I have worked with students since 1979 — and over that period of time, I have increasingly focused my efforts. At first, I just wanted kids to like me. I wanted the students I worked with to enjoy my leadership and to have a good time. Within a few years, I determined I had to pursue a bigger goal than that. I began to push them to grow and mature. This was a good beginning. Over time, however, I realized that while this is a good goal, it still wasn’t enough. I began to mobilize students to serve. Surely, this is what it was all about.
While I continue to mobilize students to serve the world they live in — I have concluded there is still something more. Service must have an outcome. It must lead to some kind of positive change. I suppose one could argue that all service does, indeed, positively transform the world in some way. But I believe we must think and act strategically. How can our service be leveraged to achieve the greatest amount of good? It should be a key act, at a key time addressing a key need. If I can clean up a local pond and do a little good, or provide a service that multiplies itself and does a greater good — it is wisest to do the more strategic thing. I must think about the influence of my service; the results it will accomplish. That’s just wisdom. It doesn’t mean that certain service roles are beneath me. It simply means I will render strategic service whenever possible. I will do the greatest amount of good I can with the gifts and time I have. I don’t merely render “random acts of kindness” but strategic acts of kindness. Busyness is not my goal. As a student, I work for transformation of the world in which I live.
What Are We Trying to Build?
This is what I am about. This is why a few of us launched our organization. We are trying to build “growing leaders.” They will stand in contrast to their peers around the world. They will be counter-cultural. They are marked by these characteristics:
|ORDINARY STUDENTS||GROWING LEADERS|
|1. Self-absorbed||1. Sacrificial|
|2. Imitate others||2. Authentic|
|3. Apathetic||3. Committed|
|4. Consuming||4. Generous|
|5. Presumptuous||5. Grateful|
|6. Controlling||6. Empowering|
|7. Status quo||7. Hungry mind|
|8. What can I get?||8. What can I give?|
|9. It’s about the money||9. It’s about a mission|
|10. Blend in||10. Stand out|
These words describe my goal at Growing Leaders. Growing leaders are who we target. Growing leaders are what we do. Growing leaders are the end result of all our efforts. We want to unleash an entire generation of young people who find their gifts and give them away to a needy world — in the most strategic way possible. They are students who are aware of their influence and leverage it wisely.
Needless to say, “growing leaders” are different. They stand out because of their different approach to life and leadership. Most people see themselves changing from the outside in. It’s all about appearance and behavior modification to get what you want. Growing Leaders believe real change happens from the inside out. It’s about changing the heart — our habits and attitudes — in order to experience transformation. We can only pass on what we have ourselves. Only the transformed can transform others.
Join the revolution!