In April 2014, I had a dream: to create a scholarship foundation to provide scholarships to bright young women from the developing to help them break the cycle of poverty and become tomorrow’s leaders. But I had no funds, students, university collaborations, on-ground partners, board or charitable status. Just a dream.
Today, we support 40 young women (including four alumni), often from areas of turmoil. Countries include Argentina (alum.); Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon (refugee camps), Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Tajikistan and Uganda. The scholars attend programs at the Bachelor, Masters’, Professional and PhD levels.
We have an experienced Board of Directors and many volunteers; we are a registered Canadian charity; we will soon also have a U.S. charitable arm; and we have raised over $3.2M in partner and donor funding.
I am also delighted that from September 2016, we have built up the capacity to develop 1,400 young women leaders over the next 10 years, thus helping these young women achieve their dreams and make a transformational impact in the world.
I have learned many lessons along the way, which I share below to help you achieve any goal you set, no matter how impossible the goal might seem at the outset.
- Dream big. Be clear about the WHY. Write it down. Share it widely.
What is your big vision? Why and how will it make an impact in the world? Is it written down or just in your head? And who have you shared it with?
- Get started. One small step a day.
Have you taken that all important first step to just get going? What can you do today? What€™s the one step you can take tomorrow? And the day after?
- Avoid perfection. Seek to be slightly better . . . each day, every week.
Do you hesitate to start something unless you can do it perfectly? Stop! Perfection is the enemy of progress. Life IS messy. Ask yourself: how can I be better each day, each week, each encounter?
- Plan carefully. But throw out your plans when they don’t serve you.
Do you have a clear vision and plan? Great! But, are you prepared to change your plans when they don’t work? Be ready to do so, for any new venture will have twists and turns that you could never have imagined.
- Enlist external support. Seek input. Show every constituency you care.
Are you prepared to reach out and ask for help? Are you open to input from others? Do you consciously take the time to show every constituency you care? Do these three things, and watch the magic unfold, as goosebump happenings occur.
- Focus on ONE niche or problem. Become the Ferrari of this niche.
What’s your niche? Better still, what’s the niche you can create and then own? And how can you can become the Ferrari of your niche?
- Be bold. Fail fast. Pick up the pieces; move on.
How can you be bolder much bolder than your original vision? Are you prepared to fail fast? How can you shift your view of failure to be one of feedback from the market?
- Start with small, rapid wins. Leverage these into bigger successes. Break every rule you can (legally).
What’s a quick win? What’s a next win? What rules do you need to break?
- Beware of self-imposed limitations. The Universe is People are generous.
In what ways are you limiting your own vision? Have you asked a friend or coach what they might see as limitations you are placing? What’s the lens with which you are viewing the world: scarcity or abundance?
- Maintain your health and balance. Have FUN on this journey. Cherish your growth!
What can you do to achieve better balance? How can you embrace the notion that unless you, as the leader are strong, you can’t serve others as well as you’d like to? What can you do to make this journey more fun?
Enjoy the journey of life every day, while trying to go beyond what you thought was your potential to make an impact. You too, can achieve any goal!
Narmin K. Ismail, Founder and CEO