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#131 - Storytellers I Admire: Karlyn Percil
On feeling the fear and doing it anyway in life and storytelling.
Karlyn Percil-Mercieca is a force of nature when nature is at its most generous and kind. She is a multi-hyphenate leadership and EDI expert who helps integrate ancestral wisdom and knowledge into the work she does as a coach and consultant with corporations, leaders, and teams. She is CEO that partners with Fortune 500 organizations in North America; A speaker and coach who has been a guest on Oprah’s LifeClass, OWN TV and CityLine; and the founder of The Success System and SisterTalk Circles.
I was lucky enough to sit down with her over bubble tea to talk about the role stories have played in her life and her work. We dive into what it means to bring your whole self to the table (even when you’re an introvert), the notion of the power and possibility in your elephant stories—she defines and describes the concept with such clarity.
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This conversation was a gift to participate in and feels like a gift to get to share. There are so many gems about life and stories and how they shape each other. We get into the neuroscience of stories and how you can know if you’re ready to share your own stories. She shows us how to “feel the fear and faith it anyway.”
This conversation is for anyone whose hesitated about sharing their story, who has been uncertain in their selves and their lives, and who have felt the fear that comes with showing up as your fullest self in life.
If you’ve opened this note and don’t have time to sit with it and read it all the way through, close it and come back when you do. There are some life and perspective shifting ideas in here. And read all the way to the end because Karlyn ends on a truly powerful note (while also sharing what it’s like to work with me, which left me blushing and feeling so proud of the work I get to do). I would LOVE love LOVE to hear what resonates with you. Share in the comments or on social and just tag me.
As always, this is a long one but a good one. So grab a cuppa, get cozy, and dive into the world of Ancestral Wisdom, meeting your bravest self, and sharing your story with faith.
Okay. So the first question I always ask is what's your story? And you can take that in whatever way you want. What's the story of your life right now?
Karlyn Percil-Mercieca: Well, right now I'm exploring the story of being a multifaceted being, especially through the lens of ancestral knowledge systems and African indigeneity, and especially our connection to nature and the earth and the elements. So, it's interesting, right now my story is one that's unfolding. You know the notion that we all come into this world with our unfolding already designed?
Oh, tell me more about that. I actually don't know that.
KP: Well, one of the things that I learned, it's funny, was it Dr. Christina Sharpe? She posted something on Twitter that made me pause. She said, identity is a trap. And I felt that, and I understand where that was coming from because I think sometimes we spend so much time telling our stories through the lens of a perceived identity, whether it's one inherited from our families or the one the world tells about us. And that's why I brought my notebook with me, because this is where I jot a lot of my thoughts.
This is beautiful. Look at this. It is your brain come to life.
KP: Yes, (laughs) this is my brain come to life. And especially looking at myself through the lens of the universal law of mentalism, where a thought, every thought you have, it is. It becomes. So when she said that identity is a trap, it also got me thinking about how necessary it is to see ourselves as not just human beings, but really as spiritual beings having a human experience and that's really what the message is about. And it moves us away from these colonial definitions of self or even of identity, or even the notion of self from the western lens that's really rooted in the self as a physical being but the spiritual part isn’t there.
And what I love about Ancestral Voices, which is one of the stories that helps me shape my story as it continues to unfold, one of the things that I love about what he explains is that spirituality is not a religion. It's an entity that looks at energy, looks at our relationship to the elements, it looks at who we are becoming.
So going through all of that, what’s my story? (laughs) But my story is discovering what it is to be a spiritual being in all its forms having a human experience and learning to appreciate this physical body even more. And by extension, appreciate its ability to navigate the borders of the world or life, and also how I tell the story, how I see my stories through my interactions and connection to community and to others and to the world at large as well.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Amazing. Thank you for sharing that. So tell me a bit about work you do that brings you joy.
KP: Exploring. Have you heard of Dora the Explorer?
(laughs) Yeah. You're Karlyn the Explorer?
