I was truly privileged to meet Najwa Zebian recently, and she had written a poem special for my event. With over 420,000 followers on Instagram, as well as many other networks, I can see why her work resonates with so many. Here is her poem shared with permission.
By Najwa Zebian
We say that necessity is the mother of invention
But we want to invent new things using
Our same old ways.
We want to innovate without recognizing that innovating
Ends with I-N-G.
To say that I want to walk is not the same as actually
To say that I want to run is not the same as actually
To say that I want to innovate
Is not the same as innovate-ING.
To innovate, I cannot stay in one place.
I have to move.
I have to change.
I have to climb steep slopes and mountains.
I have to look closely sometimes, dissect and analyze.
And other times I have to put the world
Beneath my feet or
On top of my head to see
The bigger picture.
To innovate, I have to move.
I have to change.
But that does not mean that where I am has no value.
This place is full of knowledge that
Years have designed.
But this place is too comfortable.
And it seems that the world around me is changing
And it’s too scary to leave this place but
I took from this place what could help me feel home as I move.
The lessons I learned.
The experiences I’ve gathered.
The human I’ve become?
What if I took things
Step by step.
What if I stopped and reflected on new things
That come my way?
What if I connected what’s new with what I already know?
You see, in this place of “me”, this bubble of “me”, there’s an invisible mirror that always reminds me of me.
What if I changed this mirror to a window?
Magic can happen because
I don’t just see myself, my stories, and my experiences
I start seeing the world.
Someone else with a story, an experience, a lesson to teach me.
And another person who’s afraid to leave their place, too.
And another person who feels that the weight of the world is too heavy, too.
I extended my hand to tell someone else
I allowed my eyes to actually see what I am looking at,
To actually understand the place of someone else.
I shared my place with someone else
And they shared theirs with me.
We grew together.
We changed together.
We carried this weight together.
Took a risk together.
We innovated together.
This “what if” is a blessing and a curse
Because I can say “what if I fail?”
What if I fail? I will learn.
At least I will know what doesn’t work and change.
What if I fall down, I will get back up.
And the strength I gain to stand back up will make
What if I stumble? I will become resilient.
What if I break? I will rebuild myself.
What if I fail? I will have a story to tell.
I will have someone to inspire.
I will have someone to lead
The teacher next door, across the hall, or downstairs.
The student who’s afraid to fall, too.
The student who’s afraid of leaving their own space, too.
Or the one who feels all alone.
Because to truly teach, I must not only look at,
But also see “who” I am teaching.
The humans that I am teaching.
And to include all of these humans,
I may have to take a few steps back
To the place that they are so
Can walk together,
Lift this weight together
So that we may innovate together.
You can also watch the full video of this poem here.