A few years ago I got to spend time with a woman who will forever influence the way I live my life. She was the most incredible leader I’d ever met. She knew what it took to rally people, to take risks, to influence, to get back up after you’re knocked down, and to succeed when people say you can’t. She had a crystal clear vision for what she wanted to achieve and impacted the lives of everyone around her.
I would challenge you to name a better leader than her. But the thing about this woman? She doesn’t have a TED Talk, a book, or a speaking tour … you wouldn’t even recognise her name.
Her name was Sushila and I got to sit with her in the dirt in the tiny rural village in India where she lived. Sushila was illiterate. She was from a low caste. And yet none of those factors had stopped her fighting for three years to have toilets installed in every household of her village – she had literally changed people’s lives. Talking to Sushila made me think about my own life and how often I let all the reasons why, ‘I can’t’, get in the way of something I want to do. When really, what barriers do I actually have?
Mark Zuckerberg said, “We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not,” and I don’t know if there are any truer words.
It’s certainly true for Sushila whose incredible leadership was unlocked because of the work of a not-for-profit called The Hunger Project (THP). Every year we give Premium members the opportunity to witness their work in some of the most remote villages in the world – and to, most importantly, meet and learn from people like Sushila. This trip is one of the most important things we do at Business Chicks.
I’m not being dramatic when I say it’s an experience that has changed people’s lives. People have come back from these trips to quit their jobs, leave relationships, start businesses, go back to uni and to do things (professionally and personally) that they’d been terrified of for years.
The thing about leadership is that is doesn’t always look like a TED talk or a best-selling book. Instead the most authentic leadership is the woman determined to leave a legacy so her daughter will get the opportunities she didn’t. It’s the woman whose mindset of limitation is changed to one of abundance … and that woman could be you.