The Mirror in the Box

Susan S Freeman Blog

Rwanda GirlsThis weekend I had the privilege and honor of hosting two young women leaders from Rwanda. They are visiting the U.S. as part of the Akilah Institute for Young Women “Metropolitan Safari Tour.”  These extraordinary emissaries are raising money for scholarships to Akilah so other young women in their country can have the same opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Part of their curriculum involves learning about leadership, including a hands-on project in which each of them discovers and activates her own leadership skills to affect a positive change in her community.

My guests had undertaken projects that mattered deeply to them.  Working in groups, Francine helped young people who were waiting for “jobs” learn the basic skills of entrepreneurship. They learned to create productive, paying work for themselves so they didn’t depend on others to “hire” them.

The other young woman, Irene, had worked with a community association to inform and educate young people about the importance of family planning, including HIV prevention.

I share with you the top 7 leadership lessons these women have learned that apply to leaders everywhere:

Learn and Lead1)     Set clear intention on your goal, including writing it down

2)     Learn leadership by acting on your intentions

3)     Confidence comes from doing!

4)     Support yourself with trusted advisers and friends who give constructive feedback

5)     Flexibility allows you to modify your thinking and plans

6)     Public speaking activates leadership for you and others

7)     Listening to others makes everything possible

What derails them is what derails all of us from time to time: 


Here is the story they shared with me about fear and how they dispelled it.

One of their teachers invited them into an exercise prior to delivering a lesson.  She had a box with a photograph in it.  The person in the photograph was of an influential and important leader.  Most of them thought it was Nelson Mandela.  One by one they were called to the front, where they spoke the name of who they thought was in the photograph.  As they spoke the name aloud, each girl was invited to open the box.  What they found inside surprised, delighted, and moved them.

The photo inside the box was actually a mirror facing upward.  It was each one of them!

Have you examined your “mirror in the box?” 

Are you waiting for something or someone to make your goals and vision possible?


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