How to Be a Heroine

Most of the time I feel like a disorganised neurotic mess rather than a bad-ass, world-changing super-heroine. But thankfully I've been around long enough to finally learn that those two things usually come in the same package.
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I don't feel much like a heroine right now. I'm sitting on the bed of my AirBnB in New York; eating take-out, drinking wine and writing this. When I should be preparing for "very important meetings" tomorrow, or doing yoga, or unpacking even.

Most of the time I feel like a disorganised neurotic mess rather than a bad-ass, world-changing super-heroine. But thankfully I've been around long enough to finally learn that those two things usually come in the same package.

Last week reminded me once again how bloody wonderful, weird and wicked world-changing women can be. I co-convened an event in London called She Is Sustainable for about 40 'early career' women in sustainability, and a few 'supposed to have learnt something by now' women like me.

It blew my mind. The honesty of the speakers about everything from career bias to baby brain. The passion, vision and humour of the young women pushing hard to make a difference in the world. Every single once dedicated to some version of the mantra "fuck you poverty, climate change, exclusion or inequality - I'm coming for you."

Across the world, women are peering up through the glass ceiling and wondering if the broken glass is worth it. All that effort just for the chance to be a fat cat corporate executive? No thanks. More and more of us are deciding that if we're going to fight for our place at the table, it needs to be for more than a paycheck or corner office. I'm not surprised that while only 3% of CEOs are female, over 30% of social enterprise founders are women. Maybe we simply can't be arsed to bust the system unless the whole damn world is going to benefit from it.

These women don't just want to change the workplace, they are going to change the world. And that's worth fighting through bias, misogyny and 'work-life seminars' for.

So here, neatly synthesised from the She Is Sustainable event, the League of Bad-Ass Women on Facebook and every late night boozy girls night I've every had with change-making goddesses - are my nine ways to be a heroine:

Stand for something

When you're focused on saving the world you won't even notice the glass ceiling on your way through. You'll never have to apologise for having an opinion if that opinion is going to make a difference in the world. This isn't about you - it's about your cause, your purpose and the future you're trying to build for all of us. Changing the world around you might just end up changing you more than you could ever expect. Now find something to fix and get stuck in.

Believe you can

Own it. Know that you are needed. When you're trying to save the world it's easier to remember that "other people's opinions of you are none of your business." Half of people probably aren't going to like you anyway, so give them a reason.

Practice practice practice.

Look people in the eye. Learn to negotiate. Remember networking is just working - you're not required to enjoy it. Join an amateur dramatics club (cheaper than a public speaking course and guaranteed to work). Offer to Chair the Board of your local school, sports club, or office party committee. Basically - get some skills. If you're going to be a leader find as many ways as possible to learn about leadership. If you're 15 or 50 start now, because the world needs leaders like you.

Kick some ass

Sometimes you're going to walk out. Call it on the problems you see around you. Remember that courage isn't about being sure of yourself, it's being terrified and conflicted and doing it anyway. To make the world a better place means saying 'no' to the things that make it worse.

Ask for help

Heroines sometimes need help. From other women, from men, from their bosses, lovers or their best friends. Don't hint, don't struggle on, don't wait to be offered. None of us can end poverty, solve climate change, fix inequality or build a better world alone. Some of us can't do the washing-up after a hard day alone. Ask.

Give help

Feeling weak, foolish or inadequate? The best medicine is to find someone to help. Offer support. Smile. Pack a truck of medicines, clothes and food and drive to a refugee camp. Your time, energy and wisdom is a gift - find someone to give it to.

Enjoy the ride

Too many of us have been trained to fear. Life is an adventure! Laugh. Imagine how you'll feel about your problems next year. Do something important and have fun doing it. Saving the world is the wildest, baddest and most wonderful adventure imaginable.

Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering -- sick or injured -- and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them. Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability.

This is Rama's vision of her future. Today she's an 11-year-old girl in a Jordanian refugee camp. I believe in her ability to make a difference and I believe in yours.

Now go save the damn planet.

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