KP: Yeah. What brings me joy right now is actually my curiosity. And it can be rooted in anything. It can be like this brings me joy having the time to see you, for us to sit. And I really appreciated you saying even up to yesterday, I told you, "Well, it's winter. Is she sure she wants to come in person, should we just do it online?" But now we are here. So even just having conversations and sharing and exploring and connection brings me joy.
Being open to new ideas also brings me joy. And remembering that we belong everywhere and nowhere also brings me joy, because again it gives space to unfold and it gives space to become. Just having conversations with my family gives me joy. I find joy in the simplest things, in the tiniest things. Having this kiwi, yogurt, bubble tea brings me joy (laughs). I try to find joy in the everyday because it's so passing. And I know also from the work on the research side, joy is one of the hardest emotions for us to lean into and learning about that whole idea of foreboding joy and waiting for the other shoe to drop, it's something that I'm constantly learning. And by being aware of the little moments of joy, it really helps to bring that home.
That's amazing. So tell me and tell the people who will be listening to this about your work. And specifically because your work encompasses a few different things. Which element of your business is the thing you're most excited about right now?
KP: Sharing. I think taking everything I've learned, I mean the package that I've put it in, whether it's through a workshop or conversations or through the Success System, whatever it might be, sharing that knowledge with others and then hearing from them that this really helped me, whether its increasing their confidence or understanding a season of their life better or even the whole thing around, again identity. Because a lot of the work that I do is to benefit and to celebrate Black women, and by extension everyone else. It's based on the theory of “Black Women Best,” which is a theory that says if we make the world a better place for Black women, then by extension it will automatically make the world a better place for everybody else. So sharing that and also centering the brilliance or being a mirror for other Black women as well brings me a lot of joy. And also, the research part of my work. I get obsessed and I can go down a rabbit hole.
Yeah, I hear you. I can relate to that (laughs).
KP: And sometimes it's not really a productive obsession because then there's just no end. But, when I'm in that creative container of exploration, it brings me… I really love that part of the work. And also it also allows me to spend a lot of time alone. I know it might sound weird for people to hear that I really love spending time alone and being alone.
Yeah, because you're such an outgoing spirit.
KP: Yeah. I also really love being around people. And it's funny because one of my friends, she made me reflect on it last week. She said, "I get it, but it's also so strange in terms of not being able to be around people.” Because when I'm out, people can't see that. So, here's the aha moment I came to. I told her, when I make a decision to leave the house, I'm leaving the house. So it means that all senses are plugged in, I'm ready to go and interact and I'm also ready for whatever might pop up. So, when you see me out, you’re getting all of Karlyn, because I'm out. I've dealt with my social anxiety, I've dealt with the, ugh, I have to talk to people. I've dealt with all those things. So it's not a factor when I'm out. So when you see me out, you will see all of Karlyn in terms of my energy and expression. But also, it's just the very same level of joy when I'm at home and by myself.
Oh, that's amazing. As an introvert, I need to learn that approach. Okay, now I want to dive a bit into storytelling and hear your perspective on how you define a story or what makes a good story in your world.
KP: What makes a good story, such a good question.
And thinking about it through the lens of your work, your experiences, your own life, and how that comes to life for you.
KP: I find what makes a good story, are the parts of the stories that we're afraid to tell.
KP: Like the elephant stories. And I define elephant story as that story that we have in the closet, we don't want anyone to know. We're ashamed of it. There's usually an unpleasant emotion tied to it. And the reason why I say that is that I believe that you never really meet yourself until you can own those stories. For example, with me, I knew parts of Karlyn, but the stories about Karlyn, the stories that actually shaped me, the ones that were rooted in shame and fear and guilt, I wasn't comfortable sharing that with the world. And because I wasn't comfortable sharing that with the world, well, the reason why I wasn't comfortable sharing that with the world is because I wasn't really comfortable to integrate these into my being, into who I was becoming.
Accepting that it's part of your story.
