Reflections on rising above failure and judgement

“The pain of being you becomes the power of you”
– Mpumi Nobiva

I had the great pleasure of listening to this gifted 26-year-old women, a powerhouse who is just getting started in spreading her message and doing her part to change the world. She said many things in her almost 90-minute talk. Her story is dramatic, losing her mother at 9 years old to the AID epidemic in Africa.

The messages her mother taught her have guided her life and career. She was one in the first class of Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership School for Girls and graduated in the top of her class. That was clearly evident in the time we spent with her today.

She talked about the power of failure, about judgement, about being settled in your spirit so you can truly co-create a future with others. A fascinating, heartwarming and inspiring conversation with the 100+ women and men who had the pleasure to listen. Mpumi followed a panel of incredibly impressive millennial entrepreneurs, ranging from 15-25 – Riya Kaumanci, Vanessa Vakharia (The Math Guru) and Chiomi Ifeanyi-Okoro. It was an awe-inspiring event.

Until today I had never heard of this young woman, but what I do know is that the pain we have experienced in our lifetime has brought up to this point. I have shared some of my story of being adopted in a time where adoption was not talked of like it is today, of hearing constantly how I didn’t look anything like my sisters, calling two men Dad, not really knowing the circumstances of my birth and early life, being questioned my entire life about my heritage (folks just didn’t know what box to put me in), being told my features were too fine to be an African-Canadian, feeling rejected, even abandoned even though I was raised by aunt and uncle who took me in and raised me as if I was their own. The point is we all have our stories. The life journey filled with happiness and pain.

Whatever that “baggage” is, we all have it. Some moments might be more pain-filled than others but I know without a doubt that we can all rise above the “negative” circumstances of our birth, our upbringing, our history.

It forms the path we have walked but it doesn’t define who we are yet to become. That part is up to us. I heard that a few times this evening. Most of us have come through a storm of some sort. Mpumi talked about walking into the eye of the storm and facing it down because that is where the treasure is.

She encouraged us all to tell our stories, to share them openly as those conversations will break down barriers, we can change our world, our culture in the best possible way by sharing the experiences we can all relate to. And the sooner we get outside of judging ourselves, the faster we can drive the change we hope to see. Stories accelerate change.

So start thinking of your story, how you have made it to this juncture, what those experiences have taught you and use that wisdom for good. In other words, step into your power and go take the hill.

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