So… why invest in the next generation? My simple answer… is because the world’s greatest challenges are too big to be solved in our lifetime.
There was a time a few years ago, when I was truly disheartened about the world. Our greatest problems seemed so insurmountable, so overwhelming, so beyond solution:
Food, Water, Poverty, Abuse, Climate Change, Displacement – whether happening on another continent or right in our own neighbourhoods. The world is facing some of it’s biggest ever challenges. There are immense and will likely not get solved in our lifetime.
So, in light of these immense challenges – I was asking myself how do we tackle them, how do we find a solution? How do we make a difference?
I hold the belief that we have a responsibility to act now, to do what we can – AND to help our next generation to be better, more compassionate, tolerant and human leaders.
In building my own non-profit over the past few years focused on helping young emerging women leaders around the globe – I have three lessons I want to share with you on the why and the how of investing in the next generation:
Impossible things become possible. So what seems impossible to you at this moment can change if you make the effort.
Take for example – Mahatma Ghandi’s principle of ‘ah-im-sa’ – non-violence. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement and Nelson Mandela in South Africa – all put this practise in to being. Ghandi’s struggle for freedom through non-violence was laughed at and dismissed at first. Now nonviolence has become a common strategy throughout the world.
Or let’s look back even further… 200 years ago was a time of harsh treatment of children, the poor, animal and slaves and so much more. But, by the end of the 19th century such brutality became rarer and by the end of the 20th century it was a criminal offense in most places.
In the last century, we have seen rises in our overall well being – health, education, inequality and safety. For instance, 200 years ago, just 1 in 5 people worldwide could read, by the year 2000 4 out of 5 were literate. The most important difference between the world today and 150 years ago isn’t airplane flight or the Internet. It’s lifespan. We used to live 35 or 40 years on average in the United States, but now we live almost 80. We used to get one life. Now we get two.
Much of what we take for granted today once would have sounded like mere pipe dreams: universal education, outlawing slavery, instant access to the world’s knowledge base.
We have gone from outlandish dreams to commonplace reality again and again – but it does take time. We must not forget to apply a long lens.
One of my favorite stories is from Captain Cook. In 1774 Captain James Cook was sailing the South Pacific for the 2nd time when, on an island to the NE of Australia he came upon a variety of tree that amazed him with how straight and high it grew.
“He thought theses trees could provide the perfect wood for ship’s masts, a prized commodity in his day. And one that might save the lives of crews stranded by storms that had destroyed their ship’s masts.
As the story goes, Captain Cook gathered seeds of the Norfolk Island Pine (named after the island where he found it). and as he landed on other islands around the Pacific he planted them there, thinking that in decades to come they might become life-saving masts.”
But what of the discouragement many feel realizing they may not see results from their best efforts? Why do anything?
Humanity can change, but the shifts are gradual – remember we must apply a long lens, and we must begin. Our generation must start these important efforts, even if the results don’t materialize in our lifetime. It’s our responsibility to start, to support our new generation coming forward to shape the world for the better.
That’s all and everything we can do.
If you can change the life of just one person, you’ll truly have the courage to change the world.
Analytical rigor says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.
That’s a lot of folks!
But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people —and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people —just ten—then in five generations —125 years — you and l will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.”
And that’s how it started for me. I started by offering my executive coaching skills to young women in the social impact space, who I knew couldn’t afford leadership development. I held a belief that the younger a woman was, when she got access to coaching the more she would know herself, step in to her strengths, reduce burnout and increase her impact in the world.
I began helping just 3 young women, working to consciously transform them. Taking time out of my week to spend an hour at a time with each of them, and very quickly I could see the impact our work was having. And not only this, but I also learned of the deepening impact those women were having in their communities and the world.
I saw an opportunity to help more women, bringing other experienced coaches and extraordinary young women of impact together. And as I talk to you today, we now have more than 100 coaches in 20 countries who completely volunteer their time to coach emerging women leaders. Our applicants come from 81 countries.
We work with some of the world’s most high potential young women leaders. They are reforming the US Government, taking on the unbanked. They are making the spoiled vaccine problem go away forever, they are making adoption of children easier, fighting for human rights, for women and girls advancement, rehabilitating child soldiers, teaching empathy and scores more needed causes. I am proud and dedicated to helping these women,
I have a deeply held belief, that not only will they do better than us, but they will bring more with them, they will too pay it forward to help the next generation and and the next generation.
Our problems may be insurmountable, but we’ve proved that when we take a long lens pipe dreams can become reality, when we take up the responsibility to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow humanity will change, and we can start making a difference today by changing the life of one single person.
The ripple effects are without end.
P.S. I love encouraging people to sign up for the newsletter for news, coaching tips and updates on our Fellowship application cycles.
The Coaching Fellowship is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing young women leaders. A small donation will greatly help us reach and serve more extraordinary women around the world. Please consider making a donation today – we deeply thank you.