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27 Jul

3 Leadership Lessons From Antarctica

On 21 June, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Dr Sarah Hanieh (research fellow) at the Doherty Institute, and recipient of a PhD in Medicine from The University of Melbourne).

She titled her speech “Breaking Through The Ice”.

The insights in her presentation were based on her adventures during a trip to Antarctica through the Homeward Bound Project (a ground-breaking leadership initiative for women in science, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet.)

There were three leadership lessons that Dr Hanieh shared with the audience.

She has kindly granted permission to share these lessons with you.

Now, you may be thinking “Do these lessons really apply to me? I am not in Antarctica. I am not a woman. I am not in a leadership position”. Rest assured, these three leadership lessons are universal, and can be applied by anyone, in any area of life. I have certainly started applying these lessons in my professional, academic, and personal lives.

Here are the three lessons:

  1. Follow the right leader – Dr Hanieh used a video of a waddle of penguins who are jumping off blocks of ice, to get to dry land. One penguin chooses the path, and the others follow, in order to make it to dry land safely. Her message was simple, yet emphatic. From a subordinate’s point of view, following the right leader will take you to where you ought (not necessarily want) to go. From a leader’s point of view, if you are not heading in the right direction, how will you lead your subordinates there? This reminded me of an audio program that I once invested in, where the legendary Bob Proctor boldly stated “There is a difference between leaders and bosses”. In my professional life, there has been no shortage of bosses. There have been very few true leaders. If you are a leader (in any capacity – captain of a sports team or a manager in the workplace), please ask yourself this question – “Am I heading in the direction where my team needs to go?”  If you are a subordinate, please ask yourself this question – “Is my leader heading in the direction where I need to go? If not, what feedback can I provide to my leader?”
  2. Embrace the unknown – the unknown can instil fear in you. Dr Hanieh shared the story of what happened moments before all the women in the leadership expedition boarded the ship (bound for Antarctica) in Ushuaia (in the south of Argentina). Some of the women were very nervous. It was the fear of the unknown. Questions such as “What lies out there?” were at the forefront of the minds of many of her travelling companions. Embracing the unknown does not mean foolishly making bold decisions. It means being open to possibilities. In the 1990’s, there was a television commercial to advertise tourism for a part of Australia, called the Northern Territory. The slogan for that commercial was “You will never, never know if you never, never go”. Dr Hanieh’s message for leaders was simple – do not be afraid of the unknown, embrace the opportunities that the unknown may present. Another emphatic point she made was this – when you are faced with the unknown, celebrate the fact that you have the freedom to make a choice. Choices means liberty to decide. Not everyone in every circumstance has that option. She shared the story of when the ship was bound for a British scientific research station called Rothera. It was a place far down south in Antarctica that very few people get to visit. They only accept two visiting ships per year, and her ship was one of the two. However unexpectedly, their planned path was completely frozen over. They were faced with two remaining choices – 1) To turn around and return. 2) To take a longer route, which would mean going out into open seas and facing extremely rough water. This meant facing the unknown.
  3. Excel in empathy – following on from point 2, the expedition leader and ship’s captain called a meeting with all of the women expeditioners. He presented the 2 options to them, and asked for a vote. Nearly all of the women voted to go into open water via the longer route, face the unknown, to reach Rothera. However a minority of women voted against that idea. They were concerned about sea sickness in open water. The groups leaders displayed exceptional empathy, and took into account the sea sickness concerns of these women. The decision was not to go into open water. This is an empathic lesson in leadership. Although, according to democratic rules, the leaders should have listened to the majority, they had empathy for the minority. As the old adage goes, “Sometimes you have to let your heart, not your intellect lead the way”. By the way, the weather cleared, and they were able to reach Rothera!

So, there you have it, 3 leadership lessons from the bottom of the world. I sincerely hope that you can apply all/some of these in your daily life.

Quote: “The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow.” John Maxwell.

Let’s send our utmost gratitude to Dr Hanieh for sharing her insights with us.

Influencing you to your excellence,

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “One Tip For Kids Who Change Schools” –

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03 Jan

Quick Nut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter or cashew butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Mix all three ingredients together.  Scoop into Tablespoon, then roll the batter into balls with your hands.
-Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake 10 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.

