We had the good fortune of connecting with Fatimata Sanogo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Fatimata, what do you attribute your success to?
There are 3 key factors I can highlight behind my success:

1. A vision bigger than myself
I find it essential to create, or some would say catch, a vision for yourself and your life. Having a vision gives you clarity and grounds you. It also gives you a powerful access to being successful. This is because when you have a vision, it alters your sense of being and rewires your brain in a way that the actions you take are actually informed by the future (your vision) rather than the past (your perceptions, your fears, your old thoughts patterns, your past failures, or things you already know.) A vision alters the way you see things. When your perception of the world and yourself shifts, you see things differently, you hear things differently, you see opportunities that you couldn’t see before, you become interested in being successful, you start seeing the many ways you can make it happen and you start being motivated to take inspired action.

There is one thing that is not necessary about your vision: You don’t need to have the entire big picture with all the clear details of your vision to get started. It is not the vision that needs to be entirely clear; what you need is a vision that gives YOU clarity and grounds you. A vision that moves, touches and inspires you. How you know you have this is when you can articulate specific measurable results that you will achieve inside of that vision. I highlight this because if you are true to yourself and living the kind of life that is worthy of you, every stage of life, every milestone you achieve will cause your vision and your life to keep expanding. Therefore, you will never arrive to a vision that is fully complete. Don’t wait for the “perfection” of the vision to get started.

What I’d add however, is that it is necessary that the vision that pulls you is somewhat big enough that it is not about you. When you have a vision worthy of you, your life, a vision that pulls for success, you are not the center of the vision itself. Something alters. Your business or your career is not in order to be famous, make more money, live in a bigger house, save more for retirement, be valued in a community, be respected by your spouse, be approved by your parents etc. Rather, your business or your career becomes a vehicle for your own self-expression, your leadership, and for the contribution you make to the community, the world. For example, it may be for the possibility of heath, empowerment, financial freedom, joy, thriving relationships, fun, social justice, creativity, inclusivity, celebrated diversity, innovation, clean environment, world peace etc. and you start to see yourself as someone who has gifts to give and you want to make a difference! You want to do something that matters! Something that makes someone else’s life better! And when your life’s vision becomes about that, your own life thrives. You will have your health, wealth, joy and a sense of belonging.

2. The ability and willingness to share that vision with my community
When you have a vision bigger than yourself and your life, you can be overwhelmed with the fact that you cannot achieve it alone. But you are also compelled to share this vision with others. It feels like it doesn’t belong to only you. When we share our vision with others, we start operating from a mental state of abundance and partnership vs. scarcity and fear. This is because sharing takes going beyond the fear that someone else might steal your idea, disapprove of your dreams, make fun of you, or you may say it and fail at it and look bad, etc. Sharing means having the courage to be bigger than all the mental barriers that you have that keep you from starting in the first place. This is actually the big test whether the vision that motivates you is only about you as an individual or is truly for a bigger vision that will make a difference in the lives of many people. More often than not, every time I chose to honor sharing my vision vs. honor my fears and hide my vision, what I got in return is partnership in the community. I discovered that there are many competent people with incredible skills and resources who truly admired my courage, people who actually saw the vision I articulated as an opportunity for them to contribute to the community and make a difference. As a result of that, my life has gotten bigger. It is important that sharing in our community comes with the invitation for people to contribute to the vision. This is another great test for us that we are not being attached to the success of our business being about us, more than we are committed to the success of the business or the vision itself. I believe every great leader has that ability. I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr., and how powerfully he articulated his vision in “I have a dream.” It is clear that what made it powerful was not that the message was about himself, but an invitation for the community to take action with him.

3. Integrity
I am not speaking about integrity from a context of morality, or good or bad. In this context integrity becomes a matter of honoring your word to the vision. It also becomes the responsibility to keep the vision alive for yourself, so it fuels your actions and endeavors. There are two questions that you are constantly asking yourself perhaps several times a day:

1) Does it serve the vision? Is who I am being, what I am saying, and what I am doing right now consistent with my vision? If the answer is yes, then I am honoring my word to the vision and if it is no, then I am honoring something else (maybe my mood, my fears) and that’s out of alignment- or out of integrity with the vision.

2) Is it given by the vision? Are the actions I am taking and the things I am saying right now motivated by my vision, or am I doing and saying this right now to survive something, make myself look good or be right about something? If it is informed by my vision, then I am keeping the vision alive for myself and the vision is giving me my life. If not, then my vision is a concept, but it doesn’t live in life through me, and I am not a walking example of my vision. I am surviving life, avoiding looking bad and playing small and this is out of alignment- or out of integrity with the vision.

