Youth voice – Dare to be different

I have been pondering recently how we should really view young people not necessarily as agents to be changed, but as agents of change.

Young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but of today. They need to be encouraged, supported and inspired to step out as leaders in their community now.

While I consider myself by no means an expert on the topic, and very much still a learner, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few points that may help young leaders chart this journey.

First and foremost, dare to be different. Growing up as a young person, there is mammoth pressure to conform to the culture of the day. However, we need young leaders who will not settle for the status quo. Do your due diligence and don’t just choose to go with the crowd to fit in with the flow. It’s okay to stand out and stand up.

Secondly, a bit of idealism doesn’t hurt. In fact it can be an active ingredient, in propelling you forward. Admittedly, when I stood in the local body elections as an 18 year old, I was full of idealism for making our community a better place to live, work and play. Yes, I had a lot to learn, but it drove me forward and as the cliche goes, sometimes being chucked in the deep end is the best way to learn. Don’t shy away from your fresh ideas and enthusiastic passion.

Thirdly, don’t be fearful of failure. You can learn just as much from getting things wrong as you can getting things right. Take carefully considered risks and know that failure is not final. In fact, bouncing back from failure builds resilience and it is the courage to continue that counts. In the words of leadership expert John Maxwell, “experience is not the best teacher, but evaluated experience is”.

Whether it be in a sports team, classroom, workplace, business or any other organisation, young people are needed as leaders. Any young leader needs an adult on their team who they can learn and seek advice from, who will cheer them on and call out their potential.

I encourage everyone to get behind our youth. It is a great investment that will be sure to provide a significant return in the long run.