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Wise words from today’s leaders to tomorrow’s: What advice can I give you?

Lilly Weaver

Lilly Weaver

by Garrett Wiehler, Editor

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The short URL of the present article is: http://lhslance.org/s5c08

I am 18 years old and about to pursue a career in International Studies. (That’s today’s plan, but I’m feeling pretty sure of it.) Throughout my teens, I have been motivated to learn more about myself and others through my passions:  Scouting, drama, Destination Imagination, Model United Nations and journalism.  

Like every other one of the approximately 3 million 2017 high school graduates, I am looking for wisdom that can inspire me (and others my age) as we face, what I perceive to be, a pretty crummy world future.

I talked to public figures, local leaders, and adults I admire to gain insight about setting my own future direction and to share ideas with others who are a little excited, and a lot scared, about what will take place after we walk across the graduation stage. 

What has helped you to stay focused on the positive when you are surrounded by negative?  What should a future leader think about and do to become the change they want to see in the world?

 Nancy Doll, Principal, Linganore High School

“I believe there is good in the world and in humankind.  I believe that the actions of one person can make a difference.  On a broader scale, we have to think more globally and understand that one nation cannot fix all the issues of the world and not every country wants assistance.  We need to respect one another’s cultures and accept them for what they are and know their history:  socially, politically and economically.”

Darren Hornbeck, Social Studies Teacher, Linganore High School

“You asked “What has helped (me) to stay focused on the positive when (I am) surrounded by negative?  My answer is quite simply… YOU. By that I mean you and other students like you… the students I teach. The willingness of students to take classes that help them understand the world around them and actively engage in the issues that drive our society gives me a feeling of hope that I think about almost everyday on my drive home. There are so many times when students in my classes see the world with better clarity than the pundits appearing on the political talk shows that permeate the world of news. The sense that I’ve helped them in some way become better citizens not just of the United States, but also the World gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Perhaps one of the most mysterious qualities of human history is that goodness always triumphs over acts of atrocity. And while acts of violence and hatred happen repeatedly, they are always eclipsed by acts of kindness and altruism. Why is this? Different people have varying answers, but whatever the reason, that fact that goodness prevails gives me both hope and happiness. This is the true nature of the world we live in. In our 9/11 course we studied how 19 hijackers changed the world for the worse. Might 19 peacemakers be able to equally change the world for the better? I think so, and I’d be willing to bet that a few of them might be getting a Linganore diploma in a couple of weeks.”

Tim Lloyd, Boy Scout Leader and All-Around Good Guy

“First of all, the word ‘Problem’ has negative connotations.  I recommend viewing them as Ben Franklin suggests: ‘Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.’ If you see problems as opportunities, then your view becomes positive.  You see ways to make a difference in your community, nation and world.  We see some leaders today taking on really big problems as opportunities to make a difference in the world.  Examples are Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation to eradicate malaria, or Elon Musk and his goal to move to renewable energy sources.  These are big problems and big opportunities.”

“I have not had the opportunity to work on anything of the same scale as the Gates or Mr. Musk.  However, I have found my passion in helping young people become leaders through my continued participation in the Boy Scouts. I read a lot in the paper and see in the news how the youth of America is falling behind or is somehow not as good as previous generations.  I disagree.  I see promise in the youth today.  For every negative that the news outlets proclaim to sell their product, I have seen positive actions and quiet successes.  When a group of young adults and kids get together to build something for the community or collect items for others in need, I see promise, I see leadership, I see a positive future.”

As a future leader, I recommend finding an opportunity you are passionate about and make a plan on how to bring about the change you want to see.  Many young leaders want to change everything all at once.  Pick a focus and go after it.  Your plan should be realistic. You need to break up the problem into achievable milestones.  We did not go to the moon all in one step and polio was not eradicated most with just a wish.  Your plan should include how you will find like-minded people (unless you’re Bill Gates or Elon Musk and can fund it all on your own). You will need to convince people and build a community to realize your opportunity. Planning will show you the way and passion will help you keep focus to make change in the world.”

Randy McClement, Mayor of Frederick City

“I do my best to stay true to my core principles and values. Keeping myself centered on the priorities that I’ve always had, and the values important to me, keeps me positive in the face of sometimes negative external forces. I believe that you need to do what you believe is right, but keep an open mind and find ways to make things better if they’re already good or better if they’re not so good. Try to always look for the positive aspects in all situations.

I’m reminded of a story I heard about a man walking along a vast beach tossing little clams that had washed ashore, stranded on the sand, back into the sea. There were thousands, maybe millions, all along the beach. A second man came along and asked, ‘What is the point of doing that? What difference does it make when there are so many more?’ The first man, holding a few clams in his hand before tossing them into the sea, responded, ‘It makes a difference to these.’”

Natalie Rebetsky, English Teacher and Second Mom

“My mom stopped eating lunch with a group of coworkers because they were always grumbling. She said that time is too valuable to waste it being cranky. It’s true that I haven’t always been Miss Sunshine, but I work hard to be positive and find the ‘silver lining.’ I surround myself with the people I want to become – people who push me to be better

There’s a lot of noise in the world right now. First, do your best to find the truth and spread only that. Second, choose your battles – you can’t save everybody. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden was unable to cope with the negative that surrounded him until he learned from Mr. Antolini to live for something.  That’s literary-speak for “Find your passion.”

‘The mark of a immature man is  that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.’

Also, don’t judge a book by the cover! The older I get, the less I want to be judged by my aging cover.”

The Take-Away

The first thing, and perhaps most important thing, I learned was that the people who have the biggest place within the public’s eye are the busiest, but beyond that, every individual I spoke with had their own mantras and anecdotes that get them through through life. There is not one thing to believe in in order to make change.  All of them are positive that my role as a future leader is to do good.  I’m ready to try.

 

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Wise words from today’s leaders to tomorrow’s: What advice can I give you?