Friday, July 18, 2014

Nelson Mandela: The Pride of Afrika


Today I remember Mandela. The leader of leaders, the pride of Africa. He made me believe that whatever you put your mind into, you can surely achieve. Madiba, a hero whose legacy brings hope and walks us through the oath of our dreams. He reminds me that giving up is never an option no matter the situation as he said, "It always seem impossible until it's done". He was a leader whose thoughts are still leading majority of leaders. Whenever I think of him, I think of many other great leaders who took the stand for their countries. I think of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyata, Samora Machel, and many others, who gave us back our home, our motherland, our Africa.

These great leaders always remind me that leadership is not a piece of cake, it is about sacrifice; taking responsibilities; servanthood; standing for what you believe in and what's good for the people; being fearless; and mostly, leadership is about putting the needs of others first before your own. One thing that our visionaries had in common is education. They used education as a tool for liberation. Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." They did change the world, our world. It breaks my heart when girls and boys drop out of school. They need to realize that education will allow them to be exposed to a world of limitless opportunities and become a great leader and a changemaker. We should all embrace education, formal and informal. 

I believe that young people, girls and boys, are the next generation of leaders and changemakers. We have the obligation to nurture their talents and potential, ensuring they bring the best out of themselves. Together with the young people, we need to be in the forefront advocating for better communities, good health systems, quality education and good governance. It is our responsibility to ensure that every community is a better community with no segregation, discrimination or inequality. Mandela said, "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."  We are the voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. 

If you were to write the story of your life, what would you write about? Why would people want to read your story? Is it a positive story that speaks volumes to a reader or is it just another story? In his own words, Mandela said, "There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." I believe we are all here to serve a greater purpose than ourselves. We are called to serve locally and globally, with one aim of making the world a better place. What is your story about? Is it hidden in playing small or are you exploring all that has been invested in you by investing in other people and being an agent of positive change?

Nelson Mandela has been a source of hope and strength to us all. Through him we learn that there is no excuse to reaching out to your goals in life. He said, "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."

Till then,

-NL-


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Believe in Yourself


Believe that you are placed in this earth for a reason. You are here to serve a purpose greater than yourself and God trusted that you will deliver. You do not want to let Him down just because you cannot believe in yourself. Believe that your hands can do miracles and the particles in your brain have all you need for the tasks ahead of you. Believe in yourself and live a purpose driven life.

Understand that everyone has their opinion on something and respect their opinion but do not let their opinion take away your dreams and make you not be at peace with yourself. Failure begins when you start pleasing other people, so live your life. It's not easy to believe in yourself especially when there is too much noise around you and that is where strength comes in and your vision revealed. Believe in yourself when no one believes in you, and if you are a dreamer like me, most of the time people will not believe in you. In her book, Isabel’s Hand Me Down Dreams, Isabel Lopez says, “If you can’t believe in miracles, then believe in yourself. When you want something bad enough, let that drive push you to make it happen. Sometimes you’ll run into brick walls that are put there to test you. Find a way around them and stay focused on your dream. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

There are some people who will always think they are right and you are wrong. You need to be careful with these people. Sometimes they are even older than you, thus you may think they are right because they are older than you and maybe they have seen more than you, you are wrong. Believe in yourself. Listen to the soft voice inside you. Everyone has their own path, their own destiny, their own purpose in this earth. Live yours.

Sometimes we choose others over ourselves, it's not a bad thing if you go hungry in order to feed the poor, but it is bad when you throw your dreams because somebody said something and it got you disappointed. If you let your decisions and choices be affected by other people all the time, then you are living or on the path to living someone else's dream. Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

So, how can one learn how to believe in her/himself? Here are some ideas;

  1. ALWAYS, think positive.  Thoughts are powerful, feed your brain with positive ones.
  2. Be authentic and realize that it is okay to make mistakes.
  3. Discover your strength and focus on developing your talents.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people who add to your growth and development.
  5. Have a vision and work towards achieving it.

Keep in touch with yourself,

-NL-

Victory: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

What about the unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives so we can sing and dance today?
What about the mothers and fathers who all they thought of was us, this generation?
Are we going to remember them only during independence?
Is our presence complement their absence or is it an excuse to over dependence?
Are we seeking to influence and make positive difference or are seeing our existence is just another occurrence that leads to impotence?
Are we going to be part of the audience or hold the mic to fight emotional violence?

