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winter 2010

the leaders for life magazine

Contents Lessons Learned

Participants explain our program’s impact.

Staff Speaks

Our staff shares its thoughts.

5 6 12 2

Director’s Message By Teresa D. Huggins

Editor’s Note By Alex Schloop

Learning Through Teaching By Jessica A. Dorzek

7 10 16 24

You Choose Your Attitude By Laura Grosack

Ripples Around the World By Megan L. Young

Become a COW By Rachel Rosenbaum


By Lindsey Lou Langdon

Other Highlights

Additional notes and information.

Experience snippets of our programs.

8 17 18 20 22 23

Snapshots Formula for Success By Teresa D. Huggins

Keys for Effortless Success By Teresa D. Huggins

Connections Count By Teresa D. Huggins

A Guide to Successful Meetings By Alex Schloop

Sample Schedule

Our Mission Contact Information Credits The Kindness Initiative By Tricia Sticca

Program Dates



Get an Impression

4 4 6 27 28

winter 2010

Leaders for Life International empowers teens to fulfill dreams and achieve success. Our dynamic programs awaken inner potential and provide a foundation for authentic, inspired action. By attending our programs, teens learn to create life balance, achieve effortless academic success, manage time effectively, and craft action plans. Participants leave our programs as engaged leaders with the power needed to initiate and complete community projects. By increasing confidence and applying new leadership strategies, we forge trusting bonds between participants and staff.


Phone 315-525-3296

Mail Leaders for Life International, L.L.C. P.O. Box 44 Clinton, NY 13323 4

e! n i l n o s u Visit uggin


s ’ r o t c e r i D message A

s I review the design of this magazine, my heart is filled with incredible pride and joy for Alex Schloop, our editor. He had a vision of this magazine and found a way to create it. This same young man first came to the Leaders for Life International Program in 2005. He arrived hesitant and uncertain and left empowered and confident. Alex is now a sophomore at Wells College where he continues to initiate new programs. Can a week change a life? Yes! Can one idea shared at camp create a ripple of new ideas in schools and communities? Absolutely! In fact, our teens say a single moment can change a life. Teens come to our programs as strangers and leave as friends, continuing to support one another throughout their lives and various service projects. There is something special about taking a journey together that remains in one’s heart long after the shared experience. As a teenager, I attended a three-day event that changed my focus, shifted my awareness, and expanded who I thought I could be. A moment in thought transports me back to conversations with the small group of teens I met during those days. In this moment, I recall the insights, the friendships, and the feeling that I can dream and create. In this moment, a flash of smiles, hugs, and laughter rekindles the bond that I felt so long ago and remains within my heart now. With every program, I am further inspired to expand Leaders for Life. Long hours, little sleep, and a multitude of programming details are cradled in the embrace of joy as I see teens accepting one another and discussing how they can enhance the world in which they live. It is the creative passion of our teens that inspires me. I could fill this magazine with stories of the extraordinary projects that teens have developed when given permission to dream big. Kristen, a quiet 15-year-old, reached out to the homeless and asked her classmates to join a project that grew to 120 people. Luke, an enthusiastic 14-year-old, initiated a collection of toys for children during the holiday season. With the help of many friends and families, he gathered 140 toys and increased his gratitude for all he has. Tara, a determined 16-year-old, became an advisor for Model UN when a teacher couldn’t do it and recruited 40 students to join the club for the year. The heightened interest in the program caused her high school to create an international studies elective class for its students. Megan, a shy, talented 17-year-old, released her fear at L4L and reached her “stretch goal” by traveling to Japan as a Rotary student. She created a ripple across the world by teaching lessons learned at our program to the stu-

dents in her host school. Zach made a commitment to connect with younger students in his school and encouraged his basketball team to do the same. Countless others have achieved their dreams and helped their communities. What if we truly believed in our youth and there were funds to create their projects? How big would the ripple be? Our programs are interactive, fun-filled, welcoming, and exploratory. We believe in a teen’s power to change the world. We trust that teens will continue their journey after the program is over, and most return for additional programming. We feel excitement for their visions and we teach them the strategies for transforming their dreams into reality. What is the grand vision? To expand L4L programs so teens can attend regardless of their family’s ability to pay, to create a ripple of positive programs in schools and communities, to design internships for college students that will help enhance their

Teens come to our programs as strangers and leave as friends, continuing to support one another throughout their lives and various service projects. leadership gifts, and to provide a foundation for future leaders in the workplace. Have you ever been to an inspirational training or read an uplifting book and thought, “I wish I knew this when I was a teen?” L4L is the program that ignites the human potential in our youth and supports them in their lifelong journey to be free of self-limiting judgments. It encourages them to be courageous, to pursue their dreams, and to be focused on creating a future filled with joy and success. Do you want to be one of the leaders who look ahead to our future, who choose to give back and support the next generations of leaders? Do you want to know that you contributed to a young person with a great vision? If you are so moved to support Leaders for Life International, call your local schools, sponsor teens in your area, and keep in mind that teens today will be our world leaders tomorrow. In fact, they are changing the world right now! For more information, email or call (315) 525-3296. t The Ripple | Winter 2010



Teresa D. Huggins ( Alex Schloop ( Ana Giovinazzo (



Page 1: Tara Huggins

Page 12: Laura Stoll

Page 2: Abe Lopez Christian Firsching

Page 14: Laura Stoll

Page 3: Christian Firsching Page 4: Christian Firsching Page 5:

Page 16: Page 17: Teresa Huggins Page 18:

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Page 21: Christian Firsching Ashley Davidson

Page 8: Brittany Scalise Laura Stoll Erin Daly Page 9: Kate Thompson Laura Stoll Page 11:


Page 22: Page 24: Tara Huggins Page 26: Tara Huggins Page 28: Christian Firsching Laura Stoll Abe Lopez Casey Meyers

