Don’t worry, Be happy

What is the one thing that everyone has in common? We’ve all got 99 problems. No matter who you are, or what you’re doing, it’s likely that you will run into a speed bump eventually. If you are in a leadership position, your chances increase. So what can you do to avoid this?

I’m sorry to tell you this but the answer is nothing. Problems cannot be avoided, otherwise perfection would be reality. But the truth is that nothing ever goes perfectly. Instead of trying so hard to focus on perfection and trying to make sure that everything is ideal, try to work on your reaction to situations when something doesn’t go as planned. You have pretty much 3 options:

Number 1: You completely freak out, lose control and cry yourself to sleep in the fetal position.

Number 2: You just ignore it and hope for the best.

Number 3: You try to stay positive, open minded and look for a solution.

I don’t know which one of those sounds the best to you (we all enjoy being in the fetal position occasionally), but I would say number 3 is a safe bet. The truth is that when things go wrong, all you can do is try to fix them or try to find an alternative. Sometimes, the alternative even ends up being better than the original, but you can’t and won’t be able to experience that if you just freak out and freeze.

As Willie Nelson said Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Almost as important as thinking positively throughout hardships, is that the people around you do the same. If you are in a leadership position, you have to lead this attitude by example. If others see you calm, with a smile on your face, they will know that everything is okay and they will also be calm and think clearly. Because, let’s be honest, if in five years you look back at a bad moment, and it won’t seem that bad, then your problem really isn’t that big. And with a calm demeanor and positive thinking, you can always come up with some solution that will smooth things over.

So next time when you find yourself in a difficult situation, and you feel like there is nothing else that you can do to fix it, take a moment, breathe and stay positive, then you are sure to come up with an alternative.

Leadership skills – the missing piece for youth employment?

Universities teach a lot about hard skills and theories, but when it comes to being able to implement the learnings in practice, a lot of young people find it difficult. This has also been noticed by many employers who say that young people are missing the soft skills needed in a professional environment. It is important that young people know how to manage time correctly, communicate effectively in different environments, and can get through challenges when facing them. But if universities are not equipping young people with these skills, they need to search elsewhere for the experience.

At AIESEC we have noticed the need of better leaders in the world and believe that leadership can be developed in anyone. AIESEC’s unique leadership development model seeks to prepare youth to take a stand on what they care about and become capable of making a difference through their everyday actions. We believe that by equipping young people with these leadership skills, they will be more prepared for the future. All our products develop four leadership qualities that are related to current world trends. These qualities are self-awareness, world citizen, empowering others, and solution oriented. Below you can read how these leadership qualities are relevant professionally for young people.

  1. Self-awareness

The declining need for formal leaders has brought about the need for more self-aware leaders. A self-aware leader knows what they are good at, what is important to them and what they are passionate about. When young people know themselves they are able to make better decisions for their careers as well. The youth of today want to work for a company that shares the same values as them and that does something good for the world. Being aware of their own values and passions helps them choose this kind of organisation and this increases employee retention. In addition, a self-aware leader focuses on their strengths over weaknesses, making them more ready to take on new challenges at work, not letting their weaknesses slow them down.

  1. World citizen

With globalisation, the business world has less and fewer borders. However, globalisation has also brought growing nationalisation in many countries. This is why being a world citizen is an increasingly important skill to have in the working life. Being interested in the world issues and especially taking responsibility for improving the world are essential to do business in a globalised world. AIESEC gives young people the opportunity to challenge themselves in another country. They are able to learn about the people and culture of that country making them more equipped to work with people from different backgrounds. This doesn’t only apply to an international workplace, but any job where there is a need for teamwork and interacting with other people.

  1. Empowering others

The quality of empowering others is needed to navigate the complex and interconnected modern world. Communication skills are vital for any relationships to work, so young people need to be able to communicate effectively in diverse environments to get their point clearly across and avoid any chances of misunderstanding. It’s also important that young people know how to collaborate with other people to achieve a bigger purpose. Lastly, by developing the skill of empowering others, young people will be able to contribute to the personal development of others and empower them to take action. This means that they can empower their co-workers to reach higher and challenge themselves.

  1. Solution oriented

The fast pace of the modern world also makes it a more uncertain place, and young people need to be prepared for change. Instead of being frozen in the face of a challenge, young people should show resilience and be flexible. The uncertainty of constant changes might seem frightening, but by staying positive, a young leader can steer their team forward despite the uncertainty they might face. This calls for the willingness to take risks when they are needed. This quality is very important in a working environment, as you can never know what changes might happen the next day economically or politically. A solution-oriented leader does not let failures hold them back, but gets up and continues to fight towards what they are aiming for.

