It's my birthday this weekend! So I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some memories and leadership lessons from my journey.
Leading change is more fun with friends.
As a kid, my friends and I organized several "muscular dystrophy" carnivals - my first charity events. And they were a huge success. Not because we had any particular talent – but because we were having such a good time doing it that others wanted to join us.
Use your power and privilege wisely.
When I was Student Council President in high school, I got to host a visit from Joe Clark, then Prime Minister of Canada. Which was cool. But not nearly as cool as using my position to stomp out gender discrimination and equalize funding for girls' and boys' sports. (That was as gender diverse as the conversation got in those days).
Develop a whitewater mindset.
The day I finished university, I went to work for a rafting company as a whitewater filmmaker. While learning to run some of the biggest rapids in the world, I also met incredible people who taught me lifelong skills: how to challenge myself, take calculated risks, work with the flow – not against it, know what's downstream and support each other.
Stories are the most powerful tool for change.
I worked with dozens of change leaders in my thirties who were all pursuing a good cause but couldn't get buy-in. Telling their stories through TV documentaries didn't just inspire millions to take action to support them. It also helped them clarify what they really wanted for the future and how best to get there.
When I went back to grad school, I suddenly found myself free to follow my curiosity. Which led me on an unexpected journey into the worlds of Design Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry – two innovation tools that have changed the way I work forever. The world keeps changing – we need to do the same.
Change requires trust.
I coached an incredible South Asian leader working to reduce chronic disease in her community. It took her months to develop enough trust with people just to begin a conversation about changing their diet – and she shared their language and culture! Investing time to build trust and relationships is the best thing you can do, as a leader, a coach, or a changemaker.
The best leaders help others reach their full potential.
Probably the most important lesson I've learned is that my job as a leader and now coach isn't to have all the answers. It's to help others become their best selves so that we can find solutions together. And I'm oh so grateful for the opportunity to continue that work as I start another trip around the sun!