What it Takes to Live for What You Will Die For

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Image source: theodysseyonline.com

BY KEISHA JOHNSON 

This space is a place to encourage you in the things that will give you an edge in life to walk the path of the extraordinary and leave your imprint on the future. We’ve uncovered a lot of the ‘hidden’ secrets that accomplished men and women have employed throughout generations to distinguish themselves, beat the odds and attain seemingly impossible goals with repeat success. Their legacy has left us a trail of insights, wisdom, tools and resources to maximize our potential and make our own mark.

This week as a precursor to the 2nd annual Caribbean Business Expo slated for April 24th at the Pearson Convention Center, I want to touch on another key that I will share more about at the conference.

It puts to rest one of those issues that most every person contends with at some point in their life. It’s the thing that draws the line between uncertainty and conviction, complacency and passion, enough and abundance.

It is what launches people from obscurity to significance and infuses life into delayed dreams to make them explode and redeem lost time. It’s what tips you from good to great and from great to extraordinary. It’s what elite athletes and business moguls nurture to stay on top of their game. And it’s what is required to take you to the next level.

I first heard of this thing in 2010. Yet I had experienced it more than a decade earlier when it redirected the course of my life.

At that time I was twenty two years old. Burning the candle at both ends between a full time job, full time studies and a full time preoccupation with excelling at everything, I had suffered a minor stroke and ended up back in the hospital the first day I returned to work.

The attending nurse on my second visit was surprised to see me again and with hands akimbo immediately reprimanded me, “Do you know that if you die on that job today they will replace you tomorrow?”

Her sharp words rent the thin veil of my security and exposed the bitter reality that my current job with all the prestige and perks I enjoyed was NOT what I wanted to die for; neither was it what I wanted to live for. And even more unsettling, if asked, I could not articulate what was.

Have you ever been there? Meaning and significance resonates with the heart and ego of most every human being, yet the journey to it is made by few. Why?  What makes some people reach that place of clarity, find joy and fulfillment and purpose in what they do and in who they are and get rewarded for it, while others just seem caught on the proverbial treadmill of trying?

Throughout my career as a journalist I had interviewed, met, known, been friends with enough people caught in this crippling cycle. I had seen their exhaustion and listened to their lament of captive, faded, delayed, lost and broken dreams to know that to change course required drastic action.

So I took a risk. I quit the job and began the search to find my unique purpose and calling. And within a year I did. Thanks to that presumptuous nurse, whose chiding words lit a fire in me to live for what I would die for.

This fire within, I learned in 2010 from my mentor Alvin Day who will be the keynote speaker on April 24th, is called a fire in the belly.

Fire in the belly is what makes you ditch the comfort zone of the familiar but failing. Fire in the belly is what fuels that burning desire that engulfs your thoughts day and night with a better future for yourself. It denies hunger, silences doubt and negativity and fuels you to run the extra miles toward the mark of your higher calling when your legs have long lost all feeling.

Fire in the belly has to be stoked and when it is, it grows and rockets you to a future you could only have imagined as my friend Jelani Daniel showed us.

Less than two years ago in the wee hours of the morning, a few friends sat on a couch and laughed until our bellies ached about Jelani’s many life lessons as a car dealer. He envisioned putting it all into a book and as we agreed, he transported us to life post the book release to what people would say about him and how they would treat him, how he would be introduced and esteemed and how life would be transformed and make him known.

Within a few months of that exchange, Jelani had his book, “Forward March” in hand. His push to make that a reality is called fire in the belly. Now every time I see Jelani he reminds me, “I’ve got part two coming, I’m writing my second book”. Fire in the belly has brought Jelani before prime ministers, countless media interviews and speaking engagements. It has elevated his image and value to our society.

Similarly, another colleague Kevin Junor sent me an email recently with an snapshot of a textbook on leadership used at the University of Toronto in which he is referenced as a model of Servant Leadership. Kevin lives to be a servant leader and his authentic commitment to live for what he will die for has not only brought him before royalty but has made him a paragon to generations of future leaders.

Kevin will share the framework for living and leaving a legacy on April 24th. At the conference you will hear more of how to make the leap from obscurity to significance as we explore igniting the fire in your belly and the implications it has for how you live and what you’ll be remembered for. I will share key lessons of the journey to clarity of purpose and the blueprint that emerged to live for what you will die for. I invite you to be our special guest and we look forward to meeting you on April 24th at the Pearson Convention Centre, 2638 Steeles Avenue East, Brampton, ON.

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