Leadership from the ground up

Hayley Carr - Leadership coach riding a vespa

We were woken up at 4am. Marched down to a smelly hall where sixty-odd chairs were waiting for our butts to warm them before the sun came up.

There was me at seventeen, I knew only three others, they were from my school, I was the vice-captain (... aka the people's vote. ha! ) alongside a guy called Tom. The way I saw it, as elected leaders, we got to hang out and get all the benefits with none of the responsibility.

Anyway, leadership camp.

Sixty kids from Marist Brothers schools all over Australia. Before I begin, let me give you some perspective on this camp. For the first activity on the first evening, we had to sing a song in front of the entire room on our own. I near soiled myself. At the end of the week, we stood in front of everyone, while they hurled at you, their (very) honest reflections of who they thought you showed up as, while we had to stand there in all our teenage gangly (in my case toothy) glory and take it. It was a challenging week!

So, needless to say, we're all like. "Man, what's next."

It was about the third day, we sit, he comes in. The leader. 

He stares at everyone for a solid few minutes and then says,


We all stand. 


We all sit. (Maybe we didn't "stand" good enough? ***idunno***)


... on it goes.

I'm not kidding. This went on for over an hour. All of us, actually sweating and panting, kids little legs shaking from the number of SQUATS going on in that smelly hall. 

Kids start yelling out, "what do you want me to do!" in rage, and "Why!"

Some kids just stop standing up and sitting down. Completely F.U to the man. 

Then he says, "If you don't obey me, you will never be allowed out for breakfast."

OK so now he's said breakfast, and I'm hangry.

We all wanna participate and get whatever lesson is buried deep underneath this very simple exercise laced with metaphoric irony but the suns coming up, we're hungry, we don't know what's going on, we're dizzy, he keeps saying those... damn... words...

Little alliances start forming. People are side-whispering to each other, their little plans to make an escape. 

He shuts the door. 

OK, that wasn't one of his "allowed" ways to get out of this. 

This guy is getting a real snark on his face now. I think he enjoys it. 

We try coaxing him. 

Asking him.

Asking him six times.

Begging him. 

Bribing him. 


Viva la Revolution. 

One genius kid decides to do what felt ridiculously scary and out of bounds for a teenager at a leadership camp, and walks up on to the stage.

He says... "Everybody listen to me. Sit down."

I legit have tears welling up in my eyes as I write this. I'm such a dork, but it was truly a great moment.

Some people don't listen. They're scared not to listen. They can't handle this punishment but they're afraid to not listen because they just want breakfast. 

(sound like anything you know?)

He calmly repeats himself... 

"Sit down. Take a deep breath."

Meanwhile, Mr snarky-leader man is yelling louder and louder. He's getting threatening. "IF YOU DON'T LISTEN..."

Genius kid just says, "take a deep breath. Sit down. Listen to the sound of my voice."

The room gets quiet, snarky man stops. Everyone sits. 

Genius kid says, "Everybody stand up quietly and go out that door over there. It's breakfast time"

60 sweaty, stanky kids, some with tears welling up, some more than hangry, exhaustedly stand up and walk out that door.

Not another word was said about it.

Leadership - from the ground up.

I never forgot that moment in that smelly little microcosm of society.

It represented where freedom will come.

Not from the top down.

From the bottom up. 

And the only part you need to play is being all of who you are. You don't need to be more like another leader, or anyone else - to believe that, is to buy into the top-down paradigm. 

We liberate ourselves on a macro scale by liberating ourselves first on a micro-scale.

One tiny little new choice at a time.

One moment staring fear in the face and giving it the finger at a time.

One turn towards joy and expansion and "yes energy" at a time.

One vulnerable conversation at a time.

Your part matters. Thank you for playing it. We are making a difference merely by having these conversations. I believe we will get there, and we are getting there.

If you don't like the way the world is being led, begin by leading yourself in the micro. In your day to day. Give yourself permission to want what you want, and to do the things you want to do, to say what needs to be said, and to take care of yourself how you need to be taken care of.

From there, you'll know what to do next. 

You do have the power. 

Stay Curious, Stay open. The life you crave is so much closer than you think.


Hayley xx

P.S. If you want to hear from me each week