A portrait of Cherine Kurdi
Author Chérine Kurdi was close to finishing the manuscript for her most recent book ‘Do What Lights You Up’ when the explosions in Beirut happened last August. Already dealing with the impact of the pandemic, economic hardship, social unrest, and an influx of refugees from Syria, the factory explosions that killed 300 and left hundreds of thousands homeless was a devastating blow to the city.
Landscape of Beirut, Lebanon – 4th of August, 2020
Kurdi said: “I heard the first explosion and everything was shaking. It must be an earthquake, I thought, and I ran towards my son, and grabbed him. Then the second, bigger explosion happened. I was shaken to the bones. I did not have answers at that moment. In retrospect, it was a trauma. I consider myself really fortunate that I am still alive right now. This was a devastating moment.”
The explosion caused Kurdi to reflect on a quality Lebanese people have been forced to develop through years of turbulence: resilience. She likens Lebanon to the mythical phoenix, constantly being reborn from the ashes. After a period of weeks where she experienced grief and mourning, Kurdi began practicing the tools she encourages her clients to use.
“I woke up one morning, and I said to myself, now it is more important than ever that I keep going, that I keep standing on the sunny side of the street, that I keep believing that this is not going to stay like this forever. I need to take all the tools that I practice with my clients and use them in order to centre myself, to ground myself, and to nurture myself, so I can keep going forward. And honestly, it did not happen at the click of a button. I don’t want to lecture anyone who’s experienced trauma to be positive but I want to be optimistic.”
It was this sense of resilience and adaptability that led Kurdi to leave a corporate career where she was promoted regularly and highly respected, to become a success coach for women. She believes too many people don’t define what success means to them well enough; after all, everyone wants financial abundance and a certain level of satisfaction in life. Kurdi encourages people to think more deeply about what success means to them.
“Very often, when we do not have a clear definition of success, then we do not have our metrics. How do we know that what we’re doing is good enough? If we do not define it for ourselves, then it’s always going to be our parents, family, friends or society defining it for us. The first step for me was really to tune in and to be curious about myself, and to what is important to me. Most of the time, we are thrown into territories where we have to build our success based on somebody else’s framework of success, it might not be my framework of success. So I have to tune in and respect what is important to me, and respect the quirky sides of me that are not conventional.”
In her corporate career, Kurdi realised that she had never heard men in boardrooms saying things like “I struggle with being a businessman, a father and a son” in the same way that women do, and that’s why she focused her business on supporting women.
Leaping over fear
“I realised that helping women gain confidence, supporting them in tapping into their own unique zone of genius, and firing their inner critic are themes that really excite me. I have faced them myself so I’m able to talk from a place of experience, share stories and support because I know how it feels.”
After a year in which the pandemic ravaged the globe and economic hardship has been the reality for so many, Kurdi also acknowledges that we might not feel like pursuing our dreams in every moment and that sometimes it’s okay to take a break. After the explosions in Lebanon, she did just that.
“It’s been a personal effort to keep myself grounded – not positive. I don’t want to be positive. I want to share my feelings like I’m doing with you right now. Because once I do that, I, again, I’m centred within myself, and I share I share my truth and it makes me feel that I can own my present and I can do something about my future.”
I am the author of the international bestseller “The Values Compass” and a global authority on values, working with companies, institutions, and individuals around the