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I am a believer in pursuing one's passion and enabling others to realize their potential. Working with women and girls is my passion.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our greatest fear

There is a quote I like that is often associated with Nelson Mandela but the original author being Marianne Williamson; “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”

I found myself reflecting on these words as I tried to make the best of the 5-hour flight to Lagos which seemed longer than that. I was reading the Dr Myles Muroe book, The principles and power of visions. I realized I can get myself busy putting some words down.

Very often I talk with (young) people about setting goals and having a clear vision in life; yet the book still speaks volumes, and it seems every word has a new meaning. When I look back to my younger days, teenage years, I often say that the words that I would wish that someone had told (and that I had believed them) are that “you are powerful beyond measure” I am not sure what was missing, the persons to tell me those words in whatever way, or my heart and mind having doubts believing in this, or both. I can recall several times when I felt (and still do feel) that people have the wrong impression of me! The most recent is when I was in a forum mentoring young women in governance and leadership. As I sat and listened to this younger generation express different views, and a lot of energy, I realized that the message I was going to deliver on that day was “you cannot be ‘ordinary’ and succeed. I did deliver this message, and I hope someone listened, but not before getting shocks of my own. While I was being introduced, I wondered if the person introducing me was talking about me! (Since am not certain Stella was talking about me, I won’t repeat what she said.)

I still recall the first time I got into visible leadership. While in High school I was shy (yes, me, shy!). I am sure many who know me will think this is a strange joke! I was a noise maker yes, I had been the ‘wag’ of the class like the Wodu Wakiri of the book The Concubine which was our course book; who was able to make a joke of every situation. I would have a ready joke, but I also preferred taking the ‘quiet corner’. While I was an active member of the Young Christian Students’ (YCS) group, I would participate in Church and other Bible study groups even lead them, but that was all. I still recall the shock when the outgoing officials were announcing new officials. Officials were normally appointed by outgoing ones from the Form 3 class. I was least bothered about this process since it didn’t affect me. I was therefore shocked when it was announced I was to be the Chairlady! I didn’t have any words (yes sometimes I actually lack words); and was in a daze. Surely, this was a joke.

“How can I do that? I can’t”, I told the outgoing chair lady ( Maggie Njonjo). She hugged me and told me “You can, and you will” and to her that was the end of discussion. She also ‘informed’ me that I was to take some roles the following Sunday. There seemed not to be much discussion in this issue and I was certain they had made a mistake. I wanted to prove them wrong so the following Sunday when I was asked to take the reading, I am certain nobody two rows away heard a word I was saying. The officials were not perturbed and just asked I raise my voice next time, and the issue was not up to discussion. Somehow, I realized there was no short cut, and that was the beginning of my leadership and speaking in public. There was visible progress in the YCS that year, I am still grateful that someone saw the potential in me even when I could not see even a glimpse.

Many times I have met people who are determined to ‘break me’ and blur my vision and I had a major experience of that recently, but most of the times I have met people who believe in me more than I do believe in myself. They have been the shoulders I lean on when I want to just sit down and declare end of the road. These are the precious people in life, who help us maintain a clearer vision of our life and pursue what we believe we are destined for.

How often do we forget that we are each so precious and unique that we can’t afford to just fit in with the crowd? While many of us were taught in early years about how unique we are we forget that and just move with the wind. Every Christian must know the verse in Psalms 139, “I am wonderfully and fearfully made”. I believe every religion and culture must have some teaching similar to that. This means that we are each on earth for a purpose that nobody else can fulfill. We are meant to more than just exist, but rather live. I like putting this as birthday message, “May you live all the days of your life”. Many exist, but that is different from living. Many times we are caught in between this, living and existing, yet we have to move forward and decide to live. This means more than just breathing and going where the wind takes us.

The irony of life is that it’s easier to flow with the current than to stand out and be what we were created to be. Dr Munroe described a story of a girl who when lifted by his dad to see across the ocean said “I can see further than my eyes can look”. The vision means that we see more than is humanly evident, but believe deep inside that our vision will come true, that what we see is real. Once the vision is clear and we pursue it, we will achieve it.

We can get great lessons from children; I think children are more intelligent than adults in matters of life! How can growing up be making our dreams more blurred instead of making them more clear? Sometimes when I listen to kids express their dreams, desires and hopes, I am taken several steps back. However, the more they interact with adult-life, the more they are told “you can’t” and the less clear their visions. They live a minute at a time, crying when they feel like, laughing when they feel like and moving on to the next issue of life. Right now am looking at I think the happiest passenger on this flight. There is kid barely two years, moving around and doing a lot of exercise! The rest of us are tired from sitting down five hours. He has just left my side and I have no idea who he is, but he doesn’t care, he must have interacted with about half of the passengers by now! I have not even said hi to my neighbors, I have no idea how to begin! We are all so ‘serious’ while this kid is laughing and jumping around. As adults, we have faced enough challenges to know that all that glitters is not gold. We have often been told what NOT TO DO than what to do, where NOT TO GO. Sometimes the reason we have doesn’t go beyond “what will others think?” ( I am smiling thinking what would people think if I woek up and started chatting everyone around!) As adults we often minimize our vision and not live to the fullest. We often use the negative experiences instead o the positive ones to make decisions about life issues. We fear to fail hence would rather not try.

In Kenya, the whole country is still awed by a 9-year old girl surviving cancer. She has been in the media and her strength, her maturity her conviction puts many if not all of us to shame. Her innocence confidence and belief in her life has been something to awe about. Every time she appears in the media which has happened often in the last two weeks she leaves tears in each ones heart. The tears are not of pity for Rose, but I believe more out of pity for ourselves, wondering how in nine years she has accumulated such kind of positive attitude towards life that we have missed. She seems to be an angel sent with a special message to many of us. She seems to see so beyond what her eyes can look!

Going back to the quote, what is our worst fear? Do we fear that what is within is so powerful that we can’t contain it? There are times that companies start a new produce that they are not certain about, then the demand sores higher than anticipated. The management can get more shocked by this, wondering if they are able to handle this kind of demand. Are we often more scared of our potential that we would rather remain in a safe space? I wonder.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This inspiring quote by Marianne Williamson is from her book, A return to Love: Reflections on the principles of a course in miracles
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