Leaning Into Possibility with Eddie Ndopu: Lesson 52

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Living life as the embodiment of possibility [3:15]

At the age of 2, Eddie was diagnosed with a degenerative condition that only affects one out of a thousand babies, and Eddie’s single mother was told that he would not make it past the age of five. At the time, this was happening against the backdrop of political turmoil in Namibia and South Africa, and Eddie and his mother had to fashion a life for themselves in the midst of neglect and isolation. 

Eddie shares with me how the cards were stacked against him from the very beginning in his life, and he believes that the fact he is here speaking to us today is a testament to possibility. 

“I’ve since become the first African with a degenerative disability to graduate from Oxford, I do not intend to be the last to borrow the words of Kamala Harris, and I continue to have ambitions to defy gravity, to be the first disabled person in space as a symbol of possibility, and as my love letter to the power of the human spirit. All of these things speak to the fact that possibility lives within us.” I feel as though I am the living embodiment of possibility.” - Eddie Ndopu


Never Giving Up On Yourself [14:50]

Since our time together in University, Eddie has gone on to become an award-winning activist, humanitarian, public intellectual, and global advocate appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Sustainable Development Goals. He is an incredible example of the embodiment of purpose and possibility. I ask Eddie how he has managed to never give up on himself and in his dreams, and how he taps into his purpose every day.

Eddie tells me that there have been many dark times in his life, but that through it all, he has held on to the belief that he will be okay no matter what, and that he will come out of the situation stronger: 

“ I never gave up on myself. I have always held on to an unshakeable belief that I will not just be alright, but that I will thrive, and I will be phenomenal. I tap into that and it has sustained me through the most difficult days of my life.” - Eddie Ndopu

Eddie also shares with us the story of how he got the call from someone at the UN in New York, offering him a position as a global advocate for the United Nations for the Sustainable Development Goals, and what it meant to him to step into that role: 

“I felt uncomfortable stepping into the magnificence and the power of that role. It was more than impostor syndrome, it was an inability to wrap my mind around the fact that I could occupy a position of leadership on a global stage, and influence the world. But I was reminded of the quote by Oprah: ‘I come as one, but I stand as 1000.’ And that the work that I am doing is important, and is creating space for those in my community and those who I advocate for.”

Embodied Resilience: As he looks to this next decade of his life, Eddie tells us what is calling him forward in his activism, life and work… [28:58]

Eddie tells me that he is excited to continue to share his thought leadership on a global platform, and to hopefully continue to share his lived experience through memoirs. Eddie tells us he is also looking forward to take up as much space as he possibly can, and in doing so, to continue to create space for folks to occupy. 

“It’s about demonstrating for the world that regardless of who you are andwher you come from, we possess enormous capacity for brilliance. I want people to use my life as a point of reference to go after the grandest, biggest version of themselves that awaits them, and not to accept anything less than spectacular for themselves.”

Finally, Eddie shares with us his dream of going to SPACE. [30:26]

“The dream is to push the boundaries of equality in space, by becoming the first disabled black man to be in space. It’s a symbol and a marker of possibility. And to be able to deliver and address to the United Stations from space... It’s my love letter for humanity and for people like you and me who the world didn’t bet on initially. And to say: Look what is possible when we invest in people and lift them up.” - Eddie Ndopu

Thank you so much for tuning in this week! I hope that Eddie’s powerful words inspired you to chase after possibility, and not settle for anything less than spectacular for yourself. 

Until Next Time! 

Love, Komal