“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all heard it at some stage, that cliché phrase being tossed about by members of the older generation, trying to inspire or perhaps intimidate us. Sure, someday we will be the Prime Ministers, CEOs, school principals and other titled leaders of society, but while leadership comes naturally to some, others find the prospect of a nation lead by our generation quite daunting. The truth is, we are often inclined to put leadership up on a pedestal, as if it’s reserved for those who hold certain positions- prefects and captains, people with authority in high places. But what we need to realise is that you don’t need a title to be a leader.
Take Nelson Mandela for example- before he became the President of South Africa, he spent 27 years in prison. These years spent locked up in a cold, dark cell saw his incredible influence over many of the guards and prisoners surrounding him and led to his recognition as a voice for anti-apartheid in South Africa. Mandela’s circumstances did not define him as a leader. He didn’t wait around for 27 years for the prison doors to be opened so he could finally realise his dream of freedom and equality. Leadership began the moment he decided to act- and it’s the same for us.
Like Nelson Mandela, we can decide to lead where we are. Whether it’s social justice you’re passionate about, or motivating your basketball team to do their best, the best way to put your idea into action is to lead by example.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the idea of leadership positions that we forget the real reason they exist- not just so we can look good and feel good, but so we can empower others and allow them to reach their full potential. There are many styles and many paths to effective leadership. Start with your passion and put it into action, inspiring others to journey with you as you go. Take time to look back occasionally and see how far you’ve come, all the while staying focused on where you’re going.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela
Written by: Annaliese Wheeler Edited: Saffron Huang