In April, I had the privilege to attend RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), which is a leadership development programme for emerging leaders. When I knew that my application was accepted, I was thrilled to live this once in a lifetime opportunity. Who am I going to meet? What am I going to learn? Those were some of the questions that came to my mind as the days went by. Nevertheless, I was also anxious about the challenges that I was about to face. Reflecting on my adventure almost three months later, there are three main learnings that I want to share with you:
Teamwork. Inspiration. Self-awareness.
To begin with: team work.
During RYLA, me and my fellow RYLArians were divided into groups. Even though I interacted with them for six days only, they taught me five valuable lessons of authentic leadership: encouragement, collaboration, knowing our strengths, giving opportunities, and looking after one another. Throughout the week, we collaborated well with each other, making sure that we listened to every opinion when brainstorming for our presentations and team activities. Likewise, we considered every member’s strengths to get the best possible outcomes. My team also gave others the opportunity to lead, for example, when I was given the chance to use my swimming skills for the Rafting challenge. Besides that, we looked after each other during the challenging situations. One of my highlights was doing things that I never thought I would be capable of doing, for instance, the high ropes challenge. I remember thinking: Jesus, I’m going to die here! However, I discovered that getting out of my comfort zone is an opportunity for growth. In addition, receiving positive encouragement from my fellow team members helped me keep my head high and surmount my fears.
In the end, I was capable, I felt empowered, and I thrived.
My second learning is inspiration.
As part of the programme, I had the chance to interview John Bullick, who is a former school principal based in Cambridge. From him, I learned that it’s important to form trusting relationships and know your people based on their learning styles or the things that motivate them. His passion for children inspired me to become a remarkable role-model for younger generations. I am not sure the kind of impact that I will make in the future, but I know that:
I will be capable, I will feel empowered, and I will thrive.
Lastly, my third learning is self-awareness.
Throughout the programme, I realised the importance of intentionally influencing my thoughts, feelings, and actions to accomplish my objectives. It is about self-regulation and rational self-talk, knowing that I am able to achieve exceptional things no matter the obstacles. Consequently, I learned that nothing I do defines my value as a human being. Even though there are times when I doubt myself, I know that I’ll have to stop listening to my negative inner voice, start shifting to a positive mindset, and continue getting out of my comfort zone to grow as an individual. Once again:
I am capable, I feel empowered, and I can thrive.
Learning more about myself nourished my soul; particularly becoming self-aware of my strengths and my worth as a person. The highlight of this journey was meeting incredible people who inspired me with their talents, stories, and passion. Before RYLA, I struggled to consider myself as an emerging leader. Today, I know that everyone can become trailblazers.
Altogether, I truly believe that we are all capable of overcoming obstacles, feeling empowered by seeking growth opportunities, and taking action, knowing that we will eventually thrive.