Texas Conference for Women: Leyma Gbowee’s Reminder that IT IS POSSIBLE

Today’s blog post by Ana-Cristina González is the fifth in our series about the 2013 Texas Conference for Women. Make sure to check out the first,secondthird, and fourth blogs in the series. Come back next Tuesday to read the next blog in this series!

Ana-Cristina is the Director of Stewardship and Development for Saint William’s Catholic Church in Round Rock. She holds a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences from THE University of Texas and a Masters in Communications and Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. When she is not spending time with her amazing niece, she can be found enjoying the wonderful city of Austin, TX! 

Pih.Tih.Ful. Pitiful.  That is how I would describe how I was feeling the day before attending the Texas Women’s Conference.  I was full of discouragement and doubt.  I remember telling several people that I hoped the conference would give me the pep talk I so desperately needed.  I was not disappointed.

The morning keynotes were a great start to the day.  They were energetic, up-beat, and positive….so far, so good.  I could feel myself relaxing a little bit.  I went into the first break out session and was definitely inspired by the women talking about shifts they made in their lives to create big changes whether it was personal or professional.  It took me back to my coaching call…what change did I need to make in my personal and professional life to make things better?  The only control I have is over me and not others.  What could I be doing differently?  Ok…even better, I was relaxing and beginning to problem solve.
Lunch was upon us and I was curious to see how it would all work because I had noticed there were several speakers besides the keynote, Rachel Ray.  Two speakers stood out to me, Sallie Krawcheck and Leymah Gbowee.  Sallie challenged and motivated me on a professional level.  Leymah challenged my heart and my soul.
Leymah Gbowee is a Noble Peace Prize winner who is credited for ending the civil war in Liberia by organizing a women’s peace movement.  Leymah is the type of person who walks into a room and everyone suddenly gets quieter.  She has a presence.  From the moment she began speaking, the room was silent and electric all at the same time.  Leymah spoke on her work, always beginning each story with the question “Is it possible to change the tide?”  She would then proceed with stories, incredible stories on how people’s lives were changed, how history was changed in her country, how the world was changed, through her courageous work and by not remaining silent.
Is it possible to change the tide? Yes, she said, but only when we step out of our comfort zone.  She spoke of being constantly told she was crazy, that what she wanted to do was impossible, but she has learned that the power of possibility is the power that changes the world.  The world might be saying it’s impossible, but we are saying it IS possible.  The power of possibility always makes you look like a fool, but you must step up and step out of your comfort zone.  She ended her time with a challenge saying “the world is waiting to hear from someone in this room…for you to make a fool out of yourself to change the tide.  Let’s make it possible for some woman, some girl to dream.”
How did she know that I needed to hear this?  I joke that I don’t know what the other people in the room were doing while she was talking directly to me, but it felt like that keynote was scheduled just for me.  I left that day on fire!  I left re-charged.  I left rejuvenated.  I left feeling like I wasn’t alone.  When the room gave Leymah a standing ovation, I realized I am not the only one who gets discouraged or has dark cloud days.  Leymah challenged me not to give up and keep going.  Baby steps are still steps forward.  Tides can’t be changed in one day or even a year, but the tiniest of steps can result in the greatest of changes.  I may not be there to see the fruits of my labor, but I must keep moving even at the risk of sounding foolish.
I went to work the next day and had back to back meetings with the leadership in my organization on some topics that I had been silent on.  It was good to talk about it and I received some good feedback.  Were all the problems solved?  No, but things were brought to light and when things are no longer hidden in the darkness….change can happen.

You can check out Leymah Gbowee’s keynote here

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