Yet another way to use the Light

February 10, 2013
By

spotlightThe room was just another fancy DC hotel ballroom, but the Academy of Achievement’s team had transformed it by mastering the use of light.  The space was mostly dark except for the candles on the tables, swirling lights cast onto the wallpapered walls, and the spotlight on the dais.  There were only about 100 of us in the room, including people like Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, David Gergen, and randomly, Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter.  Also in the room were the Reynolds Fellows (of whom I was one) from New York University and Harvard.

Given time constraints, only two fellows had the opportunity to give a talk.  Both were very impressive people.  The first gave an inspiring talk about her important work.  The second was graceful and elegant, a young woman from South Africa.  I didn’t know her well because she was at NYU (while I was at Harvard).

With eloquence and finesse, she used her brief moment in that bright light—not to talk about herself—but to talk about her fellow fellows.  We heard about her impressive colleagues, but I learned about her.

Once she returned to her table, I made my way across the small, dark ballroom and said to her (not so eloquently): “That was very cool.  I will remember to do the same in the future when I am given the opportunity to stand in a bright light, and to talk—I will tell the stories of Others—and not only of Self.”

I’m afraid I have not always kept that pledge, but I hold it firmly within my intentions.

When a bright light is put on us, and when we are given voice—in front of people whom others claim to be important—the temptation to speak about Self is understandable.  But when we use that opportunity to instead shine that light onto others—to give others voice—I find that Self only shines brighter.

Light played a very strong role in transforming that typical ballroom into something special, and in illuminating a very precious spirit at an important moment of her human experience.  And I learned yet another way to use the light to reflect greatness, purpose, and goodness.

Tags: , , ,

7 Responses to Yet another way to use the Light

  1. Lynda Ziemba
    February 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    What a great lesson learned (and an important one to remember)…thx so much for passing it on.

    • February 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks for this, Lynda. It was a very powerful moment for me as I witnessed people posturing and seeking that light, and then to see one give it away. –N

  2. Lisa LaPlace
    February 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Nathaniel,
    I have followed your light for a few years now.
    This mornings illumination was
    a powerful
    life lesson gently delivered.

    • February 11, 2013 at 2:40 am

      Lisa, Your comment has so many nuances that encourage me today. Thank you. Life speaks to us through others in so many different ways, and I am grateful for your gift in this form. Namaste, –N

  3. SUZY
    February 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    PUNGENT WORDING, AS ALWAYS….POWERFUL MESSAGE.
    I notice you drew attention to the TRUE SOURCE OF LIGHT..with capital L….thanks again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

Download now our Android App


Direct Download
Just take a photo of the QR code by using an app like Barcode Scanner or visit this website with your smartphone and click on the "Direct Download" link.
Powered By WP App Maker