Deepa Malik: Leadership Lessons from the Paralympian

Posted on | September 29, 2016 | No Comments


With a spinal tumor 17 years ago that paralyzed her from the waist down, Deepa Malik’s passion kept her spirits high. Three surgeries on her back could not dampen her energy. Today she is a proud silver medalist, creating history to become the first Indian woman to bag a medal at the Paralympics. The media is not only talking about her achievement as a Paralympian, but also about her journey to achieve her dreams. It’s a story of living your passion beyond challenges.

Here are the three powerful lessons we can draw out from the iron woman Deepa Malik on living beyond your fears –

1. Learn to take tough calls:
cartoon-showing-dilemma-of-a-driver-in-chosing-pathDeepa Malik experienced her first paralytic shock at the age of 8 and then once again at the age of 26. The doctors diagnosed a tumor in her spinal column and she was left with limited options – either she could get the tumor removed and suffer paralysis or let the tumor grow and face certain death. She chose life over death. Leaders too will face such situations in business and life. In the book Decide and Deliver by Marcia W. Blenko, Michael C. Mankins, and Paul Rogers, the authors mention that leaders must identify critical decisions which make or break the business. This is because each critical decision affects the profitability and growth of the organization. Instead of living in ignorance, it’s time leaders face tough moments and take the right call.

2. Keep a positive attitude:
cartoon-showing-girl-having-positive-attitude-in-difficult-situationDeepa prepared for the tough times post-surgery because her lifestyle was about to change. She made changes to her home for her needs and also sought help from others to support her. These preparations provided some, if not complete, relief to her life post-surgery. She didn’t stop at that; she took up swimming after her surgery to find a way to cope with change. In business, leaders too need to plan for tough times. Nokia failed to plan for the future, and they failed miserably. During the press conference to announce Nokia’s smartphone division being acquired by Microsoft, the Nokia CEO ended his speech by saying, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.” Failing to plan is planning to fail. Be ready with your plan, but if life throws a curveball, simply learn to adapt.

3. Lead by example:
i-used-to-lead-by-example-but-it-was-too-much-workDeepa didn’t let her disability stop her from learning new things. You will be surprised to know what she did even after she suffered from spastic paraplegia (paralysis below chest level) early in her life. She has achieved success as an athlete, a businesswoman, a rally car driver, and a swimmer! She believes in spreading her message of hope all throughout the country. I am sure that after seeing or hearing her, many people will find the inspiration to do more than what they thought they could do. She reflects authenticity because she is leading by example. In business circles, leaders are called authentic when they live their message. Lip service is not enough. Leaders must not expect a development plan from the organization; they must set up their own learning agenda on living their message. Just like artists who work on their craft day in and day out, leaders must work on themselves to find their own authenticity.

There are several Deepas in the world who are just waiting for the right word to realize their potential. Let FOCUS Adventure carry the message of leadership to your team. We would love to serve you and your team and help you reach the next level in your business through our leadership offerings.

Keep reading, keep sharing!

Source: Deepa Malik: Mettle path to a silver medal

–Article by Nishit Lal, Facilitator and Author, Dance to the 7 Tunes of Success.

Originally published on Focus Adventure : Deepa Malik: Leadership Lessons from the Paralympian.


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