So often I fall victim to my circumstances. Sure, I call myself organized, self-motivated, determined; but I’m not above letting a failure get the best of me. I chalk it up to normal “humanness,” grant myself every excuse, and likely stop for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on my way home. Hey! If it’s that kind of day, it’s that kind of day.

And while I’m sure she’d humbly argue otherwise, I’m convinced that Nicole Gates doesn’t have Ben & Jerry’s days, at least not the depressing kind. Gates is woman, hear her roar. Her achievements include working herself out of a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, winning more than 30 awards in one year,  being a single mom to four girls, scoring first place in a Dress for Success project, landing a job with her mayor’s office, and her latest feat is a new book, Success Over Statistics, which basically details how she did it all.

“I am a woman of possibility, purpose, and power,” she said to me several times over the phone. The words first came to her while attending a conference. As her fellow attendees stood to introduce themselves, Gates remembers the laundry list of maddening statistics she heard pouring from their mouths–all excuses for not being somewhere else. When it was her turn, she stood up and shocked them all simply by choosing to defy the odds and claim greatness for herself.

“I wanted other women to see that, yes, I had all sorts going on, my life is kind of chaotic, but I was and am still able to exercise choice,” Gates explained. “I’ve been so blessed in my life by just exercising the choice not to be a statistic. I don’t define myself that way.”

Much of Gates’ success and choice has been aided by a strong team of mentors with whom she is quite conscious to regularly surround herself.

“It has served me well to have my mentors, my ‘dream team.’ I may only talk to these women once every three months; but they keep me focused. They ask me what I’m doing to accomplish my goals.” Gates said that even though that vulnerability can be difficult, it’s been crucial to where she is today.

And her other dream team? They’re her “leading ladies” or her four daughters, ranging in age from 21 to six-year-old twins.

“I wanted my babies to see that mommy works hard and all the things that she’s made happen. We live a wonderful life.”

But more important than anything else, Gates is using her mentality and her ongoing success to better those around her. Her achievements have positively effected her community, particularly the African American community and organizations benefiting infant mortality.

“I wanted to change my community and found freedom just by me working my passions,” she said proudly.

So with her life in order, living out her dreams, Gates put her methods down on paper. Success Over Statistics is a bold conversation about choice, about choosing to make a different way for yourself. For Gates, a realization of choice was life-changing.

“Choice is a powerful thing. And the power to exercise your own choices—not what the world says you should be doing.”

What will you choose to do?

 

Sarah Ann Noel is a freelance writer, blogger, and public relations professional. She blogs “Read Alert” every week and covers other Denver-related events and thoughts on writing and motherhood on her personal blogCheck back every week for reviews, literary events, and other bookish finds.

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