As Leaders for Life continues to expand and improve, I am overjoyed. This magazine is the result of one of the numerous brainstorms that happen in between our inspiring summer programs. Through this magazine, I am able to pass on the message of an amazing five-year path that has changed my life. I entered the program in 2005 as a shy high school student without any leadership experience, and I now lead a fulfilling life of passion and success. My hope is that all teens may enjoy the same experience and realize that anything is possible. This magazine attempts to give a glimpse of what our participants experience by attending our programs. Teresa’s articles describe leadership strategies and the rewarding experience L4L participants gain. Staff members contribute pieces that exhibit their knowledge and compassion. Past participants share personal essays that describe the impact the program has had on them. I wish the Leaders for Life experience were easier to explain. It is one of those things you have to experience to fully appreciate. Leaders for Life has not only given me immense self-confidence, but also deep interpersonal connections and memories that will last a lifetime. Happy reading, and as we say at L4L, see you soon. t

lessons learned: You Choose Your Attitude By Teresa Huggins


used to have what some might call a “negative” attitude. The world was against me. I was never good enough. It wasn’t fair. That attitude stuck with me until the fourth day of my junior year in high school. It’s a good thing I caught it then rather than later. It is only recently that I began to choose my attitude, whatever the challenges. The saying “you only get one life to live” is true, and I have chosen to embrace it by telling myself four simple words every day. For my first two years of high school, my life seemed like a roller coaster, replete with ups and downs. I often felt my successes were not good enough or I that I could do better. I never took the time to delight in the curveballs life threw at me. Some ended up making me stronger as a person. I was a friendly and outgoing individual and had people in my life I was able to talk to. Recently I have enjoyed trying to revel in the positive and negative circumstances of life. But it wasn’t until I was at a camp in the Adirondacks that I truly grasped the importance of choosing my attitude. In an old log cabin at the campsite where I was a camper, a counselor was sharing an experience she had that helped shape her as a person. Fifteen other campers and six counselors, all of whom I am very close with, surrounded me. I did not know it then, but the four words the counselor chose to share with the group would give me insight into my personal capabilities and identity: “You choose your attitude.” It seems odd that such simple words ended up shaping how I see myself today. It was not until a month after I heard these words for the first time that I realized their full effect. It was two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon and I was in line to take my driver’s license test. My palms were sweaty; I sensed a headache coming on. As I drove around an unfamiliar town, I was instructed to parallel

park. Within seconds, I hit the curb and knew I had failed. As I got into the car with my father to drive home, those four words entered my mind as if I had known them my whole life. I did not cry. I did not frown. I did not even let it ruin my day. After all, they couldn’t keep me off the road forever. I was okay with failing and realized that I was no less of a person. That specific day was simply not my day to pass. When I got home, I scheduled my next road test. This newfound attitude was fixated in my brain as a new school year approached. As my junior year of high school began, I knew I was taking on a great deal of academic and extracurricular responsibilities. That first week of my junior year, I panicked and questioned myself. Familiar sentiments of doubt crept back into my mind. Yet that

“I was capable of anything.” same week, I received a call from the counselor who told her story in that log cabin and she repeated that powerful phrase to me. It finally sunk in. Rather than doubting myself and complaining that I was taking on more than I could handle, I chose my attitude and told myself I was capable of anything. This time, I believed in those words and myself. The day after that phone call, my mother approached me and asked why I seemed less anxious. I looked at her and said, “I choose my attitude.” t

The Ripple | Winter 2010


Our participants say it best...

“Camp really did chan ge me. All my life I’ve tried to b e the best person I can, but cam p gave me the tools I need to rea lly be who I want to be and to be there for those around me.” – L isa “My camp experience was incredible. I learned so much about myself and others.” – John 8

“Coming to camp was like becoming reborn; now I’m confident and believe in myself.” – Megan

“Everyone was so inviting and open, friendly, and trusting.” – Katie

“Leaders for Life camp was one of the best weeks of my life. I was touched by so many people, and my life has changed for the better.” – Ian

“We love seeing Marge in the dining hall! She’s like everyone’s grandmother with a bi g heart and lots of hugs.” - Al ex

lessons learned: Ripples Around the World By Megan L. Young


s I sit here at my kitchen table, listening to

Mika Nakashima on my new 80GB iPod, I watch my host family interact with each other, and I can’t help but to reflect on how I got here. “Here”—that must seem so vague. By “here” I mean Osaka, Japan, the third-largest city in the country and an 18-hour plane ride from my hometown of 1,500 people in Central New York. The journey was not easy, and no, I don’t mean the plane ride. The journey I am talking about is my journey of personal struggle and growth—everything it took to get me “here.” Here—Osaka, Japan. Here—the point of happiness. Here—living in the moment, right now. It took a couple of years to convince me to go to Leaders For Life in July of 2007. Two very close friends of mine, Alex and Katie, were seasoned leaders, and the pair had been persistently trying to recruit me. I recall Alex once saying, “Meg, I can’t describe camp because it’s that amazing. You just have to go to know.” And with the promise of a life-changing experience, I decided to see what it was all about. However, when the day arrived for me to go to Leaders For Life, I found myself begging my parents to let me stay home, even though camp was being held a 10-minute drive away, at Hamilton College. Conveniently, my older brother and his wife

They reached out to me. For the first three nights of camp I cried in my room at night because I wanted to go home. My shyness was eating away at me. I felt worse off than I had been originally. Just when I was ready to give up, the day came to give heart talks. I had briefly discussed bits and pieces of my heart talk with Teresa, so when I timidly raised my hand that day in the Keyhole Room, I had some idea of what to say. Even though I had thought out my heart talk, nothing could prepare me for actually facing my fellow leaders and the CREW. The first thing I did? I cried. With everyone watching me and devoting their attention to me for that moment, I suddenly became overwhelmed with anguish. Although I was scared to make myself vulnerable, I knew it was something I had to do. I began to tell everyone about a very close and dearly loved relative who began doing drugs and drinking. Her addictions had a negative impact on our family. There was a lot of verbal abuse, and witnessing her downfall brought about my own. I had already been shy, but her negativity lowered my self-esteem. I became withdrawn. My confidence plummeted and was sucked into an endless black hole. It didn’t help that my friends had let me down along the way. Instead of being supportive and offering a shoulder, they turned their backs. They stopped speaking to me, judging me based on the actions of my family member. They didn’t want to be friends with someone “like me” because they were all scared of my relative and didn’t want anything to do with me. I will never forget eating lunch alone every day for the duration of the seventh grade. I would spread my books and papers around me to make myself look busy, as if I didn’t notice or mind the loneliness. Entering the ninth grade, I had found myself new, reliable friends, but I had not found myself. Instead, depression settled in and I became darker and more pessimistic than I had ever been. By February 2005, I was a ship waiting to sink. As the problems in my family worsened, I began to give up. My relative’s personal problems had bested her for the time being, and I was giving into the fear of uncertainty. Eventually I was of the mindset that life was not worth living. No one understood what was happening in my family. In a small high school like mine, rumors spread like a flesh-eating virus and everyone thought they knew the truth. Everyone thought I would end up just like her. I cannot count how many times I wanted to

