I had the privilege of attending the Work Matters conference today. They had some amazing speakers; Tony Blair, John Maxwell, and many other well known experts in leadership. But there was one speaker who I think made the biggest impact on everyone in the room. Her name is Liz Murray.
Liz was raised in the inner city by drug addicted parents, by the time she was 15 she was homeless, living on the streets. Both of her parents died from AIDS. When Liz's mother died she decided to do something about her life. She enrolled in high school and graduated in 2 years (at the top of her class) all while still living on the streets.
After graduating high school Liz enrolled in Harvard. Yes, Harvard! She will graduate this June with a degree in psychology. She travels all over the world speaking to groups about how they too can change their lives. She mentors other teens and helps them to get off the streets and into school.
I could go on and on about her story, but I won't. If you're curious just put Google to use.
One thing Liz said that won't leave my mind is that we have to quit using the word later.
Each of us have things that we know we need to do. Whether it's making a phone call, submitting a resume, saying you're sorry, going back to school, writing that book, laying down the addiction, getting help for the problem. There's that underlying nagging in each of our hearts that usually gets answered with a quite "I'll do it later".
But what if there is no later. What if the opportunity passes us by. What if later is just an excuse we use to cover up the truth that we're just too scared to risk it.
So what if we quit saying later and started saying now?
Could we fail? Absolutely. But what if we succeed?
If Liz can go from homeless to Harvard then where could I go from where I am?
I guess the question is: Am I ready to quit saying later and take a leap of faith?