Full Series: Leading in a Global Mosaic


Leading in a Global Mosaic: A Minority Everywhere I Go 

An original eight-part series created and written by Lucy Shenouda for Global Living Magazine. 

LeadingInGlobalMosaicPart 1: Leading in a Global Mosaic

As I prepare to step into a new life, new role, new team in an ancient country and culture, I do so with a deep sense of self-assurance. This feeling is strong in spite of the objections of my family, quite vocal in their protests. For them, I am taking a ‘backwards move’.

“How can I turn my back on my parents’ self-sacrifice to establish a life in Canada?” 

“How can I leave behind a ten-year advertising and marketing career in Toronto?” 

“How can I leave Canada’s greener pastures, a better future?!” 

I feel a simple and calming response, a differing perspective altogether.

“How can I not go?” 

… continue reading this article.

Curiosity&CouragePart II: Curiosity and Courage are my Guides

I wake up disoriented, forgetting for a moment where I am. I feel a deep quiet within, a serene feeling brought on by the early sounds of nature and the rustic, cozy, cabin-like decor. The inner fog slowly clears.

I am in a tranquil place. I wake up at a yoga retreat, a hundred-acre sanctuary of forest trails, meditation gardens and a labyrinth situated beautifully on a natural spring-fed lake near Bancroft, Ontario, the Mineral Capital of Canada. 

I am a guest presenter in exchange for a two-day weekend getaway! I wonder to myself in that moment of quiet:

“Why am I here?” 

“How did I get here?”

“What am I doing here?”

… continue reading this article.

Courage&ConvictionPart III: Courage and Conviction are my Allies

I feel excited and simultaneously hear virtual alarm bells. 

I’ve worked for this opportunity and here it is. Here it is! 

Now what?! I only begin to digest the news. 

The news I receive is the ultimate privilege for a senior manager at a national advertising agency. It is the opportunity to visit the strategic global offices of our newly-acquired client, Nestlé. This news represents earned recognition for months of long hours, hard work and a big agency win. It is personally and professionally a hard-earned victory. 

For my colleagues and I, it is the privilege to represent our agency and partner with our client on a three-week business trip to Lagos, Nigeria; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Makati City, Philippines.  

It’s February 2003. I sit very still in my office in Cairo, Egypt. I take a moment to celebrate precious moments of deep gratitude and elation before I confront the reality of what’s next.

… continue reading this article.

SeriesIV_FullnessStillnessPart IV: Fullness and Stillness of Life 

I stand in my room. Very still. There was a lot of clattering and activity over the past few days. In this moment, there’s quiet. I actually feel and hear the stillness. I feel a deep sadness within. I stay still. I remember. We are moving. I know we are moving away. Far away. I don’t know what will happen next. My mom and dad say it’s time to go. I stand still.

The mattress is bare. My clothes, shoes, toys, everything is packed away. I spin on my heels and turn slowly. I look at each part of the room. I am compelled to look at everything, slowly. I don’t really know why I am doing this. Finally, I turn to the door. I walk out. It’s time to leave home.

At the young age of eight, I felt the significance of leaving what I know and of going somewhere new, different. I didn’t know what the change could be, how it would feel and what was to come next. It was a mystery to me. As a child, I didn’t question the logic of where I lived, why we were leaving nor where we were going next.

… continue reading this article.

LucySeriesVPart V: I Know and I Don’t Know

“Are we where we are supposed to be? How do we know? The way forward is hidden, I cannot see around the bend! Is this the path I am meant to take now? How do I know?”

The choices we make living globally are plagued with these types of questions and inner musings.

“How do I know?”

I know and I don’t know.

I have come to appreciate and live with this paradox. On the one side, there’s a deep, abiding, present moment sureness. On the other side, there’s an uncomfortable, risky and frightening mystery.

I know and I don’t know.

… continue reading this article.

GlobalMosaic6Part VI: We are Sisters, We are Family 

As I awaken, I look upward. My vision is out of focus. My sight gradually clears. I see a beautiful woman with bright, smiling blue eyes. She’s wearing a surgical cap. I am unable to speak. I hear her say to me: “We are sisters.” She is speaking Arabic, Egyptian dialect. I feel myself blink with confusion. She doesn’t look familiar. I hear her speak again. She doesn’t sound familiar. She repeats the same phrase, only this time, my brain translates her words differently. “We are family.” The beauty in the multiple meanings in Arabic. I feel the truth in her words. I breathe deeply. My eyes flutter and close. 

Leading in a global mosaic is an unbelievable paradoxical joy- and sorrow-filled journey of life and rebirth. As I look around me, I see, hear and savor a life lived in light, in darkness, and in renewal. I see light in the genius and generosity of my family, the sweet feeling of relationship across time and distance, the joy of living life to the fullest while living and working globally. In reality, global living is realized by making tough decisions – unpopular decisions of moving away from family and friends, for leaving behind familiarity; memories unrealized.

… continue reading this article.

GlobalMosaicVIIPart VII: Fostering a Learning Mindset 

I’ve had a passion for learning my entire life. From the moment I discovered there was something called ‘school’, I’ve wanted to go.

Barely four years old, I had a glimpse of a classroom. I knew right then and there. I wanted to sit in front of a blackboard and learn. I wanted to listen to each and every word. I wanted to look at books. I wanted to ask curious questions. I wanted to listen, look, ask. I wanted to absorb.

I still do.

I had an early start to knowing what I want. 

I want to go to school, Baba.

Aywa ya habibti. You will go to school, my love. When you are old enough to go to school, I will take you. 

I am old enough, Baba! I want to go to school!  

Aywa ya habibti. 

I hear the warmth, the patience in my father’s voice.  

I persist, speaking with conviction. 

I want to go to school!! Now!!!  

I know you want to go to school. Soon, my sweetheart. You’ll go to school to your heart’s content, ya albi. 

… continue reading this article.

GlobalMosaicVIIIPart VIII: Living my Beliefs, A Feeling of Coming Home

I live life the only way I know how, one mosaic piece at a time. One surprise at a time. One decision at a time. One adventure at a time. One moment at a time. The people I befriend, the beliefs I form, the questions I ponder are a mystery until they are revealed to me and then to the world. I have been and continue to be on a journey of self-discovery; and I do cherish mysteries, even my own life mystery!

Over the past year, I’ve reflected on significant seasons in my life, shaped by landmark decisions, experiences and adventures. Each story is a reflection on being a minority everywhere I go, while leading in a global mosaic. Through reflecting on these milestones, I have learned a deeply enriching lesson: Living my deeply-rooted beliefs gives me a feeling of coming home.

Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, philosopher and historian said, “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

Living my beliefs has turned my world around to leading a life lived to the fullest, to choosing a feeling of coming home.

Life has been full of surprises, changes and adventures. A minority everywhere I go, my background, choices and mindset; my beliefs, values and imaginations live within me. I witness my world as a spectacular portrait of life choices, each mosaic piece fitting snugly in multicolor and light shining from within.

… continue reading this article.

LucyShenouda Headshot PrintLucy Shenouda designs and delivers leadership, strategic management and marketing programs. She brings laser-like focus to conversations that foster a conscious mindset shift on change and adversity from reacting with first impulse to responding with best instinct. She brings over 25 years experience leading brand teams for Rogers Cable Advertising, Unilever, McDonald’s, Nestlé, and Showtime Arabia. Lucy has led, mentored and coached teams in Canada, Egypt, the UAE, and Gulf Region. She is an ICF-accredited coach, experienced facilitator, speaker and published author; Founder of FosterEssence Inc., Co-Founder of Leading Change Specialists and an instructor for UOIT’s Management Development Centre.

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