Big Voices Start Small

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luthe...

Image via Wikipedia

The weather is turning cooler in the northern hemisphere which means it’s time to bring our summer of small voices series to an end.  I am so grateful to everyone who shared their story and hope you were as inspired by their stories as I was.  

If, through out this series you ever found yourself saying “I could never do that,”  today’s final guest post by Susan Johnstone is for you.

In the story we usually hear about Rosa Parks, she was an ordinary black woman in Alabama who just tapped in to a well of courage one day and turned the United States upside down by refusing to be segregated according to law.

This is something most of us feel we could never do. We’re sure we just don’t have that kind of deep courage or conviction.

Well Rosa Parks didn’t either – at least not when she started.

By the time her moment on the bus arrived she was well practiced in speaking what mattered to her and she knew she was backed by an enormous community of support.

As it turns out, she had spent 12 years helping lead her local NAACP chapter (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People).

In the summer before her action on the bus, Rosa had attended 10 days of training at Tennessee’s labor and civil rights organizing school, the Highlander Center, where she’d met an older generation of civil rights activists and discussed the issues of the day with them.

It’s reported that she was very hesitant about attending her first NAACP meeting and about her second one as well.

These are the things we don’t hear about because our media loves an overnight success.

And that tends to make our heroes seem superhuman and their feats well out of our reach.

Rosa Parks had at least 12 years of gaining her confidence and there were probably many events prior that gave her the courage to even attend the first meeting.

She probably spoke up many times at meetings and with friends.  She likely asserted her conviction about her civil rights in the way she carried herself, on the bus and around Montgomery, Alabama.

And then one day, her conviction about who she was no longer fit with what she was tolerating in being segregated and…something had to give.

It was time to speak up where it really counted, which in her case involved a fairly simple “No”.

When we hear the stories of acts like these, it’s so easy to think “I could never do that.”

But instead of looking at who you are right now and thinking “Oh, I could never…”, what if you said “I want to do that too, someday,” and then went about the task of preparing yourself?

It’s perfectly OK to get comfortable in increments.

I was terrified the very first time I hit publish on a blog post – AND it was absolutely thrilling! For years I’d wanted to be seen and heard but never had a sense about how I could possibly do it.

Standing squarely and truthfully in your desire to be heard or seen or to act powerfully changes your path.

It taps you into your “someday” in ways you could never anticipate.

My teacher used to say we’re being pulled forward by our future more than we’re being pushed by our past.

And we tap into that future with our desire, our imagination and by acting on our truth.

We place ourselves on the path to our someday.

And just like Rosa Parks, we’ll likely have no idea of it’s full implications when we’re in the middle of it.

She didn’t set out to be a hero or to make a big splash. She just had a true desire to make things right.

And 12 years or more before her moment on the bus, she took a small step that led to another and another until one day… it was time…and she was ready.

(This post was inspired by an original article by Paul Loeb, the author of “The Impossible Will Take a While” and “Soul of a Citizen”. You can find his article here: “The Real Rosa Parks”.)

As the founder of The Heart’s Voice, Susan Johnstone has been leading people into the depths of their own hearts (and comfort zones!) for 16 years through coaching, teleclasses and in-person retreats and seminars.  If you are ready to start meeting your resistance with understanding and move toward your heart’s true calling, sign up for Susan’s free e-course here

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