I’m in a leadership program for landmark education, called The Introduction Leaders Program. It’s a 7 months program and we meet three Fridays every month and we have four big weekend seminars every five weeks. The Friday classes are here in Atlanta and the four big seminar weekends are split between Atlanta and South Florida. My Friday Atlanta class room has 20 members and the big weekends have about 150 people from several different centers.
This weekend we had our third big weekend seminar and it was all about performance. I almost didn’t make it to the weekend, first because I was sick and exhausted from working all week and insufficient sleep. To make matters worst I When I awakened on Saturday morning I had I text which read “Your Dad in the hospital” accompanied with a pic of him unconscious and connected to a ventilator and a feeding tube. It was very shocking and emotionally draining to see my dad that way.
The combination of my illness, fatigue and my dads condition would have normally taken me out of my life. I would have told my self something like , “This is too much to deal with” or “I’m real stressed right now and I need to stay home”. It was the support of a fellow classmate that I have been staying with and the training and development of the program, that had me still make it to class. The old me surely would have seen this as a good enough reason to throw a pity party, where I would have played every “Whoa is me” “Why me?”, “life is not fair” or any other victim based song.
My training has taught me that powerful leaders arent subject to their circumstances, no matter what they are. Obama gets death threats daily and he still does his job. Therefore I knew that I needed to keep my word and commitment to the program and make the seminar weekend. So I did.
Later that same day I got a phone call from one of my cousins that lives here in Atlanta, notifying me that another of my cousins who lives in New Jersey had died. This was another blow to my spirit. I was able to hold back the tears from my fathers situation. Either because I still have some resentment from him being an absentee father until I was 25 or because the connection just wasn’t there. Hearing about my cousin succumbing to her brain tumor though hit me a bit harder even having known her days were numbered.
Here again I just wanted to crawl under a rock and stay there when I heard the news. That’s not what I did. I shed a few tears, made a few call, talked it out with a few friends and kept moving. I realized that there wasnt anything I could do for my dad or cousin at this time. So I decided that my energy would be best used completing the weekend developing my leadership skills and being around a very supportive community.
I also had several thoughts of not attending class on Sunday, because of my circumstances. I’m am so glad that I stuck it out and I didn’t give in to my breakdown and quit the program. It turned out that I had two huge breakthroughs that will change my life forever.
The first one came from my realizing that my fear of success was rooted in my belief that people would treat me bad or worse if I became successful. I believed that people would only build me up, so they could break me down later. I was convinced that some how, some way, I would be another fallen star. Another great leader that fell from grace for some transgression. This fear was so pervasive it my life that it showed up all over the place. I was truly committed to living a safe and small life, where I didn’t have anything at stake and nothing to lose. “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose” as Bob Dylan once put it.
Being aware of this conversation in my head gave me the power to eradicate it. I am letting it go. I will no longer let that fear stop me from being successful. I will no longer choose a simple and easy life with no responsibility. There is no power in avoiding responsibility, and much power in taking responsibility. I wanted more power.
The next big breakthrough came from another one of my classmates. She is a successful Black woman that for some reason didnt like me, or so I thought. It was very clear that there was something about me that bothered her or that she didn’t like. So I decided to confronted her in an attempt to clean up whatever it was between us.
So I went to her on one of our breaks and asked her straight out. “What do I need to clean up with you?” I was shocked at what she told me. It truly made a huge difference in my life, probably more than any other thing I have gotten so far out of the program.
She told me that when she saw me for the first time that she saw my greatness and she was ready to support me in anyway she possibly could. Then she quickly realized that I was more committed to living a small life than the big life that the universe had in store for me. She told me that she was extremely disappointed it my desire to avoid my greatness and this caused her to shut me down and out of her space. She told me that I was destined for greatness wether I wanted it or not and that I spent more time and energy avoiding it than just accepting it.
I admit that I heard this many times before, but this time it really hit my hard, like it was the truth. I almost brought me to tears. I really got what she was saying. It explained why so many black woman in the past have treated my that same way. Actually many people have treated me the way and before today I thought they were prejudging me and making me wrong for how I chose to live me life. I never would have guessed that people’s disappointment in me was because I was squandering my blessing of greatness.
This was one of the biggest paradigm shift that I ever experienced in my life. So many things made sense all of a sudden. I have the ability to change the world but I wasn’t doing it. And even the power that I was using wasn’t being used wisely.
I can no longer be a small fry in our big pot of hot grease. I have to do what I was meant to do, which is change the world. I’m not sure fo how I will change the world, I just know it’s what I have to do and I’m going to do it. Watch me now!