We talk about change and we forget
The initiators
Social innovators
Back in the 50s
Running through the 60s

Are we only gonna fight through their tears
And hide in our shells because of our fears
Are we gonna make them turn around in the graves
Or sleep in peace as we put together the pieces
To fit perfectly with their vision
Positive change our mission

Let's keep running cause the ghost is just behind us
It's disastrous and it's so obvious
This race 
has no face
It has a heart that got to beat on its pace

See,
Our fathers and mothers gave us a place to call home
They invested and the return is what we become
Tell me, how is your story talk about history
Of your country and all who brought victory?
Think about it.

© Nancy Lazaro

Reach for the Sky


This is for the girls whose childhood was snatched right out of their fingertips
For the pain and confusion that they came through
This is for the girls whose purity, innocence was taken away by a father, a neighbour
a friend, a teacher, a stranger
This is for the tears than were never seen
For the secrets that were never released
And for the heartbeats that lost the beat to life
This is for the silence, lost confidence
Get loud, let the world hear the voices in your heart

Let go, live and let live
The future is bright, just believe
Spread your wings and fly
Aim high and reach for the sky

This is for the heartbroken
For the weak at heart
For those who are shaken 
Forgetting that sorrow comes with strength
This is for those who live only to exist
Cause they believe suicide is sin
So they will just be
This is for those who are silenced by the fears of the unknown

Let go, live and let live
The future is bright, just believe
Spread your wings and fly
Aim high and reach for the sky

This is for her, whose stomach cannot hold a life
This is for the empty promises that was made
For the housewives and midwives
For those who dodged death but not punches and knives
Thrown by the one they called soul-mates
This is for single mothers working night and day to make ends meet
For the powerful women
Whose strength is seen in the tears and sacrifices

Let go, live and let live
The future is bright, just believe
Spread your wings and fly
Aim high and reach for the sky

This is for the words that choked her, strangled her
This is for the memory that covers the lens of her eyes, all she sees is the bitter past and not that bright future
This is for the love that has been so hard to give because he hurt you 
and him too
This is for the one whose hands are tied with thick chains
Freedom is yours to have, embrace it, break free
This is for the butterfly who doesn't recognize the beauty of her own colors
This is for those who were told they will amount to nothing
And now they are a bunch of something

Let go, live and let live
The future is bright, just believe
Spread your wings and fly
Aim high and reach for the sky

This is for the tears than were never seen
For the secrets that were never released
And for the heartbeats that lost the beat to life
Spread your wings and fly
Aim high and reach for the sky

©Nancy Lazaro


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Poem: My True Leader

 NL at the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania residence

This is a poem I wrote few days ago as I was reflecting on the whole issue of leadership and me. I hope it will be an asset to you as it is to me. 

She told me, the sky is not the limit
Just commit to change
And definitely, you don’t need a permit
You can do anything and everything
She said, you are a mover and a shaker
A reason why negative becomes positive
And the impossible becomes possible
You are a dreamer among dreamers

She is, hope for the young ones
A renewed strength to the older generation
This is not a commotion, she stands for quality education
Innovation
Better health system, women empowerment promotion

even when the weather is rough
And days are tough
She has courage to stand firm and protect me 
A soldier, my warrior 
She fights my battles without fear 
She put me first, even when am at my worst 
She remains a faithful partner
Not corrupted By her desires 
A loyal partner

She calls me “my beautiful country”
And I call her “my true leader”

Like climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro, her goal is the peak And the beautiful view it provides
Like lakes and rivers flowing through its channels, her mission is to nurture growth

She dreams. She envisions.
She hopes.  She is on a mission.
When the sun rises giving strength to her bones 
She sees the future, black and white not gray, beautiful and bright

She is now in the future
Spurring growth and prosperity
Enhancing peace and security
She embraces change

She loves me like no other,
She is the ninth wonder of the world

She calls me “my beautiful country”
And I call her "my true leader”

She can be me,
She can be you,
She can be us.

Nancy Lazaro in New Orleans (Open Mic Night at Juju Bag)

Let us stop pointing fingers, change starts with me, with you, with us.

