Purpose – A new classroom
One question I get asked all the time is, ‘what do you do on your trips to Malawi?’
‘Do you build schools or clinics… Dig wells?’
And I always answer the same way: ‘We go there to learn.’
We go to Malawi to learn from our partners The Hunger Project about their work to end world hunger through mobilising and engaging communities and governments.
We go to learn from the women and men who are building their own future brick by brick, every day. Here we learn about resilience, determination and pride.
We discover a new sense of perspective and a renewed sense of gratitude for the opportunities that we have here in Australia and brand new sense of purpose and determination that I believe you just cannot find with out a trip like this one.
It is within this perspective shift that the power of our own leadership can be found and reborn in a powerful and meaningful way.
I believe that leadership cannot be found in a title or a suit. It’s not a responsibility meant for all in the workplace. It’s a weight that we should only take on our shoulders if it is our desire to have a positive impact on those we lead.
It’s more than that. True leadership in business not only encompasses a desire to empower our employees and improve the lives our consumers but to also have a positive impact in the world.
Entrepreneurs lead. We are always leading, even when we think we are not… We are.
For me, this always reminds me to look at HOW I am leading, and who am I being when I lead. Leadership starts and ends with us and how we lead our own lives, at work, at home, within our relationships and within our communities.
Our leadership immersion trips allow us to view our own world from the outside looking in and to see more easily where we may be limiting our own potential. We learn what is possible if we step into a true leadership role professionally and personally.
We witness women and men facing obstacles in their day-to-day lives that we can scarcely imagine for our own families. We witness them achieving things that make us wonder, “Could I have done that if I was born here?” “Would I have been as resilient as them?”
We see human potential in its rawest form. And to say that it is inspiring is a huge understatement.
We see Leaders in The Hunger Project that day in day out travel hours to visit communities to talk about poverty and hunger.
Hunger Project Leaders are regularly offered roles with other for-profit organisations that witness their incredible work and these roles offer shorter hours and usually a lot more money.
So what holds to the work they do… To lead the way they do?
The answer is simple.
The purpose these amazing humans display and communicate to their communities every day would set them apart in any organisation, anywhere.
They enact a leadership style that is inclusive, purposeful and innovative.
They have the ability to overcome challenges we have never experienced in ways that maybe we would never think of.
We learn about pure courage from women and men living in rural Africa and these stories affirm the true power of our mindset when it comes to how we lead our lives.
We learn from women like Annie.
Annie had felt sick over many years but was afraid to go to a doctor. A 65-year-old Grandmother, all five of her children had died from AIDS and she was raising three grandchildren alone.
Annie joined a group in her local village where they helped talk her through her options and convinced her to be tested. Unfortunately Annie’s worst suspicions were confirmed and she had contracted HIV.
Annie’s support group helped to show her that not only was her diagnosis not the end of her life but that she could live still live life to the fullest and change the lives of others. Annie is now embracing her role as a Hunger Project Animator and supports patients through their own diagnosis. Her pride, her love and her courage remain a source of inspiration to me.
This woman was not only leading a positive life she was impacting many other lives with her determination and passion. Filled with purpose she was leading people to shift their mindset on what they could do in their life. Could we do the same? What would our perspective be if this was our reality at home in Australia?
Lessons like this are a true reminder that “how we live our life, how we experience our life is a choice.
We choose each day how we lead it.
These leadership lessons are learnt in the most impactful way possible that I know.
On the ground, in front of a mud hut with women and men that don’t speak our language but teach us all we need to know about leading a bigger life.
This classroom we go to in Africa is like no other.
In my opinion it is a classroom we should all visit on our lifetime.