We believe that if we develop these four qualities in young people, it will make them ready to face the challenges the world has in front of them. They will also be able to turn the theories and knowledge they have learnt at university into practice, making them more employable in the long run.

– Written by Alexandra Byskata

No moral compass

While growing up, we are all subjected to different environments. In fact, not two people on this planet have had exactly the same experiences. That is what makes each of us unique. All these different circumstances are the reason why each of us develops specific views, specific values and what later becomes our personality. However, often times these are all subconscious. We don’t even realize what our values are.

Imagine this. You are in a new environment and you don’t know anybody. You decide to talk to some people, have some conversations to feel out who you could potentially be friends with. If you don’t even know your own personal values, then how are you supposed to find someone who you will actually like? Or picture this. You are on a job hunt and you’re looking at different companies. If you just pick any random one, how can you ensure if you will really enjoy your work there? Now, if you notice the companies, whose visions and values reflect your own, the chances for job satisfaction increase.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy E. Disney

Making decisions is a daily part of life. We all have to do it but it’s often very hard. If you are not familiar with your own values, you can never be self-aware enough to make the right decisions and that will put a real dent into your leadership abilities.

In AIESEC we try to define the word leadership with 4 characteristics, one of which is self-awareness, for how can you lead others to be the best version of themselves, if you are unaware of your own shortcomings. How can you motivate people to strive for more and to be passionate about their work, if you don’t know your own feelings and values? The answer is, you can’t. There is a very easy fix for that. Be conscious. Take time to really think about yourself and your life and the experiences you’ve made. Think about what kinds of things make you feel positive and which make you feel negative. By being conscious, you will discover your deepest personal values and views in no time and this will positively impact many aspects of your life.

As Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”

Do you know your personal values?

 

An AIESEC Experience can help you understand them better. Find your opportunity at opportunities.aiesec.org.

Are you a lone wolf?

What is the fundamental purpose of leadership? Regardless of your definition, leadership means empowering others. For how can we achieve and grow, if we attempt to do it alone? As an outstanding leader, you have to be willing to engage with others, exchange concepts and ideas and work together towards a bigger goal.

It was James Cash Penney, american businessman and entrepreneur, who said: “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

That is the reason why in AIESEC’s definition of leadership, empowering others is one of the 4 defining characteristics. But what does it mean to empower others? How can you make sure that other people are engaged in your common purpose and you are all working together towards the same goal?

Well, that is what makes a great leader. They make sure that the expectations of everyone are set from the beginning and that every person feels valuable in the whole team, that all of their contributions matter. The leader doesn’t force their ideas down people’s throats, but they guide others towards great ideas and leave space for them to come up with their own concepts.

If every leader in the world thought that they knew best and that they don’t need any help from anyone else, we probably wouldn’t be at the point we are right now. Engaging with other people is vital if you want to achieve your purpose.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie.

It is that kind of attitude and this kind of thinking we try to support in our exchange programs. We want the members of our organization and the people who are benefiting from our projects to understand these values and to see their importance and worth.

In the end it is your decision whether you think you will achieve your goals better alone or in a team. However, looking at past experiences and statements from great leaders, working together is the way to go and by really engaging your team members and pushing them to their limits, incredible results are practically a guarantee.

What kind of leader are you?

