"... An empowered young person is the coolest thing in the world. And ultimately, that's where change comes in." - Ian Somerhalder
What does it take to change the world? Some might say inspiration, an idea, a global movement, or a vision. I will argue that all is takes is one empowered individual to truly make a difference. Why? Simple. An empowered person has their mind and heart set in the right place, determined to make a difference through their efforts and vision, in whatever it is that they wish to change in the world. What a better way to facilitate change, than by empowering ourselves, or better yet empowering our blossoming generation of leaders and change makers; It's ultimately where the future of our very existence rests.
People are impacted through our words, actions, and emotions. The rise of social media platforms has made it possible for people to instantly connect, show support, inspire, and educate one another on various topics. Communities have grown closer together over the years because of this. When I think of social media and it's power in changing the world, I automatically think of Kony 2012. People anywhere can read or see what it is you have to say or do, which is why change is happening and is more prominent than it ever has been. I blame it on our generation and their advantage in being able to access any part of it at any given time.
According to Frank Cooper III, "Today's Millennials (18-to-28-year-olds), the most globally connected group in history, are continuing the charge that the Boomers and Gen-Xers started. Millennials embody and embrace change. They live life in "beta," constantly responding to feedback and always evolving. This DIY-inspired generation values experiences, experimentation and expression. Their technology, their intelligence, their connections -- and their optimism -- empower them to make a difference." Even the Pre-Millennials (ages below 18) are using their knowledge, skills, and time to embrace their uniqueness and follow their passions through their experiences as young adults in this opportunistic world.
"As we look ahead to the next century, leaders will be those who empower others."- Bill Gates
Just take look at Julien Leitner, a 13-year-old with a mission to change the world and he claims that all it takes is $2. One might think that $2 is a small sum but it's the meaning behind that $2 that has already empowered thousands of others through his foundation to collaborate and be inspired to donate for a charitable cause. In 2012, Leitner founded the Archimedes Alliance Foundation, a non-profit focused on encouraging and promoting philanthropy on the broadest scale by providing a vehicle through which a large number of people can collaborate together and make a significant positive impact on the lives of others.
Inspired by his family's philanthropic nature -- he's seen the impact they have made in their efforts in helping others through their generous donations and devoting their time to give back to the world -- he became inspired to make a difference. So he started focusing his goals on the idea that he can change the world by helping others give back to those that are less fortunate.
Empowered to change the world, Leitner decided to take what he has learned for years in the sake of giving to the next level. He started a foundation inspired by a prominent figure in history, Archimedes. Archimedes, a Greek, was known to be the greatest mathematician ever; he also played an important role as a physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. He was known for his remarkable work in the foundations of statistics and hydrostatics, as well as the principle of the leveler -- a concept that greatly inspired and initially sparked the inspiration behind the Archimedes Alliance.
Most 13-year-olds I know are glued to their television screens battling through a series of challenges on Black Ops missions and involved in extra-curricular activities like basketball, soccer, and swimming. Sounds like a typical 13-year-old, huh? Nothing in that list reflects their abilities in changing the world. Maybe that's just it. Leitner is like your average 13-year-old. He has his heart set out by the courts, enjoys playing sports, with great interest in basketball. He spends his free time playing musical instruments, working on his shots and dribbles, doing homework, and being awesome. He's quite talented and busy. But what makes him want to change the world? I think it's his deep understanding of the way the world works, with the advantage of being driven to make a difference. How can we empower others to make that same difference, particularly, the youth? Here are a few ways in which one can discover their potential in life.
Find your passion
What sets your heart on fire? What interests you? Areas you wish to change or improve? Environmental activism? Human rights? Animal Rights? Conservation? Activism? Journalism?
Discover something new. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Give basketball lessons afterschool. Follow your passions and make them come alive. Be inspired by someone or something. Inspired by a cause; give back by donating a part of your pay check or find volunteer opportunities.
Discovering your potential, passions, and goals in life, will all help you find your inner self. Achieving these goals and embracing your uniqueness will help you discover things about yourself that you probably never knew were there. Just accept it and do what you love, because ultimately that is who you are.
Get Out and Change the World
Whether you wish to save the tigers from extinction, create a more sustainable and innovative tool for the future of green energy, or develop an app for customizing fun, kid friendly curriculum for children in third world countries. It is up to you to find what it is in life that empowers you to want to make a difference in the world. Once you find it, hold on to it, and never let go.