For many of us, being different was the last thing we wanted growing up.
You might feel that way until you meet Heather Yelland.
Heather Yelland is the supercharged founder of SuperCamp and The Elevation Company. Her work isn’t just about creating empowering, high impact leadership programs for children and adults – it fulfils a deeply personal mission. And interestingly too, it has a lot to do with SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.
Expanding Her Influence on Inequalities
As a “simple country kid”, Heather recalls a time when the issues in the world felt too massive for her to solve: things like ensuring every child gets access to education, every woman is treated fairly, and no deaths from war. Then she realised that other challenges in our world — things like inequalities for example — may not be as evident. Some inequalities occur rather invisibly, and much closer to home too.
Heather puts it this way: “Each of us experiences levels of inequality in our life in some way, but the more we feel a sense of personal empowerment, the greater our ability to take risks. When we experience new things and step out in a way that shows the world who we are, it’s then that we discover the difference we were born to make.”
She observes that when we find that difference we were born to make, and when we make it boldly, we, the people we love, those we lead and the world, all benefit too.
Heather puts it beautifully this way: “in so many ways, world peace begins with our own inner peace”.
This shift of mindset led Heather to realise that we all have the power to contribute to the 10th Sustainable Development Goal and to make the world a better place, simply by influencing others and helping them to address their own levels of inequality, regardless of what form that inequality might take. It’s something she puts firmly in place in her personal and business life.
Seeing Possibilities in Disabilities
Heather recalls the incident that sparked her fire to challenge even the most nuanced of inequalities.
A troubled mother brought her young teen to Heather one day, deeply concerned after the school had told her that her daughter had a learning disability. She wanted to find out if there was anyone in Heather’s team who was equipped to deal with such disabilities.
Not one to bother with the labels society places on things (and against the well-intentioned though bleak advice of the young girl’s school principal), Heather persisted and worked with the 14-year old through Green SuperCamp Australia. Before long, she witnessed the milestones the teenager achieved through the course of the program once she began to experience self-belief.
Heather recalls the experience with joy and gratitude: “The 14-year old started to speak up. She led certain team activities without being prompted. She made new friends in other teams. She represented her team and spoke in front of the whole camp and best of all, she called her mother and told her she had ‘discovered who she really is’.”
“That young woman – yes, the one the school said had a learning disability — went on to be School Captain in her final year at school.”
In her business, Heather continues to strive and push the boundaries in helping every person see their fullest potential. For Heather, the cornerstone to reducing inequalities is increasing empowerment, and in so doing, unlocking new possibilities.
Heather describes her legacy this way:
“I want to do my part to ensure that every person I influence feels better about who they are and what they have to offer than they did when they first met me, even if that means believing in them initially more than they believe in themselves.”
Heather and her team at the Elevation Company apply this same thinking to their consulting work with a range of businesses and corporate organisations, which seek Heather’s support to build greater employee engagement and create stronger business culture based on values and value alignment. The business now positively impacts more than 25,000 lives through their work each year. And they’re inspired to do much more and reach many more people.
Creating Even Greater Impact Through B1G1
Heather talks frequently and passionately too about how embedding the spirit of giving in every aspect of her business has transformed the teams she works with.
In fact, Heather attributes the incredible energy that she witnesses in her team to their shared ‘why’ of being able to make a greater impact. In addition to the purposeful day-to-day work they do, Heather and her team are even more inspired through the impact they now create with their giving through B1G1.
“In an age where people want to make far more conscious choices about the goods and services they use, I feel it is essential that we can articulate our ‘why’, the greater impact we have in the world and give people the opportunity to do business with us because they share our values and are aligned with that difference in some way,” she says.
Heather joined B1G1 in 2014, and since then, she’s become an important pillar of spreading the global giving movement.
She has a great tip on embedding it effectively in too. To Heather, it’s not about quantity as much as it is about habit. “No matter how small the contribution you make or in what manner you make it, another key is to create habit into your actions,” she explains.
And she adds (particularly for those of us who might be uncertain or overwhelmed about how to start): “Momentum begets momentum, so the more you take action, the more action you feel inspired to take. Every journey begins with a single step and if we each take one step daily, we could eradicate world hunger, educate the world’s children, create world peace and use our businesses as a vehicle for creating equality.”
Heather really is a great example of becoming the difference we were born to make.