I recently had the opportunity to sit down and listen to one of the most powerful women in Africa. This same woman gained recognition for her amazing efforts as a humanitarian and an activist for doing what came naturally to her. She used her anger, her passion, her drive and fire to blaze a trail.
Her story begins with her small community in Liberia where she saw continued injustice and abuse to the young girls and women around her. In a place where Rape is often used as a scare tactic she pulled together a community of these women to rise above it, get educated and make change. Her intent however was just to inform and keep them safe. All the while she suffered abuse at home. Her tale and the work she has done is more than I can do justice. The question everyone had for her was, How can I make a difference what can I do to bring about change?
Here is what I learned from listening to Leymah with the brief opportunity I had. “Find your conviction, passion, the fire that burns in you and keeps you up at night. Find your anger or passion and when you are awake in the middle of the night three times. You know that is your calling. It is God’s work for you or your calling from a higher power it is what you are here to do.”
Leymah spoke with both great sterness and balanced it with a calmness and jovialness that everyone could understand. There were a few key take away we can all benefit from
“Be sensitive to diversity. Those who live on the outskirts of society, who are called nerd, or geek, those who have a different appearance than the rest of us, those are the people that need compassion, be polite and kind to those around you. After all despite any color or appearance inward or outward difference, we all still bleed, we all have self doubt. Whether you win a nobel prize or not doesn’t matter, what matters is that you follow your passion and if you find one other crazy person to follow you, you have succeeeded.”
“The pathway to leadership is small, it starts with one step and every step expands the path. Then one day you look at a point behind you and you realize the path isn’t so small anymore and you are reminded of where you began. Little things lead to greater things! Never doubt the ability of anyone, often we don’t have confidence to intervene or help or try to make a change. Start small, do it once it becomes part of the norm. Little things lead to greater things. If you do bad expect bad if you do good expect good. Nothing easy in life is sustainable. Think about that. When you are feeling down remember smile and be confident, that positivity is contagious and before you know it you will be feeling better because you’ve made others feel better.”
These small glimpses into greatness made me aware of one thing, don’t give up don’t ever give up, keep trying always try! Follow your passion and when you do the world will follow you and things will start to fit in place. So too will the life around you follow you as it becomes more than even you ever dreamed. So keep trying whether it is creating art, starting a community garden, helping a neighbor, writing a book; if your fire moves you then let it consume you!
Check out the great TED talk with Leymah below or if you want to learn more about her and her amazing life you can read her book.