Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

An Inspiring Example Of The Power Of Our Words

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to host a number of talented and respected leadership and business thinkers who’ve graciously shared their insights and experiences with my readers. While I’m grateful to each and every one of them, I have to say I’m particularly excited about hosting the writings of this next guest, those of my daughter Alya.

One of the last assignments Alya had for this school year was to write a piece of “slam poetry” for her English literature class (essentially competitive performance poetry). To help prepare for her presentation, she decided to do a practice run with her mom and myself.

As I listened and watched her recital of her poem, I found myself caught up in the imagery and message found in her words. Although clearly meant to be a conversation between a mother and her daughter, I found myself noticing important parallels in the relationship between a leader and those who follow them.

Now, I’ve written recently about how the gaps in our perception can be masked by our brain’s tendency to fill them in so as to create a completed image in our mind. As I listened to my daughter’s poem, I wondered how many of us also appreciate how the words we use – the messages we impart to those we lead – can inform and shape the way they perceive themselves and the value of their contributions.

As much as it is important for us to be more attentive to hearing what those around us are telling us, it is equally important that we be attentive to the messages we send out; of how they influence and shape our employees’ understandings of what they do and the value others see both in their work and in them as individuals in our team or organization.

Time and again, studies have proven how important the act of recognition is not just to engaging our employees, but to empowering them to commit their full selves to our shared purpose.

Although my daughter is still quite young, having just entered her teenage years a few months ago, the power and emotion of her words serve as a cogent reminder for all leaders of just how important what we choose to communicate is both to building bridges of understanding and to informing others of the value and meaning they impart to those around them.

On a personal aside, yesterday I was recognized as one of “The 25 Best Leadership Bloggers“, joining the ranks of many leadership thinkers/writers whom I respect and have the good fortune to count among my friends.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this honour than presenting my own daughter’s words of inspiration and respect.

* * * * * * *

Don’t Change by Alya Naseer

Who told you?

Who told you that you have to call me mother or mom

And not mommy like you used to when you were little?

Who told you you weren’t perfect just the way you are?

Who told you that you weren’t skinny enough?

Who told you that you weren’t pretty and that you should use beauty products?

Who told you those things?!

Who told you to get rid of your favourite stuffed animals?

Who told the music you were listening to was lame?

Who told the clothes you were wearing weren’t cool?

Who told you that you have to act a certain way?

Who told you that you were a nothing?!

Who told you nobody loved you?!!!

Who told you to be someone who you are not?!

My sunshine, tell me

Please tell me who told you those nasty things

For I will take their heart and crumple it, beat it, crush it, throw it, step on it

Since that is what they did to your precious little heart

You are perfect the way you are my darling!

Don’t change!

You are my sun that gives me warmth through out the day

You are my angel for you bring kindness to this world

You are my heart for you are the one that keeps it beating

You are my kitten for you are adorable, cute and pretty, the perfect combination

You are my sugar pie for everyone loves sugar and everybody loves you

You are my bumblebee for they bring sweet honey and you are just that sweet

You are my gem, my diamond for you are precious and no one wants to lose you

You are the beautiful, green trees for you change the world

You are the air that keeps everyone alive

You are my breath for I would die without you

You are my soul for without you . . . I am nothing

You are as peaceful as a still pond in the middle of the path

You are as pretty as a rainbow in a bright blue sky

You are as delicate as a drop of water held by a single rose petal

You are as beautiful as the rays of sunlight

Passing through the holes between the leaves of a magnificent tree

You are as sweet as delicious candy you get from a candy store

You are everything a person loves

You see,

You are not what these people say!

You don’t need to listen to these horrible people!

Everyone loves it when you call me Mommy, and so do I

You are perfect just the way you are my sweet pea

You don’t have to be skinny for people to love you

You will always be pretty no matter what people say

For you are pretty on the inside and that is what counts the most

Keep those stuffed animals you love for that is who you are and people should accept that

Don’t let the other mean people around you change who you are!

Wear the clothes you want!

Listen to the music you want!

You are NOT a nothing!

Don’t believe what those cruel people say about you

For they said no one loves you yet that’s not true . . .

So if that’s not true, everything else is just to make you feel



But in reality

They are the ones who call their mothers mommy

And they are the ones who think they are not perfect

And they are also the ones who are jealous of your beauty

They keep all their stuffed animals

They are the ones who think they listen to lame music

And they think you wear the cool clothes

They think they are nothings

And they think nobody cares about them or loves them

Don’t you see now?