“I had achieved the unthinkable.” live just down the street from the college, so I had my escape plan mapped out. Why was I desperate to stay in the comfort of my own house? Quite simple. I was miserably shy and couldn’t handle being around a large group of people I didn’t know. I still remember being the first camper to arrive and being alone with the Crew. Laura, Phil, and Mika all tried to get me to talk and open up a little bit, but their attempts only got so far. Eventually, I just stopped talking. But nowadays, when I reflect on that moment, it warms my heart. 10

start screaming at people, wanting to tell them to just shut up. Her... she was family. I hated her so badly for everything, but at the same time, I loved her. I couldn’t give up on her like everyone else had. I held onto a glimmer of hope that everything would be alright. I hit my all-time low in March 2005 while on the suicidal fast track. My friends welcomed me with supporting, loving arms and they did the right thing. They took me to the guidance counselor on the 31st of March, and that was the day when life changed. Again. The next two years were a struggle for happiness and finding myself and what I wanted out of my new life. My relative was in and out of rehabilitation centers. Although separated, we were confronting our demons together. For those two years—tenth and eleventh grade—I listened to Alex and Katie gush about this fabulous leadership camp that was unrivaled by any other. My initial reaction was “yeah right,” but hearing more and more about camp plucked at my curiosity. And that was the end of my heart talk, but the beginning of my life. Telling such a personal story liberated me. There is no possible way to describe the kind of relief I felt when I finished speaking. Because I was brave enough to reveal that story to almost fifty people, I felt brave enough to welcome major changes into my life. The day I left camp I cried and cried... and cried for the next three days. My shyness and burdens had been completely eliminated. The old Meg was replaced by the Meg I had always longed to become: confident, brave, outgoing, and sincerely happy. I had reached a point of fulfillment and it never tasted so sweet. And to top it off, I had gained a loving family that would never let me down. I remember when I ordered my first pizza after camp. That was a big deal for me. I had never ordered a pizza before because I had always been too shy. I was able to walk in public with my head held high, proud of the person I had become. And the best part? Everyone else noticed my positive change. Needless to say, my last year of high school was an adventurous one. I quit field hockey and decided to play tennis. I chose to go after an ongoing dream to become a writer. I applied as a Professional Writing major at an out-of-state college and was accepted. But all of this wasn’t enough for me. There was one thing left I had to do. And here I am. I am in Japan. I dreamed of living in Japan

since I was a little girl—four years old, to be precise. No one really knew where the fascination came from, because my house didn’t have cable television until I was ten. I suppose it’s one of those things that’s just meant to be, no questions asked. I had been considering Rotary Youth Exchange since I was a freshman in high school, but I never had the courage to apply until I went to Leaders For Life. I set my sights on Japan and jumped into the longest two months of my life. For me it was Japan or bust, even though I would happily go anywhere Rotary decided to send me. I knew very well that my chances of going to Japan were slim. When I was told I actually would be going there, my heart must have stopped, because after the initial shock, I was breathless and in tears. I had accomplished the unthinkable. Only 45 students around the world are here in Japan with me, and that isn’t a lot compared to how many students go to the States, Europe, or South America. So here I am—in Japan—happy and living in the moment, knowing I cannot relive it. I am appreciating this experience with my entire being, open to all possibilities. Eternal gratitude for this opportunity does not even come close to describing how thankful I am. And it’s not just Japan that I am thankful for. I feel blessed for having the opportunity to go to Leaders For Life. I never knew what camp would do for me. I never knew I would be living out my wildest dreams. It seemed that when my perspective changed, so did my relative’s. She has been clean from drugs and alcohol for almost two years now. She is attending school for phlebotomy and is engaged. She and her fiancé are excepting a baby in March. I love her so much. We struggled together, but because of what we each endured, we’ve become more than two people living in the same house. We’ve become best friends. We’ve become sisters. I wouldn’t change anything that has happened in my life. Each event has contributed to who I’ve become. So again, here I am. I am experiencing what some could only dream of, which was where it began for me: a dream. And here I am . . . A Leader for Life. t

The Ripple | Winter 2010


Our students teach us the most important lessons By Jessica A. Dorzek LMSW



Cheley Colorado Camps

have written this story in my head about a hundred times. I “write” it before I fall asleep at night, while I’m driving in the car, and even when I’m at work. But for some reason, taking the story from my head and actually putting it down on paper seems like a big step. How do you get an experience down on paper and really do it justice? How do you recreate what it sounded like, smelled like, felt like? And then there’s the difficulty of looking at a blank page. While I love to write and love putting something down and then reworking it until it sounds right, I hate to actually start the process. I hate to look at a blank page and figure out how to craft it so that it means something. What I’ve learned is that while I may never be able to recreate an experience, I can try my best to give readers a taste of what that experience was like: to give them my perspective on something that happened in my life at a particular time and in a particular place. It won’t be a perfect recreation, but I can hope that it will be interesting, maybe even funny or touching. Others may be able to find a common experience or insight into their own journey. However, I’m a real perfectionist, and letting go of the need to write the perfect story is part of my journey. As for that blank page, like life, the best way to approach it is to just jump right in and start writing. Once that fear of not being quite perfect is gone, it’s much easier to just let your fingers flow over the keyboard. And once you’ve written something down, it’s not a blank page anymore. So after that long introduction, let me go back in time and start the story that has taken me so long to write. Back in 1999, I found myself in a college class called “Issues in Education.” I decided to take this class as an elective because I had always found education interesting, probably in part because my mom is a teacher and sometimes things like this are just in the genes. This class was a little bit different than some I had taken; it had a significant amount of work, but a much more open and unstructured format. After a few weeks of discussing pedagogy, curriculum, our own perspectives on education, and various current issues surrounding schools, we were given an assignment that we would complete over the course of the semester. The beauty of it was that we could do whatever we wanted to do, as long as it was related to education. The problem was that we could do whatever we wanted to do, as long as it was related to education. I thought for a long time about what kind of project I could do. I entertained numerous ideas about books I could read or topics I could investigate. Around that same time, my younger sister was thirteen. She was struggling with the normal issues that girls that age struggle with: social pressures, difficulty with friends, conflicts with parents, and self esteem. Added to those “normal” struggles was the fact that my sister was learning disabled, and we would later learn, suffering from anxiety and bipolar disorder. I began to think about her experience in seventh grade and my own memories of adolescence. It was an extremely tough time characterized by insecurity, self-scrutiny, problems with friends, and thoughts about how I looked, how I dressed, and who I was friends with. I thought about how I felt at thirteen and how my feelings The Ripple | Winter 2010


