Last week I went to speak at the International Congress of AIESEC, the international association of students, that I myself once belonged to. There were 500 students from over a 100 countries. It was a blast! And it was inspiring to me to see the passion and desire to contribute meaningfully in so many young people. I spoke to them of leadership. In some ways I felt that it was silly to speak to these driven young people of leadership, as they so obviously embody it themselves, and so I used the opportunity to speak to them of another kind of leadership; one that is perhaps less aggressive, more collective, that listens in to life, and flow. I shared my story since AIESEC, and the patterns of leadership that have emerged through the collective story of those of us who are connected in the Berkana Exchange, and captured to beautifully by Deborah Frieze and Meg Wheatley in Walk Out Walk On:
Start anywhere, follow it everywhere – Go where the energy is
We make our path by walking it – Because we are entering new terrain – the solutions to the challenges of our time, do not lie in more of the old)
We have what we need – But of course we do, we just need to recognise it, and work with it more appreciatively;
The leaders we need are already there – As my work in rural Zimbabwe, and the work of my friends in communities across the planet is a clear testament to;
We are living the worlds we want today – Doing our very best to live the future today;
We walk at the pace of the slowest – How challenging this is in today’s fast paced world, to begin to see that there is a gift in waiting for the slowest. We can’t leave anyone behind.
We listen, even to the whispers – This also takes time, but the subtlety and nuance and surprising discoveries that become available to us as we listen to each voice makes it clear that a treasure trove awaits us as we learn to include everyone.
We turn to one another. My dear friend Bob Stilger says this all the time – Whatever the problem, community is the answer. It is easy to forget this, because we are not used to working well in community, and yet, and yet, given the world we live in today, we must find our way into this wisdom, because no-one is going to descend from on high to save us. We are it.
I was not sure whether what I spoke had a place to land, and yet it seems it did. I spent the rest of the day in wonderful conversations with many young people who were wanting to find a way to live a life of meaning – be it in a corporate setting, or starting their own new thing – and not being sure how exactly to ensure this.
It made me feel that the network of Pioneers of Change is still so relevant, even as it is no longer an active agent in the world.
And so I was happy when I was approached by two former AIESECers to give my ideas on an initiative they are about to start called Future Finders, aimed at helping youth between 18-25 to:
Connect more deeply with their dreams. As they said, so many young people don’t really know what they want to do. What they really want to do.
To support these young people as they enter the world of work to not let go of their dreams and aspirations.
I think it is something well worth supporting, as we who are now older are making the path by walking it, to reach out a hand to help many more join with us.