You are the one everybody loves

So don’t change




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  1. On June 22nd, 2012 at 5:11 PM Andrea Kates said:

    Tanveer–so inspiring. I will print a copy to keep with me for a few days…such a compelling message and so well written.

    Looks like Alya is well on her way to being one of the NEXT generation's best leadership bloggers…

    Congrats to you on both counts–the recognition and the legacy.

  2. On June 22nd, 2012 at 8:39 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thank you so much for the kind words. Alya was sporting an ear to ear grin when I showed her what you wrote and how you printed out a copy of her poem.

    My daughters never cease to amaze me and are a continual source of inspiration and wonder. I'm just grateful that thanks to Alya's poem I can share that gift with others.

    Thanks also for the congratulatory wishes for the recent recognition I received. It was certainly a pleasant surprise and I'm thrilled that I was able to share this wonderful news alongside my daughter's passionate words.

    Thank you again, Andrea, for the kind words. They mean a lot – to both my daughter and me.

  3. On June 22nd, 2012 at 10:46 PM @JesseLynStoner said:

    This is so beautiful it made me cry. Alya's truth is universal. As a parent, I wish this were a children's book, so parents would read it to their children every night. As a leader, I wish it were a leadership fable to inspire and remind leaders of their power to help people be magnificent. So many forces conspire to squash our dreams and sense of self-worth. Anyone in a power position has the potential to contribute to that force unconsciously or to consider how they can lift them up.

    Congratulations, Tanveer, on your well-deserved recognition as a top leadership blogger. Clearly Alya a real talent for writing as well. It will be interesting to see how she chooses to actualize it in the world.

    Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring post.

  4. On June 23rd, 2012 at 9:35 AM susanmazza said:

    Ditto Tanveer to all that Jesse shared. Have you considered creating a PDF or jpeg that people can download and share? (Frank Sonnenberg does this with some of his content if you want to see an example). I would love to share this with my daughter’s teachers, post it on pinterest, on my daughter’s Facebook wall, etc. My almost teen daughter loved it too!

  5. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:26 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Susan; I'm delighted to hear your daughter loved Alya's poem.

    It's funny that you ask whether I've considered creating a PDF for people to share. This morning, after showing my daughter all the emails, comments and tweets people sent after reading her poem, I told her she should publish an illustrated book of her poem, tapping into her talents as an artist. Well, didn't I just light a creative fire within her!

    She's already got a notepad where she's working out how to present her poem and what imagery to create to accompany the various verses.

    I think she might also enjoy making an image for people to share on Pinterest, Twitter and elsewhere. I'll be sure to let you know (as well as add a link here for people to download) when that's done.

    I can't begin to vocalize just how overwhelmed with gratitude I am for the wonderful words of praise everyone has shared with my daughter. It's such a gift of a life lesson for her to see how she can impact so many in a positive way with her words and passion.

  6. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:36 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Jesse,

    As I wrote in reply to Susan, I've suggested to my daughter that she consider creating a photo book of her poem, illustrated with her own artwork that reflects the message/ideas in her poem. I'm loving how she's just taken off with the idea and already conceptualizing how to present her message.

    In some ways, this is a reflection of her own words – of how what we tell others of the meaning and value they create for others can spur them on to do more; to push themselves to create and contribute to something that fuels that sense of purpose and meaning we all long for.

    Can you just imagine what we'd all be collectively capable of if that kind of message was the predominant one we hear, and not the ones we hear that hold us back and question our ability to matter.

    Thanks also for the congratulatory wishes, Jesse. I like to think that my daughter's words demonstrate why I was able to achieve such recognition, as all my daughters have pushed me to be a better person and consequently, do more to help others succeed as well.

    Thanks for the wonderful comment, Jesse. Your words mean a lot to me, my friend.

  7. On June 23rd, 2012 at 12:28 AM @annettefranz said:

    I'm with Jesse… what a great poem! I'm printing it to share with my kids. Powerful words, no doubt.

    I always enjoy your posts. Thank you for writing them!

  8. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:45 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Annette; I'm glad you enjoyed it and I can tell you my daughter is thrilled to hear so many want to print and share her words with their kids as well.

    And I'm glad to hear you enjoy my posts and I appreciate your continued support in sharing my writings in your Twitter stream. Thanks again for the kind words, Annette.

  9. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 AM Christine Jiang said:

    My heart is so touched by reading this! Love is everywhere through the poem. As a parent, a friend, a mentor and whoever the person needs to be to show 100% pure and unconditional love for the daughter, you're amazing!

  10. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:52 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Christine; I'm glad to hear how much my daughter's poem impacted you. I can tell you that each and every comment has equally impacted my daughter.

