In September I had the opportunity to join as a Woman of Impact for a Girls Inc. mentoring event. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Girls Inc. they’re known for inspiring over thousands of girls here in the U.S. and Canada by sharing experiences and providing the necessary tools that they need to excel in life.
“At Girls Inc., girls learn to set and achieve goals, boldly confront challenges, resist peer pressure, see college as attainable, and explore nontraditional fields such as STEM. Informed by the experiences of girls and their families, Girls Inc. works with policymakers to advocate on key legislation and initiatives.”
I was more than honored to be a part of the event as a mentor. My mentee was in her junior year of high school and she was such an amazing girl. We had the opportunity to connect and really get familiar with each other on a personal level. You never really realize how you can impact someones life until you hear their story. To hear her background story and see that she was still smiling, still persevering and committed to being amazing in life gave me chills. She was brilliant and I am blessed to have met her. The objective of the workshop was for the girls to get familiar with and comfortable with the interview process. *Plot Twist* the girls were doing the interviewing and asking all of the questions. My mentee asked several questions including what it’s like to be an author and is it difficult to build my brand. I explained to her it’s very difficult, but worth it. It’s important for young girls to see hard work as something positive. Part of being a leader is not taking the easy way out. One of her questions that caught me off guard was:
“Do I consider myself respected in my community?”
The question caught me off guard first, because I wasn’t expecting it at all. The second reason being, you don’t imagine a 16 year old girl these days valuing respect. Her questions taught me so much about her, more than she knows. I told her “I do believe that I am valued and respected in my community and for many reasons. I’ve chosen to live my life and give back to my community by being a leader and a positive example to my peers and younger generations. While I’ve dealt with adversities and lost many of things, I’ve held on to my integrity and what I truly believe in. So yes, I do believe that I am respected and the respect is well earned. Will people always like me? Probably not, but respect is more important to me than being liked.”
She said she asked because she wanted to be sure that her mentor was someone that was not only respected by others, but respected herself. And in that moment she and I became best friends. I share all of this to say that from that day forward I took being a leader more serious than I ever have before. Being a leader to me means being a voice to and for all the younger versions of myself. A leader to me means lending a hand to the woman who’s temporarily broken by her circumstances. Leadership means forgetting about you and centering that focus on those around you. I want to inspire us all to seek being leaders who are well respected. It is so easy to follow the crowd and blend in, but it takes a true warrior to step on into this world and be a true leader. Below I am going to list 3 questions that they required us to focus on and study before our interviews. I am going to provide the answers to the questions from my point of view, but I want you all to focus on the questions and answer them honestly for yourself. If you don’t feel you’re not quite ready to take on the role of being a leader or if you’re just unsure if you can consider yourself a leader just yet don’t worry yourself crazy. I believe that the following questions and answers will push you in the direction you need to go to be the leader you’re intended to be.
What does the word LEADER mean to you?
“The word leader to me means an individual who is flawed, imperfect, but is able to relate to many. A leader is someone who leads by example opposed to encouraging others to be an exact replica or a mirror of who they are. If I am going to be a leader, I am going to be an image or an example of what a leader should be, but I am going to encourage all of those who look up to me to be better than me not just like me.”
What are some experiences that helped you grow as leader?
“I grew as a leader when I learned following the crowd would lead me to destruction. It was the loss of my own sense of direction and my own mental clarity that helped me grow into a leadership role. I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. Giving others the power to control it I lost sight, something I didn’t want for my future. I took action and initiative to grow as a woman and to excel in my career. A leader is forever relentless. And my relentlessness certainly contributed to me growing as a leader.”
What do you feel are some of your biggest accomplishments as a leader?
“I could say my books, blog or other projects, but the biggest accomplishments are those that contributed to the betterment of my spirit. My biggest accomplishment was realizing that the only way I’ll be in charge of my life is if I get serious about it. Spiritually I have grown. Because of the extent of my spiritual growth, it has enabled to me to be more compassionate and forgiving. I have developed a voice that a representation for many across the world. I’ve become an inspiration to other people’s lives. That accomplishment alone can’t be beat.”
Here’s to be leaders! May me become them, may we know them, may we raise them!
Be Inspired. Be Encouraged. Be Blessed.