From a very young age, children are exposed to the world’s most celebrated and influential leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela to name a few, thus developing a somewhat narrow-minded ideology of what it means to be a leader.
As children progress through their schooling, they continue to see that these leaders, both in the past and present, have improved society or lead events in history which are life-changing, and so have been acknowledged by the entire world. This cultivates a child’s mind and brings them to believe that leaders are meant to be followed, and are people to be inspired by. Yet, the idea that they themselves can become a leader if they choose to is never considered a realistic option.
Throughout my childhood, I too had the same thinking. Throughout elementary school, I was a very shy child, and one who became very inspired by heroes who made positive changes in the world. I was not unaware that any ordinary person could do the same.
On entering high school, a much larger and opportunity-rich place, I realized that there are indefinite numbers of ways in which anyone who wishes to become involved or lead an idea, initiative or movement, can achieve their goal. I was suddenly surrounded by students who were leading their own school clubs, ranging from hobby-based ones such as Robotics Club to those which were raising thousands of dollars to donate to a number of charities.
Each one of these students was a leader in their own way, and was showing care and initiative towards what he/she strongly believed in. This realization introduced me to a brand new idea of leadership which has helped me progress into becoming a youth leader myself: a leader is someone who has utmost passion, drive, and most importantly, belief in an idea which they want to spread to those around them.
In high school, students are required to complete a certain number of service hours in the school or the community in order to graduate. This is the main driving force for many of the students involved with clubs and charities. Though not a negative thing, it causes some confusion amongst students on where they should be investing their time, and why they are doing what they are doing.
I strongly believe a sense of direction and a genuine interest in the cause is what creates a leader. For the first couple of years, this sense of purpose was not clear to me either, as there were so many opportunities to choose from, but not enough time to fully commit to and pursue them all. However, it soon became clear that becoming a leader is a potential quality every single person has within them. All it needs is some focus and a genuine desire to spread the ideas to others.
A leader does not need to make himself or herself visible to the entire world; if the cause is humble, and the power to believe is indefinite, the world itself recognizes the work of a true leader.
About Jaskirat Sahni
Jaskirat Sahni is a first year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science at UBC. She loves volunteering in the community during her spare time, as she is an active volunteer in many organizations including the City of Surrey and Free the Children, and has also founded a non-profit organization called “Girls Empowered”.