Leadership: My Journey (and what it has to do with hiking)
I’ve spoken a lot about (and shared many photos of) my travels to Mexico. About the experiences I had both there and in the USA, the fundraising I did to get there, and the people I met. The hiking I did, the places I visited, where I stayed, and what I ate.
One thing I haven’t spoken much about yet, was the personal development journey I went on. The leadership qualities I unearthed.
I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud when I first heard the idea that I could be a leader. Who – me?! I put a lot of this down to me not understanding what a leader really is.
A true leader is someone with a clear vision and purpose. Someone who works tirelessly to make it happen. Along the way the leader inspires and encourages others. Other people are naturally drawn to this person, and become interested in what they are saying and doing, and even may want to join in. A leader may not even be aware of the impact they are having on those around them as they are so focused on their vision. A leader moves forward without fear. Without worrying about if they are good enough, or about what to do if they fail, because if something doesn’t work, they’ll simply find another way to do it.
The hike along the Surf Coast Walk that I planned (that raised nearly $5,500!) is a great example of my blossoming leadership. At the time of the walk I was so sick with the flu (after struggling with plantar fasciitis) that I couldn’t walk with the group (I could barely stand up). I spent a lot of time agonising over the fact that I didn’t walk, and how disappointed I was that my health had got in the way. It was (rightly) pointed out to me that this walk was a true test of leadership. I had bought together a group of people (most of whom had never met each other – and some I hadn’t even met) to get up early on a Sunday morning and walk 40km in a single day. These same people had also made a massive effort within their own family/friend/networks to help me reach my fundraising target.
All of this was because of me, and my leadership skills to make my vision become a reality.
Another example was when we were in Mexico City and our group were asked who would like to speak at the Australian Embassy that afternoon. Without hesitation I raised my hand. We had just finished working on our own vision and mission, and I was ready to start right then and there. On the way to the embassy (with clammy hands and butterflies in my stomach) I wondered what I’d put myself in for. I was just about to stand in front of a group of influential (and clever!) people and speak to them. They were going to listen to me speak about my experiences in Mexico, and what I’d learnt. Holy crap. Lorena Vázquez Ordaz (Country Director, The Hunger Project Mexico) gave me some advice in the car on the way to the Embassy. She told me to ‘speak from the heart, and you’ll never go wrong”. I have also used this same advice when writing, and when speaking with other people since being back in Australia.
As I stood up at the front of the group, and looked out at the people gathered at the Embassy that day, I was so proud. These people were actually listening to what I had to say. They were taking it in and absorbing it. I had a few people afterwards tell me they couldn’t tell that I’m petrified of speaking in public, and hadn’t done any public speaking before.
I’d focussed on my vision (goals) and mission, and spoken from the heart.
Where does this lead now? Now that I’m back home with the bills to pay, the 4 year old to wrangle, and everyday life creeping in?
I’ve come back with a very clear purpose. A very clear vision and mission, and a way to do more of what I love doing, while inspiring others and encouraging them to give ‘it’ their best. Whatever ‘it’ may be for them.
I’m still in the early stages of my next step so I cant say too much just yet. But I will say that it’s never been done before, and that it ties in my love of hiking, giving back, and encouraging others perfectly.
To find out more about The Hunger Project, what they do and how they do it, go here. They also hold Vision Commitment and Action workshops across Australia if you are ready to discover what you’re capable of.