If you want to get a good look at fearlessness, go to a place where there is plenty to fear, especially for women. That’s what is so inspiring about this story about women helping young women in Zambia learn to negotiate, and in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month (March), I share this to encourage your own fearlessness.
Here’s what a fearless woman looks like: She is 15 and needs $150 for her school fees so she can finish tenth grade. That’s a lot of money in Zambia, where she lives. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and one of the most violent for women. There are a lot of no’s for a girl like Madalitso Mulando. A lot of fear built into daily life.
I love the way she solved this, and as I tell you the rest of the story, I’ll point out how she built her fearlessness.
1. She prepared well. Some women offered her a way to help. Not to pay for her fees, but to teach Madalitso a skill that she could use the rest of her life in tough situations involving money or her dreams. They taught her Harvard Business School negotiation skills, and Madalitso tapped into her fearlessness. “I learned a lot in negotiation,” she says. “If you want to ask something, you need to tell them what you want.”
2. She sought clarity. Madalitso realized that to cold-call her relatives, she’d have to be crystal clear about her intention to finish school. Because most schoolgirls in Zambia drop out, she would have to prove that she wouldn’t end up just another statistic. She had to believe she was worth investing in before she could persuade anyone else.
3. She had to risk a “no.” Men and women shy away from negotiation because it does open you up to rejection. But Madalitso still went for it. She chose not to filter the world through fear, but through opportunity and curiosity. She negotiated successfully with her relatives to help pay for her school fees, and the process boosted her confidence. Her fearlessness.
4. She established common ground. Negotiation training taught her about shared values and incentives, so instead of asking her relatives for money, she focused on expressing how much she desired to finish her education, something that her family valued, and what she needed to achieve that goal.
5. She tapped into other fearless women. Madalitso’s sister gave her $75 to stay in school, which is about half of the typical monthly income in Zambia. after she negotiated fearlessly. and her fearlessness is carrying over now the girl hopes her younger female cousin will learn how to negotiate for herself.
6. She leveraged a small moment for a big outcome. Fearlessness often starts small, and an action like Madalitso took can be huge for a country like Zambia. World Bank research shows that when girls in developing countries complete high school, they are more likely to earn more. Their kids will go further, too, because she modeled fearlessness. The choices of teenage girls everywhere can improve their families for generations. They can shake the world.
7. She continues to work her plan. School means walking an hour each way from her house in a slum, past mangy chickens and mobile phone shops on flooded, muddy roads. Her goal is medical school, and her commute builds her fearlessness. She is not letting that get in the way of her dreams.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Fearlessness is important to have in negotiation no matter who you are, and essential if you are a woman in one of the poorest countries in the world who is trying to make her life better. Who inspires you to trade fear for opportunity, to look for the small choices each day that lead up to big change?
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company offers training and coaching programs to help leaders unleash their potential, including: Game Changer Negotiation Training, which teaches business people a framework for successful negotiating; The Energized Leader training, which teaches people how to manage their energy to achieve focus and freedom; and a monthly coaching program, Game Changer Leadership Huddles, to help members recharge their purpose and mindset. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.