April 3, 2020 | Academy of Entrepreneurs

3 empowering lessons I’ve learned from visiting the Land of Happiness

Hi! My name’s Gab and I’ve been part of the Academy of Entrepreneurs team since 2016. I am in charge of the marketing communications of AE – from digital media, to offline & online designs, to event promotions, and all the posts you see on our social media! (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter)

I am really fortunate to be part of such a kickass team. Everyone on our team from the CEO, to our Academic & Campus Managers, and even our interns – all have one goal: to make the world a better place, and we do this by accelerating social impact through entrepreneurship.

Our mission is embedded into every work that we do: every artwork, social media post, partnership, contract, meeting, classes, mentoring, and even conversations with our students. But one of the things I love most at Academy of Entrepreneurs is our #WorkHardPlayHard culture – because yes, working towards social change is fun and rewarding, but it can also be pretty challenging at times – which is why our team is encouraged to always give back to our community.

We all have one full day in a year where we can volunteer any where in the world, to have a meaningful “break,” at the same time contribute our skills and share the AE values in the communities that we choose. ✨

And on my birthday last December 2019, I used my social impact leave to visit the Land of Happiness: Bhutan.

You might be thinking, why Bhutan? Is that even a country? Where is it located? 

Believe me, earlier that year, I also didn’t know that a place like Bhutan even existed. But prior to my visit, I did some research and here are a couple of reasons why I chose Bhutan:

  • It’s called the ‘Land of Happiness’ because of its unique development philosophy. Instead of using GDP, they use GNH or the ‘Gross National Happiness,’ by looking at the happiness of their people to measure national progress. 
  • The King of Bhutan and the country’s government take a lot of care to ensure that their people lead happy, fulfilled lives, which is why their education and healthcare is free for all Bhutanese people. 
  • It’s the only carbon-negative country in the world, and by law, at least 60% of the country must remain forested for all future generations (they’re currently at 70%!)
  • They’re also leading in sustainable tourism, with the country on track to become the world’s first fully organic country by 2020.
  • It’s the last great Himalayan kingdom, but also one of the road-less-travelled. Bhutan sees fewer tourists than its hotspot neighbours like India, China and Nepal. ✈️

In fact, Bhutan was also named Lonely Planet’s best country to travel to in 2020, here’s another article in case you need more convincing.

I experienced so many incredible memories during my short 7-day trip to Bhutan, but here are some lessons I learned from my memories playing football at a Bhuddist monastery and the people that I met – that could be applicable to you as an entrepreneur

1. Anyone can be a leader. ANYONE. Yes, even you.

I was surprised BIG time when the head monk of the monastery asked me to be their English teacher for the day. I mean, I don’t have the qualifications, plus, I’ve never taught a class before! But I chucked away all self-doubt and remembered our #BossYourFuture motto, that we all have the capacity to take charge of any situation, just believe in yourself that you can do it. Close your eyes. Take a breath. Then take the leap.

2. If you an idea, any idea, GO FOR IT.

If you have an idea you think would make the world a better place – no matter how strange, silly, or crazy you think it is – by all means, go for it. After hearing the story of Lama Namgay, the principal of Phajoding Monastery, I was in awe. After the monastery had been neglected for years, he had a heart to preserve it, so he made it a personal project to increase the number of monks living there, by providing a compassionate environment that empowers impoverished kids with the support and education they need to learn practical skills. But he did this with love, hope, and lots of hugs – which made it a monastery like no other.

A lot of people laughed at him in the beginning, saying “this won’t work,” that he was “too visionary,” but this personal project of his grew into a beautiful initiative – which has now transformed the monastery into a thriving centre for learning, where orphaned kids as young as three years old and as old as twenty five years old, learn about the Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness within a supportive and compassionate environment.

I got reminded of this quote that is famously attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

3. You can use literally anything to EMPOWER others.

You might think that you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. That you’re ‘quite good’ at many things, but not ‘excellent’ at a specific skill. Guess what, you can use that one thing you’re good at, to help one person who is willing to learn it. In my case, it was English communication, arts & crafts, and the love for football. I didn’t expect that my visit would contribute in anything big, after all, I was there to celebrate my birthday and spend time with the monks. But to my surprise, the local Bhutanese media took notice of the simple “event” and was featured in the #1 & #2 Newspapers of Bhutan. These articles slowly built awareness and encouraged more and more people to help Phajoding Monastery and contribute to its cause.

So, pause and think for a moment. What are you good at?

Cooking? Try volunteering at your local soup kitchen.

Videography? Start a YouTube channel and share your stories to the world.

Basketball? Organise games-for-a-cause events in your neighbourhood.

Entrepreneurship? Mentor a small business owner who had just launched their startup.

Know your strengths, and use them purposefully.

There you go – I hope my story somehow inspired you to visit the beautiful land of Bhutan, but if you can’t travel yet (because of the covid-19 situation), don’t worry, you can still make an impact in your local community, just remember:

You are a leader who can use your ideas & strengths to make a positive difference in the world.

If you want to know more about my trip, head over to my detailed blog post or send me a hello at gab@aestudy.com, I’d be happy to tell you more about it! 🙂

If you want to join the Academy of Entrepreneurs’ team, send us an e-mail at info@aestudy.com plus a short introduction of why you want to be part of the #Unstoppables. (Yes, that’s our team name!)

Stay tuned on our next social impact visit, who knows, it might be near your area! For now, follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/academyofentrepreneurs.au/ to get latest updates on our upcoming events!


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