KP: Yeah. I didn't fully accept it. So you have it over there, like I'm here and it's coming along with me. She's kind of like sitting in the back, she's not fully at the table with me. Which means that as much as I'm looking at the story through the lens of fear or shame or guilt, this isn't the only story about that story. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Yeah. It does.
KP: Yes, there's shame and fear and guilt, but there's also love and joy.
There's another lens to see it through.
KP: Exactly. There are other lenses. And also, the woman that brought me through that story, she built some really awesome muscles. Whether it's around self-awareness or really understanding my emotional DNA and really understanding myself. So, if we look at the untold stories a little bit closer, I think that is probably the most powerful place to start. And you don't necessarily have to share that story with everyone, because I believe not everyone has earned the right to hear your story. Some stories are between you and your god and your goddesses or your ancestors, whoever your highest spirit is. But for me, that's the beginning of a good story.
And then the other part to it is the stories that others tell about us. I liken it to the analogy of how a coach helps you see the frame because you're in it. Sometimes we see ourselves as a certain entity in the lives of other people like, I'm a sister, I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a friend, and I have a definition of what that looks like. And I meet people there with that. And obviously we confirm it because it's ongoing and we have a good relationship. But sometimes we sell ourselves short because we always believe that we can do better or we don't see the full impact of our friendship or our loveship with that person that we're interacting with.
So, I find sometimes when people tell me this story about how they see me, it adds a lens that I never would've seen, because sometimes you're like, "Oh Chantaie, I just bought you a tea." Or, "I just sent you a positive note, I was thinking about you,” and to me it's nothing. But sometimes it might be like, "Actually no, it's not nothing. You helped me X, Y and Z, and you actually hold space." I didn't know I held space or I had a compassionate lens until someone told me, and then I integrated that. Especially when you're coming from that elephant story of trying to figure out who you are but not wanting to let shame dictate or even colonial definitions of self to take your narrative-
Yeah, which is also rooted in a lot of shame for especially black people.
KP: Exactly. So it's that part of the story too, how others see you. And then the other thing I would say are the untold stories that you’re also able to tell.
KP: Because when I think about the power of the imagination and creativity, it plays such a huge role because the universal law of mentalism tells us that everything, before it becomes a reality, is a thought. So that means I think therefore I become. So my shame story, how I see myself, how people see me, and then who am I becoming? What is that unfolding looking like? I understand that there are certain things I can't control, but there's also a lot I can in terms of how I navigate. So I like writing that story into existence. I like writing that becoming. And by doing so, I think you have a pretty good baseline of what makes a great story.
So it sounds like what I'm hearing is that storytelling is very much tied up in identity. You make and share who you are through the stories that you tell, is that right?
KP: It is and it's not.
Okay. Tell me more.
KP: Because again, identity being that whole thing about who am I? Because to me we're always evolving and we're always growing and changing. And even identity is, I don't want to say it's fluid, but I would say that there's always a reclaiming that happens whether we're conscious of it or not. And because identity is, cultural identity, it's a huge... It's your social card to navigate in society. I guess you can say the easy expression is to fall back on identity, but there's more. And it can be identity, but what I would say is can we expand identity? Because when we look at ourselves, we're in nature. There's a beautiful relationship between us and nature. We feed each other; we take care of each other. So, if we include all of that, then yeah.
Okay. Thank you for sharing that. So first of all, do you consider yourself a storyteller?
KP: Yeah, I would say so.
Okay. So when did you realize or come to the realization that you were a storyteller, and in what ways do you tell stories in your life and in your work?
KP: I think the first time I had that powerful awareness was when I took control of my own narrative. And I had done it in small ways. But I think it became appearing on Oprah's Lifeclass when I shared my story of child sexual abuse and how shame eats away at you and can truly kill you. And how I've allowed the narrative around survivorship to dictate my behavior and my actions. When I decided to take hold of that story and share it in my own words and in my own way, I think that's when I felt like, yeah, I am a storyteller. Because I was literally telling the world, "Well, I understand that you might know my story, but this is my story from my lens." There's so much power in that. I think sometimes we underestimate it because we're like, "Oh it's just a story." But no, it's not just a story. It literally can become your beacon or your light.
