Change is the fuel of progress and while progress seems to be the common goal for all of us, not everyone wants to accept change. We tend to resist it, challenge it, even rebel against it while clinging to what we know. What does that mean, though? How can we find comfort in uncertainty?
I was raised by who I consider to be the strongest woman I know and even if she tried her best, at times it was challenging for her to equally provide while raising 4 children on her own. I was raised to be ambitious, relentless and that I was raised to be ambitious and that there’s no such thing as “ I can’t”, but only “I don’t want it bad enough”. This is how I pushed myself to be an A student or go live in the US by myself before I was 20. But it wasn’t until I started my AIESEC journey that I made most use of this mindset. There was a pool of opportunities up to be to grab and that’s how my leadership started. Fast forward 3 years later – after several challenges and leadership experiences in my home country and abroad, I found myself in Poland during my professional internship being offered to start and run the company’s new office in Romania.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!’ Richard Branson
Becoming an entrepreneur, recruiting my own team and building my own strategy to achieve the company’s goals seemed like the perfect ending to a leadership development journey started in AIESEC. But I was still lacking something important – a sense of direction and even if it didn’t make sense to me I came to the realization that everything I have learned before wasn’t going to be of use until I unlearn lessons valuable only to the previous stage in my life. I was raised to be a survivor, but financial and professional stability wasn’t enough for me to feel fulfilled. My ambition had to be replaced with motivation to strive for excellence, my competitive spirit with a collaborative mindset, but above it all, I had to learn how to invest in myself in order to have more to give to the world. This is what my leadership experience in AIESEC in Thailand gave me and what I want to pass on to you.
I chose to come to Thailand as an act of service but little did I know at the time how much more it would give to me. I wanted to invest in education to bring a sustainable change, a change that lasts and I wanted to be remembered for that. But months into my term the military managed to overthrow the government and my projects became almost impossible to be completed. Why? Besides the panic that this action brought to the citizens and the expat community, the military also set up curfews and strict rules making it impossible to deliver an educational project. It was a tough choice but not giving up when everyone not only would’ve understood but even encouraged me to do so, was exactly what built me into the person I am today.
We reached over 70 schools in 6 different regions and with this over 130% program grow, we reached out to over 5000 children in remote areas of Thailand and since then the project has grown exponentially every year. From that moment on I realized that there is power in my voice, that the best stories come when you are not giving up. I had to be a different leader in Thailand, a fearless leader willing to take risks I never had to take before. I had to become a humble leader while in AIESEC International. And above all, I had to learn to change. I learned that you the only thing you should fear is the fear to change. And this lesson has been the most consistent one, repeating itself while I was starting over and over again 6 times in 6 different countries.
So here I am, 30+ countries and 9 years later, writing this for you to read and my wish for you is to find the courage to say “yes” more often because at the end of the day to get something you never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.
There is no place for fear or doubt, you just need the conviction and courage to unlearn what’s blocking you from evolving into your most authentic self. There is no more need for validation or approval. Find comfort in uncertainty. Find drive and energy in not being defined and use this freedom to surrender and become everything you believe you can be. Playing small doesn’t serve anyone.7