Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 – Have you ever met someone whose passion is so palpable? This week I was fortunate to interview yet another driven and passionate individual who is out to make a difference in the world.
My latest guest Amna Karra-Hassan founded the first ever AFL Women’s team in Western Sydney. Amna engages with a diverse audience and facilitates difficult conversations. Amna is filled with passion for everything, and she shares that passion with those around her, inspiring and motivating at the same time.
Watch her full interview below as she shares how she got started in football, her struggles as a leader, her passion for social injustice, and more.
EP008: Difficult Conversations with Amna K-Hassan - The No Xcuses Show
Passionate to make a difference! EP008: Difficult Conversations with Amna K-Hassan - The No Xcuses ShowPosted by Brant Garvey on Monday, 4 December 2017
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Time Stamped Show Notes
00:17 Amna K-Hassan is wildly known as being instrumental in starting women’s AFL in Sydney, and also is passionate about facilitating difficult conversations. So let’s now give you a chance to fill in the blanks and share a bit more detail on who you are.
00:57 Eight years ago I started a women’s AFL team in Western Sydney… apart from a footballer, a passionate advocate of all things girls and women, I am a 29-year old Western Sydney sider (?) who just has real passion for life. You know going after things that I believe in and what I dream in.
00:21 Those things, did they fall across your lap?
00:30 I think every single human has things that just speak to them. For some people its food, for some people its art, some its sport, for me it’s like a combination, like an intersection of the things that I love.
00:45 I am passionate about enabling girls and women to participate and have the best opportunities, whether they want to play elite or community footy. I am passionate about girls and women. I am passionate about where I live, which is Western Sydney. I am passionate about my heritage and culture, and I love talking about that with people. I am passionate about my identity. I am passionate about being a woman. I am passionate about so many things, I feel like I get to speak to all those things.
02:18 What led you to do what you do today?
02:23 There were two things that really prompted me, one of them was the disappointment on the lack of opportunities and access for women to participate in organised sport… So for me it was like why is this the situation we are finding ourselves in and what can I do about it?
03:00 How come the women don’t have a competition to play in? Even though I didn’t know the game and I don’t have a strong affinity, I thought it was about what was fair, what was right. The fact that no one thought about it really bothered me.
03:30 I picked up the footy, I tried to figure out the rules and off I went!
04:03 I am definitely more partial to the AFL. I feel like it is a little bit more elite in the physical side.
04:17 All sport has actually developed in that regard. I think now we look at what does an athlete needs to have to be highly skilled and perform well in their game as opposed to it doesn’t matter if you are packing a few kilos, it doesn’t matter if you want to be leaner because you like that look more, it’s what is required of your body so that you can perform.
04:50 Share something that we don’t know about what you’re doing at the moment that we probably should.
05:09 A dear friend and co-footy player, her name is Reika, she was picked up GWS Giants, and we are incredibly proud of that achievement. I think it is important that we recognise and celebrate the achievements of the people that we love. I met her when she was 14. She was just a kid who had a lot of self-doubt and natural talent, and was like ‘as if I can be pro’. And to have been on the journey as a football sport, backed her all the way, and see her achieve that milestone and hopefully set new goals and achieve new milestones. If you don’t know her name, learn her name – Haneen Zreika.
06:11 What has been the biggest setback or failure? What did you learn from it?
06:35 I guess the one that sticks out for me is the one about me and my leadership capability… It was incredibly hard because I think I had a really self-critical lens, and if you are being really self-critical you can’t do anything constructive in that space.
07:14 It was at least 12 months of me reflecting but through the wrong lens where I was beating myself up about how I was failing or not doing the right thing, or what should I be doing. What I learned in the end was the problem is your lens. The problem was this lens where I thought I could just walk away and people were gonna figure it out and then I would have done my job. ‘Yehey, good stuff me!’ It doesn’t work that way.
07:42 Sometimes people might be confident enough to do something but feel more confident doing it if you are walking with them… Not everyone operates I operate so I need to just settle, and to listen more, and I need to be connected to other people around me and see that not everyone see things the way I do.
08:16 I can imagine it being very difficult to inspire a group of people to continue on with their movement once the key person has stepped away.
08:25 I had to change my perspective on what is success and what is failure. I have defined success as if they feel confident and capable to lead in my absence that is success. But I have to say, if they feel capable and confident, and have strong sense of self-achievement – that is success.
09:20 What is your biggest win or breakthrough?
10:34 That conversation with the guy on the plane, then the courage to walk up to someone I don’t know, who has a lot of influence and power in the business world and say ‘Hey, I would like to meet you’ and then following through going to her office, and every moment after that that I followed through has been a huge breakthrough, because when you meet with people who’ve lived, who have experienced, who are incredibly successful at what they do, you can only learn and grown around people like that.
11:09 We didn’t talk money. I didn’t say I want this much money, I want you to do this for me. She even stripped the conversation back from that, she wanted to get to know the human that was sitting in front of her to say, “How can I enable you as a person who is really passionate? What are your passions?”
