Terri Broussard Williams is a #firestarter. In August 2020, she launched her book Find Your Fire and quickly achieved notable acclaim, as an Amazon Best Seller and recognized by top-tier publications such as Cosmopolitan, with its messages of maintaining faith and fortitude through adversity and igniting our souls’ purpose to initiate movements that have impact and meaning. Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Terri as she reflected on the last year of sharing those messages with others. She shared with me some of her own thoughts on the impact of her book and her plans beyond Find Your Fire.
How has life changed since the release of Find Your Fire?
Since I released the book, there have been so many opportunities to take action to change the world. A lot of people have stepped up to become part of the movement that has emerged. I have been a student of the movement to understand the differences in movement today, more than in the past. But I really have been busy helping to amplify the messages of the movement makers and the fire starters.
How have you changed since the release of Find Your Fire?
I’m learning that balance is needed to truly lead these movements because the work is never-ending. If it is work, that happens on a continuum. There is no start date and there is no end date. Many of today’s movements are addressing systemic issues deeply rooted in American history; it will take time to turn those around.
When did you realize you wanted to write Find Your Fire?
I had written a long Facebook post that sparked a reaction. It became clear that what I wanted to say was different than what was really being said at the time. Whereas many perspectives out there were rooted in theory, what I wanted to say was from a vantage point of equity first, community first, leader first. I didn’t want to conduct an autopsy of movements past but to shine the spotlight on the leaders who were doing this heavy work. I wanted to be a different voice. Find Your Fire was a way for me to share my thoughts, and really, separate myself as a leader in a space that might not have been recognized or might not have been acknowledged.
Which part of Find Your Fire was the most fun to write?
The stories of the changemakers. It is easy to get stuck in your own narrative. But as I learned what other leaders were doing and how they were doing it, I was inspired. I found new ways to think about old solutions, finding my own fire along the way. It is a good reminder to all of us that if we feel stuck, looking to other leaders around us can fuel our soul and illuminate the path we should take.
What kinds of stories have your readers shared with you about the impact of your message after reading your book?
The stories my readers have shared with me have been humbling, to say the least. Two stories, in particular, stood out to me recently—as my message of maintaining faith and fortitude through adversity and change was illustrated so beautifully through their individual and diverse experiences.
One story was from a friend of mine who catastrophically lost her home and Find Your Fire remained unscathed in the wreckage. I’m honored that the message in my book gave her the strength to forge ahead during a time of loss when things felt uncertain, full of grief, and out of control. Another story shared with me was from a reader who found the courage and confidence to pivot her investment in higher education into launching a non-profit. After reading my book, she reflected on her own goals and discovered that she needed to forge an unconventional path, one that was more aligned with her own truth, and respond to the sense of urgency she felt to empower others to make an impact.
I am mutually inspired and humbled to have even the smallest influence on their stories of resilience.
If you could add a part to Find Your Fire today, what would that be?
There are stories I have heard over the past year that I do want to tell. I want to tell the story of someone in the medical profession who worked on the front lines to address the pandemic. I want to talk to people who were inspired by the events of last summer to run for office. Or even tell how to run for office and do it differently because we were in the middle of a pandemic. I want to tell the story of leaders who had to find their fire in the middle of a crisis. It’s so hard to lead with consistency in unprecedented times. I’d like to hear from those leaders.
What would you like to tell fellow #firestarters on the one-year anniversary of Find Your Fire?
The work is never, never going to end. In the churn, it is easy to get caught up in being the person who must address every problem. Don’t become that leader who thinks they are the silver bullet. We are all here to play a particular role for a particular part of time, for a particular movement. Movements are not one-size-fits-all; leaders are not one-size-fits-all. The more that we can teach others the work, the more we can help them find their fire and fill their soul. We need to find ourselves in a place where we can focus more on ourselves and cultivate that movement from within. That makes a leader resilient; it allows a leader to live their truth so that they can turn a moment into a movement.
What’s next for you after Find Your Fire? Being a student. I am working on some projects in my professional life that have placed me in a new arena, movements that I haven’t participated in before, so I’m truly being a student of those movements. Again, as leaders, we often feel like we must know what’s next—that we need a plan to tackle that next movement. But I want to have my palms up and my arms open to learn where I might be needed in whatever movement might be next.