The Interview is an exclusive part of Mindthis Sustainable Leadership Series which features cutting edge thought leadership from change makers across the world.
How do we undertake a journey to transform ourselves and others? I had an opportunity to discover the journey of Martine Buchal, a youth leader who is travelling across the world carrying a fresh perspective on Millennial’s & Leadership.
Martina, we would love to hear about your career track, and your journey as a World Merit Ambassador?
I had decided very young that I wanted to be a voice for others, I saw injustice at home and in the world around me; a hurtful imbalance of power, and wanted to do something about it. My hope was to help others in disempowering situations. So, I set out to be a human rights lawyer. I thought I had the brains and I knew I had the heart. I started small, volunteered extensively in my community, participated in mock trials, then moved away from home to Ottawa to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Law.
While I studied, I sought out challenging work opportunities that would bring me steps closer to my ultimate goal. I started working for the Embassy of the Czech Republic (I’m Czech-born), the Senate of Canada, and later I even worked in the Canadian Court system. But, having reached those relatively high-level positions I realized that something was missing. I looked around me in court and saw conflict. On parliament hill- again, conflict. And I was in the middle of it. I wasn’t solving the problem, I was..just..in it. So, with a polite turn of the heel I walked in a different direction, where I thought I could make a more positive impact, bring people together, foster collaboration and create peace where there was conflict. I found mentors, began to train as a conflict mediator…and that’s when I found World Merit.
At that time, World Merit was holding an international millennial leadership competition called Your Big Year. Over 60,000 young people competed for a chance to win a year of meaningful travel, being a voice for this amazing generation. 6 months and a lot of hard work later, I was the very fortunate winner. Now, I’m traveling the world speaking to young people making a positive impact in their communities and abroad, and helping to connect them to create vast change.
So how does it feels to be an Ambassador and what type of emerging issues are you dealing with?
It feels like a privilege, truly, and I am grateful for it daily. I don’t know of any other position that would offer this kind of satisfaction and liberty while simultaneously providing a platform for creating real-world impact through an incredible international network. It is, of course, also a responsibility to a massive community, but one which I take on gratefully and with great weight.
In terms of emerging issues, my greatest area of focus is global collaboration and empowerment. I believe that in this increasingly interconnected world, our success as humanity will depend on our ability to work well together. I hope to be part if making that happen.
Do you think we are in dire need of new leadership model? If yes then Why ?
This is a difficult question to answer as there are obviously many types of leadership models all over the world. However, leadership in the ways that I have seen it are quickly becoming irrelevant. The world is changing quickly. We are increasingly connected through technology and one thing that happens on one side of the globe can easily affect an entire country on the other side. The world is full of complex problems which are more global than ever before and they will require complex, global solutions. We need the kind of flexible, adaptable and collaborative leadership that will adapt and keep our interconnectedness in mind.
How do you perceive Sustainable Leadership as a concept theoretical or realistically applicable? What would be your definition of Sustainable Leadership?
I believe it goes beyond theory. It is not only applicable and favorable, but there are already leaders out there who are sustainable leaders. In fact, they are some of their leaders I respect most.
My definition would be an adoption of the mantra “change happens.” Leadership must be responsive and adaptable. Most of all, I believe it has to keep a common purpose in mind and achieve it through collaboration. Partisanship is so last century!
Sustainable Leadership also has an important dimension of shaping “mindset” through practice of meditation and yoga, what is your opinion about it?
I believe that all great things commence from within, and much of the harm humanity commits against others and towards our planet stems from our disconnect with ourselves, our truth, from our collective humanity. I know that for me personally practices like yoga and meditation ground me, remind me that there is a world beyond myself that I am inherently connected to. It reminds me of my responsibility to this planet, yet provides with the ease necessary to make my best contribution to it. I believe many leaders would benefit from such practices, and in fact the sustainable leaders I do know are in tune with their inner and outer worlds through such practices.
OK I know it is out of the box question, but If you were to give three suggestions to the head of states of the world for developing sustainable leadership, what it would be?
From my personal experiences, I would say the following:
- Never forget how much support went into you being precisely where you are. You have been given the great privilege and responsibility of being a voice for people, a mover for change. Much trust is put in your hands. Carry that with you in every decision you make.
- Change is life. Life is a change…and resistance is futile.
- Wherever you go, don’t forget to bring your fullest, most present self. Careful listening is a gift. Compassion takes attention and appreciation. So we must remember to bring our hearts and ears with us, whatever we do, to even the most intellectual endeavors.
Martina Buchal is the Global Ambassador for World Merit, traveling the world representing this network of millennial leaders working together to make a positive impact in their communities and abroad. An advocate for peace and conflict resolution, she’s a lover, not a fighter. Currently traveling the world, doing yoga, and probably reading a really good book. To find out more about Martina, and to follow her year-long global journey, follow her on Twitter: @MartinaBuchal, @WorldMeritHQ.
The Interview can also be accessed on Sustainable Leadership Blog. The Sustainable Leadership Initiative is global platform to showcase best practices and engage trans-sector dialogue from business, government and social sector across the world in context of sustainability and leadership. You can follow them on Twitter: @sleadersummit and make sure you like them on Facebook!