The last thing I will say is that I truly believe that if this world has the ability to inspire a vision bigger than yourself in you, it also has the ability to make that vision a reality through you. What it takes is rather simple, but incredibly challenging for us human beings to do. It takes discipline. The discipline to honor your word to the vision and the responsibility to keep the vision alive for yourself. It takes the discipline to live from the vision so that when people meet you, they meet the vision. Lastly, it takes the discipline of consistent action that is congruent with the vision EVERY DAY- no matter how small the action. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Himself who said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the author of the book 31 universal spritual principles. And I am also the founder and CEO of Sahel Sage, a non profit organization that I am very proud of.

Sahel Sage looks to see what’s missing that will allow adolescent women in Burkina Faso to continue their education beyond elementary school and then finds ways to fulfill those needs. Every $300 Sahel Sage raises provides the menstrual hygiene, tuition, school supplies, transportation, and food needs for one local girl for an entire year. I am fortunate to have my mother, Fadima Sanogo, as one of my team members with her nearly 30 years of experience working with non-profit organizations.

When I committed to founding my non-profit, one of the biggest breakdowns as a PhD student and yoga instructor for me was ‘I don’t have time for this!’ The moment I said ‘yes’ to the vision of a nonprofit that can empower young women in Burkina Faso, there was a breakdown. But instead of being stopped, I decided to take things on in a way I never had before: One of the things that I discovered along the way is just time management… I was someone who never had a calendar; I could just manage things. Now I have a calendar, and it has become a powerful structure that supports my productivity.

Equally important to my relationship with time, was the realization that I couldn’t do it alone. I cannot be the founder and CEO and secretary–it’s just not going to work! So I’ve got to share the vision and invite people to contribute. People like Sahel Sage’s executive Vice President, Shannon Potter, who is just as passionate about our work as I am. The difference that Sahel Sage is making is due to the partnerships and commitments of its team, and I am very clear: When I allow others to step into their leadership, then we are bigger together.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is very exciting because LA has so many beautiful place and diverse cuisine. What we would do would include:

1. The wisdom tree hike and baldwin scenic view
2. El matador beach
3. A drive around Topanga
4, A walk to a farmers market
5. Eating at Gracias Madre restaurant, Messob Ethiopian Restaurant, Himalyan house restaurant, Dosa at Annapurna, indian place at culver city or Pasadena. thai food, and try Savoy Kitchen food in Alhambra.
6. Yoga at art of living studio
7. walk on USC main campus
8. Visit at Agape international Spiritual center
9. Visit Lake Shrine
10. A Sound bath session at the integratron- Joshua Tree
11. Walk to the park
12. A meal at gratitude cafe

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

People:
Shannon Potter
Marcu Nobreus
Kasia Fraser
Lauren Eckstrom and Travis Elliot
Etan Bortizer
Ibrahima Maiga
Marga Bakker
Jerry Burkhard
Kathy Bosco
Jordan Bigler
Michael Bernard Beckwith
Richard Watanabe
Valita Jones
Maria Elena Delgado
Jordan Bigler
Anna and Kacper Owsian
Stephanie Buffington
Ramona and Mike Mucciolo
Eddie Cornor
Kara Eads and family
Kevan Potter and family
Amadou Sanogo

Mom Fadima Sanogo and family
Luciano cruz
Jonathan Eads
Shawna Pettigrew
Daisy Ducks
Cindy Shofield
Tamara Dissi
Victoria Bonomie
Cristina Prieto Blum
Pesach Chananiah
Rafael Alvarez
Dad (Tiamogo Sanogo)
Kruthika Swaminathan
Jenna Weakland
Pranav Kulkarni
Safi Duncan
Cynthia Maynor
Elana Shekar
Makani Nalu
Magdalena Byra
Corie Skolnick
Brigitte Benchimol
Patricia Ramani
Zoe Masters
Jennifer Nguyen
Ben Morgenstern
Krzystof Szkarlat
Camillo Kimitsch Etc. Etc.

Organization:
University of Southern California
Landmark Worldwide
Agape International Spiritual center
Harvard T.H. CHan School of Public Health
University of California San Diego
San Diego City College
Southern California Vipassana retreat center
Etc. Etc.

Books:
31 Universal Spiritual Principles
Ask and it is given
The four agreements
The mastery of love
Spiritual Liberation
Life visioning
Speaking Being
The untethered soul
Soul Currency- Investing your inner wealth for fulfillment and Abundance
Search inside yourself
Daring Greatly
The biology of Belief
How to win friends and influence people
You are the placebo
You are the Universe
Etc. etc.

Website: https://sahelsage.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SahelSage

Image Credits
Cristina prieto Blum and Amadou Sanogo

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