Adele Knew, From A Young Age, Who She Wanted To Be When She Grew Up. Isn’t It Time You Did?
We opened our conversation with my usual question, “How do you answer the question — what do you do?”
If you know me at all, this question sends people into a bit of a tizzy. Everyone is generally worried that I’m going to scold them and tell them that their answer is boring. They’re not wrong; I often do. Plus, you are not boring so why should your answer be?
Sitting down with Adele Parks, however, was a different matter. Her answer? “I’m an author, and I’ve written 20 best sellers over 20 years.”
She’s not joking. Her answer sent us into a fascinating conversation about how saying such a bold thing in the UK is generally not done and how her American friends had taught her to own her unique awesomeness. We finally settled down and talked about how Adele got to become the woman who could say, “I’m a novelist, and I’ve written 20 best sellers in 20 years.”
Adele’s storytelling started when she was very young. Raised in North East England, where literacy rates were the lowest in the country, Adele buried herself in stories at every opportunity. Other people’s stories. She was, even at an early age, an avid reader. Then she was challenged, at a mere five years old, to write.
In her own words, here’s what Adele had to say. Click here to actually hear Adele explaining this in her own voice. She even has an awesome British accent and is so fun to hear tell stories!
“We would go to my grandparents, which was a great delight we loved. I think I was a bit of a handful quite energetic. So he would get me to settle down by buying me a book or comics. But I would read them very quickly. And so towards the end of the weekend, he would then say, “Well, why don’t you write me a book?” And then I would write a book.
From five or six years old. I would do this pretty much every weekend. And then I would write them faster and faster. And then he’d say illustrate them, and then if I went back again, he would say, why don’t you color in all the letter o’s because clearly, just to kind of keep me away. And then at the end of the weekend, he would pay me 50 pence (about a dollar) for each one of these books. He would keep them and say, “I treasure these I’m keeping them.” and so I think I knew it was commercially viable. Fifty pence did cover all my needs that week, and I felt valued, that there was something I was creating that was valued.”
Her feeling of value quickly later evolved into a dream. The local librarian, seeing the potential of this young girl, showed Adele how Enid Blyton, a children’s book author, signed her books “like they were art.” Adele went from understanding that her dream could be a reality. From that moment she intrinsically knew she’d publish a book.
I’m sure you think that Adele went on to school, and her writing career launched. We tend to do that, don’t we? We assume that the person has always known what they wanted and pursued it with abandon. That pursuit then manifesting to the spectacular success we see today.
It never quite works that way. Life is never linear and tends to set us off on weird and wonderful adventures, adventures we choose for ourselves, and adventures others choose for us. And like us all, Adele went on quite an adventure before her dreams came true.
A brief sojourn to Italy in her early 20’s, Adele hoped her first novel would appear like magic. Adele laughed and told me how she believed that “If E.M Forester made books happen that way, why not me?” The magic inspiration didn’t happen, and reality set in, it was time to get a “real” job.
Adele’s career briefly bounced through accounting, then shifted into advertising when she found herself turning in poetry scrawled across spreadsheets. Many twists, turns, and the odd distracting boyfriend and Adele found herself tossing her name into consideration to open a division of her company in Botswana.
Take a second here, folks. If you found out today that your company was going to open an office in Botswana, would you go? No judgment on Botswana, I have no doubt it’s a fantastic place. I thought I was pretty bold when I raised my hand (at the same age) to move to Chicago.
This bold and brave move opened doors, gave Adele experiences that you can’t imagine, and set her up for a role back in the UK where she had some serious responsibilities. In today’s world, she’d be topping lists of “Influential Women in Business” we would be calling her a success.
Then life, as it does, pulled the rug out. Life does this.
To pick herself up, Adele decided it was time to be who she wanted to be, an author. Using that same fearless tenacity and creative problem-solving skills she’d honed in the corporate world, she figured out how. “When you’re late for a meeting because there’s a herd of cows across the road, you learn how to figure anything out.”
I could keep writing for hours on all the other interesting things I learned from Adele during our interview. How she laughed out loud and said, “Look at that face!” when she hinted at one of the core plot twists in her new book Lies, Lies, Lies, coming out in the US this week.
What inspired me was how she never let go of who she wanted to be; she still hasn’t. I’m guessing if she inspired me, she might inspire you. So if you’ve had a dream, here are some of the highlights of Adele’s lessons.
- Talent isn’t just magic; it takes practice.
- Don’t let go of your dreams even if you’ve failed before.
- You don’t have to be like everyone else.
- There’s a story hidden in almost every person.
- You won’t know unless you try.
So here’s my question for you. Is there a dream you’ve been holding on to for years? Is this a dream that would completely steer you off your current professional path? And while I’m sure how to make this dream come true might be hard to figure out, can you — like Adele — just give it a go?
We’re in weird times. Times when the rule book is torn up, set on fire, and tossed out the window. Maybe it’s time to start your adventure. What did you want to be when you grew up? Who do you want to be now?
Adele’s adventure wasn’t linear, but others — her Grandpa and the librarian — gave her a glimpse of her potential early. That early exposure gave her the courage to follow her dreams. Having a potentialist open your eyes to your possibility early on isn’t the only way to manifest the Future You. Sometimes the potentialist shows up later. Click here to read a very different adventure about a man who learned what he wanted to be when he grew up. He needed a different kind of person to help him manifest his dream.
PS. It’s also perfectly fine to choose to take time and do whatever you want. Your career is, after all, your adventure.
P.S.S Can we suggest a quiet corner and a fun read? You can get your copy of Lies, Lies, Lies here.
A little teaser:
Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…
After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.
So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes — Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party, things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.
In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.