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Published September 19, 2018

Turning Your Mess Into a Message

The reality is, change is hard. Change is painful. More importantly, change is key to succeeding as an individual and as a leader. Change must first come from within. Shannon Tobin, founder of the Dare to be You Foundation, embraced modeling the change she wished to see in the world. As she made her transformation, Shannon also realized she could use her journey to help others realize the changes they needed to make to go from surviving to thriving.  

My dad died when I was three years old. As a result, my relationships with men were shaped by not having a father figure in my life. My mom was left without a husband, and was left on her own to take care of myself and my twin brother. We never grieved my dad’s death growing up, and I believe this was a key piece of my upbringing that was impacting my life as an adult.

It was 2009. I was top in my game; I was the number one director in my company in Canada, but I was so unfulfilled.

I was in a toxic marriage. People on the outside looked in not knowing what was going on behind closed doors. Someone said to me, “You have this perfect life!” And suddenly I realized people didn’t even know me. Internally, I was a mess. The loss of my father had been a catalyst. I spent my life running from pain instead of addressing it. I wrote a quote down; “When the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, we will change.”

I felt like God was saying, I sent you the life boat, are you going to take it?

I made the really difficult decision to walk away from my unhealthy marriage. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I was watching my son, and he was emulating his father. I realized if I stayed, I was not fulfilling my promise as a parent to build a strong foundation for my son. I felt like God was saying, I sent you the life boat, are you going to take it?

For the last decade, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery. I met a relationship coach and author who inspired me and said, “Turn your mess into a message.” So I started to write a book about my journey.

It was never my desire to profit from my book. I wanted it to be used to support and encourage women going through their own struggle. It started as a vision to help women, and I donated 2000 books to women in shelters across North America. Little did I know this would form what is now known as the Dare to Be You Foundation, which focuses on helping people discover their full potential, and supporting them in making changes so they can bring to the world all they have to offer.

I met a relationship coach and author who inspired me and said, “Turn your mess into a message.”

It started with supporting women, and then about three years ago we shifted our focus to youth empowerment as well when I was introduced to an organization that served grieving children, youth and their families, specifically around mourning and grieving a close death in the family.

After the 2017 GLS, God nudged me again. I started thinking about ways to support youth in my community. As I embraced this change, I realized something.

So many adults have to fix themselves down the road. So I wanted to provide youth with the tools to build a strong foundation. Grades 11 and 12 are such a vulnerable time. The choices you make during this time can make or break your future. For me, I was a follower then and became passionate about being a leader in my early 20s. If we meet kids where they are as they’re going through periods of questions, showing them how God is moving and how they can be their best through God’s eyes, we can empower them to be the leaders of the future.

I went to the Summit and prayed about it. I said to God, If this is what I’m supposed to do, then open the door. During the Summit, a realization came to me. I could send youth to the Summit to learn just as I was learning. Upon my return, I reached out to Robb and Lois Warren from Willow Creek Canada to share my grander vision with them, and they embraced it.

My dream and my vision for Dare to Be You Foundation has been to equip youth with the tools to become leaders, and the Summit can be the platform! Leadership development is so necessary to catalyze change for the better. This was the birth of the GLS Youth Special Edition in Canada!

Leadership development is so necessary to catalyze change for the better.

I never questioned how we’d make this a reality, I only focused on the why. The how will show its way when you know your why. We held a fundraiser, and raised enough money to sponsor 100 youth in the greater Toronto area to attend The Global Leadership Summit in fall of 2018. The ripple effect is amazing!

During my journey, I’ve had the opportunity to attend six Summit events. I’ve been exposed to great training in my career, but nothing compares to the Summit. I believe everyone gets better when the leader gets better. The Summit is like an oxygen mask providing these kids with the tools to become resilient and brave in the face of adversity.

Brené Brown said, You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t choose both. I had to feel the fear and do it anyway. If tragedy hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I’ve turned my mess into a message. And now, as the Dare to Be You Foundation grows, the youth of Canada will be empowered and encouraged in who God created them to be.


If you’re in the greater Toronto area, and you would like to take part in the student edition of the GLS, see below for more information!

Canada Youth GLS Flyer

About the Author
Shannon Tobin

Shannon Tobin

Author, Speaker, Coach and Mother

Dare to Be You Foundation

Shannon Tobin is an author, speaker, transition coach and a mother. She’s been recognized as top director for a global cosmetic company, a position she attained through over 27 years of hard work. Shannon now runs a variety of workshops, is the author of self-help book, Transformation: Discover Your Own Flight Pattern, and the founder of the Dare To Be You Foundation with a mission to empower women, youth and families. Her journey has been one of moving from surviving to thriving, and she seeks to give others the opportunity to discover and become their best self.

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