Several years ago I attended a fund-raising gala for a fabulous organization called The Unstoppable Foundation, a non-profit started by my dear friend Cynthia Kersey that brings clean water, education and hope to some of the poorest communities in Africa.
One of the highlights for me that night was when we heard the story of a young girl from Kenya whose life looked like it would be a typical one for the girls in her community… fetching water and helping her mother care for her brothers and sisters until she was a young teen at which time she’d be married off and begin having babies herself. The girl’s name was Susan and she was born to an impoverished family in a village where the closest school was miles away. Almost no one went to school in her region – especially if you were a girl. Only through sheer determination was Susan able to complete primary school and graduate at the top of her class. She’d worked incredibly hard as her dream was to qualify to fill one of only 40 positions available to girls out of the almost 1000 who applied to the only secondary school for girls in the entire area. The day came when the list arrived of the 40 girls who were chosen to fill the spots and Susan’s name was not on the list.
Here is her story of going for her dream no matter what….
Susan’s teachers were as broken-hearted as she was when her name didn’t appear on the list, but there was nothing anyone could do – or so they said. Susan, however, was not taking no for an answer. She wanted to know why she wasn’t chosen.
So on the day that school began she walked for miles to the place where the 40 girls were ready to enter the school building and begin their year.
Susan marched right up to the head mistress in front of all the other girls in their beautiful new school uniforms and demanded to know why she hadn’t been chosen. The head mistress said she was sorry but there were only 40 spots because they only had 40 beds and 40 desks and 40 sets of books and she was number 41. There was no money for any more girls and there was nothing she could do. Susan held back her tears as she implored the head mistress to let her in and said there must be something that could be done. Soon the other girls also began begging the head mistress to let Susan in saying they would share their books and push beds together and share their uniforms and give Susan their desks and they would sit on the floor if they would please let her in…
Susan was flown in from Kenya to address the gala and thank the donors as she had just graduated from the school at #1 in her class and was now going to graduate school to become a nurse.
What struck me most about this story was how fearless this young girl was. She didn’t care if the other girls laughed at her. She didn’t care if the head mistress reprimanded her and sent her home. She wanted what she wanted.
How many times have you let fear stop you? How many times have you shrunk with the first no? And worse yet, how many times have you let other’s opinions of what you think they’re going to think about you cause you to let go of your dreams?
Would you have had the courage to do what Susan did or would you have just accepted your fate?
Fear will always be there no matter how successful you become. Success doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid. It simply means that if you really want to live a life you love you don’t let the fear stop you.
I invite you to begin to notice when you’re about to let fear stop you. Feel the fear in your body, breath into it – then think of Susan and move courageously forward knowing that everything you want, every dream you hold, is waiting for you—right on the other side of the fear.