about the world around me might have been different if I’d known my potential. Even though I was a nerdy, flute-playing, skinny girl who was terrible at sports, I would grow up to become someone who was smart, beautiful, confident, kind, and compassionate. In addition to being reassured that I would turn out okay, what other impact would it have had on my life if I’d had my very own college-age mentor? A mentor would have been someone I could ask for advice, who would assure me that I would actually blossom into something much better than my seventh-grade self could imagine. I then had my idea for a project. I could assemble a group of middle school girls and meet with them throughout the semester to talk about issues that were important to them. In this initial endeavor, I also decided to find a common project in order to bring the girls together and give the group a sense of purpose. I decided to approach a nearby school and present the project. My professor put me in touch with a guidance counselor who would eventually become a very important person in my life and a longtime supporter of mine. She helped me get approval for the project and find girls who were interested in being part of it. I ran the group at the school for a whole semester and learned many lessons in the process. At the end of the semester, I brought the girls to campus to share how this experience had touched their lives. They were so bright and positive, talking at length about what it meant to them, sharing themselves and their dreams and

goals with my college-aged classmates. For my peers, having the girls come to campus was a highlight and made the project real for them. Because the group was so successful and because the girls and I were reluctant to say goodbye to each other, I decided to continue the group into the spring semester. I met with the same girls weekly as part of an independent study project where I looked at how they talked about various emotions. The project then turned into something larger where I created a guidebook of lesson plans so it could be replicated. And during my senior year, with the help of a campus organization, I wrote a grant and received funding from a local women’s group to do the project in six different schools. The work with these girls was a turning point in my life. Through them, I learned many lessons about working with teens, how to make a difference in another person’s life, and most importantly, about who I am and who I hope to become. The greatest lesson I learned was that it only takes one person to make a difference. Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I was only one young college girl with an idea. What started out as a oneperson project eventually expanded to a number of schools and reached over a hundred middle school girls. During my senior year, I had the opportunity to plan two conferences where I invited the girls and their mothers to the college. The highlight of those conferences was seeing how the hard work of one person could touch the lives of so many others. I looked on with tears in my eyes as the original members of my

The greatest lesson I learned was that it only takes one person to make a difference. 14

I learned that you must be flexible and patient.

group stood up as confident, funny, beautiful ninth graders and spoke to the new members about the impact I had on their lives. My idea had taken on a life of its own. Like a wave, it had built and built, becoming something much bigger than just little old me. Even a former nerdy, flute-playing, skinny girl who was terrible at sports could create an atmosphere where girls from different schools could come together and flourish. In my experiences, I learned that you must be flexible and patient, especially when working with teens. There were several days when I went to the school armed with markers, paper, books, snacks, and a list of activities, only to find out that no one would be attending the group that day. One person had sports, another had homework help, one girl was absent, and the list went on. I would feel frustrated and a bit upset and unwanted, having come down to the school only to turn around and leave again. But I would realize there was nothing I could do but revise my plan, hoping to see them the next week. Teenagers are sometimes difficult creatures; they are busy trying out life, different ways of being, etc., and often find it hard to focus on any one particular thing. They may love an activity one moment and then move on to something else the next. I work with teens to this day, and one of the biggest obstacles I face with them is consistency. But they do keep you on your toes and force you to be more flexible and more patient. You realize virtues that are helpful not only in working with teens, but in your relationships in general. Extra patience comes in handy when waiting a long time at the doctor’s office, encountering someone rude in the grocery store, or when dealing with a difficult family member. While we may grow weary when working with teens, feeling like we are constantly trying to keep up with their ever-changing and evolving selves, we can also appreciate the many important lessons they teach us.

I love working with teens. It is my purpose in life. Before this experience, I always knew I wanted to work with people and help them in some way. However, it wasn’t until I began working with girls that I began to see more clearly how work with teens would not only become my lifelong work, but part of my life. After college, I went on to work at a high school in New York City that was plagued by poverty and violence. I got to know many of the students in this massive school. I came to see that they were similar to the other teens I had worked with, just with different life experiences. I came to love their perseverance in spite of everything they had been dealt in life, and I still hold in my heart the important lessons that each of them taught me. I have never seen a group of teens with so much spirit, spunk, and determination. After that, I felt as if I were being pulled along by an invisible thread. I entered graduate school to get my master’s degree in social work. After two years of hard work, I am now a counselor in a middle/high school in Westchester county. I talk to teens about making good choices, specifically in terms of drugs and alcohol. I also listen to what’s going on in their lives and try to provide a calm, supportive adult presence while empowering them to take charge of their own lives and choices. It’s not always easy work, but it’s rewarding knowing that you are able to make a difference in someone’s life. I don’t think I would be where I am today without this lifechanging experience. It taught me so many things about myself and what I want to do with my life. And like the process of writing this story, one of the most important lessons is to throw fear out the window and jump right in. Because life is a journey and you’ve got to start somewhere. t The Ripple | Winter 2010


lessons learned: Become a COW By Rachel Rosenbaum

“How badly do you want this?” Teresa asked. I looked her straight in the eye, sensing the excitement in her voice and the possibilities that could arise from this opportunity. “I’ll do it,” I replied. As I stood in front of the audience at the auditorium in Estes Park, Colorado, I scanned the crowd. In front of me were five people who had established themselves as leaders throughout their careers and were staring at me, a sixteen-year-old girl with an idea, a dream, and little public speaking experience. As I continued to look around the room, I saw Teresa, the founder of the organization “Leaders for Life,” and the faces of fifty others— only familiar from the three days I had known them—waiting for me to begin. My heart was beating quickly and my hands quietly shook. The words, however, flowed from my mouth with ease, and I felt as comfortable as if I were talking to a close friend. I was not speaking from a piece of paper or note cards, but from somewhere deep inside that I didn’t know existed.