For variety, try mixing in chocolate chips or chopped nuts to the batter.  You might also dip the baked cookies in melted chocolate before serving!

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03 Jan


PEANUT CANDY Our two sons are in their 30s now. They were raised as vegetarians and one of their favorite dishes when they were in their pre-school days was a mixture of peanut butter, honey and dry milk. It was easy to make, didn�t require any cooking, they liked it because it tasted sweet and we thought it gave them protein, calcium, etc. Combine peanut butter and honey, about equal amounts, till it is semisolid (just experiment till you get it right). Then mix in dry powdered milk to get the right end consistency. Some cheap brands just clump up. The brand we found that worked best was Sanalac. Then knead by hand at the end and form into long cords and cut into appropriate size pieces. Dump in a bowl & serve. You can adjust the consistency by increasing or decreasing the amount of each ingredient.
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03 Jan

Christmas Punch

50ml brandy
50ml champagne
75ml passion fruit juice
juice of 1 lime
mix it all together
Serve in a long glass

Be careful – it is delicious but carries a “punch”

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03 Jan

Candied Nuts

1 1/2 cups blanched whole nuts
1/2 cup  sugar
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
In a heavy skillet, mix the nuts, sugar and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 6-8 minutes or until the sugar is melted and the nuts are toasted.  Spread the nuts onto a buttered baking sheet or a piece of aluminum foil.  Separate into bite-sized clusters.  Cool.
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03 Jan

Artichoke Orzo

1 cup orzo (cooked according to package directions)
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1 small jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped black olives
3 green onions, sliced
-Mix all of the ingredients, including the artichoke marinade.
-Refrigerate until ready to serve, or pack in a plastic container for your picnic!
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03 Jan

Tuna Nicoise Salad

2 heads Boston lettuce, cleaned
1 large can (12 oz) tuna fish
2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
2 cups steamed green beans
2 cups cubed cooked new potatoes
2 cups tomato wedges
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing (or red wine vinegar and olive oil)
-Arrange a bed of Boston lettuce in each plate.
-Top decoratively with tuna, eggs, green beans, potatoes and tomatoes.
-Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
-Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
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03 Jan

Slow Cooker Lunch

  • 1/2 cup mung beans or lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa or basmati rice
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons churna for your dosha
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ginger and/or garlic to taste
Place all of the contents in a slow cooker.  Cook on “high” for 2 hours or “low” for 4 hours.

As an option, you can cut the recipe in half, saute the spices and vegetables up with the rice and beans for a few minutes, and then put the mixture in a thermos with 2 cups of boiling water.  You can take the thermos to work with you and lunch will be done in about 4 hours!

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03 Jan

Macaroni and Cheese

* 6 tablespoons butter, divided
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
* 3 cups milk
* 1 small onion, grated
* 3/4 pound shredded cheddar cheese (3 cups)
* 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
* 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
In saucepan over medium low heat melt 4 tablespoons butter; blend in flour and seasonings, stirring until smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk; cook and stir until thick and smooth. Stir in grated onion and cheese.
Place cooked drained macaroni in a buttered 3-quart casserole. Pour sauce over macaroni and gently mix to blend. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the macaroni. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Macaroni and cheese recipe serves 4 to 6.
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03 Jan

Lunch Melange

1 package steamed ramen noodles or packaged thin noodle dinner

2 cups vegetables (one or a mix, fresh, frozen or leftover)

1-6 eggs (depending on servings desired.)or an egg substitute like Tofu Scrambler or pourable egg substitute.

1/4 cup mayonnaise, eggless mayonnaise, fat free mayonnaise, half-and-half or (unflavored) soy half-and-half.

1/2-2 tsp seasonings (we like curry powder or green chili powder and sea salt), or to taste.

Whole grain toast or split pitas

Leaf lettuce

Sliced tomato

Break and cook noodles according to package directions, including any seasonings. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, saute vegetables if they’re not already cooked or heat through if they are leftovers. In a separate bowl, combine eggs or tofu scrambler with mayonnaise, cream or soy creamer (unflavored) and seasonings compatible with the vegetables and noodles. Toss noodles with vegetables in skillet until well blended, then pour the egg/tofu scrambler mixture over all. Allow to set, stirring to combine thoroughly.

Serve hot over toasted whole grain bread slices topped with lettuce and tomato or as a pita sandwich filling.

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