How One Person Can Change Your Life – Everyday Leadership

 

Written by Ivana Gusic, Head of Public Relations and Marketing at AIESEC in Austria

Did it ever happen to you that one person changed your life?
Did you ever have a wow day without expecting it at all?

I want to tell you a story, which took place almost half a year ago. In March 2014, on the Serbian National Conference, president of AIESEC in Serbia at the time — Aleksa Nikolic held a speech. It was his last speech as the president, since he was leaving very soon to a new position in AIESEC International. For those who don’t know, AIESEC changes its leadership body completely every year to provide opportunity for life-changing experiences to more people.

Anyway, Aleksa grew during the year he was a president, developed a lot personally and professionally and changed the organization. That day, he shared stories with us, laughed, appreciated his team and played one video. I don’t remember exactly the story that led to him playing the video. Our memory is tricky and we remember flashes, feelings and images.

But he played this video.

Have you seen it? If not, take a minute now to see it and then continue reading; you won’t regret it.

Maybe the message of the poem is not something you haven’t heard before or maybe it is. Maybe you heard a completely different message than I did that day. That’s the beauty of poems. Each person finds something in it for himself or herself.

Carpe diem. Live as if you’ll die today. Live every single day to the fullest because time flies. Live for something. Live in peace.

Maybe you see messages as the same or carrying similar meaning. Maybe they’ve lost meaning to you because you’ve heard them so many times.

But sometimes by changing the package, you get to see the same thing in a completely different light. This is what happened to me that day.

“Let now be our advent
Let us live like we meant it
Let us burn like we mean it
Because this world doesn’t give a shit if we end in a train wreck or a car crash
If our story ends with a dot or dash
If we were dust or ash
Because all we were is all we’ll be
And all we are is the in-between of so far, so good
So forget every would, could, or should not
Forget remembering how we forgot
Live like a plot twist exist now and in memory
Because we burn bright Our lights leave SCARS on the sun
Let no one say we will be undone by times passing
The memories we are amassing will stand as testament
That somehow we bent minds behind the concept
That we see others within ourselves
That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves
So who we are has no bearing on how we appear
Look directly in every mirror
Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story.
And our story starts; we were here”

We always consider leadership and changing the world as a massive undertaking. But sometimes it’s about changing one life.

That day, with a simple message, Aleksa changed mine. But there were more than 200 people in that room. Maybe he changed a couple more without even realising.

That is everyday leadership.

Sometimes small changes produce big echoes.

So think of things that inspire you and think about giving back and sharing with others selflessly. Because we live in such a world today where it’s easy to become self-centered and easy to forget whom else we are in this world with.

And you never know whom you can inspire by accident. So lets teach each other and inspire each other. Because leadership is about people. And this world is about people.

How many lives you think you changed without even realising it?

Maybe that is how you contributed to building a more peaceful world.

AIESEC Everyday Leader Series — Everyday Leaders Changing the World. Submit Your Story!

World Peace may just be attainable.

AIESEC Everyday Leader Series — Everyday Leaders Changing the World.

AIESEC Everyday Leader series highlights powerful stories and lessons from thought and everyday leaders from around the world. The stories illustrate on how World Peace may just be attainable through the actions of everyday leaders who are working towards the peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.

Read the first of the series

Examples of Everyday Leader Stories

How can you participate and contribute your inspiring story for Everyday Leadership?

1. Write an article on Medium.com

2. Include at least one high-quality photo and refine for grammar and spelling

3. Publish and submit your best stories to gordonc@ai.aiesec.org

4. Share it on social media and tag us @AIESEC

Guidelines

  • We will review your story, and contact you for re-publication on our global blog and global social media channels.
  • Stories will be pre-approved before publication, and are subject to editorial modifications to align with the central theme.
  • Not all stories will be accepted for global showcasing, but we encourage you to share your own story with those around you.

