Howdy! My name is Kareem Elsayed and I’m so glad you’ve decided to visit Trailblazer Uprising.
So what is a Trailblazer?
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
The word Trailblazer is imbued with so much meaning. Trailblazers are seekers. They naturally find the path that others dare not tread, not out of arrogance or other ill intentions; they do so purely from congruence with their deepest values. They go where they feel they must. It’s integrity in its truest sense. And in the post-industrial world of conformity, consumerism, advertising, uniformity, and mass media, typically these paths are not taken, not that often anyway.
Nonetheless the incongruence they feel when they are not aligned with their values constantly pushes them to keep seeking. They might try to squelch that inner voice, but it’s always there. And the more it gets silenced, the louder it gets.
It’s not all pink ponies and rainbows
But Trailblazing isn’t without challenges. Trailblazing is an act of courage in spite of fear. Choosing the road not taken inherently means you will be alone. It takes tremendous internal fortitude to decide to take that path (let alone persist on it) and to begin preparing for your Trailblazer Journey (in my experience, there is a lot of re-programming that needs to be done to before success can happen).
Worse than the fear of solitude in the scary forest, there’s also the fear of social repercussions. When you decide to be authentic and congruent despite the conventional wisdom saying otherwise, the great mass of people who are following the recipe look at you as strange. Our Trailblazer then becomes the “other” and history has shown us what happens to the “other”: at best they are ostracized and at worst they are persecuted.
But there is an upside, though 🙂 Our Trailblazer, unbeknownst to her, has chopped some vines, moved some brush, and found a path that actually works. In other words, they’ve accidentally created an example that others can follow – and they do.
I guess that makes them leaders.
They are leaders in the sense that they are innovators. Their instincts call them to reject the status quo for the very reason that “it’s just the way it is”. They know there must be another, superior way and they sure do seek it out. It’s a painful process full of mini-failures: cuts, scrapes, and bruises as they clear away the brush. They take detour after detour until they find a path that works for them. But they know the ultimate failure would be to follow the flock and do as they are told.
Trailblazing is a lot deeper than simply (the highly over-used and misunderstood term) “leadership”, though. It’s not a leadership that comes from traditional position or authority. It’s a leadership that starts in the trenches. It’s organic. So much so that our Trailblazer doesn’t even see it happening. But the rest of society eventually sees it and catches on. And once the path is there, people are eager to follow. Are you on a Trailblazer Journey? Sign up below for tips, inspiration, and free updates:
As I mentioned above, the path of the Trailblazer is inherently lonely: going into uncharted territory and getting ostracized by peers and society. I know this first hand, because I’ve been on my Trailblazer Journey for years.
But throughout my journey I came across others who were having similar struggles on similar paths. We met and exchanged a moment of connection and we (sadly) continued on our paths without really supporting or encouraging each other. Each went back to their own struggle, to face their own Goliaths all by their lonesome.
That got me thinking… how many Trailblazers are truly alone on their Journey? What if they could find others who were like-minded and willing to hold the lantern while they cleared the brush? There would be a lot less injuries that way 🙂
Add to that, not too long ago I came to the conclusion that making a meaningful difference on a large scale by myself (i.e. being a “one man show”) is unnecessarily difficult. Especially for the kind of difference I want to make – I would say it’s impossible. That’s not a cop out. But no one person has ever made a monumental impact alone. Jesus [alayhis] had the disciples. Muhammad [alayhis] had the companions. Batman had Robin. Professor X had the X-Men. Notice the pattern? 🙂
That’s when the idea of the Uprising was born: let’s bring all the Trailblazers together and have them help and support one another. They could share resources, best practices, tips/tricks, and most importantly motivation and encouragement.
I guess it’s a little ironic – a community of Trailblazers. But as I’m sure you know, it can get really lonely and difficult out there. If this sounds appealing to you, sign up below to join the Uprising.
One last note on the Uprising: In my experience coaching numerous Trailblazers from my generation, I’ve picked up on some very distinct patterns. We have a shared experience and similar upbringings. All these factors come together to produce a reason for our current conditions and a predictable formula to get us where we want to be.
But the sad part is I haven’t really found anyone speaking about issues specific to people like us: the ones who care deeply about the world and are striving to their utmost to make a difference. So I did what any self-proclaimed Trailblazer would do: I created it! 🙂
Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mohandas Ghandi
Well hello there. I’m Kareem Elsayed, chief insurgent (read:blogger) here, at Trailblazer Uprising.
You might be wondering who is behind all this, so here’s some dirt on me: my life has been the sum of my environment, relationships, and pretty much everyone’s expectations for me up until a few years ago. Then I made a decision to take control and live life on my terms and I couldn’t be happier.
But I’m nothing “special” – I’m just a normal guy. I was born and raised in southern California. I grew up going to (and hating) private school. I did skip 5th and 6th grades (which makes for a great story by the way) but that’s the most interesting thing that happened to me. I loved comic books, video games, Legos, and yes, even professional wrestling.
After finishing high school, I was disappointed to learn that all of my top university choices rejected me, so I was stuck going to my “back up” school, the University of California at Irvine. I was also disappointed to learn that I would be stuck living in an apartment with a bunch of older Muslims. There went my exciting plans to thoroughly enjoy the college experience…
Ironically though, I did thoroughly enjoy college, but in a very different way. It was then that I really discovered the beauty of my faith of Islam. My whole life transformed to conform to my new-found faith and values, but it wasn’t a panacea. This onion had many more layers to peel away.
I graduated from UCI in 2006 with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and worked for a medical device manufacturer designing and developing devices used in minimally invasive surgery. I got into management, and although that was a blast and we had a great run, it got old. It was around that time I got married to the woman of my dreams and checked off a bunch of other goals. That left me wondering “what’s next?” It was that question that has led me on a quest that leaves me typing this right now!
I dabbled in a bunch of different things, finally settling on adult learning, education and training. I am also a life coach (one of the most fulfilling things!) helping people achieve their ambitions. I also do public speaking, mostly of a motivational nature. Finally, there is this lovely blog. You’ll notice that I’ll take any opportunity to share some of the amazing things I’ve learned on my Journey. I absolutely love sharing my message of hope and possibility – that life doesn’t have to be the way they told you. I would be humbled if you would join our little Uprising so you can share your Journey with the rest of us.
Formal Bio: Kareem Elsayed
Someone somewhere sometime might want a more concise bio… so here it is:
Kareem Elsayed is a consultant, life coach, corporate trainer, public speaker, blogger, and former engineer. After a successful career designing innovative medical devices and seeking deeper meaning and fulfillment in life, Kareem shifted careers in 2012 to establish his company’s corporate university, where he served as the Director of Global Education. He is now an Instructional Designer at Google.
He is the founder of TrailblazerUprising.com, where he teaches young people to break away from society’s expectations and blaze their own trails. He finds deep fulfillment in helping people achieve their ambitions by sharing his message of hope and possibility – that life doesn’t have to be the way “they” say.