Vicky Colbert is the Founder and Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva, and co-creator of the Escuela Nueva pedagogical model, known for its effectiveness in improving the quality and relevance of basic education in underprivileged schools across Colombia and beyond. She is the 2013 WISE Prize for Education Laureate.
My Definition of Success | For me success means empowering others. And empowering others means empowering not only students, but adults and communities through education, in order to unfold the best of their talents. Furthermore, success means creating those tools so others can take advantage of them and empower themselves, and in hopes to promote important leaders in society. As more and more people are empowered, both through the education system and through personal relationships, that for me is the greatest definition of success. This meaning to have the greatest satisfaction of unleashing the talents of each individual, their human development.
My Highlights | I have received a lot of pride when I have witnessed results, in empirical dimensions and in qualitative relationships; by this I mean having the opportunity to see people grow in their human development. Also, another highlight is seeing the big impact that we have had over millions of children, adults and communities in the world. To have this evidence and to see these proven results I think is one of the most important aspects of my career and life. In addition of having big impact, is seeing that we have promoted individuals’ personal talents, and I think this is the most important part of life; through the right type of education, an education that is transformative and that really promotes human beings.
A Key Talent | It hasn’t been so much of a talent, as it has been of a strength, which is persistence. I am a very persistent person and until I don’t see that things are happening I don’t stop. But at the same time, I think I have the ability to understand people’s feelings and emotions; therefore I consider myself having some level of empathy, which is important when you are a leader. I am not giving a step-by-step piece; it is simply a result of many years of experience. I think that persistence and empathy are two crucial dimensions of leadership.
The Characteristics of Success | Precisely the strengths I mentioned earlier, persistence and empathy. Also, trying to empower others and always being intentional of having positive behaviours and feedback, instead of negativity. I think this has been extremely helpful in reaching my achievements. Furthermore, sizing up people and situations, is a fundamental ability, which has to deal with what we now call transformative leadership. It is a type of leadership where you empower your followers to get the best out of them.
Lessons I Have Learnt | The biggest lesson I have learned so far in my career and life journey is that the more you empower your followers the better results you have. This means trust, sharing with others, having a lot of patience, and taking initiative; but at the same time, the most important aspect is having respect for the dignity of others and those you work with.
Dealing with Doubt | Every time I have faced any level of self-doubt, fear or negativity, I take that difficulty as a challenge; a challenge that I must face and move forward with.
The Meaning of Life | I think the meaning of life is really giving yourself to others, and in our circumstance in a developing country, it is to drive social change and reduce inequity. The meaning of life is really unleashing the human potential of every person.
On Inspiring Others | To find, motivate and keep great people working with me, it is important to give them the space to grow. If you look at the team here at Fundación Escuela Nueva we have been together since the beginning of it all, we have the most senior persons here. And this is because we have unleashed their potential, empowered them, and most important given them the space to grow.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like to leave a new approach to learning (which is not new) in the hands of millions of children, especially in the developing world, where they can learn in a different way so they can become leaders themselves. This is what the Escuela Nueva model promotes, and I feel that quality education is the most important variable for any kind of change, whether it is economical, political, cultural or social. Moreover, a good approach to learning is through our strategies, which precisely fosters working with other human beings and reaching one’s full potential.
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