Find out through an AIESEC experience: http://opportunities.aiesec.org

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

A Homeless Generation of Builders

The me, me and me generation is constantly being told how they are the most narcissistic and spoiled generation in the history of humankind. If you use the amount of selfies as your yardstick, then yes, it might make you believe that the youth of today are more self centered than the generations before. But somehow, millennials also happen to be the most altruistic compared to the older generations.
Millennials think it’s important to engage in work that has a positive impact in the community and contribute to the society; they give to charity and think it’s important to help others; they are also active citizens and engage in volunteering. We are a generation that doesn’t only believe in change, but is doing something about it.
We’re at a point in time in history where we have to start cleaning up the mess that others before us have made. We can either ignore that the change needs to happen, and selfishly deny the responsibility. If we want the next generations to have it as well of as we do, we need to accept that we need to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. A lot of young people choose to make a difference. So perhaps it’s better to talk of Millennials as the “we” generations that doesn’t need to be selfishly motivated to act, but can, and will do it for the world.
What does the world need?
We’re perhaps more aware of global problems than ever. It can be quite overwhelming, especially when the scale of some problems, like climate change, can make you feel very small as an individual. Fortunately a lot of different instances are driving change, and it’s easier than ever to get information about every issue. For example the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the United Nations give quite a comprehensive answer to what are the problems in the world that need to be tackled.
But what does the world need from you?
You’re probably a 20 something year old university student with no complete degree, yet. You don’t have much experience and little to no money. What can you possibly do to help towards eradicating poverty or hunger? You have the passion, but passion alone is not enough. You also need to think how you can help the most. Of course it would be nice to do something Instagram-worthy that you can showcase to your friends. However, in order to maximize your impact it might be worthwhile thinking twice about how to best utilize your time. Many people want to do something concrete to help, like building a school in a developing country. But if you’re a business student, maybe creating a kick ass marketing plan for an NGO can have more of an impact.
It’s important to consider what’s your personal fit for what you’re going to do. You can maximize your impact by doing what you’re best at. Other things to consider are the scale of the problem you want to tackle, quite simply by contributing to solving bigger problems you can have a bigger impact. Sometimes it can also make sense to look at issues that might neglected and not talked about so often for one reason or another, for example problems related sanitation and hygiene in poor regions.
In the end you can contribute a lot even by being willing to take on seemingly small things. Just interacting with people and sometimes giving them a role model can be enough to make a huge impact on individual people’s lives, and that positive impact can produce a ripple effect that can have unforeseen positive consequences. There’s always a way to contribute to no matter your situation and skill-set. Find an opportunity that can help you maximize your impact, your way to do it for the world.

No risk, no fun!

Blogpost writer: Jakub Wolf

How often do we plan things out in life, only for them to go a completely different way than we anticipated? Of course, then we have to start looking for solutions because otherwise the problem will never be fixed. But, how is it that some people just magically seem to always have the right answer for any situation that arises? Are they magicians? Or some kind of ritualists? Nope. They are risk takers.

Things in life almost never go smoothly and exactly as planned. But there are certain situations, where sometimes what we come up with on the spot is a lot better than what we planned. With all the stress and adrenaline running wild, our brains sometimes really save us. It is those situations that show us, how far we are willing to go for the success of our project.

Risks are a complicated thing. Many people are very comfortable with being safe and plan everything ahead and if it doesn’t work out then ‘oh well’. But what is it that makes a great leader? They are not scared of taking risks, when needed. Of course, this doesn’t mean gambling away your profits because they ‘could triple them’ but it means taking calculated risks, in situations where good leadership is necessary. That is what differentiates a good leader from a great leader.

It was T.S. Eliot, a british poet, who said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”  We all have limits, but we usually underestimate them a lot. Whether it’s out of fear or other reasons, we often don’t push ourselves enough to truly reach our limits. Risk taking is pushing. How can you know that your project won’t be even more incredible if you just make that one decision that could potentially have a negative effect?

Robert F. Kennedy said “Only those who dare greatly can ever achieve greatly”.

Leadership is a difficult term to describe. It’s a very personal thing and definitions differ greatly. In AIESEC we have defined it with 4 personality traits: being a world citizen, empowering others, being self aware and last but not least, solution oriented. The last one is vital, since working in a youth led organization can sometimes be very unpredictable, you always have to search for solutions when something doesn’t go your way and taking risks is part of that.

If you feel like you have grown as much as you can and have already become the person that you want to be, that’s fine. But know, that growth only stops when you want it to. Some of us have higher ambitions than that. Taking risks is something worth getting used to, to really test your limits. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone.

Now tell me, are you a risk taker?

Reminder: Do not celebrate this day, champion.

Picture this; it’s the 21st century, there are no hate-crimes, refugees have been integrated in communities around the world and granted access to education, there are women in parliaments where women could not vote before, gender-discrimination in the workplace is a thing of the past, and no woman is forced to marry her rapist based on century old laws in countries by the sea.

Unfortunately, and with great disappointment, it’s easier to write those words down than see them manifest in reality.

You see, there are laws still that force victims of rape to marry their rapists in order to drop charges. There is discrimination still where women are paid less for the same job a man does. There is oppression still when a group of men decide what a woman should or should not do with her body, what health measure she should or should not take. There is ridicule still when a woman is told to shut-up and concern herself with ‘beauty’ or the ‘kitchen’ every time she makes a statement on politics. There is regression still when girls are denied access to education. There is injustice still when a man thinks it’s okay to beat his wife and then tell her he loves her. There is still an unfairness to policies forbidding women from granting their children their nationality and birthrights.

Do not speak of equality because a woman in Europe looks comfortable, satisfied, contained; you do not know her struggle. Do not speak of equality because a woman in the Middle East started her own company, she’s her own boss; you don’t know what prejudice she receives.

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There is a common notion present that diminishes the importance of feminism because of opinions spit onto women’s faces judging their sole demand to be treated human. Equal.

