Today was the second annual TEDxBeirut full day event, and honestly? I expected inspiration. I knew the organizers. Knew their potential. And knew that they would do their utmost to make sure the ideas on stage were worth sharing. They had inspired me to start TEDxLAU after all! And they exceeded all expectations!
Yet, what I didn’t expect was Christopher Littlefield. He was one of those speakers that I hadn’t been aware of… and expected him to give me the usual “cliche” New age philosophy I had heard a thousand times.
What truly inspired me about this humble man is his willingness to not only talk the talk, but walk it as well. He spoke of recognition, of allowing ourselves to take a compliment, of trying to thank the people around us, to show us how important they are to our lives. Yet, he also showed his recognition of the awesomeness of the other speakers around him. He was the first to stand up during the standing ovations, the first to clap, and I should know. We were sitting right behind him.
Three major statements (loosely paraphrased here) which truly inspired me are:
– Someone’s success doesn’t mean our failure.
– We are so busy focusing on the gaps in any endeavor that we ignore everything we’ve done right!
– And most importantly “recognize everyone around you” and don’t allow them to say no to the compliment!
So here goes… I’d like to dedicate this post to the key people who have been working by my side relentlessly for the past few months, and who have such high hopes for our future events together… some of the organizers involved in TEDxLAU who have had a major impact on my life.
Our road hasn’t been easy, and we’ve battled with limitations as we’ve tried to create events which are completely student-led, allowing room for our own students to do everything “in house” from within their own campus.
- Hala. A girl who can work on a thousand projects at the same time. She needs her own private assistant (make that 2!) to write down all her creative ideas. Yet, she’s also the hardworking designer who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, who can spend hours working on bringing her design to life. Whose dreams are so huge she doesn’t even think of limitations and execution. She just starts working! And this is how she inspires anyone who meets her. My constant brainstormer who isn’t afraid to try something new. My awesome strategizing partner, with a design twist that MATTERS!
- Shoug. A smile that could light up an entire country. And the world… if we would only let her. This girl throws herself into a project with all her might (and mighty she definitely is! even without the Batcycle). Your energy is an incredible binding force within our little community. Whether you’re feeling on top of the world, or whether you’re sick, have run a marathon, or just had a full day of work, Shoug is Shoug. Impossible to break! My breath of fresh air. My necessary inspiration.
- Ahmad. Calm. Oh so calm. Freakishly calm at times. But that quiet nature is the complete contrast to my craziness. Picture this: ultimate chaos, people running around, a feeling that we’re starting to lose our grip. In comes Ahmad. Collected. reflecting on everything, with a sweet, polite manner. And you realize that this is the person you wanted. One who can say: “I’m here. Depend on me.” And at that moment, you know the value of ultimately having such a diverse team.
- Abir. Crazy wild Abir. My antithesis in so many ways, and my mirror image in so many others. As eclectic as I am, this woman is willing to go all the way, if she’s passionate enough! And there’s an abundance of passion at TEDxLAU, so guess this is why she stayed put! The woman who knows everyone, who has contacts everywhere, or at least can get you someone who knows someone who has someone’s number. (Want Obama? Bet she can pull it off. Just give her 2 hours. Maybe less). Our persistent researcher! We really need you! So grateful to have you!
- Wael. The person I constantly clash with. And God knows I need that. The guy with the warmest heart, but the loudest opinions. He hit the TEDxLAU team quite quickly, like a tornado! And we weren’t the same. Connections? he has them. Sponsors? He’ll talk anyone into anything! But his biggest asset is his devotion to a cause he truly believes in, which will make him stop at nothing to run around all day (Ok. Drive in a car, but you get the drift.). I couldn’t have done this without you, even if I’m harsh at times, but admit that you need it!
- Elsa. A voice like no other. and I don’t only mean musically. The fact that she is willing to come all the way from Jbeil to attend weekly TEDx gatherings is a tribute to the commitment she’s made. Suddenly the drive from Dekwaneh or anywhere near Beirut pales in comparison. But I’m mostly grateful to her for her openness. She is willing to bring any grievance, any issue, out into the open, and talk directly with the person responsible (yes, me!), in order to ensure a more effective environment. If only we had more Elsas in the public sector, and even among our own colleagues, how quickly we’d be able to progress. I admire you.
- Ibrahim. Student, fellow organizer, and bright future for Lebanon. This young man is the kind of spirit that could create a nation. Smart, caring, and respectful. He is a man on a mission, and he knows it well. He hasn’t given up on this country as many of his generation might have started doing. Quite the contrary, an open feminist, a radical political voice, but most importantly, an involved/critical activist. Whether it’s TEDxLAU, a student election or a street protest, he joins in. His participation is of value in itself, even if hope might be held at bay.
- Ziad. The man who can say no to me. Time and time again. My ideal partner who stands up to me (even though he knows the dire consequences. A glutton for punishment perhaps!). I dragged him into TEDx, fighting tooth and nail at first, until he became so excited that he’d sit up till late at night, strategizing, giving feedback, and even spray-painting cardboard! Surgeon by day; ideal partner 24/7… the heavens were smiling upon me when I met you even if I had been too blind to see it at first. The extent of my fortune scares me at times; this is why I continue to be so grateful for every minute we spend together.
Sally, Alissar, Mazen, Fouad, Steph, Ghida, Salim, Ali, Zeina, Salam, Sari, and all the new/old organizers… I do recognize all your work and your potential, but wanted to dedicate this post to those few who have been involved for quite a while, and who have been working endlessly and devoting so much of their time. I believe this post is a simple gesture of appreciation for all that I owe them, on a personal level.
I will probably write up another one really soon and include more people in it! 😛
now I leave the floor to my readers…
Who are you grateful for in your lives? Tell them… don’t leave it till it’s too late!