Leading in a Global Mosaic Part V: I Know and I Don’t Know


A Minority Everywhere I Go

Leading in a Global Mosaic Part V: I Know and I Don’t Know

By Lucy Shenouda

Global Living Magazine – Issue 18 | May/June 2015

“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.

I am at my home after a full day at work. I stand at the bottom of the stairwell in deep thought. Right foot on the bottom of the stair. Left foot poised behind and above. Left hand on the bannister. Right hand on the wall. I am rooted in a moment of complete stillness. I feel every movement and non-movement. I don’t know why I stop. I just stop. I am completely still. In the quiet, I hear a clear and distinct voice in my head: “Stop. Go back up and ask. Now’s the time. Tomorrow is too late.”  

I listen. I feel a sureness within. I know my fate is in my hands. It’s up to me to go and ask for what I want. The moment of quiet and stillness turns into self-assured action. I turn around. I walk back upstairs. One step after another, I walk forward. Gut instinct is so strong; motion overcomes thought. I shift into pure instinct. I know turning around is exactly what I am meant to do. I don’t know what will happen next. It’s a mystery to me. In this present moment, the time is now. Right now. Right here. It’s time. I know. 

What happened next is a blur. There’s a memory, a shadow of activity that leads to a fateful impromptu job interview. This interview leads to a job offer. I accept the job. This one choice launched me straight into a progressive 10-year career from an entry-level position producing advertising to senior management positions marketing national advertising channels on cable television. I am well-placed to shift from part-time work as a Marketing Assistant for a local cable company to full-time work as a Production Assistant for a national advertising network. The chain of events have me in positions and places to encounter the people and opportunities that lead to a thriving career as a marketing, advertising and branding professional. 

I have reflected on the stairwell moment so many times. That moment was when the thoughts and feelings in my head, heart and gut aligned on what’s most important to me. The memory of that moment is an anchor – a reminder when considering turning-point decisions. The decisions that change my life. These mindful choices accelerate me forward into a career, a marriage and a lifetime of enduring experiences and relationships. These are the moments when I trust my inner signals, responding to the alignment within me.

READ MORE from this issue of Global Living Magazine

I find it so interesting that the moment before the impromptu interview is the most memorable. I don’t actually remember much of what happens after the moment I trust in the “I know and I don’t know” experience. I do remember the feelings within: conviction, sureness and curiosity to explore the unknown, to take bold moves forward.

Carl von Clausewitz said: “Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.”

Conviction, sureness and curiosity partner with my intuition to embrace my fascination with the unknown – the uncertain that’s both terrifying and exciting at the same time. For as long as I remember, my gut instinct ‘speaks’ to me. As a child, I recall sharing these gut instincts with others, hearing words of ridicule. It was an era when such notions of the invisible, the unknown and uncertain, were shunned and denied as fanciful and illogical. Undeterred by being different, being a minority everywhere I go expands my world. The beliefs I adopt define who I want to be and how I choose to lead in a global mosaic.

Leading in a global mosaic calls for an expansion of ideas, of trusting in and acting on the conviction and sureness of a daring and often unsubstantiated gut feeling. This feeling is a beginning. It is real. It is an openness to all the inner signals that guide us toward fulfilling our purpose and intentions in life. In situations on a personal and professional level, as global leaders, we have intellects in our head, heart and gut to support our choices. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Melody Beattie said: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

I am fascinated and grateful for the experiences that my gut feelings lead me towards, each a piece in my global mosaic: foreign adventures, diverse experiences and enduring relationships. These experiences have come with taking risks, doing new things, visiting diverse cultures and living adventures across the globe.

Leading through uncertainty affords me gifts that come with the sureness of walking an unknown path. I know and I don’t know. I let go of what is supposed to be; I am rooted in the present moment. I chance the imperfect and the uncertain. I peek around the bend and keep walking forward, living the only way I know how, one mosaic piece at a time.

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