A force has been unleashed on Western Sydney. This force comes in the form of seventeen young people who are united by their determination to leave the world in a better place than when they entered it. What I love dearly about this group is their willingness to learn and to grow into the best versions of themselves for their community. Seventeen young people backed by the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Imagine the countless others across Western Sydney who do amazing things everyday that could benefit from an opportunity like this.
On Tuesday 28th June, I graduated from SSE’s Citi Youth Launchpad, the inaugural accelerator program for young people wanting to drive social change in Western Sydney. It was a valuable experience and the cohort (read: family) that I got to experience it with was a diverse and dynamic group. The comradery that existed from day one told me that I was (finally) in the right space – I had found my tribe. It has taken me some time to reflect on this experience. I am still not sure I have fully digested it, but the teachings reaffirmed and extended on an important childhood lesson – the journey is the destination.
Youth Launchpad was the first program I have experienced where the spiritual and intangible growth is celebrated just as much as the tangible. It is one thing to walk away with a business plan and pitching experience (amongst other things) but to walk away with an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership ethos and awareness of your own learned assumptions and strategies for team building are immeasurable outcomes that will shape our ability for long term impact and sustainability. On top of this, connecting with SSE’s Fellow Associates through eye-witness sessions was both enriching and validating. What more could I ask for?
I feel like I am leaps and bounds ahead of where my thinking was four months ago when I started the program. But, as is the nature with accelerator programs, I now need to slow back down and move at a pace my body can cope with. This social enterprise will be the biggest thing I set out to develop to date. Despite the community demand and overwhelming support from new and existing networks, it is not something I cannot rush. The journey is the destination.
The sporting mindset laid the foundations for my thinking from a young age. Many of the lessons you pick up in a sporting family translate well into life – how to think quickly on your feet; will that decision impact the next play; shake off errors so you can focus on the next play; contribute the best of your potential to the team on the day; train hard to get the mechanics right. That’s just a few of them, but you get my point.
When I hula hoop the journey is always more thrilling than the destination. Drilling new tricks, working them to transition from one to another, incorporating them with a dance routine and understanding how different muscle groups work to achieve a new movement is all so delicious to me. Mastering a new trick or nailing a routine from start to finish is the destination. In the end, you just want to learn more.
Recently my body has had enough. It was tired of the hours I was juggling and fed up with being overcommitted. I was rushing to keep up with the development of my enterprise as if I wasn’t the one setting the pace. But I am. One of the most important lessons for me these past few weeks has been to know when to slow down. The past four months were well and truly accelerated but now I need to put more pressure on the break. I need to practice being present and doing mindfulness exercises. There is so much for me to learn, including that it is ok to allow myself to indulge in me-time. It seems like a basic lesson, one I thought I had sorted, but when you expect 200% from yourself all the time, it is easy to overlook that your mind isn’t really switching off…ever.
As I embark further on this business venture I ask that you be patient with me. I am going through a period of personal growth that will positon me to be a better leader and instigator. I need to work slower to ensure when this enterprise happens, I am mentally, emotionally and physically ready for all it demands. There is a lot of work that goes into laying the foundations. For this enterprise to pop up and disappear is a disservice to you and to my investment. So more importantly I ask you to join me. Even when we think we have it off the ground, it is going to keep growing. It will be shaped and reshaped by you – our collaborators, the users of the space. Together we can experiment with our creativity. It won’t just be my space, it will be our space. For me that is success. When this venture moves beyond being my business project, to a space that the community feels reflects them, their ideas and their potential.