Bahamian Trailblazer Dr. Cynthia Pratt Shares How Humble Beginnings Shaped Her Servant Leadership – Forbes

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The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt, Deputy Governor-General of The Bahamas
In life and in career, women tend to wear many hats and live what some would consider to be many lives. One of those women is The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt, who in her political career became the first woman to serve as Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and elected as the Deputy Leader for The Progressive Liberal Party. Prior to entering politics, Pratt worked as a health care professional, educator, world-class athlete, and author. Along her journey she was affectionately given the name “Mother Pratt” by Bahamians who she supported in one way or another.
As a member of Parliament, and after a 17 year hiatus from politics, she was appointed Deputy Governor-General who is the representative of the Bahamian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) in October of 2021.
While some have become enamored by Pratt’s rise to power around the Caribbean, she is more focused on impact than notoriety. Having grown up in the inner city of the Bahamas, where she still resides, Pratt is a humble servant who believes in giving back. At 76 years young, Pratt is ready to share her story in her new memoir, From the Pit to the Palace. In the book, she details how she overcame extreme poverty and became a woman of caliber.
In every good story there are plot twists. Pratt’s is no different. As Pratt anticipates the launch of her second book, she wants to encourage women to build their resilience as they strive to make their mark on their communities and the world.
Lydia T. Blanco: It’s not often that leaders serve; better yet live in the very neighborhood they grew up. Why is giving back so important to you?
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt: One of the reasons I still remain in the inner city is to send a message to the masses and those who are still in [what some might consider] the gutter that there is hope.
If something is inside of you, it’s gonna come out. It’s not about the way you look, where you come from, or where you live. It’s what’s inside of you that you want to amount to something. I see myself as somebody who can sit among whomever and still believe that I’m just as good as they are.
I came from the pit to the palace. And it didn’t come without a struggle. You have to be prepared to go through the setbacks and the disappointments. You have to be prepared to overcome the things people say about you.
Lydia T. Blanco: I can imagine that having the right mindset has mattered on your journey from the pit to the palace. How have you built the mindset you have to accumulate the amount of wealth (money aside) that you have?
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt: I’ve always believed that I get stronger when people tell me I can’t do something. I always find a way to prove doubters wrong. I often tell myself, I will make it. I will overcome this. You can’t be afraid to fail. You’re going to fail sometimes. But, you have to pull up your bootstraps and get started again.
You learn from your criticism. There’s constructive and destructive criticism. Look at both and see what is in it for you to improve upon or help you decide what’s best for you.
When you’re not afraid to fail and win over that failure, people will look at you in another light.
Lydia T. Blanco: You have great posture. What are some of the things that you do to take care of yourself so that you can show up the way you do? And, how have you been able to stand tall is in the midst of everything that you’ve walked through in life?
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt: First of all, I eat well. That doesn’t mean expensive things. But I eat what is beneficial to the body. I believe in eating from the soil. I also get proper rest. You can’t be out until two, three, or four o’clock in the morning and expect to perform the next day.
It is also essential for me to look at myself and see what’s worth improving. When you take care of yourself, you live longer. You sleep well at night. I certainly go to church and put God first because He is the one that guides and keeps me on track and on the path that I want to go on.
Lydia T. Blanco: An African proverb says, “ If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” What value do you place on sisterhood and health camaraderie with other women in leadership?
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt: There will always be someone who’s been where you want to be before you. That should be inspirational. You should want to interact with her so she can give you some ideas of how she arrived at that point.
As women, we are alike in more ways than not. We all have goals. Therefore we must be supportive of one another. Yes, some of us might excel more than others. But it’s all in God’s plan. Because God would take nearly the worst apple out of the bunch and renew that apple. If that’s you, people probably wonder how you became so smart and articulate – just to find God’s blessings upon your life. I believe that I’m one of the women God has chosen for this time to stand up for women. You will have a right to try to build your country or your community wherever you are. Somebody has to do it. Why not you?
Lydia T. Blanco: You have lived and touched so many lives. Now, there’s a possibility that you might come out of political retirement after 17 years. If you are called back to serve outside of your current role, what advice would you give to yourself based on the experience you’ve already had?
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Cynthia Pratt: It would mean that I have done something right. People are always watching you. So, continue to lead by example because they want to follow you. These are the things that you must be mindful of. As well as taking your name seriously.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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