In my last post, I offered to share the story of how one person went from intention to results – and how you can too, in a few empowering steps. Here is the story.

In April 2014, my spouse, Narmin, decided to start a scholarship foundation to help bright young women in the developing world break the cycle of poverty and become tomorrow’s leaders, by providing them access to their dream of a university education.

I pointed out to her that she had no funds, no students, no governance structure, no charitable status, no university affiliations, and no on-ground partners in the developing world – especially in areas of conflict or high need. I was a killjoy (or realistic, depends on your view!)

She shrugged, said she understood that but her goals were modest: “By September 2015, I am hopeful the foundation will be supporting six to ten bright young women at the undergraduate level, and we will have a governance structure, charitable status, and one or two university and on-ground partner affiliations,” she said.

On June 6, 2015, at an awareness evening in Toronto in front of over 300 guests, she declared: “The Spark of Hope Foundation now supports 33 young women, at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, professional and Doctorate levels. By December 2015, that number will most likely increase to 50 young women. These students attend seven universities globally; we have five on-ground partners; there is a solid governance structure which we are expanding; and $1.5 million has been raised through donors and matched funds, leaving us a target of $500,000 by the end of 2015.”

When the applause died down, she went on to add: “From September 2016, we can develop 1,400 young women leaders over 10 years. The cost in today’s dollars of supporting these women leaders is C$136 million. Of this amount, we already have commitments of C$87 million or 64%! This leaves us needing C$50 million to help these young women achieve their dreams and make a transformational impact in the world.”

But you must be wondering: how did she do it?


Narmin’s story in her words:

“I am blessed to have had the support of so many people. But there are also several factors that I believe were crucial.

  1. I had absolute clarity regarding the outcome I wanted to achieve when I started. However, I have had to revise this outcome upwards because of the needs we ran into and the opportunities that came our way.
  2. I had a clear and compelling WHY I was doing this work. It is now my life’s purpose. I told myself I could not allow myself to fail, no matter the obstacles or challenges.
  3. I am always thinking about my goals and revise them every month, if not more often. The goals support the vision I set.
  4. I confronted many fears and demons along the way – and continue to do so. However, I try and put them to bed, one by one.
  5. I share my goal with people who hold me accountable, especially my spouse. Many days, I want to strangle him for his incessant urging to aim higher – but thankfully, I resisted!
  6. I sought help with my goal, knowing that many hands make light work. A new Advisory Board I formed has been hugely helpful. As someone recently reminded me: If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.
  7. I got started on my goal, knowing that even a small start gets me closer to my final goal.
  8. I took all my big goals and chunked them into smaller, manageable parts, and then focused on these sub-goals. Every day, of every week.
  9. I review progress regularly and consistently.
  10. When I hit the inevitable setback or snag or obstacle, I used to take it personally. Now, I quickly brainstorm a new way forward – without losing sight of the end goal – and get on with dealing with the challenge.
Finally, I keep the faith, no matter what, never ever losing hope. How could I not do so when every young woman the Foundation supports will go on to make transformational change for herself, her family and her community? It is this exponential impact in the world that challenges me and the wonderful teams I lead to continually aim higher.

If you’d like to learn more about the Foundation and to read the amazing stories of these young women, please click here. And thank you for allowing me to share my evolving story!

What an inspirational story. What would happen to your life if you applied Narmin’s thinking to make your dreams come true?