The stories we tell ourselves matter because then it builds that connection between the spiritual self and the physical self. It also helps us to understand what drives us. So I would say that was the first thing. And also we know that storytelling can unearth a lot of emotions in people. Because even when I told that story, there were a lot of emotions both good and bad. And that's the thing about storytelling, we think or we say it's not big or it doesn't matter. But once you have it out there, and everyone feels like they have a claim to it or they should be a part of the authorship of it or they have a right. "Oh, well why did you say it like that? You could have said it like this.” But like, that's my story. Right? (laughs)
KP: It's like, no, if I'm getting a chance to be brave enough to tell my story, I'm telling it from my lens. I'm going to tell it from my truth. Whatever that truth is at that time, it might evolve and look different, but at least at this moment in time, this is my truth and I'm going to own it. So that is also what actually was the first catalyst for Sister Talk where we created community to help more women to create and share more stories. And that became the foundation for a lot of the work that we did.
That's amazing. So you said a few times that you got to a point where you felt ready to tell your story or share your story. What was the catalyst or how did you know you were ready to tell your story? I think this is something people struggle with.
KP: There was a knowing. The thing with self trust is it isn’t a game. No one can give you the markers for that. Because when you look at the science of emotion, it's well understand, our body sends inner notifications to our mind and it takes our biology, it takes a whole bunch of things into consideration and it sends that signal. But we also know that joy can feel the same as sadness. Because it can hit us in the same place. You know when people say mind your business? Man. How do you know? You really gotta mind your business you really have to get to know yourself. So how did I know? And the other thing I'll say that the knowing can come in through a mass of confusion and fear. Sometimes we think knowing is this, "Okay. Got it."
Yeah. It's certain.
KP: It's certain. It's perfect, I’ve got everything lined up. Sometimes knowing is, “I think. I'm not sure,” and you do it anyway. You gotta to feel the fear and faith it anyways. People are like feel the fear and do it. Girl, faith comes before doing.
I love that. Feel the fear and faith it.
KP: Because if you faith it, you'll have the courage to choose the most bold or bravest action that will lead you much closer towards that concrete belief and confidence. And is building confidence an overnight thing? Nah. Confidence is something you get up and you date it every day. You have to build that muscle. So for me it's, feel it and fear it anyway. The knowing will come and the knowing only comes as you continue to take action on that knowing.
Okay. Thank you for sharing that. I think that's going to be so helpful for people. Who would you say is your audience or who are the people you create for when you think about your stories?
KP: I would say women. Black women, women of color, leaders, white women, white leaders as well. But primarily I would say my immediate audience would be Black women, because the work that I do comes from that lens, and by invitation in terms of they themselves also sharing their perspective and ideas, we have a little bit of a soup around what that looks like. But I would say first and foremost I create for Black folks.
And why that audience for you?
KP: Because I had this, I don't even want to call it naive but, big dream or impossible task. There's this one quote that drives me and I want to change when I'm gone. I'm hoping that the work that we are doing and I've done can shift the dial. And it's a quote, I mean everybody knows that quote. It's a quote by Malcolm X. But I saw a very similar quote also by the late Dr. Rosemary Brown who was the founder of the Canadian Women's Foundation. Again, another powerful Black woman. So the words and the life and the legacy of Black women also fuel everything I do.
To me by focusing on us is also how I contribute to those who have passed and those who have gone. The quote is that “the Black woman is the most disrespected and most unsupported woman in history.” And we have seen this played out over the years. What drives me is changing that narrative to the Black woman is the most supported, she's the most respected, and she is the safest woman. Because I think we always have to negotiate our safety. I think we're not the only, everybody negotiates, but when I say that, I mean from a foundational every single inch of our being, even down to our hair, if we decide to do our hair in our full glory , even that's criticized or vilified in some way.
