SHE is a Christian with a burning love for writing and helping individuals self-actualise, while developing their interpersonal skills.
Marsha Norman, 42, told All Woman that growing up she was fortunate to have had a lot of her family members around her, which helped with the development of her social skills. In addition, she had a love for reading, which was fuelled by her mother, an educator, who emphasised the importance of being well-read.
This passion was further nurtured when Norman attended The Queen’s School where she fell in love with history, literature and English language. After Queen’s, she moved on to the University of the West Indies (UWI) where she pursued a first degree in history, though she had an interest in becoming a lawyer.
From UWI, Norman did a six-month stint at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library before moving to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, a job she admitted helped her find her passion for human resources.
“I had an excellent mentor in the form of the late Mrs Innerarity. I worked closely with her, and she would assign me to do training and customer service duties, and from interaction with people I developed a love for the area,” she said.
While working there, Norman returned to UWI and did a diploma in population and development, then she heard about a one-year master’s programme in human resources, and got study leave to pursue the course.
Eventually, Norman moved to the Ministry of Agriculture where she spent eight years before transitioning to the private sector. While her attainments increased, she had the desire to continue helping people, and her love for writing encouraged her to pen her second book — Managing People, a human resources handbook. Her first book was a collection of poems.
But Norman still wanted to use her skills to advance individuals on a personal level, which led to her third book, Get on the Bike — a road map to goal-setting, dreaming big and seeing your desires come to reality.
“I always wanted to write a book on goal-setting, but the title came about when I went to a local entertainment spot and actually rode a bike. On the bike I thought this would be a nice title, as it demonstrates for some persons getting rid of a fear. Getting on the bike is something we want to do, but it is not an immediate thing you can achieve. You have to put effort into it to actually achieve it. In the book I lay out the steps you need to take,” Norman said.
A key feature of the book, according to Norman, is something she terms as the “Davidic Principle” where she explores the life of the Biblical character, showing people how to achieve their goals.
“Most of us know about David and Goliath, but before that, Saul had a problem: he could not see. One of his employees said, ‘I know a son of Jesse who is talented, plays a musical instrument, is a warrior, he is brave, fine-looking, he speaks well and he knows the Lord.’ That verse for me is about personal branding. First of all, I think anywhere we go we should stand out by who we are. David stood out. People knew about him,” Norman said.
She added: “Secondly, he was good at something. We need to hone our skills, whether it is musical instruments, doing hair, writing, cooking. Thirdly, his attitude was good. He was described as being a warrior; he was fearless. I think educational achievement is great, but with a poor attitude and poor interpersonal skills we are not going to reach our full potential. The verse also speaks about David being fine-looking. Wherever we are going we should put ourselves together well, because it counts. People say looks don’t matter, but it helped David to reach the king’s palace.
“The servant also said he spoke well. So whatever language we are speaking we should grasp it well because it helps us to advance. The last thing is that he knew the Lord. No matter how talented we are, how good-looking, how good we think we are speaking, it’s still important to put our trust in the Lord for Him to guide our hearts,” she emphasised.
In the novel, which is available in Kingston Bookshop, on Amazon or at marshainorman.com, Norman outlines other aspects of life as they impact one’s goal-setting, such as obstacles, mental preparation and the blessing of an enemy.
“We often come across persons we think are giving us a challenge — David had Saul, but the greater the challenge, the bigger the promotion. We also may start out well, then fall off the bike. My point is, the stumbling blocks are there for us to reassess, reprogramme and get back on track.”
A member of the Temple Hall Mennonite Church, Norman serves as Sunday school superintendent alongside her husband Christopher, and often organises seminars on career and personal development for the young adults.
A mother of two teens, Chris-Ann and Janeil, Norman is passionate about youth development and believes strongly in showing teens and young adults that you genuinely care.
“When you work with young people and they know you care for them, you get through to them. If you put your heart into it and they see you care for them, they will keep on the straight [and narrow],” she said.
Her guiding words are from Psalms 1:3, “Whatsoever you do, it will prosper”.
“Put your heart and passion in your goal. Nothing is wrong in trying and failing. Just don’t stop,” she implored.
By: Kimberley Hibbert