Win the Inner Battle with Mawi

You have more in you than you can imagine.

The Two Journeys We All Go On

by Mawi on April 18, 2013

All of us go on two journeys in life.

The first journey is easier to see and describe.  This journey consists of things such as:

  • Places we have lived. For example, people who know my story know that I fled Ethiopia, lived in a refugee camp in Sudan, and came to the United States when I was almost seven.
  • Our professional life: Someone might say, I went to college at the University of Minnesota, studied electrical engineering, and now work for General Electric.
  • Key relationships: Someone might say, I had four brothers and one sister; when I was twenty-five, I got married and now have two wonderful children.

When most of us think of our life journeys, we generally think along the lines described above – what might be called the external journey. But each of us also goes on an internal journey that consists of things such as:

  • Our levels of confidence: Maybe you had low confidence in middle school, it rose in high school, plummeted again in college, and now is at an all-time high.
  • Moments of courage: Times when we should have given up, or when we should have been too scared to try something, but we went ahead and discovered that we had far more in us than we ever thought. There are also times when we should have given up, but we didn’t.
  • Love: We can look back and see when we received and gave tremendous love; when we extended forgiveness, and perhaps when we let hate get the best of us.

Leadership is the intersection between these two journeys, where we dynamically and proactively guide both the external and internal. Because the external journey is much sexier and easier to see than the internal, only those willing to spend time reflecting can truly lead.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Iswaran April 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Utterly true what you have written Mawi. We all look at the physical change that happens in our life (at least I do!), but not one time have I thought about the changes that happened in my internal life journey. And now to think of it, I can stand tall and be proud of all the internal change that I’ve made to become who I am now. The love, humbleness and the crawl from my ‘cocoon’ of intimidation surely took tremendous courage to transform into the person I am today. Thanks for the enlightenment Mawi!

2 Jo Habibi April 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Mawi, I so agree with you that we all are on a journey that is multidimensional.

I am blessed to be an ELL high school teacher who has had the opportunity to teach and build relationships with students like yourself. I see them walk into our classrooms with inaudible voices, and within a short time and much encouraging words, I have the privilege of seeing them find their lost voices.

I admire their courage to face the mufti-layered challenges of reuniting with families after years of separation, of assimilating into their new culture and social groups, of learning both the social and academic language skills for school, and of learning to build trust and respect with everyone they meet in their new life. As you say in your book, Of Beetles and Angels, the power of words can either build you up or pull the carpet from under your feet; our students face more of these situations than the average teenager.

My students are the most courageous people I know. They teach me more than I could ever plan on teaching them. They recently read your book, and found it very inspirational and motivational. Knowing that you could have given up many times, but didn’t teaches them that regardless what challenges or trials comes their way, they must stand tall and move forward.

Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. The lessons learned by reading Of Beetles and Angels will go with my students and I as we move forward through our life journeys. The threads of your stories are now a part of our life tapestries.

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