I am heading down to Queenstown on Wednesday to catch up with two of the many Goddesses I have been lucky to meet since starting the ChargeNet journey toward energy independence for New Zealand. It hasn’t been a cake walk. Hours are long, stress can run pretty high, and the high stakes and tight deadlines have taken a toll on my family and my marriage. I even rage-quit for a couple of days last week. I’m prone to outbursts and have been known to do and say rather painful things on occasion. I own it when I do, and I try to learn (although I don’t always successfully apply this learning). Despite the heavy sacrifices, I wouldn’t change a thing if I had it all to do over again. One of the highest compliments I have ever received was being called a warrior by my big, cuddly, brilliant bear of a friend: Warrior I can accept, leader, I am still coming to terms with.
The truth is, awards, accolades, and a fair raft of fan mail have only served to make me feel more grateful to the people who I think are ACTUALLY doing the work to make the electric revolution speed forth at a gobsmacking rate. There are literally hundreds of people across New Zealand and the planet making serious changes and putting their money, time, energy and talent toward divestment from carbon. These same people are instigating and encouraging countless other sustainable enterprises and efforts. THESE people are the leaders. These people are my heroes. These people are my friends.
Over the past three years I have traveled practically every drivable inch of Aotearoa, as well as all over the globe, meeting some of the quirkiest, cleverest, kindest cats on earth. We’re a small part of one the biggest revolutions in the history of humanity. The move from carbon and fossil fuels to green technology and sustainable solutions is imminent. As is the case with any major change, there are detractors and doubters making the road less than smooth for us. When we started, we actually had people laugh in our faces, as the goal was so audacious, and the support and interest were negligible. We fight misinformation and fake news every day as we try to teach people to think about how they view transport, energy, waste and consumption. Despite the pitfalls and barriers, I can honestly say, with nearly 10,000 electric cars, cleanly driving on New Zealand roads, we are making huge strides toward a cleaner, kinder future.
This isn’t a humble brag, but I can honestly say, as I do not view myself as a leader, will whole-heartedly admit being passionate, enthusiastic, and fearless in my pursuit to see total carbon divestment and energy independence for the island nation I have chosen as my home. Blessed as I am to travel the globe, I have no doubt that this is the most beautiful place on earth, and I am willing to put my family’s resources, and all my heart into bringing better ways of traveling and living to the forefront of the green revolution.
Steve and I both battle with self doubt and imposter’s syndrome. I don’t see this as a bad thing, rather it seems to give us strength and grace to question ourselves and strive even when nerves get frayed and tensions run high. We don’t have anything to prove to anyone, we do have an almost unlimited supply of “why the hell not!” attitude because we have experienced risk leading to reward enough times to want to venture into disruptive and innovative pursuits.
If I lead, it is merely by sharing our incredibly engaging and ridiculous story. No-one thought we would be where we are three years down the track, maybe not even us! Being absolutely passionate about the benefits of carbon divestment here in New Zealand and across the globe has helped me find some of the most inspiring, intelligent, and instrumental change makers on this planet. These people are everywhere, and they are the leaders and the inspiration when I lose sight or run out of spark to keep going.
I’d also like to quickly mention that I have embraced the fact that failure is absolutely an option, if not a necessity, where great risks and audacious goals are concerned. We learn more from our mistakes than we ever do from our successes. Fail fast and learn well. When things go wrong, it is okay to own them, and the resilience and strength to get up after being knocked down is a huge part of any entrepreneurial journey.
In true Dee fashion, I reached out to some of our team to write something about if/why they actually saw me as a leader. The responses brought me to tears, and it feels a lot more valuable to share other peoples thoughts than to continue to bleat on about my own concepts of leadership.
Here’s some of the insights from the team:
From Shawn: WHY DIANNA WEST IS A GOOD LEADER Dianna (Dee) West is a good leader for a number of reasons, but first and foremost it’s because she’s driven by her principles and has unwavering faith in her beliefs. You can’t expect others to consider you a leader unless you have solid faith in your ideas. She builds on this by being an excellent communicator, listening to others, setting examples and by putting her best foot forward and not giving up. She has the ability make the hard choices, and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around her. Lastly, Dianna’s leadership style is all about being passionate about what she does, and having confidence in herself and the people who she is charged with motivating and inspiring.
From Louise: 1. Empathy – you have no judgement of people and their circumstances only a willingness to understand why they are the way they are and an acceptance of them as they are.
2. You don’t let a bully get away with it – you fight for your team and the underdog to ensure everyone gets an even playing field.
3. Your passionate about your passion and people finding their passion – you make me want to find my passion, and not only are you passionate about your passion, your passionate about people finding their passion – a true cheerleader. (so much PASSION!)
From my daughter Stephanie:
From my long-suffering Phteven:
There are many words I could use to describe Dee: kind, generous, honest, inimitable, a humble superstar. But what makes her a leader is an incredible talent: that within 5 minutes of meeting a complete stranger, she will know their soul, have dragged them out of their comfort zone, and inspired them to greatness. I have never met, before or since, someone capable of such intimate connectedness and life changing catharsis.
And from my son Daniel:
There’s quite a few more kind (and maybe not-so-kind) words from people about my leadership methods and abilities, but I will leave that there for now and if you’d like to read more I can do a part two blog another day.
I’ll finish by saying, once again, that I do not see myself as a leader. I have so many character flaws and personal foibles, it is difficult for me to acknowledge that anyone would take the hot mess that is me as inspirational. I kind of view myself as playing the role in this life as being “that” friend who is always louder, crasser, crazier and far more demonstrative than anyone else. If I do lead, it is with Love and an earnest belief in people as individual forces of greatness, resilience, kindness and strength. We’ve all got magic in us. And one of the most powerful things in the world is to have someone believe in, and speak to that magic. I’ll rarely pass up a chance to tell a friend, or even a stranger how fantastic I think something about them is.
So. As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for believing in me, my passion for positive change and my obviously unorthodox methods and moments of madness.