Human and equal shouldn’t be so far fetched, being brave and revolutionary shouldn’t be the standard to be treated rightfully. This International Women’s day, a day for all women, men, and non-binary, young or old to join forces not to celebrate, but to champion basic human rights.

After all, there is nothing to celebrate, yet.

There are only milestones of extraordinary achievements by women who defied gender norms and told the world of prejudice: you can not stop me. Nothing stops a champion.

From AIESEC, to the world:  To achieve peace we must first breed leaders worthy for the world. And this world does not exist in the absence of a basic human right; equality.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme  is #BeBoldForChange; what are you going to do about that?

 

Celebrating ambition transcending gender

There are many theories and interpretations on what causes women to be disadvantaged and unequally represented especially regarding work, but also in other fields of life; A glass ceiling is an invisible obstacle that prevents a woman from advancing in her career, while a discriminatory practice that keeps women at the bottom of the job scale is called a sticky floor. The majority of decision makers are men, both in business and politics. Wage gaps exist even in the most gender equal societies of the world. Women often face many unfair obstacles that make it harder for them to advance their careers, ranging from the pressure of staying home taking care of the children to belittling attitudes that force women to prove that they’re just as capable as their male colleagues.

If you take a look at the “Women’s First” , a list of achievements by women, it’s hard to find areas where women were truly first, and not just first after men. It is quite disheartening that very often to achieve something as a woman is to do something that has already been done by a man. From the standpoint of professional achievement, women have to face being constantly compared to men.

 

Yet, there are women who managed to defy this fate seemingly against all odds. Take for example Marie Curie. Yes, she was the first woman to receive the Nobel prize, but she was also the first ever person to receive a Nobel prize in two different fields, both chemistry and physics. She is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Frances Perkins was the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. cabinet and helped pave way for the participation of women in work life. But Perkins was also shaping policies that influenced the lives of millions of men. She was working for the whole society, both men and women. The one small step for man taken by Armstrong was enabled by the in-flight software developed by Margaret Hamilton, a pioneer in software engineering, and her team. When looking at the young self-made entrepreneurial generation of today of Alaa Murabit, Divya Nag, and the like, one can only guess what they will accomplish in the span of their whole career.

Margaret_Hamilton Margaret Hamilton and the code her team wrote for the Apollo project.

This International women’s day, we celebrate ambitious women; those who broke off from sticky floors, who shattered the glass ceilings with a smash, and who didn’t ask for a permission to excel. Women who are successful in what they do both as women – and just purely as exceptional people.

 

AIESEC has been recognized as one of the most freedom-centered democratic workplaces for 10 consecutive years by WorldBlu. AIESEC’s youth empowerment defies gender norms, through numerous projects focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 5, and through both young women and men that are represented in the top levels of the organization. They were all chosen for their roles not because or despite their gender, but because they were the best people for the job. AIESEC doesn’t discriminate based on gender.

Everyone should have the opportunity to explore their passions, and strive to become the best version of themselves, no matter their gender. So go for the career that you want, whether that is to defy the prevalent norm, or not, and don’t let others’ expectations hold you back. Dare to believe that you are good enough for it.

How Teaching Vietnamese Children English Impacted Me

Tay Ninh is a small, provincial city that borders Cambodia and Vietnam. It is a gentle and slow city with people who have an affinity for shrimp salt and rice paper.

When I first came to Tay Ninh, I didn’t know what kind of impact I would be making. But I soon quickly realized how much four young foreigners with little fluency in Vietnamese could do to a little community.



My Leadership Story Australian Volunteer 1

My AIESEC exchange in Vietnam pushed me from becoming a curious, stray traveler to an English school teacher, helping 40 kids learn and giving them the opportunity to discover about other cultures. What I hadn’t realized was how much I learnt along the way.

In Tay Ninh, I learnt how salt is formed, how rice paper is made and how chopsticks are put together. I’ve learnt that kids—no matter their background or classroom—can be naughty, and rewards with music or lollies at the end of the day remedies all. I’ve learnt the importance of an English education, particularly in rural areas where children are often thought of as working in low-income jobs on a farm or at a factory in their future, and that learning English would give them the chance to compete with students in the city, a chance for them to obtain a stable job and therefore a better future.


My Leadership Story Australian Volunteer 2

There are few foreigners that visit Tay Ninh and even fewer that have the opportunity to connect with the locals of this town. And it is therefore, more difficult to find people or places to help them practice English or to help carry English conversations so that they can learn by doing. But I feel privileged to have been able to be one of those few foreigners and to have been on the other end of those conversations for the past month.


