By Alana Cookman and Caroline Casey
‘Wellbeing gave me a place to stop hiding, under this archetype of positivity, solutions and being a social entrepreneur, a survivor’.
Caroline Casey, knows what it’s like to live a life pretending to be something you’re not. Except in her case, she didn’t even know she was pretending until her 17th birthday, when she found out she was legally blind. Because of her parents’ brave and unusual decision not to tell her, Caroline wasn’t actually pretending; she was just living the life of a young, able person. Without the labels and the special assistance that came with being visually impaired or disabled, Caroline grew up with the true belief that she could live out her dreams and ambitions, the same as everyone else.
At 28, Caroline was working as a Global Management Consultant with Accenture, in a highly pressurised, always-on, competitive environment, where her positive yet persistent, nature served her well – when her eyesight worsened and she had to ask for help. Something most people find daunting enough. But for Caroline this ask for help led to the start of a whole new life journey, one where she was forced to question everything she’d built around herself and her identity and to focus on who she really was and what she really truly wanted to do.
‘It’s so much more peaceful to live in an integrated way that allows you to be the same person that turns up in front of a camera as you are in front of your Mum’.
Caroline’s life now is about creating a movement in the global business community to recognise, embrace and cater for the 1.3 billion people – currently classified as disabled – as valuable employees, customers and members of the community. What started with a solo 1,000km trek across India on elephant back in 2001, raising €250k for The National Council for the Blind of Ireland and Sightsavers, Caroline is now the founder of the Ability Awards and Binc, engaging business leadership to create an inclusive world for the people affected by disability, who are all human beings with the potential and ability to contribute. Binc’s activity has reached over 810 million people. After The Wellbeing Project she founded #valuable which aims and ensuring business recognition towards the value and worth of people working with disability across the full supply chain
The other thing is that – I am the founder of is #valuable which is the big thing I did after Well being – and what I am most proud of. It is what I am doing now – it has been Binc’s activity that reached 810 million people. Could we include that?
Caroline credits her own, often difficult yet transformative inner wellbeing journey and experience with The Wellbeing Project, with becoming significantly more courageous, joyful and adventurous. This ongoing journey is having a profound effect on her social change work;
“The past 10 years of my life had been incredibly difficult and unconsciously I had defaulted to “positive warrior “ mode to get through – focusing on doing – fighting to make things right – making up for what I had seen in the past as failures – achieving “despite the circumstances”.Through my experience as part of the Well-being programme I began the processing of “letting go” and softening. I got to see my joy and crazy wonderful ideas and dreams through the eyes of other people and I heard maybe for the first time, that I, like everyone else, am “enough”.
This has had a profound effect on the way I work and what I do. Since Wellbeing I found the courage again to go “big and global” despite the risk of failure, and I did it with the spirit of adventure, joy and magic – something I had forgotten along the way.
In finally challenging my sense of self worth and value I believe our work has become more powerful, meaningful, honest and impactful. I genuinely like and trust myself more than I have in a long time, because I am seeing all of myself with a big dose of the compassion we give to others. I have reignited the passion and love for my work and rediscovered my own uniqueness – and accepted it – all of it”