COW products have reached around the globe. the help of people globally, can be changed to make this world a better place. In order to accomplish these goals, we sell shirts with our logo on the front and the five themes on the back. Each shirt or accessory we create will be eco-friendly in order to further promote our ‘protect’ theme. In addition, I am committed to donating 50% of our profits to charities that support these five initiatives. What I ask is that you stand if you are willing to become a part of the ‘Become a COW’ family, buy a T-shirt, or even just spread the word to family and friends.” As I finished presenting the dream I had been crafting for the past year, I realized I was smiling. The whole room was standing up, clapping and cheering. But was it ever really a question whether or not they would approve? The camp I attended, Leaders for Life, created an environment where dreams you never thought possible rose to the surface, giving you the power and knowledge to follow those dreams and show your potential. I used to be a shy girl, afraid to order my own meal in a restaurant. I can honestly say I have never felt more comfortable talking to a group of people than I did that day. And now, each time I speak to a group, I become more and more confident. I imagine the room filled with people cheering, supporting me. If I do a good job of presenting my ideas, not only will they approve, but hopefully they will be inspired to do something good for the world; hopefully it will help them unleash their dreams and realize their duties as citizens of the world. If you would like to get involved, buy a shirt, or simply explore more about Become A COW, you can visit www.becomeacow. com or email me at I would love to hear from you! If buying a shirt does not interest you, the little things you do each day can be just as effective. Simply holding the door for someone or volunteering at your local food pantry goes a long way. With your help, this dream can become a reality. t

“This dream can become a reality.” I began: “ ‘Become A COW,’ which stands for Become a Citizen of the World, was founded upon the idea that a business can be successful while at the same time having a positive impact on our world. My dream of spreading life throughout the world drove me to research some of the most prevalent global problems.” I could sense their interest was heightening, and my confidence followed. I continued, “What I came up with were five themes: clothe, educate, feed, protect, and unite. These words encompass basic needs that no one should be denied. They are issues that, with 16

Formula for

These tips will lead you to success!


Based on the work of Jack Canfield.

Event (life situation) + My 1E+R=O. Response = Outcome

By Teresa D. Huggins


Set daily intentions. When you wake up, think of three goals to accomplish that day. This can include your “way of being.” Be clear with who you want to be and watch your day unfold as planned. At night, let go of any challenges and recall three successes for the day. Write down your successes in a gratitude journal or a victory log.


Surround yourself with nurturing people and avoid toxic ones. We often think similarly to the people we interact with on a daily basis.

100% responsibility for your life. Let go of blaming others and ex4 Take pecting others to fix problems or take action. It all begins with you!


Be aware of your “self-talk.” What you say to yourself influences your self-image and your performance. It is a cycle of failure or success. You decide!


Visualize your success. Think, “If I can see it, I can become it. If I can dream it, I can create it.” Visualize and affirm your desired outcomes.

If you have an important goal, there are people who will help you reach 7Ask! it. You may receive nine noes before you get the one yes you are seeking.


Set goals that are measurable—how much and by when.


Ask a friend to become your accountability partner who supports you and holds you to your word. For example, I share my dreams with a friend that calls me weekly and asks me if I have taken steps toward my goal. The Ripple | Winter 2010


keys for

Success strategies for creating extraordinary projects by teresa huggins


hen I was a teen, I thought of great ideas to support others. But then I would share them with an adult or a friend and hear, “You can’t do that,” or “It won’t work,” and I stopped. I kept the vision trapped within me, seeing the obstacles instead of imagining the possibilities. As an adult, I learned there was another way. I had a dream to create a summer program for teens, and I stored the idea deep in my heart, not taking action, unsure of how to do it. One day I shared it with teens in my leadership class. They loved the idea and challenged me to create it. When I showed less than zealous enthusiasm for the idea, they called me on it. “You always told us if there is a will, there is a way,” they reminded me, and we proceeded to imagine it as a possibility. Dreams begin with creating a vision. See it, feel it, embrace it. Let your imagination design the project. When I create L4L programs, I imagine a program filled to capacity with teens connecting with one another, learning from the college students and adult staff, and embracing the commitment to create a ripple in our world. I love teaching people to ask, “What if ? What if the idea that resonates within me is possible? What if I can make a difference? What if I am the one to influence a situation at my school or workplace?” I become excited when I hear a teen say, “I was thinking of this idea…” and I love encouraging that attitude. I have also been blessed to meet people throughout my life who have shown me new ways of thinking. One of my mentors and good friends is Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Some of the ideas I have learned from Jack have been weaved throughout the Leaders for Life program. Other friends have also given me new perspectives. One year, our registration


numbers were lower than desired, and a friend gave me an idea. He said, “Buy some smile face stickers and place them on a poster on your wall. Every day, imagine someone who signs up for camp, and feel your goal as complete. When a registration comes in, add their name and city to the poster.” At first, I didn’t see how this would help. Yet after doing it, I just knew how it had. I felt more optimistic. My doubtfulness was replaced with joy and curiosity. I let myself believe it was possible and more creative ideas came to me about marketing the program. (And our program filled!) When you are beginning a new project, ask yourself: what do I want to create? Then think of the finished product; feel it as complete! Consider multiple actions with the understanding that some ideas may work and some may not. Follow your intuition and initiate a new idea that hasn’t been used before. By first visualizing your outcome and putting the pieces in place, it feels like your reality is unfolding. When we get stuck in the thought, “it isn’t working,” our creative mind shuts down and new ideas become blocked. It is important to find new ways to reach your goals. Find a group of people who support you and your vision. If someone says no or is negative, seek someone who will support your vision. In the early stages of planning, imagine all the possible challenges and write them down. Ask how you can move through those challenges. Become solution-oriented! If limited time is an issue, who can you ask to help? If needing more people to attend a fundraiser is the obstacle, what groups can you invite? How can you advertise it? If getting adults to support your vision is the challenge, keep asking until you hear, “Yes!” Ask your administrator, “What would it take for you to approve our idea?” Imagine the power within to transform, move through, or jump over the challenges. See solutions and feel the challenges evaporate. Thank them

for entering your mind and let them go. It is time to plan, knowing that when your heart is engaged in a vision, many solutions emerge. When you ask someone for help or support, remember that they are looking at the project from their viewpoint and experience. When someone doesn’t think an idea will work, consider what the driving force is around their concern. Pay attention to how they interact and what they feel is going to work. Listen to the message and respond without judgment. This strategy gives insight into different viewpoints. Sometimes others say an idea won’t work when they aren’t able to see the outcome. So trust yourself ! Creative ideas may come in unique ways from seeing something in a store or listening to a conversation of a stranger. If it feels like it might work, explore the idea. For one American Cancer Society Relay for Life 24-hour walkathon, the team wanted to build a huge tree and have people buy leaves in honor of a loved one with the theme “Branching out for the Cure.” As their advisor, I couldn’t see how to do it at first. Yet after sharing ideas, a vision was created. By listening to all the ideas, a combination of efforts led to the creation of an eightfoot tree that was admired by all who walked by on the track. The cooperation and collaboration on this project was what made it such a success, and this was largely due to effective communication. Communication is key in the initial planning process. When you are leading a meeting, you must be aware of a lot of different factors that contribute to successful communication. Language can play a huge part in understanding others, so it’s important to interpret situations correctly. For example, “there isn’t enough time” may really mean, “I don’t know how we can do all that’s required with everything else we need to do.” Another factor is organization. By creating a project planning board with the completion date, you will help others see the concrete steps needed to be successful. List what needs to be done by what date. List names, phone numbers, and emails of volunteers next to their commitments. Excellent organization can also be achieved with an accountability partner. Since we all have busy schedules, reminder calls or emails from a partner ensure jobs are completed efficiently. Throughout the project, hold the belief that others will embrace it as you have. When I plan for our summer programs, I imagine individuals coming together, enjoying the program, and creating lifelong friendships. Every day when I pause and remember my intention, new ideas come to me. I see my project as complete and I begin my planning from the feeling I want to create for others. Of course, even with positive thinking, it’s possible to be plagued by doubt. Release any thoughts that hold you back from successfully completing the project. When doubt comes into your thoughts, realize that it is normal, yet also something you can change. Find a way to transform the doubt into a possibility.