11:22 And it was so incredible and that moment it was no longer about the work that I was doing, someone has actually looked at me as a human being and said I’m interested and invested in you and your success. I think that was a huge moment for me because I had to learn what it is to own success.
11:43 Did she take on the role of a mentor?
11:50 I don’t know if she set out to be, but I certainly look at her as one of my mentors. I look at the women I’ve met through the Harvey Norman team as my mentors… The level of expertise, the competence, the confidence of these women has been incredible, and to be able to back and soundboard with experts and women, and to share their personal and professional challenges for me has been incredible. I felt like it has completely enriched my life.
13:20 You got to wait for things. I knew what I wanted, but timing is everything I think, and opportunities present themselves at different times
13:40 What is the one thing that you are most passionate about today?
13:47 I think I have always, if I’m like true to my core, I have always been passionate about social justice. And that’s not an easy thing to be passionate about because there’s so much injustice in the world. It is so hard to keep that positive light and hope when you see people feeling victimized or oppressed or really hurt and not heard.
14:25 But if we say social justice it encompasses enough things and what I think about when I reflect on myself is we can say that we are passionate about social justice but what does that actually look like as an everyday human being. How do I live that passion for caring for other human beings, and their rights, the fact that they are heard and accepted, and loved and cared for? If they are being systemically oppressed, what am I consciously doing to remove that oppression through the small things in how I live?
14:56 It’s very challenging. If you know the clothes on your back are made at the hands of a child… you need to really think. When I drink in a coffee cup and I throw it away… what does it do to our environment? I think about all the little things and go, we are actually a little hypocritical and we are not that really in tuned so I’m very passionate about being really in tuned in social justice.
15:31 I guess, the further you take it, the more difficult it gets… Pick one that you are most passionate about and constantly improve.
15:55 It’s about living right. I always ask myself are you living right. As long as you have the commitment to live right by others, and by myself, be true to my values, then I think we are on our way. It doesn’t mean we will get it right all the time, it just means the commitment to live right is there.
16:19 Is there something holding you back from doing what you do today?
16:23 There’s always hurdles and things that hold you back… Then I got older and felt really trapped by the perception on what is to be a Muslim, or an Arab, or a woman… I think there are always things that may let you feel trapped and for me the greatest gift has been learning how to overcome those obstacles so there are no excuses.
17:14 I love your NoXcuses philosophy! I love it! I think it’s what everyone should live by.
17:28 The goal is to be able to catch yourself then correct cause, because we all make excuses but it’s about getting better in catching yourself doing it. So many times the first initial answer to anything is its too hard, it can’t be done. But when we actually start to look at it, it’s just a simple bunch of steps to get to one point to another.
19:04 What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
19:11 Venture out into uncomfortable places and you will learn. So don’t stay in a nest, go out and explore, travel, work with people that you feel very uncomfortable with, just be far away from home and you will grow as human being.
19:32 The more that you travel around, the more you have appreciation, and you’ll have perspective. You can actually appreciate what you have versus what you see what some of other people have.
19:46 What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
19:53 I have a very strong passion for and ability to prioritise my work… It’s very easy for me to get caught up in next thing that I want to do, but you have to do those core things consistently and you have to do them well. I try my best to commit myself and do the things consistently.
20:27 Can you say it’s something that you are good at? You are good at being able to stop spreading yourself thin and focus on the core stuff that you need to do?
20:36 It’s something that I have actively worked on to developing. I think I was over committed and I felt like I was not giving my 100% to everything so I’m never really satisfied. The only way that I could give the standard that I wanted which is excellence, the only way that I can achieve that excellence and strive for it was if I let go of some things. That’s hard when you are really enjoying being in different spaces, but you can’t be everywhere.
21:08 What is something you have bought for under $100 that has most improved your life?
21:15 Books! I love reading. I’m all for reading. I have book in my bag. I have book on my bed. I have book on my bedside. I have to force myself to not buy books.
21:45 This is perfect because I’m about to ask you what is your favourite at the moment and why?
21:50 I buy anything by Brené Brown. I love her as an author. The greatest book I have ever read that sort of really transformed my thinking was ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, because I was a perfectionist and she helps challenge some of those behaviours and thoughts. And I was like, you really need to let go of some of this controlling behaviour. We act like it’s a constructive thing, but it’s kind of crazy – we need to let it go.
22:24 What is one key takeaway you have for Grit Nation?
22:31 Maintain the Grit! You gotta willing to work hard, sometimes it means you need to get your hands dirty. And if you just continue to apply yourself… it may not be that grand thing you expect in return, that pay-off. That pay-off might be something completely unexpected and that’s the most beautiful thing.
23:06 What the best way that Grit Nation can connect with you?
23:10 I am on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. My number is all over the internet, as is my email. It’s so easy to find me! You can easily write to me. I’m happy to meet with people. I’m happy to chat on the phone or skype.
23:26 I’m an open book, so I’m happy to have any conversation. A lot of people have been generous in giving their time to me and it helped me, and I’ll be privileged to do that for someone else.