By Laura Reddick July 3, 2014
I hope that I’m an emerging leader. This means that I’m not old enough to have had an impact on the world (I’m 28), but I’m old enough to know I want to someday. I care about things like climate change, endangered species, social justice, racial inequality, women’s rights, and the status of religion and spirituality in our society. I want to see the world become a better place in the decades I have remaining in my life.
I see my peers making a huge difference and really changing the world. All of the typical people like Mark Zuckerberg are redefining what it means to live in our world and the trend is generally towards the democratic, personal, and digitally connected. But I don’t feel like we’re fully thinking things through. The question for me right now is how are we changing the world? What impacts will our decisions make? Don’t we want to move the world towards a place where everyone can flourish and thrive, or as Teilhard de Chardin puts it, to have a zest for life?
“Leadership in the future will be collective. When we think of leaders, we’ll think of ourselves.”
I’ve always wanted to open a bookstore someday. The idea wasn’t to sell books at all, but to have a meeting space for people to gather and have good conversations. Talking about important issues was central for me, and I went on to become a philosophy major. Just like in my vision of my bookstore, meaningful conversation is the key to making headway on the question about how we’re changing the world and starting to consider those answers before we start the changing.
We now have the means to have this type of discussion on a global scale. The recent #yesallwomen movement was a global conversation about systemic injustices towards women that brought the issue to the forefront. With our ability to speak to each other about the issues that matter without the mediation of the media, we can begin to collaborate on creative projects that address the big issues together. Consider that a conversation is an action. By just talking about something openly and honestly, you can do something about the problem. Speaking aloud with others about things that matter is a way to create anew, or at least begin the process.
I think leadership in the future will be collective. When we hear the word leader, we won’t think of a powerful individual making the decisions. Instead, we’ll think of a group of people who have the best interest of the whole in mind with the creative capacity to make positive change. We’ll think of those people who gently encourage us to step into our own potential and into a circle of comrades all working towards not just a better world, but a world that is sustainable, just, and fulfilling. When we think of leaders, we’ll think of ourselves.
So I hope I am becoming a leader in the sense that I hope I will have the strength and courage to create, collaboratively with others, a small portion of the solutions to our current crises, and help those around me to be better equipped to address the next issue on the list. Though our world may never be perfect, we are always creating the world we want to live in, and I don’t want to live in the world as it is now. I want to live in the world we lead together.