Leadership, Legacy, and Moving On

After two years of working with Innovista Ireland (and the last 10 months of that working from home in Australia) my time is drawing to a close. It’s bittersweet writing this; I’ve found so much joy in my work with the Rise Leadership Programme and couldn’t have imagined a more supportive team to work alongside than the one here at Innovista, and so it’s a hard goodbye to have to say. However, I know full well that my time here has taught me so much about how to exist in this world in a kind, impactful and intentional way so I know I’m set for the next chapter ahead.

I’m still in awe of the generosity and trust that Innovista had to take me on as a young 20-year-old back in January 2019. I think at that point in my life especially, knowing that this small team believed in me and believed in my potential was incredibly encouraging to my younger self, both on a personal level and on my journey with youth work in Ireland. I felt seen. And as I reflect on that time, I think that was a huge reason for why my passion for Rise was so instant. Rise is about seeing communities thrive through the contributions of young people, and it’s also about what happens before we even get to that point. Before a young person can exercise their creativity and vision within their community, they need to feel empowered to do so – sometimes, they need someone else to believe in them before they can feel confident enough to step out. Innovista believed in me, handing over to me responsibilities with running the Rise programme and training, as well as communications and other projects that popped up along the way. And I’m so incredibly grateful.


This leads me into one of the most important questions I’ve asked myself over my time here in terms of what it takes to truly lead well in life. What is the legacy that I’ll leave behind? In other words, how are my actions now impacting others that will come after me? We’re all in positions that, though we may not like to admit it, are fleeting. And likewise, we live in a society that is always changing, always innovating, and always moving. And so when it comes to us as leaders and the impact that our leadership makes on and within this society, we have two choices:

  1. We can do our work, tick the boxes, gain recognition, and leave.


2. We can show up, see the potential in those around us, grow with them, listen to them, dream alongside them and then, when it’s the right time, we’ve already laid down the foundations to pass the baton over and move on.

The former provides short-term impact, whilst the latter not only provides sustainable and lasting impact, but it also allows our work to shift and move as society shifts and moves. When we take a chance on those coming up behind us, whether they be young people or just those new to our work, we also take a chance on their dreams and visions for where our work can go in the future. We are actively innovating.

I’m happy to say that I’ve had others more experienced than I take a chance on me over my time with Innovista, and in Ireland in general. And I like to think that the more I grew and soaked in their wisdom, the more I valued and appreciated the contributions of those on my teams and even less experienced than me. And it is with this knowledge in mind that I am at peace, confident that now is the right time to move on to new and different things and allow the Rise programme and Innovista to transform into what it needs to be heading into the future.

In February 2021, I’ll begin a course in interior design and decorating. It’s something very new for me and definitely a different path than youth work. And though I don’t have the time to share the whole journey of how I landed on that decision, I can say that I’m confident it’s the right one for me in this next phase of my life. Though I may not be a leader in youth work anymore, working for Innovista has taught me that there is so much more to leadership than just the title. I still view myself as a leader. I’m a leader because I can see the potential in people and places around me, I can cast vision for the future, I can serve. Whether that’s within the church, an organisation, or within the design field, there are always opportunities to pave the road, to invest in others – to lead.

I’m leaving Innovista with a full heart and hope for the future. And I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank-you to the team, board, and friends of Innovista for walking alongside me these last couple of years. The way you live out Innovista’s values and mission is inspirational. I’m looking forward to seeing where Innovista goes in the future!

Written by Ash Holmes (Jan 2021)

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