This year has been one of the most stimulating, challenging and exciting years of my life. I decided to test my self-confidence by participating in the yearlong Be. Leadership programme.
When I applied around this time last year, I didn’t quite know what I was signing up for, nor did I see myself as a leader. There I was, having never had a real job, never held a leadership position, pretending to know leadership meant. All I had ever done was publish my thoughts assuming people cared what I had to say. I was surprised (and chuffed) that I even got accepted.
Now, a year on, I still don’t really know who I am and where I want to be in life. But the difference is that now I’m cool with that. I’ve gone from being a super life planner, to loving not knowing what is around the corner. I’ve started the journey of preparing my heart and soul to be able to deal with the unknown. I’m now comfortable with taking risks, taking more leaps of faiths, embracing and owning failure, and trying to better understand what we can all do to fix what has been broken for so many centuries – however small our contribution may be.
One thing I am still struggling with, though, is the obsession we have with power and holding leadership positions. Or our inability to see differences in opinion as a sign of strength. Or the beauty in collaboration. I now understand that you don’t need to be loud, assertive and hold a title in order to be a leader. We can all work together to create something beautiful, and give the world something it never had before (a notion we discussed in the programme).
All my life I have seen ‘leaders’ sit in board rooms talking about the ‘community’ without even knowing who their community is, nor do ‘their’ community know who their so-called ‘leaders’ are. I’ve seen people rally together to do good for each other and ‘leaders’ shutting it down because they’re scared of losing grip on their ‘power’, of which they actually don’t really have much.
What I have realised is that titles mean nothing. What I have realised is that leadership is the ability to connect with people, to genuinely listen, and respectfully work together. It’s about having open, honest, and difficult discussions that actually mean something, and understanding that differences in opinion is actually a good thing.
Most importantly though, I feel it is about self-reflection and knowing why you are the way that you are, why you’re in the space that you’re in, why you react to situations the way that you do, and ultimately owning that all humans are imperfect.