I always say that we are probably also the most policed from tone, dress, attitude, everything. So, I want to change that and make that the new reality, because it is possible. Because I have met so many Black women who not only support each other, but they are also working on making sure that that narrative is a reality. So as much as some days I feel like it's impossible, there are other days I feel like, yes, we do. Even like you. If you using your medium of storytelling to show stories of, I know your stroke is all women, but especially when your stroke is black women, you do it with such care, with such love that I know that it will have a ripple effect on changing that narrative and influencing it.
I don't think that goal is naive at all. I think that's a beautiful life goal to have in place. Also, you talk about safety for Black women and I can't help but think it's more than just physical safety. All the things that you said, it takes us far beyond just physically being able to walk down the street and feel safe in yourself. There's so much more dimension to it when you think about safety for Black women.
KP: Oh, yeah. Even from the workplace context in terms of making workplaces that work for Black women. We're looking at it through the lens of thriving and psychological wellbeing, mental, emotional, and also spiritual. But even when I look at African spirituality, which has been downgraded to just, oh, it's voodoo. But it's actually science based. Western philosophy looks at science through their lens, which is a very narrow lens. But if we look at the very same science through an African lens, then it's expanded. But even that, we don't even have spiritual safety.
Actually I was having this discussion with one of my other friends, I said, "What if we standardize our ancestral messages and our ancestral way of being? We do the land acknowledgement, we honor our indigenous peoples, we support, we also have African indigenous virtual technologies as well. How do we bring that to the table?" And there's a lot of, I don't know and fear because we don't have a template. I mean we do, but we haven't brought that into a modern application, bring it for the world we're in right now. And I find sometimes when we don't have a clear pathway or template or example of things we tend to shy away. But for me, one of the things that I really would like to dismantle or try or, is to see, can we bring it in and integrate? Because this is nature-based science. It is actual science. It is also rooted in our wellbeing. I don't think we can get to psychological safety, whether it's emotional safety and all of those things, without our spirit technologies or our ancestral knowledge systems embedded as part of our everyday practices.
That's amazing to think of. Thank you for sharing that. So when you think about stories, you think about the role that stories play in your life and you share your own stories, why do stories matter?
KP: Oh.I know when we listen to this, I'm going to be like, "Oh, I forgot to say this."
You can always add.
KP: Because why do stories matter…
It's big. Yeah.
KP: If you ask me to liken stories to something, I would liken stories to oxygen. I would liken stories to a mirror of love because some of the things that I feel confident and emboldened to do is because I've read somebody else's story. I caught a glimpse. The beauty about story is that it gives us a lens into possibilities, into what can be, what could be. And also we know from the science that when it comes to storytelling, there are more parts of the brain that light up when we hear them. So, it's actually a powerful connector. It's like that conduit through storytelling. It's mind-blowing what happens when we send a story and we make story or storytelling a part of our process.
Also, a lot of the knowledge and the wisdom that have been passed on, especially from an African lens, it was passed on through storytelling. So if you look at the neuroscience about the brain on stories versus the brain on data, we know stories have more connection points. It means that it actually supports our natural connection for love and for play, our ancestors were doing storytelling way back then. They didn't have this data around the neuroscience.
They just knew.
KP: So this is what I mean, and we all grew up hearing the story, I'm sure you heard it too, I was told we are griots, we're storytellers as yada yada yada, but we still don't center it. So what if we build a better bridge between the science and that ancient wisdom tradition? I think stories can actually be the gateway to creating a better world for all humans.
True believer over here, my work is around storytelling. So yeah.
KP: You're right there.
So you talked a little bit about stories that influence you and gave you the bravery to do something or act in your life. So who are some of the storytellers that you can think of that you admire, storytellers that just have influenced you in whatever way?
KP: My parents, my grandmother. My grandfather was actually a storyteller back home in St. Lucia. We have, it's called Jounen Kwéyòl, where we celebrate our ancestral language. We speak French Creole, Nepali Patois. So simoidu sa ka fet? If I tell you sa ka fet, that means how are you?
