Photo Credit: American Express Leadership Academy Fellowship 2.0

Last month, I was nominated and thereinafter attended the American Express Leadership Academy: Fellowship for Emerging Non-profit Leaders 2.0, under the Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) program of The Aspen Institute, Colorado.

From the beautiful environment to the beautiful sessions, it was a phenomenal learning experience as well as exhilarating connecting with high impact nonprofit leaders from diverse background. It was interesting to have had a deep dive into the nature of Ethics, Human Nature, Leadership, Capitalism, Politics and Social Innovation as they play important role in determining the theory of change of nonprofit leadership and management. Feels gratifying to be part of an alumni network of over 2,500 global nonprofit leaders improving systems, organizing communities and transforming organizations for impact.

One thing was real for me during the session: the 15 leaders were people of great courage. People who’ve dedicated their lives to serve others irrespective of the cost. Read about the 2019 Fellows here. It’s amazing to see the problems these leaders are addressing in their communities.

To lead Change, We Must Be Brave!

On a daily basis, we unconsciously negotiate for a better life, better pay, better friends, a more improved standard of living for ourselves and our community- all of this through our internal conversation. And though, we have the strong desire to ‘do good’, we are often crippled by our fears. We ask ourselves if we are worthy to be changemakers; worthy of certain opportunities, certain people, certain lifestyle, and often time the answer we get on the inside is often on the negative.

Fear is Enemy. The fear of taking risks, the fear of being seen doing good; of diligence and excellence on the job, the fear of starting, the fear of the feeling of incompetence, the fear of people’s opinions… the list is endless. Dr Martin Luther King has this to say ‘Courage faces fear and thereby masters it. Cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it. Courageous men never lose the zest for living even through their life situation is zestless; cowardly men, overwhelmed by the uncertainties of life, lose the will to live. We must constantly build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear’

Fear is an ally if understood. Educate yourself and nip it on the bud once and for all. Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there. Demand to have a conversation and NEGOTIATE for the exact spec of change you really want to see in the world. Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite the obstacles. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear, and if you probably care about the lives of those you serve, you must step out and speak out. Courage is a necessity!.

Sometimes, you have to stand alone to make change. Other times, you have to mobilize. In both cases, courage is expressed. Be brave, and stand for something great. Indeed, heroism is essential if we must improve the lives and communities we serve.Understanding ourselves, and the social constructs, culture, processes, designs and policies that influence how we do our work is equally important. Development and visible change is a process, but it must be start from a decision to step out and lead. Let’s do more digging, reading, reflecting and strategizing, and launch out with audacious actions.