One way to transform your uncertainty is to visualize the success of your project and imagine people participating in your event. What happens over time is that you begin to create a belief system that leads to success. I once knew a student who wanted to be a speaker at a national leadership conference. She realized that her 700-mile trip would cost about $700. She then began to visualize her success. She created a vision board with pictures of her destination. Every day, she looked at the photos and inspirational words and imagined that she and her friends would be there. She began a fund-raiser and crafted a flyer that asked, “How many miles would you like to sponsor me for?” Many adults were quick to make donations, commenting on how clever the idea was and saying that they wanted to be part of her journey. Her entire trip was paid for by believing it was possible, by asking for support, and by taking action. Our summer program encourages spreading these strategies for success. Our participants embrace the concept of 1 + 1 = 11; one person sharing an idea with another can generate thousands of ideas. If it seems like there is no way to expand a project or to get the word out, think about your contacts. Generate a graphic organizer/mind map with your name in the middle. Think of all the groups you are in: friends, clubs, sports, and church. Ask the people on your mind map to list names from their spheres of influence that can support the event or cause. They can tell others, and success expands from there. When we expand our awareness and our spheres of influence, we begin to see people who can help us along the way. A great idea begins with someone willing to take action. I remember the initial idea for a freshman orientation program being discussed late one night by students who were attending a leadership conference. They each shared with one another how their ninth-grade experience would have been different if someone had guided them into the high school and given them some insider advice. “Let’s do it!” one suddenly exclaimed, and others quickly joined in. Today, a student-led orientation program exists at Clinton High School, where middle school students receive a tour of the building, connect with older students, and get their schedule before school starts. Thanks to the students at this conference, the legacy continues, creative ideas emerge, and their high school has become a better place. The teens who generated the ideas, executed the plans, and received permission to create their beneficial program have long since graduated college, yet their program continues. A small group of teens who wanted to make their school a better place left a legacy. What will your legacy be? t

The Ripple | Winter 2010


Connections The Human Aspect of Meetings

Bursting at the seams with enthusiasm for a new idea, people sit down to share their viewpoints and offer their strategies. People begin sharing the way they see it and often forget to listen to one another. They ramble on; maybe even judge another idea as “stupid” instead of establishing effective ways to connect for the common good. But successful people understand that the human dimension influences the results of an event even more than the time, location, or cause. At Leaders for Life International, we believe that all people are leaders, though this may look different for each person. Sometimes the quiet one who is a great listener ends up formulating a solution that integrates all the various ideas that have been shared. Sometimes a creative person uses their unique talents to generate something on the computer or to write a song that brings the idea to life. But establishing this common ground of leadership yields greater success. At Leaders for Life International, we create “core groups” of people who work together and generate a final presentation that shows their leadership capabilities and touches the hearts of the audience. We can all feel the connection to their vision. In your schools and communities, you can create inspiration and transform what was into what can be by leading from your heart and embracing the principles you were taught. Remember the moments when your group might not have agreed, yet later discovered by combining ideas that many were heard and felt included in the project? When planning, hold the intention that the desired outcome will be the focus. Create a picture of the outcome in your mind or even make a visual for all committee members. People who are less experienced may not be able to believe in the project as easily, so be clear with the description of the idea and find ways to include them in the decision-making aspects of the project. It is important to involve others who can carry on the project after the time you are at the school. When you are in a meeting, if one person shares an idea and another blocks it, understand that it often isn’t about the person or the idea; it is about the filter that the person is using to view the idea or the words. Pay attention to where people sit and how they process the material. Be sure the task-oriented people are heard, especially when the enthusiastic idea-generating people are tossing out a variety of ideas. Don’t say yes to something that another person will need to execute. Ask people if they want to help rather than volunteering them, and be aware of the time and effort required when doing so. 20

Count: For example, people love to have technical-savvy individuals create great projects for them, but often are not aware of how long it takes to reach the final product! Observe who in the group speaks often and who doesn’t. If someone is stating they are overwhelmed, listen rather than tell them they need to change. Sometimes when people aren’t ready to move forward, they are really expressing a desire to be heard and recognized. Look for blocking messages. Notice the change in behavior of the person who expresses challenging feelings. Think of the blockers as people who haven’t figured out yet that life can be joy-filled and fun! Life doesn’t have to be hard work, yet if that is a person’s mindset, then they will look at a project from this perspective. Watch what people do and say. When an individual gives feedback that something isn’t going to work, realize that he/ she is in a fear space. Affirm what is working and break down the bigger pieces into concrete smaller steps. Use sentence starters to initiate discussion, such as: “What would work better...”, “Have we considered...”, and “What would it take...” If someone pessimistically declares, “It always happened this way,” add “up until now” to shift their focus to the solution. It is important to let a person be heard, but you don’t need to focus only on the challenges. Be aware of the naysayers. Note what triggers their concerns and think of solutions ahead of time. Present ideas in a way that makes the uncertain person gain clarity and confidence. The meeting shouldn’t be focused on the person who already knows what works; it should be about finding a way to help the uncertain person generate ideas on their own and to recognize them for their contribution to the discussion. It is important to hold the intention that all ideas and all conversations have a purpose. This strategy allows you to be in the moment, experience the moment, and then release the moment. A freedom emerges internally when you open yourself to new ideas. If you have a meeting where you become frustrated and your mind is still in the meeting after you leave, signs around you that may generate other ideas go unnoticed because you are still processing the previous event. It’s good to reflect, but you must remain detached from people who don’t seem to get it. By releasing the judgment and frustration, you learn how to allow people their opinion without it becoming a belief. You can then move ahead. When you accept others, you discover new gifts that they contribute. Synergy within the group stems from a common vision. When you focus on what you want to create, accept a

