A client of mine once gifted me a book that she thought would be powerful for my private coaching clients. That book was called The Awakened Woman and it was written by Dr. Tererai Trent. You may recognize her name, as she was the woman that Oprah called her all-time favourite guest on the final farewell episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
When I started to read this book, I was amazed to learn that this woman was a mother and bride at the age of 14. Living in Zimbabwe, Tererai was subjected to a life of abuse and an absence of education until one day, a woman walked into her life, and told her anything was possible. That woman, changed Tererai’s world when she inspired her to dream and seek out that which she desired.
This was a defining moment that awakened the dream within her. The dream of having an education and being able to make education possible for other young girls in her community.
Not only has she earned her PhD, she has since built schools in Zimbabwe with funding from Oprah.
I learned five powerful lessons from this book that I’d like to share with you. While the book is really about remembering and reigniting our sacred dreams, there is much that can be applied to who you are as a business owner too.
1. Little Hunger versus Great Hunger
In the book, Tererai speaks of two kinds of “hunger.” The Little Hunger and The Great Hunger. A Little Hunger is something that fulfills you in the moment, but a Great Hunger is something that goes beyond you. A Great Hunger impacts your community and is the fuel that keeps you going when times are tough. It took Tererai the equivalent of 9 years to get her GED. She could have given up many times but her Great Hunger was so strong that it kept her motivated to keep going. In her book, she says the Little Hunger can never be satisfied. It always demands more, leaving us exhausted as we try to cope with its unending desires and demands. We become unhappy, vulnerable to risk, and still, we want more. Little Hunger leads to dissatisfaction, makes us envious, competitive, ungrateful and anxious.
The Great Hunger, is the hunger for a life with meaning. The Great Hunger is liberating and energizing; it enables us to move beyond immediate gratification and towards fulfillment. The Great Hunger inspires us, leading us to discover new ways to grow, give and help others. When you tap into your Great Hunger, you awaken your sacred dream, and when you become a sacred dreamer, you will come to know yourself as part of the larger circle of women, the sacred sisterhood.
She goes on to say that there is one thing that makes human beings profoundly fulfilled — it is a life with meaning.
2. What breaks your heart?
This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself. The answer to that questions is what fuels your Great Hunger. When you ask someone about their goals, you’ll get a very different answer than you do when you ask someone to tap into what breaks their heart.
At my mastermind retreat, we had extensive conversations around what breaks your heart and how it ties directly to the work you do. We also discussed what is possible if when asking this question, you realize that your business is NOT the thing that breaks your heart.
It’s a powerful question that anyone can ask to see if they themselves are on the right track.
3. Generosity and absence of ego
In a world of online influencers and entrepreneurs driven by the quest to attain 6 or 7 figures in business…something interesting happens. Those who are the most successful become the least generous and the least accessible. Ego starts to rule you and you can lose touch with your Great Hunger, especially if you’re chasing the Little Hunger called money. When I tweeted about this book, Dr. Trent was quick to reply to me on Twitter. When she found out I had bought this book for 10 other women, she quickly demonstrated her commitment to her own Great Hunger, and her deep generous spirit when she offered to “pop in” on Skype to say hello.
True to her word, she joined our group via Skype and spent 30 minutes sharing with us, answering questions and inspiring us to tap into what breaks our heart so that we can live a life of impact. This woman, who had Oprah write the foreword on her book, is down to earth, kind, enthusiastic and very present. There is no ego, only selflessness and a willingness to serve and inspire others.
Her presence was a great reminder that no matter how successful you become, how you treat others matters. Because of her kindness, I am now sharing her work with you, and if you read her book, I hope you will share it with someone else too. Generosity is a powerful way to inspire others and build a committed community.
4. Bury Your Dreams
In her book, she speaks of a ritual in Zimbabwe where you write down your dreams and bury them in the earth so they can take root. Tererai wrote down her five dreams and as she fulfilled each one, she went back to the earth, unearthed the dream and checked them off. There is something very symbolic and grounding when you do this. It’s an act of faith that anchors you to a moment in time when you dreamed a big dream.
5. Your Girl Tribe
In The Awakened Woman, she talks about standing on the shoulders of great women and using her own shoulders now to elevate others. It was very clear that she walks her talk when she skyped in to say hello to our group. At the end of the book, she speaks about the sisterhood and how important it is for us to lift each other up, have a supportive network of women in our lives that we can seek counsel from, connect with and empower. When women come together and support each other’s dreams, (especially women who have a Great Hunger), we can change the world. We must rise up above the petty competition and gossip and support our sisterhood, in real life and in business. I spent a week at a beach house with ten women who all read this book. Every moment together was magical and inspiring.
I can’t recommend this book enough.
If you’re feeling the least bit disconnected from the dream you have for your business, this book will help you reconnect with what really matters to you. Tererai’s story and her journey will remind you that the excuses we hold onto, those reasons we use that keep us playing small, pale in comparison to what she faced on her journey to where she is today.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve read, or would like to read The Awakened Woman.