Find (and Share) Your Spark

We all know people who are truly excited about what they do. They exude energy and enthusiasm. They have a spark that may come from their work or personal lives, or both.  And it can be especially powerful when they use that spark to help others. As you go into this year, I want to encourage you to find and share your spark. My spark comes from bringing out the best in every leader I work with. One way that I use that spark to ignite change is through my work with the George W. Bush Presidential Center Women's Initiative Fellowship Program, which empowers women to catalyze change around the world.  The third year of the program kicks off on March 7, International Women’s Day.

Building on the success of the 2012 and 2013 Fellows from Egypt, this year’s group is from Tunisia. In the past two years, the Egyptian Fellows advanced their causes in big ways – starting businesses, NGO’s and nonprofits through their passion, incredible energy and spirit of collaboration. I feel so privileged to have worked with them to help them build their capabilities and confidence and forge ahead in such difficult circumstances in Egypt.

This work has also helped me notice the power of sharing your spark. As I worked with the Fellows, I saw my own spark magnify their motivation to take action and ignite sparks for others. I’m energized by the collective impact of the Program. The results are tremendous. Similarly, in my personal life, leveraging my skills and passion to advocate for positive change in the areas of income, education, and health with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has been rewarding. I recently testified at a hearing held by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which among other things provided an opportunity to share data about how payday lenders with exorbitant rates keep low-income people in a cycle of poverty. It was gratifying to raise the visibility of this issue to promote the implementation of fair lending practices.

Yes, my work with the Bush Center and United Way require an investment of time in a world of competing demands, but it also energizes and engages me.

So, take 10 minutes to think about what you bring to the table and look for at least one way you can use your unique skills and passions to help others. Find that spark within yourself and start turning it into something bigger, something that perhaps lights a spark within others to take action themselves. And remember, small steps can lead to big results.