How ‘Find Your Fire’ sparked Alexandria French’s global movement for change
I wrote my book “Find Your Fire: Stories and Strategies to Inspire the Changemaker Inside You” as fuel for #Firestarters — the people who see the needs that others ignore and who use all their gifts to spark change. So there’s nothing more thrilling for me than hearing from readers who made “Find Your Fire” their handbook for building movements. Readers like Alexandria French.
When I read the email Alexandria sent me, my heart soared. “Find Your Fire” not only changed Alexandria’s life. It also helped her make an impact globally. I knew right then that I had to share her story with you.
‘All of These Women Are Revolutionary’
Alexandria had some serious #Firestarter cred even before she picked up “Find Your Fire.” After earning her undergrad degree in international security studies and an MA in global affairs, she was working on her PhD from a prestigious university. She chose “Find Your Fire” for one of her class assignments. But let’s just say her professor wasn’t a fan.
That incident shook Alexandria. At the same time, “Find Your Fire” was shaking up her world in a very different way.
“As someone who has been forced to continuously overcome, I have always been a huge fan of the symbolism behind the mythical phoenix,” she says. “At the time I found the book, I was not in my best place, and simply telling myself to keep pushing through the fire was not enough. It was finding my fire that made a difference. It was realizing the fire inside of me can always burn brighter than what surrounds me.”
The women profiled in the book showed her new possibilities for her own life.
“All of these women are revolutionary,” she says. “I felt not as alone … I was like, ‘I want to be one of these women.’ This gives me the courage that I needed. This makes me think that maybe I’m not crazy. There are other women that have ideas like this.”
All of this led Alexandria to a momentous decision. Here’s how she described it in her initial email to me:
For me, it was the last straw. It was what told me I could not continue to write essays and sit behind my laptop instead of ACTUALLY trying to change the world. It made me realize I was chasing a title and not my dream. After weeks of heartache from my passion fighting my “logic” in constant battle, I decided that it was time to take a chance on myself and let my passion and internal fire grab the reins. What was once an unsure trail of weeds and setbacks evolved into a clear path forward from the absolute wildfire that blazed out of me. ONE BOOK had given me permission to look inside of myself and see that passion for what it was.
Setting The Dancing People in Motion
On Alexandria’s new path forward, she created The Dancing People, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization whose mission is to empower and invest in resilient individuals with the potential to change the world. “It is tying people together that want to make change,” she says.
“We plan to provide a platform for change: to not speak out ourselves, but to let the activists speak out about their needs, wants and desires,” Alexandria told me in her email. “Because that is how sustainable change happens (not through what WE think will work, but through what THEY know will work for their respective communities, cultures and the like).”
When I caught up with her recently, Alexandria said her goals include seeing her organization grow and drive policy change. But it’s also important to her to demonstrate “that one person can change the world. I think it’s a very misconceived notion that one person cannot make a difference.”
The ‘Motivation Bible’
Of course, I also wanted to learn whether there were specific stories or strategies in “Find Your Fire” that really spoke to Alexandria. Flipping through her copy, she cited the story of Karen Hansen, a designer and survivor of sexual assault who advocates for abuse and awareness and prevention. She also took to heart entrepreneur Monica Kang’s advice to have a “clear North Star: a well-defined goal or destination. You also must have the self-knowledge to understand how your strengths and weaknesses will affect both how you reach that North Star and what will keep you going during the journey.”
That’s just one of the highlighted passages in Alexandria’s copy of “Find Your Fire.” She has shared the book with her board members and others in her life who have added their own notes. “It sparks change in everybody that I give it to, 100%,” she says. “I love sharing this one book because it’s almost like a little motivation bible.”
Feeling Fired Up?
If you want to be a part of the movement Alexandria has started, visit thedancingpeople.org to learn how to volunteer for her organization and how to apply for or suggest a campaign. You can also donate to support the work of The Dancing People.
Both Alexandria and I would be pretty stoked if her story inspired you to create your own movement. Yes, it’s hard work. But you have what it takes.
“The more you put into it, the bigger it grows and the more passionate you get about it,” Alexandria says. “Embrace your inner resiliency and build up what you have inside of you, because that’s what’s going to make a big difference at the end of the day.”
Just as “Find Your Fire” fueled Alexandria’s movement, it can also power yours. Pick up your own copy of the new and expanded edition. And if “Find Your Fire” has already changed your life as it has Alexandria’s, I’d love to hear your story, too. So drop me a note in the comments section or via social media.
And if you’re inspired by Alexandria, you’re not alone. I am, too. I recently asked her to serve as our first Movement Maker Collective Contributor. Stay tuned for more from this #fireststarter out of Kansas City!
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