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A Tall Poppy In McLean

McLean resident and life coach to hold book signing at Barnes & Noble for recently released “Find Your Courage.”

When someone told Margie Warrell seven years ago that she should look into a career in coaching, the suggestion initially gave her a hearty laugh.

“I said, ‘oh no, I’m not into sports at all — I can’t even catch a ball,’” recounted Warrell. “But then they said, ‘no, no, not sports coaching, life coaching.’ I’d never even heard of it before.”

At the time Warrell was 31, living in her native Australia with her husband and two babies, and nearing the end of her graduate studies in psychology. Warrell had intended to earn her degree and pursue a career as a therapist, but the mention of this newfound career option had intrigued her. She began researching and quickly realized that she had found her true calling.

“Unlike a therapist, who deals with people who are semi-dysfunctional, life coaches work with people who are OK — they’ve got a job, they’ve got a family, but there are aspects of their lives that aren’t as great as they want them to be,” said Warrell, who is now a professional life coach and the author of the recently released self-help book “Find Your Courage.”

Warrell earned her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing, but after a few years of working in advertising and marketing in Papua, New Guinea, she realized that she preferred a different line of work.

“I found myself hanging out with all of these ex-pats, and I was always counseling people on their job problems, relationship problems and food problems,” said Warrell, who had recovered from her own personal battle with the eating disorder bulimia. “And I found that I really enjoyed counseling people. I thought I would love to be a psychologist and help people lead happier lives because it would be so rewarding.”

It was then, at the age of 28, that Warrell made the subsequent decision to pursue graduate studies in psychology. However, it took Warrell six years to earn her master’s degree because she had two children and moved back to Australia over the course of her schooling. In 2000, just after Warrell had given birth to her third child and was immersing herself in research on a career in life coaching, she and her family relocated halfway around the world to Dallas, Texas because of her husband’s job with Exxon-Mobil, Corp.

“I had a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 5-week-old, I was living in Adelaide and packing up and getting ready to move to America, and it was kind of exciting, but kind of overwhelming,” said Warrell.

FORTUNATELY, the United States had even more to offer her in terms of advancing her skills in the field of life coaching, and Warrell was able to train with some of the world’s leading coaches and masters. After spending several years in Texas, Warrell and her family relocated once again due to her husband’s job — this time to McLean.

Warrell said it was a moment during the seventh month of her fourth pregnancy that she had a personal epiphany. She had always wanted to have four children, but she was feeling anxious about her ability to handle everything.

“What I really got is that it’s so easy to play small in the world, because if you play small, then you’ve got no worries about failing … in Australia there is this thing called the Tall Poppy Syndrome and it came from convict roots, but basically if anyone stands out like a tall poppy then people want to cut them down.”

Warrell decided to stop being afraid of standing out like a tall poppy and do exactly what she felt compelled to do — write a self-help book about the importance of having courage.

“Initially I thought, who are you to write a book?” said Warrell.

But after her tall poppy realization, Warrell decided to stop concerning herself with what other people may or may not think about her book-writing endeavor.

“I decided, I’m going to write the book anyway even though I have no idea how the publishing industry works,” she said. “I just felt really compelled to write a book about the power for people to speak up for themselves. I’ve traveled the world and I’ve met so many people who are afraid … and so they are held back from doing what they really want to be doing, and from living the life that they really want to live, and from filling the potential that they’ve got — and it’s because of fear.”

THUS BEGAN Warrell’s three-year undertaking of writing “Find Your Courage.” Released on June 1, the book is divided into 12 chapters depicting 12 different “Acts of Courage.” Last week, Warrell was thrilled to see that her book had reached Amazon.com “Best Seller” status in the Web site’s Mind, Body and Health division. In a customer review of Warrell’s book on the Amazon.com Web site, Vienna resident Kathleen Murray writes: “With ‘Find Your Courage,’ Aussie author Margie Warrell truly does offer a fresh take on moving beyond your limitations and going after the life you want.”

On Friday, July 27, Warrell will be at the Tysons Corner Barnes & Noble bookstore from 7 to 9 p.m. to sign books and meet her readers. She will participate in another signing event on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. at Books-A-Million in McLean.

Warrell runs the occasional life coaching workshop, which include such issues as “Courageous Conversations” and “Success is a Balancing Act.” Though she is enthusiastic about her career, Warrell is more enthusiastic about her family, and subsequently makes every effort to avoid excessive travel and touring because her number one priority is to spend time with her children.

“Writing a book on courage is also honoring your values, so I really try and do a lot of stuff locally,” she said.

Warrell believes that the demographics of McLean imply that there are probably many people in the community and surrounding area who are coping with the exact challenges she addresses in her work — time management, the juggling of multiple responsibilities and the desire to attain more fulfillment or success in their current job or life station.

“We often sell ourselves short and we settle for less than we want,” said Warrell. “People have got more courage than they think they do, but they underestimate themselves and end up living a silly, resigned sort of life … so what I feel called to do is to challenge people and give them a hard time because, well, life is short.”

Warrell said her attitude is summed up in one of her favorite quotes. It is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, and Warrell includes it in the beginning of her book: “Most folks tiptoe through life, only to make it safely to death.”