Thursday, March 01, 2007

Taking Flight

Who knows what heights we’re capable of soaring to until we test our wings?

I thought I was traveling to Botswana to do research for a novel I’m writing, to get a sense of the land and its people. But even though I was expecting the unexpected, I never anticipated that at 52 years of age I'd be hitching a three-hour ride across the Botswanan bush in the back of a truck.

Most of all, I never imagined that I would be speaking to schools and businesses about leadership. I thought my audiences would be small groups of adolescent females and that I’d be sharing with them what I’ve learned about achieving dreams.

Some of my talks indeed fit this description. (See photos, above and left, taken at the Flamingo School in Sowa, Botswana. FYI: In the top one, I'm sitting next to Mike Muller, the principal.)

But many did not. My very first speech, for instance, was to a group of 500 or so teenagers, many of them male. There was no P.A. system; and looking out at the sea of faces, I knew that to keep the students' attention, I’d have to speak forcefully. I also knew that I'd have to reframe my remarks so that they'd resonate with boys as much as with girls.

My stomach was fluttering. It was the first time I’d ever spoken to such a large group without a microphone. To top it off, I was inaugurating a new speech about the connection between daring to dream and becoming a leader. (More on this in another posting.) But with the support of my friend and traveling companion Bonnie Orton (see Nov. 11, 2006 posting), I rose to the challenge.

I don’t know what challenges you’re facing right now. But I do know that if you can find within yourself the courage to explore the margins of your being and meet the trials you face head on, you will will lift off.

And in my experience, nothing is more exhilarating than that.

Photo Credits: Bonnie Orton

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