• Kelly Ramsawak Stewart

Having Courage To Redefine Your Life

On Thursday, July 30th, a workday, I sat down with my laptop to watch the funeral for Congressman John Lewis. John's colleagues, family members, and even U.S. presidents made the most heartfelt speeches about the civil rights giant and his unparalleled legacy. Speech after speech acknowledged John's outstanding accomplishments. But what seized my attention was how each speaker affirmed John's intentional commitment to being courageous. Through his funeral service, I discovered every single career decision John made was not in any way connected to a desire for fame, status, or money. Instead, John courageously designed his life through purpose and a mission to help others. 

Immediately following John's funeral service, I began to examine my own career. Over the last seven years, I have had the unbelievable opportunity to work at several award-winning advertising agencies. By the age of 27, I crossed off most of my ambitious goals, such as orchestrating global influencer campaigns, overseeing million-dollar talent budgets, and diving further into social strategy. I couldn't help but wonder: Is this what people would talk about at my funeral? Was this how I wanted the world to remember me? 

During a deep self-reflection process, I discovered many of my "courageous decisions" were related to glamourous jobs, titles, and money. It felt good to climb corporate ladders, brag about being on-set of large commercial production, and catch last-minute flights to Paris. But it was clear that my career was not in service to others. I had allowed the egotistical part of me to define myself through work. What's worse is that I didn't have a purpose.

Over the next few weeks, what would happen could only be summed up by divine timing and, of course, this concept of courage. A quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., alongside the life of John Lewis, ignited a fire inside me. Dr. King says, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." After weeks of meditating on this quote and assessing how I designed my life so far, I felt compelled to leave my for-profit career to commit myself to a cause greater than myself. 

Now in September, I am one week into a new role at a non-profit organization whose purpose and mission I align with wholeheartedly. It's a feeling that I never had before, and it comes down to having and applying courage. I want to share what courage looks like to me because it's crucial to have it daily and apply it daily. To me, courage looks like: 

  1. Meditating and thinking deeply about who you are and what you're passionate about ---not just what the world TELLS you to be passionate about.

  2. Researching companies and organizations with missions that help make the world a better place. APPLY, even if you don't think you have what it takes.

  3. Leaving the job that doesn't make you happy. Tons of people say life is too short. And it's true. Just turn on the news.

As the world continues to change, I hope you start to listen to the voice that trying to direct your steps. If you'd like to bounce around potential courageous ideas and decisions, I'm here to help!




  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter