Graduate shares her experience with Bridge Fellowship  

Pictured: Ladna Farah speaking at the 2019 King County Bridge Fellowship graduation.

Ladna Farah graduated from King County’s Bridge Fellowship program on June 24, and gave a heartfelt speech about her experience in the program, her aspirations, and what she learned from it. 

Good Afternoon! My name is Ladna Farah.

Thank you all for being here today. I would like to share my thoughts and discoveries about the topics: Fear and Leadership, to share how the King County Bridge Program has contributed to my personal development and to thank the King County Bridge Fellowship Program for awakening my leadership potential and aspirations.

There is a two-part adage about fear; I will share the first half of that adage with you now and the second half near the conclusion of my speech.

Fear! F. E. A. R. Fear Everything And Run!!!!!

Even as far back as a nine-year old immigrant schoolgirl, I have had a nearly paralyzing fear of public speaking. Echoes of that fear even continued through my restless sleep last night. Yet, I have the desire to be a leader who provides positive influence and impacts change for the good of our society but I have not allowed myself to be noticed.

At times I allowed my thoughts to get the best of me. I can be my harshest critic. And sometimes, my thoughts are based on assumptions, expectations, worst-case scenario, self-doubt and fear.

Perhaps you are familiar with the poem by Marianne Williamson, “Our Deepest Fear?” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” So which is it for me? What am I afraid of? Am I afraid of failure or power?

The King County Bridge Fellowship Program allowed me to explore that question and provided me the opportunity to identify new insights about myself at my own pace.

There are three parts of the Bridge Program that really stimulated me:

  • Agreements – that established group norms in a safe and trusting environment, you can be your authentic self and there are no judgements.
  • Characteristics of Leadership – learning how to build excellence and identifying traits I want to have as a strong leader who can influence others to be their best.
  • A Self-Portrait– discovering my talents, creating and developing my mission statement and learning more about myself and my capabilities.

In Bridge, one of my biggest discoveries was becoming unafraid of discomfort! I learned to sit and absorb the discomfort. And, when I did, incredibly, it wasn’t fatal.  I learned more about overcoming my fear.

As I look to contribute my knowledge, skills and abilities in the quest for a career in King County, and as a social justice advocate, I am told that I will need to be a leader at various times and for various reasons. Upon hearing that, my first reaction was fear.  – Fear Everything And Run! But, I am comforted by an African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot harm you”. That encourages me to speak my truth, to lead when needed, and to follow when necessary.

Leadership is not a destination, it’s a journey, a long, winding and bumpy road. That’s a road I am eager to travel. The Bridge Fellowship Program provides a bridge between self-doubt and leadership development; leadership lies within all of us, it just needs to be awakened.

I realize I am eliminating the enemy within me – my inner fear – and that I am poised to be a leader when called upon to do so. I am at the beginning of the journey – I still have a lot to learn. But I am on my way now because my old nemesis FEAR, now fears ME!!! The choice is, and always has been, to face my fear and face up to my capabilities.

Now, I promised you the second half of the adage. Let me conclude with the full saying now.

F.E.A.R – Fear Everything And Run

Or

Face Everything And Rise!!!

Thank You.