[Yashaswi attended the Leading With Your Story course given to Ullens IB students in June 2018]

In June 2018, I attended a two day workshop held by Nepal Leadership Academy, which turned out to be one of the most fruitful workshops I have participated in as it taught me about leadership and its various implications in our life, especially with its main focus on storytelling and team-work skills. 

During the workshop’s first day, we worked on our storytelling skills focusing on how one’s story has to be presented in order to have the greatest impact, and on whom. Initially we discussed what leadership means and how it differs from authority, as people usually confuse the two. Then, we discussed the technical and adaptive challenges we may face when practising leadership and applied this to find solutions to challenges we have faced. Discussing such challenges and solutions helped us to better understand each other and also provided nuanced perspectives on each obstacle that came up, allowing us to reach the most efficient solution. After this productive discussion, we finally moved to exploring story building and telling. 

We learnt a method of storytelling where we divided our story into three parts: Story of Self, Story of Us, and Story of Now. The Story of Self dealt with our individual challenges, the particular choices we made, and the resulting outcomes. Similarly, Story of Us dealt with shared challenges, choices, and outcomes, where ‘shared’ implies the common challenges that the author and the audience have experienced. Finally, the Story of Now included urgency, hope, and a call to action. By breaking the original story down into these parts and later bringing them back together to form a complete and impactful narrative, it seemed as if pieces of a puzzle were reunited to form the complete picture, but with a greater potential for impact than before.

After discussing and practicing this method in detail, I understood why the technique we use to convey a story is of such great significance. It became clear that an improperly conveyed story leaves room for others to fill in the gaps and distort the original intent and that this method is a useful guide to constructing stories which better connect with the audience. This part of the workshop has also been useful to me during my college application process in terms of structuring my personal essay effectively and expressing my story in a cohesive and impactful manner. Furthermore, we presented our constructed stories of Self, Us and Now to our peers, and hence this activity also helped me work on my public speaking skills.

After a highly beneficial session on the first day of the workshop, we met the next day, with a renewed zeal to continue where we left off. On the second day we focused on building teamwork skills through activities related to planning a campaign or project effectively within a team and setting goals to achieve the desired outcome by creating a proper timeline. We learnt to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound) goals for the projects we were planning and also gained a better understanding of different aspects related to teamwork and campaigning such as shared purpose, team norms, team roles, theory of change and organising statements. This particular session has been a helpful guide to me for designing my own CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) Project in school, which is an inseparable part of the IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) curriculum. CAS is where we initiate innovative projects related to creativity, action and service, and the skills acquired from this workshop have undoubtedly been indispensable during these projects.

Overall, I have gained numerous useful skills from this workshop and it has served as an effective platform for my personal growth. By the end of the workshop, I felt a definite sense of personal growth in terms of my confidence and I felt a paradigm shift within myself about how I perceive leadership and its importance. All the team activities done during the workshop, together with the skills learnt during it, significantly boosted my team-working capabilities and sparked a growth mindset within me. In my opinion, such workshops are vital for young people today so that we can practice leadership in our ways to meet our own goals