Desiree-Anne Martin believes in the inherent ability for anyone to change. Her mantra is that there is hope, always and she is a Change Facilitator and Inspirational Speaker. Desiree-Anne has her Postgraduate Diploma (with Honours) from UCT and is a Honorary staff member at WITS University where she is a consultant to the Family Medicine Centre. She further lectures and supervises medical students. She is an addictions and general counsellor, and has worked together with adults and adolescents to help them overcome drug and alcohol dependence, eating disorders, sex, gambling and other self-defeating behaviours for the past 12 years. She works with family members affected by addiction too, as no lives are ever left untouched by the illness.
What does success mean to you? Has your definition of it changed over the years and if so, why? | I used to believe that success was measured by the position you held, the qualifications you had, material possessions, wealth or the approval or affirmation of others. That has changed dramatically over the years. I now believe that personal success is defined by self-awareness; knowing what your assets are as well as your flaws and harnessing the strengths that lie within all of them to pursue what you are truly passionate about. It is about having a vision for how you want to feel about your accomplishments (work and personal) and seeing that vision become a reality. It is also okay to make mistakes and to say “I don’t know”. Successful people are not perfect machines. I have learnt that is okay to make mistakes, learn from them, grow from adversity and ask for help.
What is your LIFE-MISSION in one sentence? | There is hope, always.
What is one talent or strength of yours, which has been critical to your success? | My resilience. I am a tough little cookie! I have overcome some horrendous life obstacles and persevere through some panful, traumatic experiences and yet I am still standing. The tagline for my counselling practice is “fall down seven times, stand up eight”, a Japanese proverb that defines my attitude: just keep getting up! I also have a blissful ignorance in terms of my limitations. By that I mean, I rarely believe there is something I can’t do if I apply myself to it. Its like the “Bumblebee Principle”: no one has ever told them that they shouldn’t be able to fly, yet fly they do!
What are the critical skills that you have used and worked on improving, in attaining your success? | I have educated myself on issues that have interested me or I found myself becoming passionate about. I am autodidactic by nature so do lots of research and listen to podcasts, watch webinars, enrol in courses and attend conferences to improve my skills. I was taught the important lesson to ask for help. And if you have a blocked toilet, call a plumber, if you know what I mean. I have taken risks. Some fell flat on their baseless faith faces, some paid off; but I have no regrets. I wrote and published my memoir “We Don’t Talk About It. Ever.” because I believed it was time to start destigmatizing issues such as addiction, abuse, sex work and mental health issues. I became entirely and publicly vulnerable in this process but I felt compelled to speak my truth so that it could resonate with at least one person and offer hope to others. I have diversified my “work portfolio” to incorporate all of my passions: writing, counselling and public speaking. So, diversification and not pigeon-holing mys4elg was key to my success.
What is your biggest weakness? | Sometimes I grapple with self-doubt and a fear of failure. Oh, and I am a chronic perfectionist.
How do you deal with self-doubt, fear or negativity? Can you share a time in which you either doubted yourself the most or had great fears, yet faced up to them and conquered them?
When my book was released, I was deeply afraid of projected backlash from those who may have felt offended by my recollections and truth, as well as of doing planned publicity. With the support of my close, nurturing friends, husband and my mentor, I had to own that the book was MY TRUTH and took ownership of it and stood ready to face the music. There was none. I have only ever had, as recently as yesterday, positive and – quite often – very moving – feedback from readers. In terms of dealing with the media, I realised that the message I wanted to convey was far more important than my anxiety, fear of saying the wrong thing or my ego. So, I dived headfirst into TV and radio interviews, podcasts and print coverage. This led me to wanting to reach a wider audience and becoming an inspirational speaker/ change facilitator.
What is the best advice you have ever received? | That I have no control over other people: what they think of me or how they perceive me, how they behave or how they feel. All I can control is being my most authentic self.
What’s one deeply honest thing that most people don’t know about you? | I am actually a very shy and anxious person.