Most people recognize my work as an author and speaker, but my lifelong passion is working with high school youth. For the past 25 years, I’ve had the honor of being the founder of Leader’s Challenge and the National Leadership Academy www.nationalleadershipacademy.org, CEO & President of the world renowned global leadership organization, Up with People and the founder of the Global Youth Leadership Academy www.globalyouthleadershipacademy.com. Thousands of youth from all over the world have participated in one of our leadership programs. I believe there is nothing more important than teaching high school kids the importance of servant leadership, becoming a heart-led leader and the power of these four most important words: It’s Not About You!
I have hundreds of stories and lessons that I’ve learned from mentoring and teaching youth for the past quarter century. Like anything in life, the more I pour my heart into serving our youth, the more blessed and humbled I’ve become. Simply put, I’ve probably learned more from youth than most of my adult mentors – combined! Let me share with you one story.
A couple of years ago, we took our weeklong Global Youth Leadership Academy to Germany. One late night our bus, filled with 35 teenagers and 12 adult staff, pulled into our hotel parking lot in Dresden, Germany. Minutes before we arrived it started to rain. Pouring rain. The kind of rain that I have only seen in the rainforests of Australia and Costa Rica. Deep heavy pouring rain that is not actual rain drops, but rain sheets and buckets.
As the bus approached the hotel, we instructed the bus driver to park about 100 feet away. The plan was to wait to get off and unload the bus (and the 50 pieces of luggage under the carriage) until the rain subsided. But the rain did not subside. It just kept pounding down.
While the staff were meeting to talk about a plan, two student participants, got off the bus. Without being told or prodded, these two brothers started to unload all the luggage – running back and forth while everyone else just watched. It was pouring so hard, we couldn’t even tell who they were. And by the time the rest of the crew even thought to pitch in, these two teenagers basically unloaded the entire bus – dashing 100 feet through pouring rain, over and over again, placing all the luggage inside the hotel lobby. Drenched to the bone.
Yesterday I was visiting my good friend and mentor Bill Graebel, CEO & President of Graebel Relocation. He was sharing with me, in his office, his vision for their company – to become the most trusted global brand for relocation. Bill has built a wildly successful global company on these three company values: Love, Truth and Integrity.
He said something during our meeting that I felt compelled to jot down. “Most of us go out of our way to help themselves, but few go out of their way to help and serve others.”
Back to the bus in Dresden, Germany.
Most of us waited on the bus for the rain to stop. All of us watched two high school kids show us what love, truth and integrity is all about…….one suitcase at a time. It changed our group dynamic from that moment – as others looked for ways to out-serve each other.
What will you do today to help and serve others? Who will you get drenched to the bone for?
To nominate a high school student to participate in our GYLA Italy 2017 leadership program, please visit: www.globalyouthleadershipacademy.com