An average post on Global AIESEC Facebook for example can attract upwards of 100,000+ users organically. Follow us also on Twitter and LinkedIn

Must-do’s to be qualified

  • One or more clear high-quality impactful photo (we encourage videos too).
  • Clear illustrations about the experience and story free of grammar and spelling errors
  • Include the “date, where, when and how you did it”
  • Craft a compelling story line that showcases what challenges you overcame had to overcome and how you made a difference through the experience
  • Connected to how everyday leaders can change the world and its connection to AIESEC’s mission of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.
  • Has a blurb at the end of the article written: “This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

How Young People Contribute to Changing The World Everyday

Written by Ivana Gusic, Head of Public Relations and Marketing at AIESEC in Austria

This is not a story about current conflicts that are happening in the world. It is not about rockets flying over our skies or ending wars. It is about smaller things. Little things. But the kind of little things that keep a person going forward; that bring the spark into everyday and strengthen the belief that this world is worth fighting for.

In a small town in Hungary named Gyor, 50 young people from AIESEC in Austria attended a conference to plan for the upcoming year and cover numerous topics relevant for the executive bodies gathered there. This conference itself is special because it brings together young people from 6 different countries: Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Serbia and Brazil. But that is another story altogether.

AIESEC Conference in Serbia

AIESEC Central European Congress gathering young people from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Austria.

The moment that matters happened towards the end of the conference.

I was holding a session — last session of the day about external exposure (since I am Head of PR and Marketing). I was very skeptical of how it would go because everyone was tired from the six-day conference, which was almost over.

There was a part of the session that I completely forgot about; this small task which turned out to be the spark of greatness. I remember I almost skipped it. You never know what is going to be the biggest moment of the day. Usually the moments you believe will be insignificant turn out to be big ones.

The task was to “Discuss in pairs the topics that we, as voice of youth in Austria, could write about; topics that AIESEC is really passionate about; topics that may seem ordinary, but matter.”

After a couple of minutes, it was a moment to share. I thought a couple of people would share and that’s it.

It started with a few remarks and turned into fiery exchange of ideas and opinions.

Forty young people in leadership positions voiced their opinion, passionate about making a change in their hometowns and their country — from educational gap between formal and informal education and skills and experience required to find a job today, to racism in the world and Austria and how to tackle the integration of immigrants for a more peaceful and tolerant world. The issue of aging population and how to empower youth to ensure a sustainable development. Women leadership today in the world and in AIESEC (which is abundant with women in leadership positions).

Internationality and positive aspects of it in today’s globalized world, where conflicts seem to appear like fireworks. Start-ups and the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation as solutions for challenges facing the world today. Tackling social challenges and addressing those that are relevant in a country.

And many more. At least 20 people were actively sharing and feeding of each other’s ideas.

AIESEC Public Speaking

I was standing on the stage, listening to one person after another saying their opinions, listing topics they are passionate about and they would like to write about. I remember I didn’t want the exchange of ideas to stop. I was so overwhelmed by the passion about the issues mentioned and flabbergasted by a wide variety of interests. Forty young minds awake and aware of things that don’t work and willing to do something about it. Have you ever witnessed something like that?

I haven’t before.

I remember that when my enthusiasm and disbelief settled, I was angry — at people saying that youth today is passive; that we don’t care about anything but ourselves. I remember standing in the room with 50 people who paid to come to a six-day conference when they could have gone to the seaside like their friends did. I remember them talking at 7pm in the evening about issues in the world and at home they were passionate about and wanted to solve. And I remember one thought above all others.

That there is greatness in young people. They are aware of the world they live in — technology has made us interconnected and informed. They are passionate and they have an opinion. They are ready to be heard and to contribute to changes if the world will let them.

So how can we empower them? How can we make sure they get a say in what kind of world is being built for them? What kind of world they will live in?

Maybe you’re thinking now that we’re young and that we’ve got a lot to learn yet. And this is true. We don’t know everything. But we have ideas and we are ready to learn. And we’re worth it.

So it should begin today, because 5 to 10 years from now, some of those forty people will have leadership or executive positions. They will have the opportunity to decide which course we take, for better or worse.

Imagine if everyone thought like that. Imagine if everyone cared. Imagine if the world was made up of this type of young people — interested, aware, concerned and willing to participate and change the world for the better. Imagine the world they would be able to build.

And help them — help us build it.

AIESEC Conference

This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, which showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

Are You Multitasking Your Brilliance Away?

Projects, meetings, emails, notifications, social media, a million tabs on your internet browser, the disruptions go on.

Is multitasking  harming your ability to work effectively?

If often takes a reminder on why it is so important to focus.

Our desires for accessibility lead to an inability to access anything.

Why does our brain feel overloaded as we drown ourselves in multiple tasks? This is a result of chronic multitasking, and it isn’t healthy for your productivity, health or quality of work.

