Culture is a loose fitting word.
Culture can refer to a variety of things, but it boils down to a perspectives, beliefs, and ultimately ideas. When an idea is shared with large amounts of people, and it becomes a common thought, a culture is formed. When a new idea comes against an existing one, and is accepted among large amounts of people, a culture shifts.
Therefore, while the word culture can include a huge variety of interactions, customs, and belief systems, culture is ultimately constructed by ideas.
History is full of examples of this. The industrial revolution was a shift in culture caused by the idea that work could be more efficient if distributed. The women’s rights movement was caused by the idea that women were just as capable as men.
Sometimes the ideas that change culture aren’t even intentional. There are a multitude of factors that can cause cultures to develop, change, or disappear.
Memetics, a concept similar to the study of genetics, believes that ideas (called memes) are similar to genes. Genetics studies how individual genes are reproduced and passed on to effect the genetics of a population. One person’s gene could have an effect that ripples for centuries in their family.
Memes follow a similar trajectory. Culture is affected by the ideas of the individuals that are shared and reproduced within human relationships.
The implications of this are enormous. The ideas that you have and the ideas that you share have the potential to shape cultures and influence people for generations to come.
In other words, you are encouraged to think outside the box.
Excitement is usually generated by a positive change in the present that implies a more positive future. Ultimately then, excitement is a response to things happening around a person.
Generating excitement is not terribly difficult. Maintaining it is usually more challenging. A one time significant event can spark excitement, but without a constant flow of progress, excitement is easily lost.
It’s easy to become attracted to rags to riches stories portrayed by the media because it gives us a sense of excitement because we see the potential and want to be just like them. Linsanity, a documentary about the NBA phenomenon Jeremy Lin, is a story about each one of us. Especially for Asian Americans, Jeremy Lin is an inspiration for teenagers to pursue their dreams and make history through the influence of what they are passionate about.
Significant stories are mirrors, inspiration for the significance can be achieved. Stories present themselves not as the success of superstars, but a bar to be surpassed. Every record that has been broken in the past has been the inspiration for the record to be broken again.
Before 1954, no one had ever run a mile in less than four minutes. According to experts, such a feat was physically impossible, until Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3:59 in 1954. After that, all world class runners were completing their miles in under four minutes.
Excitement over a new achievement quickly vanishes, unless it resonates deep with who you are and stirs up an emotion that goes much deeper than excitement: passion and purpose.
The thing about having a passion and a purpose is that it extends deeper than individual events. Having a passion and purpose allows a person to filter relevant events. Excitement without purpose easily fades, but when purpose creates excitement, progress is made.
As a recently graduated high school senior (class of 2012) that has served in leadership in various clubs and groups, there is definitely a lot more to leadership than it might seem. Here are a couple of pointers.
Take Risks. You will fail sooner or later, and once you come to accept that, you will realize that you grow best in leadership when you learn from your own mistakes. With that said, never hesitate to venture out into the unknown, and do things in ways that no one has ever done before. Think outside the preconceived traditional ways of leading, and focus on doing whatever you can to help.
Lead By Example. The fastest way to lose people who support you is talking the talk without walking the walk. Lessons are infinitely more valuable when you teach from experience. When you experience something, you experientially know what is practical and what is impractical.
Inspire People. Inspire people to action. Give them the freedom to question you, and make yourself open to any opinions or concerns people might have. Invest above and beyond what is required of you into these people’s lives, and get to know people personally.
Have a Vision. Establish a vision and refer back to it often, so that you constantly take steps toward your goal. A vision is something that often takes weeks to establish, and may change as things go along. Since having a fuzzy goal leads to fuzzy results, try to be clear with your vision, defining every little term so that everyone who hears your mission statement interprets it the same way.
Serve Humbly. Leading is not about building yourself up and making yourself famous. Ironically, the way to most successfully lead any group of people is to build them up and make them famous. Because when you empower other people to lead other groups, your influence extends to people you would never have had time to influence. Learn to build other people up.
Communicate. Being able to communicate is perhaps the most valuable asset to a leader. Focus on being able to express your ideas clearly, meaning that you probably may have to repeat yourself. Also understand that communication is two way, meaning listening is also key to communication. Take interest in what the other person has to say, and value them as individuals. There is no such thing as overcommunication.
Lastly, remember that you are dealing with high schoolers, which means you are dealing with a huge variety of maturity levels and changing personalities. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go your way, because leading a teenage kids can be a real challenge. Just pick yourself up and keep being awesome.