It seemed only fitting that when I entered college, I became a Communications major, later pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. My first job out of college, ”coincidentally” was working for a large telecommunications company, then later, I went into marketing. I tried my hand at a few business ideas, with the philosophy of allowing myself to dabble in fun things I was good at and enjoyed. However, I never could quite figure out what it was that moved me to my soul. I wanted to find that thing that I woke up thinking about in the morning and that I could give myself to all day – at the end of the day, leaving fulfilled, complete, purposed and with a knowingness that for that day, I had given my best to the world.
In my early 30’s, I began to feel a deep need and an almost near desperation to find that thing that I was supposed to be doing. I woke up daily thinking about what it would feel like to live a life of purpose, joy, and utter “being-ness”. So, in usual Maimah style, I put together a plan. I would focus all my attention on attracting and cultivating what I wanted. I put together a ritual of prayers that I employed for two years, calling what I desired into my life. I also made a vision board, and I put post-its on my mirror. I needed to see what I wanted all day and everywhere. My desire for my “passion” was part of my waking thoughts, with me all day and the last thing on my mind at night. I wanted it and I wanted it bad.
On February 28, 2006, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. My life turned upside down. Everything I’d known to be true was no longer, and over the next five months, I struggled to understand what was going on. I wanted my old life back. What was happening was so “bad”, that I wanted no part of it; now, my prayer was, “if only things were normal again”. After my shock began to wear off and I had time to think, I realized a few things, which I’ll share here:
- Recognize and Accept – I recognized and accepted where I was – the challenges, and the infinite, beautiful possibilities of what I could create – in spite of and because of this challenge – my cancer diagnosis. What this means to you is this – look at where you are – assess your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual surroundings. Look at the blessings and gifts in your life – and whether the situation is ideal, consider the possibility that where you are now holds golden nuggets that could catapult you into your dream.
- Use your third eye – to see beyond natural and physical realm – by this I mean that if you look at your state of affairs, it may not seem the ideal place or time to do what your heart desires. Well, there is no ideal time to start living extraordinary is there? There is no ideal time to start creating things that aren’t “normal”. There is no time that will deliver unto you perfect timing, funds, people, and the like. See above and through that – and you create the circumstances and situation you desire.
- Find what feels spectacular – and do that thing. While I was in chemo, I had hours to think – about everything. I knew that this was a turning point in my life. I could complain or I could create. I could be victim or I could be victorious. I could be a drama queen…or I could decide to use all that was happening, tie it into what I enjoyed doing best and create something that felt right. For me, that was creating my non-profit, Tigerlily Foundation, to help other young women going through breast cancer, with a twist – it would be about empowerment and education, but would also be like me, fun, crazy and out of the box. As I began to create it, I felt a way I never had before. I felt amazing. As you start to move into creating your passion and vision, you should feel like a million bucks. For me, I was tying in my creative, communication, business, marketing, personal experience, crazy self, compassion and all that I was together into one thing and, I could do it every day – on my terms. Amazing! It felt great. What would that feel like for you?
- Don’t think big – think gargantuan. If you’re trying to make something happen and you think small, you’re never going to go anywhere. Trust me. You have to think gargantuan. Thinking small is for people who don’t what to win, people who don’t want to give their best to the world, people who don’t want to be extraordinary – and that is not you. You want to win. You want to be a game changer. You want to change the world. I never for one second thought that I’d create this little thing and help a few people and that would be okay. I never thought modestly about it – modesty doesn’t suit me or you. I wanted my thing to be big and make an impact. You can create a plan to implement it in increments, but create in a way that excites you and others. Make big things happen!
- Keep it real – be you. Don’t try to do what someone else is doing, don’t be jealous of people’s success, don’t think, “if I’d only thought of that first. Just be authentic, create from a place that is pure and you’ll find that there are ideas and ways of doing things that only you can do. There is something special that only you can be. Be that person and out of that wonderfulness and joy will flow.
- Lead by Example. I lead with my heart. Now, I know that flies in the face of everything we’re taught in business. We have to have plans, policies and procedures in place, think first and act later and so on. I’m not saying that is wrong. I employ all of those tools, but I follow my heart first. It never leads me wrong. I try to lead from a place of truth, I try to be the best example I can be, I honor and respect my staff, the responsibility of my work, my supporters, sponsors, the people I serve, their hearts, I employ compassion, honesty and all the things I ask others to be. When you do that, when you are your best, and you shine, and you don’t have to ask others to follow. Light attracts – people will naturally follow – even the ones who don’t like or support you, may at some point, be able to see and respect your truth.
- Believe. In yourself and others. People often ask me how I have gotten Tigerlily Foundation to where it is so fast, and even though I have heard the question countless times, I understand it, and at the same time, I don’t, because I never saw things happening any other way. I never thought that it wouldn’t be a success. I never thought people wouldn’t get it. When they didn’t I smiled and moved on. I was so sure of my success that I felt it as if it existed, even as I lay in the bed sick. The thing was, I didn’t see myself as sick or as having no money or resources. I believed – and my faith was so strong that others believed too. Within a year of my diagnosis, I was published in an international print magazine the rest just came over time, but I wasn’t surprised. I expected success.