An article on Time quoted a 2010 study by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency Inserm that showed that when people focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task.

If our limits are two-tasks at once, anymore we will most likely make errors.

What’s the solution?

Nass recommends a 20-minute rule. Instead of switching tasks minute to minute, allocate yourself to 20-minute chunks to a singular task, focus, and then move on.

Here’s a little humour, but also practical solution to multitasking, monotasking.

The picture below shows what happened to Paolo Cardini’s barbeque on his 3 minute TED talk when he was multitasking while barbequeing.

Similar to what happens to us when we “multitask” while trying to do something, we burn away our quality of work.


Re-think how you approach your work by focusing one singular task and providing high-quality attention to your work, as opposed to spreading yourself thin, and get nothing done.

Time is our most precious resource. Don’t multi-task your brilliance away, because imagine how much time, effort and productivity you lose simply because of a lack of focus.

Sit down, open one tab, and get it done.

What are your best-case practices for focusing? I’d love to hear them and share it. Tweet me at @gdondon and comment below.

 

How World Peace Begins With Everyday Leaders

AIESEC World Peace series highlights the stories and lessons from thought and everyday leaders from around the world on how World Peace may just be attainable. Contribute your story.

World Peace.

It has been humanity’s eternal, elusive dream. A dream that has inspired influential leaders like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Malala Yousafzai, to rise from being an ordinary citizen to becoming a leader to make a significant difference. There is also AIESEC’s very own alumnus Martti Ahtisaari, who was the 10th President of Finland and 2008 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his “for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts.”

Ahtisaari states that AIESEC helped him “discover new passions about diversity and diplomacy.”

Leaders like Ahtisaari are not super heroes, but human beings just like you and I who have strived to achieve extraordinary accomplishments. They are everyday leaderswho care about the world and take action to defend human rights.

Ahtisaari AIESEC

The peaceful freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi was once faced at gunpoint, but she did not give in. Instead, she demonstrated absolute courage and clarity by walking without fear to the line of soldiers and with the guns pointed at her, and walked passed it. Nobody was killed.

What would you have done in this moment?

The Lady Gunpoint

In the movie The Lady, Michelle Yeoh portrays Aung San Suu Kyi’s extraordinary life, challenges, road to peace and democracy in Burma, and is a compelling movie that showcases the power of nonviolence. The strength of this iconic woman is outstanding, and is a role model to show that fear cannot conquer our common humanity.We all live our own lives and we often turn down activities by saying “I’m busy.”

Pushing for world peace does not mean we all need to be walking in front of guns, but to take action even in the smallest ways. It is as practical as dedicating even a few hours a month volunteering for a cause that improves the lives of others, and yourself.

Being an everyday leaders means you are actively seeking for ways to improve the well-being of others in your community. An everyday leader can be as simple as:

  • Showing more compassion and empathy to those around you
  • Joining your grandparents for dinner even though you’re busy with work
  • Calling your loved ones to remind them of how thankful you are for their support
  • Volunteering for a social cause because it will make a difference in other peoples lives
  • Leading a peaceful movement of people to actively advocate for positive change in your community

These everyday actions, make a significant difference because you are now actively participating in your community.

Three specific TED Talks that will alter your perspective on the road to peace

 

In the Road to Peace playlist on TED, “these speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines advocates for society to have a more realistic vision of world peace. The talk focuses on rethinking world peace to human security, and enabling people to live dignified lives.

Scilia Elworthy a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Oxford Research Group that seeks to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, talks about how to deal with extreme violence without using force in return. Exploring the themes of how to overcome bullies ranging from countries to individuals without any violence in return

Julia Bacha a filmmaker who produced Budhrus discusses the power of attention, and how we often media and audiences pay attention to the violence, but not the non-violent leaders and peacemakers of the Middle East region that may very well bring peace to the region. Bacha advocates for us to pay attention to nonviolence.

AIESEC Youth Leaders

Progress will come, when all of humanity is awakened, moved to take action and not idly sit by to wait for change.

Young people around the world need to strive to become an everyday leaders and make positive change happen by taking actions that improve the lives of others.

How will you get involved in the global community and create positive change?

Submit and share your everyday leader story with us. Tweet us at @AIESEC or engage with me at @gdondon