By Mark Tewksbury – GREAT TRAITS
One of my highlights of 2016 was being invited to speak at the One Young World conference in Ottawa at the end of September. At the Olympics in Rio a month earlier, I witnessed the power of youth firsthand when Penny Oleksiak, a 16 year old Olympic rookie, smashed every record imaginable. What an honour it was to pass the gold medal baton to her, as her 100 meter freestyle gold was Canada’s first since mine in 1992. Another baton would be passed at One Young World as powerful ideas from some of the most thoughtful global leaders were shared with the next generation.
There couldn’t be a better time to think about legacy –and having a positive and sustainable impact with your life.
The One Young World conference brought together over 1300 next-generation global leaders to address many important themes, among them extremism, the environment, and feminism. World leaders and celebrity activists including Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Emma Watson and Sir Bob Geldof shared their experience with this group. The real stars were actually the young delegates themselves. For each of the main themes, five delegate speakers addressed their peers on the topic. The goal was to get as many different points of view as possible.
I gave the keynote that asked the question: Why is the LGBT community still being persecuted in 2016? The youth delegates that followed me spoke from their perspectives as a transgendered person, a gay African man, a straight Caribbean-ally, an interracial Japanese woman, and a young Olympian. I have been working for LGBT rights around the world for close to 20 years, but I learned an enormous amount from being at this one session. Story-telling is a powerful tool for learning, and the delegates stories were packed with rich experience and insight. For an hour and-a-half I saw the world in a different light. I left more aware and informed, touched by others’ experience, and more ready to celebrate the difference that connects us as people. That experience is one that stood out in 2016 because of its impact.
As we roll into 2017, Great Traits takes its inspiration from the One Young World experience as we launch an eight-part series focused on the theme of Legacy.
We will share stories of legendary people who have had a lasting impact on the world around them, and have brought each one of our legacy traits to life by the example they set. But just like the celebrity speakers at One Young World, this isn’t about them.
We want you to think about who, in YOUR life, is exemplifying these ideas.
How are these ideas relevant to YOU? Every one of us has the ability to impact the many people around us.
What kind of a legacy are you leaving with your actions?
And who has had a lasting impact on you?
Click for a link to the One Young World Ottawa 2016 Highlights on YouTube