By Teresa Huggins

multi-stream approach for solutions, and believe in your mission, you can walk away from your meeting knowing results will happen. The more you view meetings as an opportunity to create a shared vision, the greater the connections will be. When people trust one another, stay true to their commitments and believe in the vision, the connections strengthen and the journey is filled with success! t

The Ripple | Winter 2010


Guide to

l u f s s e Succ s g n i t e e M A

By Alex Schloop

During the Meeting

Build Buzz Weeks before you plan to have your meeting, create simple, eye-catching posters and post them throughout your school and/ or community. Remember to take responsibility and remove all of your posters after the meeting. Days before you plan to have your meeting, type up a quick information sheet (including facts like when, where, who should come, etc.) and hand them to your school’s office that reads off the announcements every morning. The day before you plan to have your meeting, verbally remind people that they should attend. This provides an opportunity for individuals to ask questions they may have regarding the meeting. A great way to increase attendance is the lure of food. It’s a primitive but powerful tool.

Before the Meeting Think long and hard about where you wish to conduct your meeting. If you are looking to provide a relaxed atmosphere, consider a local coffeehouse. If you have a heavy agenda, ask your school librarian if you may use the library to facilitate your meeting. Libraries are naturally quiet spaces that tend to let the attendees know you mean business. Once you have a space for your meeting, think about the layout of furniture. Avoid speaking in front of a classroom of desks or at a podium. If you are in a classroom, circle up the desks to face the center and sit at one of the desks. Library tables can be pushed together, and if you sit at the head of the table, you are on the same level as everyone else but you are still in control. Come prepared. Having all the supplies you need on hand saves time and increases productivity. If you want to create signs for a fundraiser, bring poster paper and markers. If you want to get something typed up, make sure you have access to a computer. If you have a handout, make sure to have more than enough copies ready. 22

Have individuals sign in when they arrive. If you have regularly scheduled meetings, this is a great way to keep track of participation and involvement. Create a contact list and make a phone tree. If you have news of an upcoming event or information to share, it is much easier to call two or three people than a large group. Having members of your group call each other builds teamwork and creates a feeling of involvement. Recruit someone to take detailed notes. Stay on task. If you did bring food, save it for the end of the meeting; it creates an incentive for productivity. Don’t be afraid to politely “invite” chatty individuals to join the main group’s discussion. Bring an orderly agenda and cross off items after you have discussed them. Keep individuals involved. A meeting can become monotonous and boring if it becomes a lecture. Remember to welcome suggestions. In some cases, voting on issues keeps attendees attentive. Delegating tasks to responsible members lightens your load of work and fosters a sense of individual responsibility. Be kind. Remember to thank everyone for coming, and at the end, thank them for their dedication. A sense of accomplishment helps to ensure future participation. Plan ahead. Have a date in mind for the next meeting and check availability for the group. This helps keep the ball rolling and prevents a project from stagnating.

After the Meeting Type up and hand out minutes. Collect the meeting’s notes from the individual to whom you delegated the job and highlight key facts and ideas in an organized spreadsheet. Make sure that everyone who attended the meeting receives one to keep everyone on the same page. Minutes are also a great way to show interested people what goes on at a typical meeting. Follow through. Remind and check up on individuals who took responsibilities at the meeting. Make sure they are meeting deadlines and continuing to be productive, but do so without nagging. Offer help or collaboration with another member if the assigned task is taking longer than expected. Take a breath. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! t

A Typical L4L Day 7:15 AM Exercise (yoga, run, or walk) 7:45 AM Shower time 8:30 AM Breakfast 9:45 AM Large group activity 10:45 AM Large group activity 11:45 AM Project planning 12:45 PM Lunch (eat with core)

What’s a core? A core is a small group that participants break into throughout the week. A core serves as a small group of support in a large, comfortable setting.

1:45 PM Core time 2:45 PM Large group activity 3:45 PM Pool / Free time 5:45 PM Dinner 6:50 PM Project development 7:20 PM Large group activity 8:15 PM Small group activity 9:00 PM Words of wisdom (CREW)

What’s CREW? CREW are staff members. CREW stands for “creators of real experiences.” Our CREW come from across the globe and offer experience as wisdom.

9:40 PM Tranquility 10:15 PM Lights out

MORE QUESTIONS? Contact info on page 4.

The Ripple | Winter 2010



Lessons learned:

By Lindsey Lou Langdon


“Dad, what’s your favorite color?” This is one of the first questions I can ever remember asking my father. I sat in my car seat, curious, with a pleased look of perplexity, awaiting my father’s response. His lack of response for about ten seconds heightened the suspense. Finally, he replied, “Well, what’s yours, honey?” The problem was, however, I truly hadn’t figured it out at that point. I liked myriad colors and couldn’t decide which one was my favorite yet, so I came up with a seemingly clever response: “I’ll tell you after you tell me yours first.” He was still hesitant and said he didn’t want his answer to influence mine—he didn’t want to affect my individuality. I guaranteed him it wouldn’t. Finally, he told me his favorite color was red. When he reiterated the question, I said I liked red, too. Throughout the first fourteen years of my life, I always told people my favorite color was red. I realize now, looking back on that exact moment, that my dad would have more of an influence on my life than I ever expected, but not in the way I had anticipated. My father has given and shown me some of the purest love I will ever come to know. From teaching me how to ride a bike, to making me the most amazing breakfasts on weekends, to watching humorous movies with me, he was deep down a good dad. My parents split up when I was only two years old, so I lived with my mom but went with my dad on weekends. Every weekend, however, resulted in the same frustrating, devastating, and awful scenario—my dad sleeping for hours on end, even all day, almost as if he were in a coma. However, I didn’t understand why until I was seven years old. My dad left for rehab when I was in second grade because he was a severe alcoholic and drug addict. He had been suffering from incurable depression since the age of seventeen when his mother died in a tragic house fire on Christmas day. From there, my dad’s life seemed to turn into a demoralizing downward spiral. He attained sobriety on September 2, 1999, and from the time I was seven until sixteen, he lectured me on how much his addictions dug him into a dark hole that he could never seem to escape. My father is the hardest worker I know. He is a talented carpenter who has worked all day, every day, and just barely gets by. He even went to New Orleans in 2005 to help clean up and rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina. My dad was my hero for so many years. He has contributed to my sense of self more than anyone; he gave me my name, Lindsey Lou Langdon, after his mother, Linda Lou Langdon. I could not have asked for a better, more unique name. Lindsey Lou; the triple L makes it flow. Additionally, both of my parents gave me another quality that makes me individual—the gift of being four feet and eleven inches tall. While I have been the shortest person in my class since preschool, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may be small, but my heart says otherwise. While I lacked in literal growth, I believe I have grown up faster than many people my age. This past year, my father has been in more of a constant struggle than ever. He lost his home as he was unable to pay his The Ripple | Winter 2010


