Editor’s note: On May 21, 14-year-old Lauryn E’Leesia Jones was award the 2014 Youth Humanitarian Award by the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana. Prior to her selection, Ms. Jones was asked to submit an essay on leadership to the Red Cross. Frost Illustrated recently was granted the privilege of publishing that insightful essay on leadership, which follows below, uncut:
By Lauryn E’Leesia Jones
Special to Frost Illustrated
A leader is a person who leads or takes charge, someone who people follow by example or, someone who people often look up to and admire. Parents and adults are often considered in leadership roles establishing leadership opportunities and skills in their children and friends. The society that we live in rarely puts emphasis on young leaders at an early age. Being able to be young and say I’ve made a conscious decision to be a young leader in our society today is a big thing and should be something extremely valuable to you.
Personally being a young leader in our society goes beyond taking charge and motivating people to be their best. Being a young leader means going beyond what is required and having integrity. Being a young leader you should be accepting of the fact that you are a powerful person you can influence and inspire many people. Standards for yourself should be high you should have set goals and expectations for yourself to live up to.
Many people would like to carry the title of being a leader but many fail to realize being a leader goes beyond just demonstrating leadership skills. A young leader is someone who displays extraordinary commitment to what his or her mind is settled on and will go above and beyond to better the team as a whole. When you finally step up and commit to becoming a leader you should always remember leadership is a quality which cannot be acquired by any person other then yourself but it can be acquired by your self-motivation and desire to undertake a given task without supervision.
For me personally as a young leader I have to be able to say that I’m comfortable within my own skin. Accepting who you are and having self-confidence is something every leader should display and not be afraid to show. When I’m in the spot light whether I’m singing, public speaking or acting I always display confidence. There have been many situations where I was nervous and at times unsure if I could do it. By having confidence and believing in myself the end result showed reassurance among my followers.
Being a young leader I know I’m required to set an inspirational example to lead people and constantly uplift and inspire my followers. Constantly having faith in my self-abilities and the world around me I inspire others and also gain inspiration in the process.
Winston Churchill said it best “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” As a young leader in our society I believe a true leader is able to do both in the required circumstances. In this world there are only two types of people you can decide to be, a leader or follower. The society we live in today has no problem with you being an average everyday follower. In fact it’s actually considered out of the norm to be a leader, especially a young leader, and make the right and conscious decisions of everyday life. Making decisions to have self-control and take on the challenge to be entitled with a name as great as being a leader really takes focus and discipline. Someone once said a man who can’t control himself can never control others. In fact, having self-control sets an example for one’s followers, which the intelligent will emulate and the unruly will ignore. The biggest question you should be asking yourself is why am I or why haven’t I decided to be a young leader in our society. Another major part of being a young leader in our society is giving back to the community. It’s important to give back to your community. Everyone should show gratitude; by giving back you are investing back into the community what has been invested in you.
Everyone should be reminded success does not come from you alone. Giving back also shows you are truly appreciative and thankful of those who have helped you. Giving back to your community can also positively benefit you as well as enhance your leadership skill. Volunteering and getting involved in your community gives something of value to someone else. You also get to use your skills and talents to help others improve their life.
The more you dedicated your time and talents to others the more giving back becomes a part of you. To me volunteering or helping others only make you great my mom always say’s life is about service. In closing it’s always important to remember that whether you’re giving back to your community or being a young leader in today’s society true leadership cannot be rewarded. The ultimate reward lies within yourself and the major role in achieving success in your life venture.