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Practicing Leadership is a three-week blog series featuring members of our Youth Advisory Council as well participants and mentors from the Learning to Lead™ program. The series explores how young women leaders are managing during COVID-19 as they navigate disruption in routine, maintain social connections, and put their leadership into practice at home and in their communities.

Every spring we are introduced to 100 young women from across BC through the Learning to Lead™ program. This program helps Grade 11 girls to deepen their understanding of leadership and develop their identity as a leader.

This weekend program is always a highlight for the Minerva team. We leave each session feeling inspired by these emerging leaders and their potential to change the world. During these unsettled times, we are grateful for the ongoing connection we have to many past participants which allows us to continue to learn from them.

We started by asking about how they are navigating their lives and how they are managing during COVID-19.

Their responses reveal gentle and thoughtful approaches such as letting go of the need to be perfect or productive, as well as expectations they previously held. They are also concentrating on what they need at this moment. For some this means taking on new activities; for others, it is revisiting old ones, or just slowing down overall.

Letting Go

  • One thing I’ve needed to let go of is any expectation of what will happen in the next few months. Adaptation, of both mind and body, is what I am concentrating on right now. Mandy, L2L 2017
  • One thing that I need to let go of is my ‘need’ to be productive and just take time for myself. Liv, L2L 2019
  • I need to let go of my need to be perfect. Life is better with making mistakes and learning – you can look back and laugh at your mistakes and be happy with your growth! Riya, L2L 2017
  • I tend to overthink (a lot) about my grades, work experience, family, and social life. But over the past year, I’ve realized that everything eventually falls into place. My prof once told me, “You won’t always know where you’re going but you can always know whether you’re going in the right direction.” The takeaway: so long as you know yourself and trust yourself, everything is going to be okay. Christal, L2L 2016

Focusing on Self-Care  

  • It changes from day to day, but I have been cooking, video calling with my friends, reading novels, and doing lots of indoor exercises. I think the most important thing is for people to do whatever they can to lift their spirits and stay positive! Romina, L2L 2019
  • Self-care has been easier to prioritize now that I’m staying at home, trying to stay healthy and safe. I’ve gotten into painting and baking and I’m also trying to learn a new language. Rosemary, L2L 2018
  • I have been doing lots of reading and getting creative. To help me deal with anxiety, I have been surrounding myself with things, and contacting people, that make me happy and provide me with joy. Becca, L2L 2019
  • I am taking this opportunity to slow down from the busy student life by re-reading childhood favourites and walking my dog after sunset. I think it’s also an especially important time to take care of your mind and body to strengthen that immune system, so I’ve been watching YouTube videos for workouts (Klossy) and yoga (Yoga with Adriene), as well as trying my best to avoid messing up my sleeping schedule. Mandy, L2L 2017
  • I’m running a lot on quiet routes (social distancing is important!) to stay active and get some fresh air. I’m also trying to maintain routine and spruce up my room. Both of these actions make me feel collected and make staying at home tolerable. Malika, L2L 2019
  • Learning the guitar! Over the past few months, I’ve spent so much time studying and working, but never really pursued activities for fun. I’ve always wanted to learn the guitar so that one day, I could play while sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows with my family. Now, I’ve been gifted with time to make this ‘one day’ a reality.  Christal, L2L 2016  

Letting go, and focusing on self-care, are two strategies that leaders at all levels can use during this time. How are you adjusting your expectations and plans? What are you letting go of? And, how are you taking care of yourself to ensure you can support your colleagues, your family and your community over the long-term?

Content for this blog series was collected between April 2 and April 9, 2020. Some responses were edited for clarity and brevity, but core messaging was retained.

Learning to Lead™ is an interactive leadership program for Grade 11 girls. All program costs are covered by donors and sponsors who believe in the leadership potential of youth. We are grateful for the support we have received in 2020 from Shaw, RBC, PwC, FLUOR, Cottonwood Foundation, and many individual donors. 

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