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Her Best Decade: Inspiration from Maya Umba

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Photo credit: Nikki Ormerod

Maya Umba is a young leader from Ottawa. She is a model, a singer, and an all-around great human being bringing her light to the world each day. I recently sat down with Maya to talk about the impact reading Your Best Decade had on her life. Here is what Maya had to say.

What Impact has #YourBestDecade (YBD) left on your life?

Serendipity is what I experienced when I grabbed the last copy of Your Best Decade (hereafter, YBD) off the shelf at Indigo. From that moment forward, something in me shifted for the better. When I first read YBD, I was entering a new chapter in my life. I was a recent graduate from the University of Toronto, I had just moved back to my hometown of Ottawa, and I was starting my first big girl job at a national sports organization.

All these great milestones were happening in my life, yet I didn’t take a moment to reflect on if this was what I really wanted for my life. After careful introspection, I discovered that I was merely going with the flow of the life script assigned to us all—successfully complete school, get a “good” job, then start a family. YBD, however, forced me to reflect on my true desires for my life. I got my big girl job but I still felt unfulfilled with my life so I decided to make a change.

Photo credit: Chris Nicholls

In 2021, I got scouted as a fashion model. I am so grateful for modeling as it showed me that I am a very creative person and that I enjoy being in front of the camera. Reading YBD, simply led me to dig deeper and I realized that I wanted to do more than pose in front of the camera…I wanted to sing! My childhood dream was always to be a professional singer but I let fear and doubt live in my mind. Through YBD, I allowed myself to burn the boats, quit a retail side job, and create time for building the foundational blocks of my music career (vocal coach, songwriting, writing a music business plan, etc). The impact of YBD was that final push that I needed to fearlessly pursue the realization of a childhood dream.

Which chapter most applied to you and why?

For me, I’d have to say chapter 11, The Hungriest Person In The Room, as its lessons are now with me for life. On page 149, Ryan writes, Simply put - be diligent. Be committed. Be dedicated. Learn every day. Ask the right questions and don’t take no for an answer. Be bold. Be brave.”. That really clicked for me.

For a long time, I thought that to obtain success I must have the highest IQ in the world. However, I realized that this thinking was false. Of course, it helps to be knowledgeable but, success comes to those who give 100% in all that they do—consistently. Moreover, I have to wholeheartedly believe in myself and create a thorough plan that would help me achieve all that I desire. This chapter also highlighted never giving up, no matter how difficult the journey may be; blocking out any negative (self) talk, and keeping my eyes on the prize. All in all, the message of this chapter was that hard work will always trump having the highest IQ.

Photo credit: Nikki Ormerod

What most excites you about living out YBD?

What most excites me is that I am unapologetically myself while living out YBD. For a long time, as I followed the life script, I was merely seeking external validation from my parents and teachers. I wasn’t seeking validation from myself because I was paralyzed by the fear of disappointing others’ expectations of me. Living out my best decade is me being brave to pursue what I want for my life but, also not being afraid of inevitable disagreeing by some people. I am humble enough to understand that not everyone is going to agree with all that I say or do yet, I love myself enough not to care about that.

If you could describe this book to someone in three words what would you say?

  1. Inspirational

  2. Practical

  3. Heartening

What is one major takeaway you have from the book?

Through the author’s various personal stories, quotes, and book recommendations, the greatest takeaway was to pursue the “thing” that I love to do the most. I remember I used to always roll my eyes when self-development gurus would say to first figure out your passion(s). I’d roll my eyes because I believed I could never be a professional singer. But they were all right, including Ryan in how he frames it as living out your YBD. I believe many people already know their passion(s) but they simply scoff while telling themselves, “Oh but that’s never going to happen”, just like how I once told myself. YBD is about ignoring that negative voice, believing in yourself, and pursuing that “thing” --- no matter how afraid you are.

When you envision living out YBD, what does it look like?

  • Fully Living and Embracing My Work

Waking up every day to do what I love, every second of my waking hours, would award me with purpose, happiness, and contentment. In my YBD, I don’t want work to feel like monotonous “work” that pays the bills; I want it to be the tireless pursuit of my passions. Then, in addition to this pursuance, I will be monetarily compensated for my hard work.

  • Consistent Hard Work

What’s the point of life if I am not growing? Growth, in my perspective, is simply consistent hard work. I want more than accolades and monetary gains, I want to be an efficient, kind, and well-rounded human being. I want to master myself in the Big Three aspects of my life —relationally, professionally, and personally.

  • Positive Legacy

Finally, money means nothing once you're dead. My legacy must be more than my net worth; it must be about my humility, compassion, and love. There’s enough chaos in the world, so I want to leave my bit of sunshine before my time expires. Whether it be through my art or my heart, living out my best decade is me making a positive connection with every human being that I meet.

For everyone out there who hasn't read YBD yet, what would you say to them?

This book will help you want to be brave because the author’s voice is like a kind friend who wants you to realize your maximum potential. YBD is more than a book, it’s a lifestyle. One that encourages the reader to show up as their authentic self, fearlessly pursue their passion(s), and be prepared for consistent hard work along the way.


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