-NL-

Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Young African Leaders - Tanzania Team
One day, only one thing will happen that will make you look back unto your life and smile to all the ups and downs as finally they have paid off. One day you will look back and be able to connect the dots of all that you have been doing. A day will come when the sun will shine brighter than ever before and make you smile from ear to ear night and day. A day will come when your dreams will be a reality so do not stop dreaming and keep building on your dreams, throw one stone at a time, and it may not make sense at the moment but in time it will make a lot of sense. 

I have been chosen to participate in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and I thank God for this opportunity. The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the exchange program of the President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This program will bring over 500 young leaders to the United States each year, beginning in 2014, for leadership training, academic coursework and mentoring. It will create unique opportunities in Africa to put those new skills to practical use in propelling economic growth and prosperity and strengthening democratic institutions. 


With the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Childress

I am placed at Tulane University in New Orleans under the civic Leadership track then I will attend a Presidential Summit in Washington DC before going back home to serve my country and be an agent of positive social change.

For more information check out www.youngafricanleaders.state.gov

Till then,

-NL-

25 Washington Fellows from 17 countries at Tulane University, New Orleans

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day of an African Child



Today as we commemorate the Day of an African Child, My thoughts are with the kidnapped school girls of Chibok, Nigeria. What comes to my mind over and over again is the question, "What is love?". When you love you will not abuse someone else, you will exercise all human rights, you will be able to think of someone else before yourself and you will treat all women and men equally. My heart skips a beat every time I think of the girls and I can sense rage filling up my soul as all I can imagine is the tears and fears of the young innocent helpless girls in the hands of strangers. For a moment I put myself in their situation and it's scary. God knows what they are going through as their past are reshaped with pain beyond measure and their days become bitter and unexplainable.


At this point in time, I remember a song that was composed by Michael Jackson 'We are the World' and some of the lyrics are;

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can't go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of Gods great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

The whole world should come together as one, all of us are responsible to enhance peace and security in our countries and the world at large. Definitely, love is all we need, love for our girls, love for our mothers, love for our sisters, love for each and every individual. If love can be far greater than hate, then we would be living in a better place, without fear of any form of violence.

Statistics shows that one out of every three women have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually. This is insane and it must stop. We are all responsible to bring this insanity to end. Let us speak out loud with our broken voices so the world may hear us. Let us live by example. Let us teach men and boys to respect women and girls. Let us be the voice of the voiceless. Let us promote gender equality to be a reality. Yes, we can do anything and everything. Let us shut the doors of fear and realize that we are powerful. As am writing this, I remember one of the poem by Marianne Williamson found in her book "A Return to Love" says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

It is time to act.

-NL-



Monday, May 5, 2014

Working in a Team



“Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.”
― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Recently, I spoke to AIESEC IFM students on team management. It was a good Saturday and all I saw was a lot of talent and potential amongst the young people in the hall.

Ken Blanchard said, none of us is as smart as all of us. A team is a group of people working together towards achieving a common goal. The success of any activity depends on the team that you create, the motivation behind the team and the talents bestowed in each individual to do the right things in a right way in order to achieve that common goal. To ensure results, an effective team need to be assembled.

Why should you create or be part of a team:
•Getting out of your own shell and engaging yourself with something bigger
•Easy to delegate (distribution of tasks)
•Share experience, talents, information and knowledge
•Goals can be reached effectively and efficiently
•Time management: Delivering results within a specific time frame
•Combined efforts to overcome any obstacles/challenges

An effective team knows the mission, vision and the objectives of the tasks ahead of them clearly. They have clear roles and responsibilities, share thoughts and ideas, ensure constant flow of information, manage their time effectively and communicate progress while inspiring each other to achieve their objectives. A team should develop trust amongst each other, be flexible, learn from each other, stay committed while embracing differences.

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." That is one of Hellen Keller's quote which has always reminded me to be a good team player. The following are some of the qualities of an effective team player:
•Communicates
•Respect other team members
•She/he is reliable
•Listens
•Flexible to change
•Cooperates with other team members
•Shows commitment
•Share knowledge, experience and information
•Works towards achieving a common goal
•Do not entertain differences or let differences distract team work

In each team there is a leader, As a leader do not wait for the team to do everything and do not let the team make you do everything. Remember you are not just a leader, you are part of the team. In managing a team, one should keep in mind the following;

•Understand the vision and expectations
•Know strength and weakness of each team member
•Handle problems and challenges effectively
•Be positive and be part of the team
•Do not micromanage
•Give credit when due, to the whole team and to individuals

Last but not least, it takes a team to build a dream. There is a quote by Bang Gae that says, "Team work, makes the dream work" the environment you live in, people that surround you, friends, family and strangers, are all part of your team, working with you so that you can realize your dreams, your purpose. Each has their own contribution in ensuring that you succeed.