bills and was always behind when it came to money. No matter how hard he worked, he could never catch up. I always felt so sorry for him; after all he accomplished in life with his sobriety, he still could not manage to climb out of this endless hole. I didn’t understand why until he had two nearly fatal heart attacks within three months this past summer. Only after my dad’s second heart attack did he reveal to the doctor that he was using again. As for his drug of choice: cocaine. His first heart attack was hard enough on me; he was on the verge of death. After his second one, though, when no doctor even thought he had a chance, my mother had to sit down and have a serious talk with me. She told me my dad was fine—yes, he had another heart attack, but he was doing okay, hospitalized, and unfortunately, using cocaine again. I have never been so devastated in my entire life. I felt like my whole life and everything I had come to know and to believe was a lie. How could my own father betray me like this? The worst part was that his disease prevented him from realizing how much his decisions actually affected me, or anyone else for that matter. I’ve come to accept that my dad is an addict; a manipulative, stubborn, excuse-maker who has completely lost faith in himself, although I still believe in him. While he did not go to rehab for a second time, he seems to have remained clean since then, although I’m never truly sure. However, he continues to smoke. It’s a habit he will hopefully stop soon because he’s running out of chances, but knowing my dad, he won’t stop. His addiction makes him too sick to stop. My dad and I have sort of reversed roles in a sense. I’m always asking him the questions, telling him what he should do, trying to help him through life with positive attitudes, and worrying about him, while I refrain from making any of the choices he’s ever made. I also realized that as much as I cannot control my dad or his health, I can direct gratitude toward the doctor who gave him a second chance. After my dad’s first totally unexpected heart attack, the doctor took a chance on my dad rather than letting him die. Dr. Cai, my heroic thaumaturgist, saved not only my dad’s heart that day, but mine as well. A few days later, I wrote him a thank-you note, proclaiming my endless gratitude toward him and how much he has given to me. While a thank-you note would surely not suffice for saving my dad’s life, it was certainly the least I could do. Within the note, I enclosed a glass heart. The

As much as I feel I have sort of saved my dad, he really has saved me.


heart had great significance behind it. After attending Leadership Camp for three years, during my final year as a camper, I was told to “give a gift” to the camp. My gift to the campers was a pair of little red hearts—one for themselves and another for them to give to someone else: a gratitude talisman to remind people of my two favorite quotes. The first is by Randy Pausch: “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things humans can do for one another.” The second is from the film P.S. I Love You. It is: “Today, give a stranger one of your smiles; it may be the only sunshine he sees all day.” I’ve never found someone more deserving of my glass heart of gratitude than Dr. Cai. He told me that the letter I wrote him was the most touching one he had ever received. St. Luke’s Hospital in Utica, New York, even published the note in their monthly magazine. I was proud because I was able to show the readers of the magazine the true magnificence of Dr. Cai, and in the process, I had touched many people’s lives. This is why, when my dad had his second heart attack, he was considered such a special patient. Not only was he Kevin Langdon, the man who survived against all odds last time after being revived over four times. He was also Lindsey Lou Langdon’s father. So, although even Dr. Cai thought death was inevitable, he saved my dad once again. It’s amazing how a small letter can make that much difference. Despite all the choices he has made, I constantly forgive my dad. I love him dearly; he gave me life. I truly could not ask for more. On too many levels, my dad has shown me what not to do. He has shown me all too directly the decisions not to make and the life I don’t want to have. I thank my dad too, because he has given me his parallel self—he has taught me to be the person he always wanted to be: the person his disease of addiction prevented him from being and becoming. As much as I feel I have sort of saved my dad, he really has saved me. He has saved me from the wretched life he must face every day. Most importantly, my father has started me on a new, fresh path with no holes, where I can proudly meet people and tell them that my favorite color is green. t

The Kindness Initiative By Tricia Sticca Account Executive Northland Communications Guest L4L Speaker


ne day, while traveling down a busy road in the city in which I work, I was stopped at a green traffic light as I was waiting to turn left. Of course, I was trying to patiently wait for the oncoming traffic to slow so I could make my turn. Although the light still shone green for a UPS truck that was approaching, I noticed he was slowing, which began to aggravate me, assuming it would slow my travels. As he got closer, I saw him waiving me on so I could make my left-hand turn. Traffic rules indicate that he had the right-of-way, but he took a moment out of his busy day to let me go ahead of him, regardless of the rules. He, the kind UPS driver, encouraged me by his small act of kindness to pay it forward. This small act of kindness was a ripple in my life. From that day forward, I began extending small acts of kindness in honor of him and because of the feeling I had during that moment when a stranger helped a stranger. I realized that the smallest gesture, taking the only seconds, could bring about great change in our world. That is when I consciously started my kindness initiative. As I go through my day, I make my decisions quickly and confidently with the intention of making life just a little easier on others. Driving can sometimes be the most stressful event for many of us; however, we can choose otherwise. On the highway we compete for lanes, for speed, for the fastest arrival at our destinations. Slowing down just enough to let a merging car into your lane will only delay your arrival by seconds. Isn’t it worth that small act of kindness? Maybe, just maybe, your act of kindness will encourage that merging driver to extend the favor in his/ her future travels. Just imagine how the ripples will extend infinitely. As you enter a building, consider those few extra seconds it might take to hold the door for an approaching elderly person struggling to keep up with today’s fast-paced world. I imagine the small gesture will make you feel even better than the recipient of that kind gesture. When you are in line at a grocery store and you notice how well-behaved someone’s children are, take a moment to tell them. Those ripples will carry on long after the moment in time when you showed how you cared. All of my gestures started with inspiration from one small gesture of a fellow driver, and I am confident that my gestures have had the same impact on those I have touched. I encourage you to start your own kindness initiative; find opportunities throughout your day, on your drive, or in your workplace to make a difference. And while you are making a difference, enjoy the ripples, or at least trust that they exist! t

The Ripple | Winter 2010


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The Ripple : Issue One, Winter 2010  

The Leaders for Life Magazine

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