knew you were thinking that!”), you give amazing advice that you immediately forget then people say “Where did THAT come from?”


  • Clairsentient means “clear feeling”. You feel other people’s emotions. Super empathy on steroids. You might be highly sensitive and have to leave big crowds because you’re feeling everyone else’s energy.


  • Claircognizant means “clear knowing”. You just KNOW stuff. You know it without thinking. You get answers to things without trying. Your mind is like this supercomputer that comes to answers without any time going by. You also know whether someone is telling the truth or lying… you just KNOW.


Amazing what two simple interview questions can bring about, right? Now let’s turn this to you…


I don’t want to have you read all this without giving you an opportunity to apply this to your life.

  • Answer the 2 questions for yourself. Who are you? What’s a life defining moment? Grab a journal and write or go for a walk and let your imagination speak to you.


  • Did the definitions of clairvoyance, etc spark something in you? Tune into your intuition and pay attention to what shows up for you. That’s a bonus question.


Great stuff, I know. (Hey, that’s a sign I’m claircognizant too!)


How does this tie back into business and leadership?

As a leader, entrepreneur, or change maker, your life is all about defining moments. Knowing what makes you tick will make you a better decision maker, creator, and change agent. My coaching and training teach you how to tap into all the gifts you have and use those to lead, communicate, and create in a way you’ve never done before. You’ll clearly understand the future vision for your business or life through our work together. Connect with me, let me know what’s happening with you…




Nancy Marmolejo

Author Nancy Marmolejo

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