Rise Up and Lead: Leadership During Times of Uncertainty

Historically sinister and desolate times have placed demands on societies, which required change. Change is the only constant in our world. The changes we have seen so far in the year 2020 have impacted, personal and professional lifestyle, private sector businesses and national economies in a profound way. Strong experiences and apt expertise seem to be irrelevant, off base and inapt to address what the world is facing.

Women have known to be able to stand up firmly and bring powerful change. They have been pioneers for racial equality; have driven the world of knowledge acquisition and its application for societal good. Women have risen up and lead in the past, because they could do it. They are gifted in fine-tuning approaches and plan what to do and how to do it.

I feel the time is calling young women leaders to Rise Up and Lead.

Rise up and Lead

A renowned fashion icon Coco Chanel was a forward thinking woman who was indifferent to the societal expectations in her times. She chose to wear trousers and changed norms for women. Her designs – now-classics – the woman’s suit, costume jewellery and the “little back dress” revolutionised women’s clothing.

Amelia Earhart refused to be boxed in her gender. She was the first female aviator and is known for her solo trans- Atlantic flight. Amelia was instrumental in establishing the Ninety-Nines an organization for female pilots.

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, got shot in her head for speaking up for girl’s education in a very conservative society. She says; “I believe we will see every girl in school in my lifetime”

Maya Angelou; was often referred to as “Dr. Angelou” despite her lack of a college education. She became a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University and earned over 50 honorary degrees. A poet, an author, a memoirist, Angelou showed to the world how love for literature and a strong character can help overcome racism and trauma.

These women are just a few of those who rose up to lead and brought undeniable change to the world. They broke rules, setup new norms and pioneered revolution. In every past decade sinister and desolate times have placed demands on women to rise up and lead, because it was they who could lead others in mending cultural ills, social wrongs and bring change.

As we are inching towards COVID-19 recovery, its time to turn your insights into action. These times are unlike any other seen in our lifetime. Strong experiences and apt expertise seem to be irrelevant, off base and inapt to address what the world is facing. I feel it is calling young women leaders to Rise Up and Lead.

To be ready to Rise Up and Lead. We need to: START- USE – DO

1) Start from where you are with who you are

You could be at any stage of life or experience, at any level of job, at any period of your lifecycle. You can Rise Up and Lead.

Start right from where you are and do it immediately.

You see our brain likes to stick to the known.

The moment we start considering change or something out of routine our brain puts us in protection mode and invokes inaction. An immediate action is key because our brain will make us avoid what our body sees as new and decides it’s uncomfortable.

Some of you may have heard Mel Robbins story.

“I struggled just to get out of bed. Every morning, the alarm clock would ring. I knew I should get up and deal but anxiety rushed in and I’d hit the snooze button instead. Here’s the thing. I wanted to change. I just couldn’t make myself do it. The smallest things felt impossible. I read books and bought journals. Nothing stuck. I prayed for motivation. It never came. There was literally always an excuse”.

One night Mel Robbins was watching TV and saw a rocket launch and that changed her life. The next morning as the alarm went off, she started counting backwards just like the rocket launch. 5-4-3-2-1.

Before she knew she had shot herself out of bed. The five seconds to count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 had changed her life. Mel calls it the 5 Second Rule, which closes the gap between thinking about something and actually doing it. The 5 Second Rule does not let your brain put you into protection mode.

So my gracious readers, learn and practice Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule, count 5-4-3-2-1. Practice the power of now, Rise Up and Lead.

Your glass walls of excuses will hold you. Glass walls like:

  • My job title is not working for me.
  • My circumstances are not perfect.
  • My reference group is very small. I don’t know many influential people.

Its time to shatter your glass walls, count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 like Mel Robbins. Rise Up and Lead.

Is leading for change meant for the chosen few who rise Up against the odds? Or, is there a different story; YOUR STORY?

Start with understanding who you are. To begin your story, pause reading this blog and make a list of:

  • The day when you almost moved a mountain
  • The instance you were strong when everything was going wrong
  • The hours when you felt utmost happiness and joy in the last 5 years
  • The moment you did not wait for help to come to you and rather took on the challenge and did it yourself.
  • The time when you stuck with your intention and broke a bad habit
  • An instance when you used your grace and poise even though it was most difficult to do so.
  • An hour when, like a tea bag, you showed your colour only when hot water was poured on you.
  • You already see your true picture now. Celebrate Who You Are and Start From Where You Are.

2) Use what you have.

Your mind, your heart, your gravitas, your charisma are the fundamental gifts you have which are available to you all the time, all year around and can be used on demand. Top up these inborn gifts with:

Your time: it is the most precious one; use it wisely and constructively. Two hours per day should always be set-aside for you with a mix and match of gardening, reading, relaxing, exercise, prayer, spa etc. Leave no room for distraction or compromise.

Your Freedom of Choice; Viktor Frankl said each individual has the freedom of choice and no one can ever take this freedom away from them. Your choices today can take you to Rise up and Lead.

Your Story: Start growing your story. Grow it like a cedar, 40-60 feet tall, wide and deep. It’s not physical height depth and weight – rather it’s your impact, your influence.

Your Vigorous hands: Use what you already have at our fingertips and increase your growth; you are your own leader.

3) Do what you can.

Be centred on your story and develop your personal mission statement. Once you have identified your mission, do what you can to achieve that very mission. Be mindful of your vigorous mind and hands, you have the power to change reality. What you do will become your personal impact. So pivot your mission.

You may have seen a tightrope walker in real time, if not, watch it on the Internet. The two poles at the ends add intrinsic balance and the handheld pole adds control for the tightrope walker. Watch and rewatch to learn from it.

To be effective at doing what you can, you will need intrinsic balance – the two poles. Find and establish what gives you intrinsic balance to bring your mission to action. You will also need control measures, which will prevent you from falling or going off track.

Create space to Do What You Can. You can only create space by stopping to do things that change the tone of your story. Particularly the ones that make it a tone or two deeper. Eliminate those and fill the space with the poles you have identified for your intrinsic balance and control.

Your story can create a boundless amount of power if you remain committed and find others to come alongside. Enough likeminded partners will help you practice your tightrope walk and add to the critical mass required to do what you can.

Add an ounce of flexibility, bend and lean-in to stay on course.

Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better do better. -Maya Angelou

Practice and practice your tightrope walk and before you know you will Rise Up and Lead.


August 31, 2020


Zari Gill