I just returned from a week long experience as a coach at the Anthony Robbins Foundation Global Youth Leadership Summit. Around 350 kids from 42 countries, ages 14-17, plus youth leaders, the other coaches, powerful content, and more.
These teens came to us the first day…some scared, some mad, some excited, some shy, some overly talkative, some in pain, all different and beautiful in their own way.
They left strong, confident, radiant leaders ready to take on the world.
The transformations were incredible.
One arrived so withdrawn she literally shrunk from my light touch on her arm as if my fingers were made of fire. We’ll call her Jane.
One had a chip on his shoulder so large his anger at the world could be felt from across the campus. We’ll call him Bob.
There were many Janes and Bobs.
They came mad at parents that ‘made’ them come, afraid of being judged, doubtful they would fit in. And were immediately greeted by another group. A group that has been there before or heard about the program from an older sibling. They were different.
They were balls of light and laughter. They were excited and ready. They knew their mission. Their job was to open the hearts and the minds of the Janes and the Bobs. They engaged them with games. Asked questions and showed genuine interest in the answers. They appreciated the diverse cultures and viewpoints. They introduced them to others, started conversations, encouraged, and uplifted.
The combination of team challenges, amazing speakers, and content taught these students the power of self-love, finding their voice, kindness and contribution. They laughed. They cried. They danced. They sang. They built lifelong friendships.
But let’s go back to Jane and Bob. These were two specific, real examples (not actually named Jane and Bob).
I saw Jane, who was so closed off and scared when she arrived, two days later laughing so hard she was holding her stomach. I noticed throughout the week how beautiful her smile was. I saw a light of strength in her eyes that said, “I’m never going to let anyone hurt me again. But it’s ok to be happy. I deserve to be happy.”
I saw Bob, stand and speak into the microphone about the pressures of where he came from. I watched in awe as the chip on his shoulder slowly fragmented and fell away. I saw him working in a team and helping to support people whose ‘kind’ in the past had hurt his…knowing finally that these new friends were special and not to be judged based on the color of their skin, religion, ethnicity, gender, or anything other than who they were in their hearts.
These kids taught me things. So many things. More than I can ever write here. But two in particular stood out to me.
- I had no idea just how prevalent the hurting is. How much these kids are suffering. The abuse, pain, and challenges they face must stop. And I’m going to do my part to make that happen.
- These beautiful souls are resilient. Programs like this Global Youth Leadership Summit are transformative. But the real solution is love. The change will come when each person understands the power of kind words, honoring each other, and really seeing and loving another for who they are. Simple moments of empowering or helping another can make a difference.
One of the speakers this week was Alex Sheen founder of because I said I would, a social movement and nonprofit helping to inspire people to follow through on their promises. In honor of his challenge I am making a promise.
What about you? It doesn’t have to be big. What can you commit to doing that will help to ease someone’s pain or lift someone’s heart?
Action Step: Right now make a choice. Decide what you can do…from a daily act of kindness all the way up to ….well who am I to limit you by making a suggestion? What can you do to make a positive change in someone’s life? Make the decision. Then take that action. I know you will. I believe in you.
For more on Heather or to learn about how she’s making out with her promise go to HeatherHansenOneill.com or email her anytime with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.