    Seeing how so many people can be as impressed and touched by her words as her parents are has shown her just how talented she is, as well as how powerful our words can be to lift those around us to be inspired, empowered and and appreciated.

    So thank you for taking the time to share how her poem made you feel. Your words have certainly left a mark on this father and his daughter.

  11. On June 23rd, 2012 at 7:52 AM Jim Matorin said:

    Good stuff! Looks like the apple did not fall far from the tree. Her poem personifies confidence. Be who you are. Love it!

  12. On June 23rd, 2012 at 1:54 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Jim; I feel such gratitude that I can use my platform to share my daughter's gift with so many, and more so for how much kindness, warmth, and appreciation she's received in return.

    Thank you, my friend.

  13. On June 23rd, 2012 at 7:33 PM Gwyn Teatro said:

    Tanveer ~ this is a powerful message and one that all young girls would benefit from reading. I rather wish I had had an Alya around when I was very young. She is a shining example of the kind of spirit, heart, compassion and empathy needed to make the world a better place. Kudos to her. And, kudos to you and your wife for providing your daughters with such important guidance and encouragement.

    I would stand in line for a copy of Alya’s book to give to my granddaughter who is, herself, a very special and thoughtful little girl.

    Thank you for this, Alya and Tanveer. It serves as a reminder to everyone that words, and how we use them, require respect and attention just like the people we share them with.

  14. On June 25th, 2012 at 2:35 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Gwyn. I have to say that when Alya starting reciting her poem to my wife and I, we were both so impressed and amazed by what our daughter had written. In some ways, it demonstrates how impactful the subtle messages we impart to others influence their understandings and viewpoints.

    And I love the fact that since encouraging my daughter to create a book based on her work, she's never once second-guessed or questioned if she could do it. The ability to believe in oneself and to channel our passions into something that creates meaning in others is something we all need more of, both children and adults.

    Thanks again for the kind words, Gwyn. It's truly been such an overwhelming experience for both of us to see how much her words have impacted and inspired so many. I can't wait to see where this talent of hers will take her.

  15. On June 23rd, 2012 at 11:41 PM @irajeevraghavan said:

    Thank you Alya and Tanveer for sharing such a beautiful poem. Indeed words do matter and how it is framed too. I have taken copies and distributed among my friends…. some really had tears in their eyes after they had gone through the poem.

    Tanveer you are blessed to have a such a beautiful daughter Alya. Looking forward for more gems from Alya.

  16. On June 25th, 2012 at 2:48 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Rajeev; I'm delighted to hear that you've shared Alya's poem with your friends. It's heartwarming to hear how moved some of them were by the words and imagery she created through her words.

    I agree with you that my wife and I are blessed to have such an amazing daughter. It's why my daughters' pictures and handiwork are so prominent on my site because they continually serve as both a source of inspiration and a drive to become a better version of myself.

    Thanks again, Rajeev, for your kind words.

  17. On June 24th, 2012 at 1:52 AM @shawmu said:

    Clearly your daughter has the gift with words – just like her dad. How special it is to see creativity and meaning pour out of your daughter's words.

    As for the parallel between leaders and followers, the message is one always important, but crucial in today's workplaces.

    Thank you for sharing Alya's poem with us.

  18. On June 25th, 2012 at 2:54 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Shawn; as soon as she read her poem to my wife and me, there was no question I had to share it with my readers. I'm delighted to see so many are as taken and touched by her words and passion as I was.

    Thanks again my friend for the kind words; appreciate it.

  19. On June 24th, 2012 at 11:38 AM Rob said:

    Congratulations on being named one of the top 25 Leadership bloggers. Great points and poem by your daughter – very touching and inspirational. Keep up the great work.

  20. On June 25th, 2012 at 2:54 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Rob for the kind words about my daughter's poem and the congratulatory wishes. Both are very much appreciated.

  21. On June 26th, 2012 at 5:46 PM Alya Naseer said:

    Thank you so much for the kind comments! It makes my heart bigger and I always have a big grin on my face after reading your kind words.

    I keep feeling more and more proud of my poem and it encourages me to keep writing just for fun! I might just end up with another great piece!

    I really like it when people actually take the time to tell me that they enjoyed reading my poem or any other work of mine.

    Thanks again! It is really appreciated!! : )

  22. On June 29th, 2012 at 4:16 AM Mike Henry Sr. said:

    Thanks for sharing Alya's poem. It's a wonderful reminder that we all have within us the power to make a difference. Mike…

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