KP: Yes. So sa ka fet. Mikase mola, Mwen byen, mola means I'm okay. So every October, we celebrate it. This year was the first time I went home after how many years. And I've never fully participated in all of it, again, because of colonization, it was demonized. If you speak French Creole, if you speak Creole, oh then you're not that educated, you're not smart. So that was the story. So that's another thing about story. Story in the hands of the wrong person can actually be used to inflict psychological violence on a group or on an individual.
So my grandfather, again, he always used to tell stories around the fire. He was someone for me and my grandmother. And the other person I would say outside of that would be, actually Oprah. She was the first person who I saw a possibility around my own story. Because I was grappling with my story of child sexual abuse and I remember I saw on the show, and I grew up with no television or any of that. So it was much later when, I think it was my twenties, and I remember feeling attacked. So that's another thing. When someone sees your story and they’re not ready to face it, they will attack you. They will feel like you did them something wrong. But again, don't take it personally, it's just that those connections in their brain is awakening a part of yourself that is ready to come forth.
And you're pushing back a little bit.
KP: You're resistant, you're pushing. Girl, I resisted. I was like "Ah, why is everybody so into Oprah..." Because not only had she told her story, but she was bringing folks forward to talk about their story. And I remember having this, oh, you can talk about that in public? Is that allowed? That's not allowed. These are things that happen and you suffer in silence, and you sweep it under the rug and your feelings don't matter. I grew up with that story and that narrative. So, when I saw her story on television and people talking about it; Once I went through my own grief, I mean now I have the language and the understanding of it, I understand all of this was also grief, crying for who I thought I could have been. Because I always wished I had had a normal childhood, and I'm like everybody else is so much happier than me because they had a normal childhood. And then you learned everybody had their own stuff that they had to deal with (laughs).
We all were, yeah. We all have our burdens.
KP: She opened up that possibility for me. And I don't even know how to describe it or even how to table the fact that 20 years later I ended up sharing my story on her network. And a lot of the work that we do, all of it around vulnerability was around her network. So I would say these are the two powerful storytellers. And of course now that I'm learning about other storytellers like bell hooks and Audre Lorde, because in the Caribbean, we weren't exposed to them, we didn’t have access. But now I'm learning about them. So also Black feminists. Especially Black feminist queer women, oh man, they are my favorite storytellers because they see the world through such a beautiful lens. Where the world is pushing against or given a narrative that's going against everything that they're doing and talking about and being, but here they are still have the courage and bravery to tell their stories.
I think they are the most powerful. And trans folks are the most powerful storytellers out there because they're carving out stories out of a narrative where they have no precedence, and the only ones that they do see are ones that either vilifying or tearing them down or dehumanizing them. But they're still showing up and writing the most beautiful whatever it is poetry or art or yeah.
Janet Mock, I don't know if you've read her memoir, but it changed my life.
KP: Yes. I love her.
It really did for all the reasons that you just said. It was just a moment for me where I was like she has had an experience that there was no template for. Her story, there was no template for. She had to live it and process it and share it. And everything about it was just, it honestly rocked me. It was like it changed everything I thought about how you share yourself, how you think about your story, how you shape your story even. She made her life. Yeah. So I do agree a 100%.
What's a story that you've created that you're especially proud of or a story that you've shared that you're especially proud of? It could be anything in any space.
KP: I guess you'd say that the story of now. The story we're telling now, it excites me. It's the more I see the dots connecting between ancient wisdom, emotional intelligence, uprooting the traditional roots of leadership and then bringing in that neuroscience. I love seeing the clarity it brings folks on their journey while we create. Because again, we use language EDI, all of this, I think just this whole Christina Sharpe idea of identity being a trap stopped me in my tracks. And also Toni Morrison said, racism is a distraction. You fully understand that when you see it, because in my work, yes we talk about, like I said, the EDI stuff, but what we're really talking about is human equity, creating a better world for all humans and how best to understand that than starting with the most systemically and historically marginalized. Right?