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When I think of my exchange, I think of the wide-eyed, curious children at the orphanage constantly asking me questions about Australia and airplanes and my hometown. I think of the high-schoolers and our conversations on politics, education and how they got away with doing last night’s homework. But most of all, I think of the locals I’ve connected with on a day-to-day basis, the countless lessons on how to live, placing value on the things that you have around you and never taking things for granted. I feel privileged to have indulged in the lives of the people of Tay Ninh. I will always remember fondly of my time spent here.


My name is Linh, I am from Australia and I went on exchange to Vietnam. This is my leadership story, start your own story here: http://opportunities.aiesec.org/



What do you think about Linh’s story? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

A Life-Changing Volunteering Experience in Brazil

When people ask me about my exchange, there’re a thousand moments that come to my mind. But the first thing that I think of, is actually a person. Today I want to tell his story, that left a mark on mine – no doubt that forever.


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This is Emanuel’s story, one of the children with whom I worked.

I frequently noticed that Ema turned away from the rest when he was not paid attention to, and that he got deeply frustrated when a game did not work for him.

One day I asked him “What’s wrong?” in my Portuguese that was not so good back then. He said he would tell me when I was able to speak Portuguese properly. I quickly promised that I was going to make a bigger effort. He stuck a lot to me since that day.

Another day he was not able to play a game but instead of turning away like he used to, he grabbed my hand and led me to a little room in the NGO. He told me that I had learned to speak Portuguese better and that he was going to tell me his story.

He doesn’t have a father, which happens a lot here. He has eleven siblings and he confessed that his mother beat him when he messed something up. “To her, everything that I do is wrong, you know?”. He told me that one day he ran away from home for two days and his mother never realized that he was not there. So he liked a lot being with us (me and other five volunteers from around the world). He liked it when we asked him questions, when we encouraged him to participate – what he liked the most was that we looked at him. THAT WE LOOKED AT HIM!

My eyes filled up with tears. I acknowledged that I deeply admired him. He laughed and invited me to his place. I was not sure about going there because of his story and for fear of the unknown. He insisted day after day until one day I went there with him. His house was the size of a bathroom and no one – and I mean it, no one – paid attention to him. But he was standing there, holding my hand and with a smile from ear to ear. It was then that I understood – what he wanted was for me to see his reality.



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Once he showed me his belly. He had a burn of an iron. He asked me to kiss him so he would get well. I always told him that love cured, I guess he got it from there. When we were leaving, he asked me when i was going back to Argentina. I said that the following day was my last in Brazil.

“Can’t I go with you?”
“No, Ema. But you’ll always be in my heart, and I’ll be in your heart too.”
“Yeah, I know that. Cause you’re my mum!”



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Finally the not so long awaited last day arrived. Ema avoided me all day. He was mad because it was the end of my project. A couple of hours before leaving I looked for him and led him to the backyard. I told him that every time he stared at the sky and sees a tilting star, it was me thinking about him. He looked at me and said: “Every time you see a star that’s still – that are many many more- it’s me thinking about you.” This was the last time we talked. Even today Ema has no idea how much he changed me.

Going on an exchange is not about changing the world, but if the experience changes you then something in the world changes. AIESEC is as stewardesses explain, in the event of turbulence be sure to adjust your own life jacket before helping others, but never ever forget about others. I came back from Recife with much more than what I gave.

Months later I continued volunteering in AIESEC in Rosario, trying to give back something to the organization that had given me so much. During an afternoon in July, a young guy came in and straightforwardly said: “Hey! How are you? I’m Emanuel. I would like to go on exchange as a Global Volunteer next week. Is it possible? I’ve been checking some projects out and I like Giramundo very much. I’ve decided my destination as well, Recife, Brazil. What now?” I was shocked at his confidence, and I must admit, because of his name and the fact that he wanted to work in the same project in the same city I had a week later Emanuel was on his exchange in Recife, Brazil. Once there, he texted me this picture:

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“Can you imagine who did it? I was assigned you NGO! I was just introducing myself and said I was from Argentina when a little boy came running to me and hugged me. He shouted “Just like my mum Aldi” and was so full of joy. Isn’t it crazy that for him Argentina means you? He’s drawing and writing to you now and he wants to do everything in Spanish, so he got me here helping him with the language haha! Huge kiss from here! And Aldi, keep doing what you’re doing! You changed the world for this kid.”

What Ema has no clue about is that he changed my world forever.

My name is Aldana, I’m 22 and I went on exchange to Brazil to do volunteer work as part of Giramundo Project. I worked for achieving social inclusion in a NGO located in a “favela”, with kids from the third sector.

This is my leadership story, start your own story here: http://opportunities.aiesec.org/



What do you think about this amazing story? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.