Keep in touch with yourself,
-NL-

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

There Is No Better Time Than Now

Death had been a mystery until when I lost my sister and my father, then I knew it was real. Over the years, all I have been embracing is the memories we shared. I get comforted by all the things they did and said while on earth. Recently I attended a funeral, so many things crossed my mind, things like one day I will die too, who will be there for my funeral? Where will I be hurried? How will life be like after death? what are you living for that is worth dying for? What adds value to your life? What identifies the person in you? If you are gone today, what will people remember you for?

This life is borrowed and we do not have assurance of tomorrow, we are not guaranteed the next minute, we live by hope and faith. It is worth it to life life to the fullest and live each moment like it's your last cause we do not know a minute or an hour when we will kick the bucket.

There is a quote that says, "Give people flowers while they can still smell them". I like this quote as it always remind me to good things to people, praise them, thank them and remind them that they are just amazing creations. At times we get so carried away with life matters that we forget the value of other people in our life and we do not even let them know how much we appreciate them until death comes along. Let us not wait till someone has kicked the bucket to say all the good things about them. Give people flowers when they can still smell them.

The following are ten things that I think are necessary for someone to live with;

1. Make peace with others. Make peace with yourself. It is a total joy to the heart when you are at peace. Forgive others for all the wrongs that they have done to you, forgive yourself for all the decisions you made that you are not proud of and ask for forgiveness where you know you have done something wrong. Be at peace.
2. Do not allow negative energy in your life. Let positivity overwhelm you even during rough times, stay positive. Surround yourself with people who want the best out of you and brings positive energy in you. Do not allow people or situations to drain you. Think positive and live a positive life. Do not waste your energy in things that you cannot change. Realize your worth, embrace the uniqueness in people, stay healthy,
3. Treat people as if today is their last day, or your last day on earth
4. Don't hold grudges, live a stress free life
5. Be a builder not a destroyer. Be kind, humble, encourager, help those in need and let your light come from within. Be a source of hope, strength, peace and unity. Be a friend not a stranger.
5. Love God, love yourself, love others.
6. Say "I love you" to all people you love. What do you lose from letting someone know that you love them? Speak love, act love, breath love and be love. Spread the love that has been given to you for free.
7. Make a bucket list and work on making each item on the list happen. Take a minute and ask yourself a question, "If you were on death bed at the moment, what would you wish you had done and never did? What would you do different?" What are you waiting for. What is keeping you from doing that thing now when you can really do it and save yourself from regrets and lost time.
8. Have fun, enjoy life. Make time for your loved ones and make time for yourself. Don't get caught in four walls, be it at work or in your room, enjoy life.
9.live your life. Do not live someone else's life and do not live to please other people, live your life and live it to the fullest. Do not put your life on pause while time does not stand still.
10. Live a purpose driven life.

We have all been given a certain time to live and enjoy the earth, it is up to you and I to decide what to do with the time given to us. Be wise, there is no better time than now.

Remember to keep in touch with yourself.

-NL-

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Towards Uhuru Peak: Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro

 We all have dreams. We all have things we would like to do before we kick the bucket. Turning our thoughts and dreams into action is what makes life worthwhile. March has been a wonderful month for me because I have accomplished one of my long term assignment, I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest Mountain in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world. It started as a dream and now it is part of history, part of my story. I started climbing on 16th March and reached the highest peak, Uhuru Peak, on 19th March at 10:20 in the morning. It was not an easy journey, actually, it is one of  the hardest things I have done so far in my life, but the satisfaction of reaching the peak is worth every pain. Reaching Uhuru Peak is my LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT and to reach there it requires preparing yourself mentally and physically. If you think you can do it, then you can do it.

Grandmother says... Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee Bean; "Which are you?"




A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" the mother asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"  Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.
If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?


-Author Unknown-