KP: Because to me, that is really how you can shift things. Being able to talk about that in a way where we blend all those worlds together, to your point, I haven't seen a pathway. I've caught glimpses. There are different people who are informing my path and I'm learning from and I'm growing with and I'm failing with and I'm making mistakes with. But we're writing a new story, a new narrative, and the roots of leadership, culturally informed leadership practices where we divest in or move away from a very patriarchal euro-centric way of leading. I think that story is one I'm really, really excited to continue writing and to continue sharing.
Thank you for sharing that. So what's a story you've seen recently that you've loved? Anything out in the world. It can be a book, it can be a Netflix show, it could be an album, it could be any sort of story you've been exposed to.
KP: “Renaissance” is one, Wakanda Forever is another, The Woman King. And even the discussions around all of it, like the people who are against it. And that's one thing that always fascinates me. I think sometimes we forget we're supposed to have healthy criticism for everything we do, because for certain people, that is the pathway.
So what are the important stories being told right now in your opinion?
KP: The important stories being told right now, I think the one of restorative reclamation for people of African descent.
Okay. Tell me more. Help me understand what that means.
KP: When you look at the stories of Wakanda and The Woman King, these are stories that you're seeing through the lens of the full creative expression of self. I don't know if you've seen Wakanda.
Yeah, I've seen both and I love them.
KP: But Angela Bassett, good Lord.
Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. And I think before I saw the movie, everyone was talking about how amazing she was, give her her Oscar, everything. And I was like, "well, let's see." And then I saw it and I was like, "Oh, yeah. Wow."
KP: And also what I loved about that and also what I loved about The Woman King was to see again the normalization of us just being. The girls with all different kinds of hair, who have short hair, who are brave, who doesn't. These stories to me are so powerful because stories are a gateway to how we see ourselves. It can be a gateway to love and that love is expressed with so many different things. So when I see the stories, I want more. We need more. And also we need more people telling the stories from their full self, not from, oh, what I think I should share, because I don't want anybody to judge me.
Or a colonized lens.
KP: Or colonized lens, yeah. Or in some cases I know for me one of the things I had to unlearn was this whole Caribbean thing of if you share your business, people will bad mind you. All of those things that we need to unlearn, I find when we have those stories it really helps to shift the lens.
It's amazing. And then the last question I have for you, and it's a big one. There have been a few big questions that you've handled with grace. But take your time with this and really listen to your heart, listen to your gut, listen to the thing that guides you. What would you say is your philosophy when it comes to living your life? Or what is the governing principle or wisdom that guides you?
KP: It's always love. But I always like breaking it down because we know love is a verb and it's different for everyone. So I would say what guides me is, can I leave the world a little better than I found it?
KP: Can I influence the corner of my world or the places and the people and the spaces I have the privilege of being in? If I have out of the 8 billion people in this world, if I have the privilege and honor to be on CityLine, to be working with C-Suite executives, to be in a space where I have all those privileges, why would I waste it showing up half assed? And if I am going in with a lens of love, and especially love through the lens of understanding who I am through my ancestral knowledge systems, it means that I am going to the table fully supported. I'm not missing anything. Right?
KP: I have everything I need for whatever the ancestors guided me or brought me here to do. So, I see love as showing up fully with all your gifts, with all yourself, your whole self. We can show up with our whole selves and still trust that we are being protected or we will be protected. And that's where understanding self comes in because you know how to navigate with that. We shouldn't shrink. Love isn't shrinking. If each and every one of us, if we are brought—based on the Dagara wisdom tradition—we all came into this world with a name and with a purpose assigned. There's no need to be looking for your purpose. The question is what is the most aligned expression of that purpose? You know storytelling, but I'm storytelling through a particular lens, I have a program, we all story tell in different ways.
