A few weeks ago, I started a nine month Environmental Leadership Programme. It is run through a national organisation called Uprising UK, which provides programmes for young people to find the skills, networks and confidence to become leaders in social and environmental sectors.
Why did I join the programme?
First is passion. Since I can remember I have been transfixed and curious about the natural world, and how our society interacts (or disassociates) with climate, natural resources and geographies.
Second is commitment. I am someone who gets easily excited by new ideas and projects, which means I often bog myself down with too many ideals and expectations. This is not unique to me. I hear plenty of young people saying the same thing, particularly those working in creative or freelance industries.
This ‘electricity’ is great, yet, one downside is that, rather than focusing and delivering on one project, I end up spreading myself too thin, resulting in less effective and tangible outcomes. Being able to put my passion into practice, meet an incredibly diverse group of young adults, and make a nine month (then lifetime) commitment to one campaign is a Number 1 priority for me.
Third is commercialising my creativity and revaluing myself as a professional. People say that you often find what you love after experiencing what you don’t love. Without making too much of a sweeping statement, I am not someone who can sit quietly and ‘tick boxes’ in policy jobs. I have a restless and opinionated mind, I have questions and I am creative. I am also an idealist, and the double-edged sword of this character trait is that I really want that ‘perfect’ job.
What I have learned is that a perfect job does not exist. Whatever job I am in, I am still with myself, and if I am not proud of my talents and what I can give, I am at a dead end.
What I have to do is revalue myself, and really commit to commercialising my unique talents as an artist, communicator and leader. I hope to also inspire others to do the same.
Thankfully (well, disregarding the days of unemployment where I wanted to bang my head against a wall), I have had plenty of time in the past few months to build on these skill sets. It feels as though I am a child again: I am drawing and creating infographics from books and lectures, which I share via Instagram and Facebook; I worked in a garden teaching people with mental health issues how to grow food; and I am now embarking on a Programme that can help me to find the confidence to market myself as a unique change-maker.
Why should you become a unique leader too?
Breaking the mould is not easy, mind you.
As young professionals, our identity is so tied up in our qualifications or career experience (or our Microsoft software skills) that we often lose sight of what we love and what makes us shine. Being vulnerable and leading on these shining traits is tough – you may be a black sheep. It is often easier to saturate your life with societal expectations than realise that you have creative gaps elsewhere that need filling.
However, having just come back from a weekend away with 100+ Uprising Fellows, I can safely say that getting out of your comfort zone is absolutely amazing.
I was able to create informative illustrations from lectures from organisations like the National Trust, This is Ape and Feedback – a process that was enjoyable, and a product that can be used by those who could not attend the weekend. I also said ‘Yes’ to leading an informal yoga class on Sunday morning, personalising it with some ‘power poses’ and confidence-boosting affirmations that I do everyday to help realise my own potential.
They are simple acts, but they are acts of leadership. Over the next nine months, I shall write more about this Leadership journey and share my stories and team experiences. For now, I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
“Do not let your inability to do everything stop your determination to do something”
Go do something.