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Never Give Up: The Woman Who Doesn’t (Ever!) Let Doubt Defeat Her

You know those movie heroines who succeed against all odds? Lina Shehadeh is one of them—except the movie is her life. From an underprivileged girl tormented by self-doubt she has become Aramex’s global CMO, and a champion triathlete.

What was your hardest moment in the Abu Dhabi triathlon?

At one point in the race, I had a very bad segment when I didn’t know if I could finish. I stood on the sideline and thought, ‘there’s no point, I’m literally dragging my leg.” But the mind is very powerful: it kept replaying images of all the tedious hours I’d put in training. So I said, “you can’t let yourself and all those hours down’, and I got up and thought, ‘I’m just going to drag myself to the finish line.

How does your athleticism impact your work performance?

I used to be very shy, and I had to negotiate my way through life to get where I am today, and the one thing that empowers me and makes me feel capable of doing whatever I set my mind on is just recalling how I endured during any difficult [athletic] performance. It’s like a tape you keep replaying whenever you need to keep strong.

Whenever I have an important meeting I schedule it for morning and go for a run beforehand so the oxygen, glucose and endorphins kick in; if I have a public speaking event, I hit the gym. I always use this strategy and it works like magic.

What’s your next challenge? 

To pass on the passion. I think passion is the underlying force of everything you do; it fuels us with motivation and it’s the reason why you wake up the morning after a failure and keep trying. Specifically, my dream is to empower girls to find their voices by arming them with skills to negotiate their way through life and write their own storylines.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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