So that means that I came into this world with my unfolding already set. My success is pre-determined. And even when I think about the whole child sex abuse and all the trauma through my childhood, I said, when I think about it, I'm like, in the beginning I didn't get it, don't get me wrong. I was just like, why? And the crying and all the things, but I never would've gotten this interested in emotions and the science and all of that if I didn't. Maybe I would've gotten to it through some of the path, right?
KP: But I think that if we understand that we came in here with everything intact and this whole world of life is like this whole, it's a huge a love hunt egg hunt, right?
KP: Then you go through the different spaces looking for that love offering, whether it's support, whether it's an encouragement, whether it's a smile, whether it's a stranger buying your coffee, whether you get a really good boss. But even when you do meet the ones who do not fully understand love and they're operating from that hatred, it is also as designed because then you're now learning how to sit in your love even when there is a raging storm.
It makes it hard.
KP: It's very hard. It's not easy. But I would say that is what guides me, really understanding or trying to sometimes that everything we go through is by design. And even at times when I feel frustrated and I don't have the answer and I feel like, man, how am I even going to do this, live this world? This world is not kind or nice to me. How? I throw my hands up and I'm just like, I surrender. I'm like, "If y'all brought me here and you know this was going to happen, you better deal with it." So I just leave it up to the ancestors, to god, to the goddesses and I ask them to continue to guide. I think I answered the question, did I?
Your governing principle or philosophy, you said love and then defined it for us. Amazing. Thank you. So those are all the questions I have. But I always like to end just by asking is there anything that you want to share or anything that perhaps you thought we would talk about or you want to talk about when it comes to storytelling, comes to your work, comes to who you are?
KP: The only last thing I'll say is that stories are so powerful, so I want us to see stories as a love offering to the world. And if stories can save, can inspire, can motivate, can change someone's perspective, so many stories are for both of us. To everyone listening to this, I want them to think about sharing their story in a way that will allow them to make their braver self. Because until we do, then you're always dating, I don't know, a half assed version of yourself. And then you end up missing out on really truly living.
A lot of the searching, a lot of the I don't know or confusion we're feeling is because we're not fully leaning into that creative expression of self. And storytelling I find is probably one of the most accessible ways to do that. So, give yourself permission to tap into that creative well. And you might find a lot of the ails and ills and things that you're struggling with, it will create more room for you to navigate those with a little bit more ease and then also give you a chance to write a different story, one that you'll be proud of. So, keep sharing.
Oh God, thank you. I needed to hear that. I think anyone who will be listening to this and reading this needed to hear that. Thank you for sharing that. I think that's so important. Thank you for doing this.
KP: No, thank you for doing that. And the other thing that I'll say, I forgot to say that when I was sharing about how stories from others help us see ourselves, I remember when we worked together and you helped us to articulate our story. Because you asked me, "What is the story you are proud of writing the most?" And you have helped me to see that story. I had an idea it was there. I kind of thought about it and I know that's what I'm working towards, but sometimes it's hard for you to tell the story when you're in the story.
To see the forest for the trees, yeah.
KP: Exactly. And by you simply helping us to tell the story in such a beautiful way, my creativity went up, my confidence, because I was like, "Oh, that’s it. Alright." You were able to give me language to streamline. So instead of bouncing all around the room, I'm now dancing, I'm waltzing, I'm choosing the dance. I know what I'm doing. So that's the other thing I wanted to add in there is that stories can also give you that boost of clarity, that boost of confidence, and also it actually helps to fuel your creativity. Because then you're telling that story from a higher energetic place and space that also opens you up to more possibilities. So thank you.
Well, and thank you for saying that. I truly believe, I believe wholeheartedly in storytelling, but I also believe that clarity is a superpower. And that is the thing that I do for people. The work I do, it is never me making up someone's story, it's actually just helping them get clear on their own story, the one that exists already. So, nice to hear.
KP: Such a powerful gift.
Thank you for sharing that. So good. And with that, thank you. That's it. Thank you so much.
KP: Thank you.