My leadership breakthrough - Leaving the comfort zone
My expectation when I left for South Africa in March to attend the 14th African Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP) was to learn about leadership in a formal way, thus I expected formal presentations and classroom sessions. However, I was taken by surprise with alternative methods of learning that challenged me to leave my comfort zone. These included intense team building exercises, climbing the high ropes and, working with and getting feedback from fellow participants. All of which contributed to what I believe to the 2016 ANLP as having achieved a breakthrough for my development as an African leader and nutrition champion. My biggest realization was that I have to leave my comfort zone in the quest to be the leader that I aspire to be. But leaving my comfort zone is something I struggled with. But thanks to ANLP, which made it very clear through its lessons and teaching methodologies, I have accepted that leaving my comfort zone is an essential element in self-discovery and harnessing my potential as a leader, who can and will make a difference to nutrition on the African continent.
But for many of us remaining in the comfort zone resembled the default state of a computer program which responds to certain request with only predetermined answers using a predetermined formula! Yet, the current world requires us to be proactive enough to scan and respond to the growing demands and needs around us in different context specific ways if we are to make an impact. This is where the leadership principles and values of being self-driven and leading from where we stand is critically important. Unless we take the courage to leave our comfort zone to take actions, we will not bring the desired change we are seeking. Our world needs change and aspirations more than ever, and leaving our comfort zone is the answer to bringing that change. We must stop allowing nutrition problems to affect our society, while we sit in our comfort zones and moan. Therefore, I urge us nutritionists and health professionals to challenge ourselves and move out of our comfort zones in order to conquer the cultural, social, structural and behavioral problems affecting nutrition in Africa. I am ready for it, and have already started challenging my comfort zone since leaving the ANLP. Let us lead from where we stand and together we will make a difference.
Biruk Alemu- Ethiopia ANLP 2016