By VICTORIA LOW XIN WEI
In your journey through life, there will surely be at least one person who inspires you a lot.
It could be your parents, teachers, friends, or sometimes your favourite singer or movie character.
Well, for me, my inspiration and the ones who motivated me to become a better person are the people in Leaderonomics.
They have taught me what it is to be a true leader and at the same time, to humble myself in helping others, especially my teammates.
Working in a team
I also found my passion in writing when I attended the DIODE Leadership Workshop organised by the Leaderonomics Youth team at their Leaderonomics office premise in the middle of last year.
During the workshop, we had to come up with an article on cyberbullying.
My team had to do research, brainstorm for ideas and interview people who had been bullied or been bullies themselves.
Everyone in the team played a role, from editing, writing, taking photographs, interviewing and researching, to make the project a success.
Obviously, I did the writing and I was really happy as everyone cooperated and did a good job.
Throughout the workshop, Leaderonomics and their team provided us with guidance and sound advice.
A journalist from their editorial team even came to give us feedback on our work.
After attending the workshop, my confidence was boosted and I learnt to get out of my comfort zone.
DIODE Youth Leadership Camp
The experience at the workshop was so profound that I immediately signed up for their Youth DIODE Leadership Camp held from Nov 27–Dec 2, 2017.
The camp was another incredible experience. It was a six-day camp held in an eco-resort near Batu Caves, Selangor, and it was my first time away on my own.
There were many participants from diverse backgrounds, aged between 13 to 16. Some even came from children’s homes.
At the campsite, we had a schedule laid out for sharing sessions, games, projects and, of course, meal times!
I had to learn to be independent and disciplined, minus the comforts of home.
I also learnt to mingle and interact with people from different backgrounds.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the camp:
Mark of a true leader
I used to think that by positioning myself as a leader, it was okay to be proud, and it was okay to care more about myself than the people around me.
Well, guess what? I had the wrong mindset.
I learnt that not everyone has the same ability to do the same things: each person is gifted with something unique that only they can do best.
At the camp, my pride took a hit as I faced hurdles that really challenged me.
Not wanting to take responsibilities and fail, I often felt like slipping into the follower mode and letting someone else do the hard work and take the blame.
However, the Leaderonomics team was just incredible. Day in and day out, for the entire six days, they drum into you all the good attributes of a leader.
This actually sunk into me, for I began to think more maturely.
I started to feel that I can be a strong leader and I will work things out.
It wasn’t easy at all: thinking of bright ideas, coming up with plans and solutions, yet still having to convince my teammates and earn their trust.
In the end, all of efforts paid off as we did the project successfully as a team.
Stepping out of comfort zone
The camp was not all work and no play. There were many fun and challenging team games that tested our leadership skills and helped us bond with each other.
We also had a session where we had to build our confidence by sharing our thoughts, fears, dreams and challenges that we dread to overcome.
I had extreme stage fright: I simply turned jelly and had butterflies in my stomach!
Listening to the others, I realised that I wasn’t the only one going through difficulties; the people around me faced similar challenges too.
It was tough, but I picked up my courage and stood in front of the audience and presented my paper.
In the end, I felt good and very proud of myself, even though I felt like there was an earthquake inside of me.
Looking within thyself
There was another session that I really enjoyed where we had to reflect on ourselves.
This was a rather serious session. Some broke down and wept openly.
The experience taught me that everyone makes mistakes and that nobody is perfect.
The turning point is to acknowledge your mistakes, change and carry on to be a better person.
It really touched my heart as it did for the others, too.
A changed person
Before we said our goodbyes on our last day of camp, we had a piece of paper stuck behind our backs. Everyone had to write nice or meaningful messages to the person.
That piece of crumpled paper is still hanging proudly in my room, constantly reminding me of what I can become and what I can achieve.
The camp was truly life-changing!
Victoria is a 14-year-old student who attended Leaderonomics’ Youth DIODE Leadership camp in 2017. To find out more about this year’s upcoming DIODE camps and our other initiatives for Malaysian youths, drop us an email at email@example.com.
Starting Young is a column featuring stories written by individuals who have been a part of Leaderonomics Youth, our community arm which focuses on developing youths through various leadership initiatives. If you have participated in any of our programmes – be it as a student or a facilitator – and would like to share your experience, do write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!