How many times in your life do you think you’ve had a life-altering, positive impact on someone without ever even realizing it?
According to Drew Dudley, who gave a recent TEDx talk in Toronto, it may be more often than you think. In this TEDx video about the concept of “lollipop leadership,” Drew relayed the story of an experience in college where he had been handing out lollipops on campus to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis, when he gave a particular lollipop to a young man and asked him to please hand it over to the “pretty lady standing next to him.”
Four years later, the girl introduced herself to Drew, and explained that she had been one second away from making the decision that day to change her mind about college when this guy had suddenly handed her a lollipop, whom she later went on marry. The amazing thing about the story was that Drew had no recollection of it ever happening, but that his actions that day had set someone else’s life on a path of forward motion without ever even realizing it, for which this girl was eternally thankful.
Movement was a common theme from the TEDxUniversityofNevada talks. For example, Shawna Korgan talked about movement when she stated that movement is the essence of life. She asked such questions of the audience as “what do your movements say about you?” and “what ripples will you create with the movement of your life?”
Below are a couple of examples from TEDx speakers who have been able to create positive ripples in their lives:
Brian Williams of Think Kindness shared a story about an email that his organization received one day from a young girl wanting to commit suicide. Through carefully crafting a response that ultimately suggested attending one of their Think Kindness events, after weeks of silence they received an email reply from the girl to learn that she had gone on to volunteer to help the homeless, which provided her life with renewed meaning and desire to continue moving forward and help others. Because of her unlikely interaction with the non-profit and their positive response, her life was turned around.
Grant Davis, a 16-year old singer and songwriter, talked about his sister’s drug addiction and how that affected him a child. He noted feelings of loneliness and sadness brought on by the addiction, and that he needed to spend time focusing on himself in order to heal, in which he turned to music. Today he is inspiring others through his music.
In 2011 his song “Just A Child” captured third place in the 2011 MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation Teen Substance Abuse Awareness Through Music Contest, and he also won an all expenses paid trip to New York City for having another one of his anti-drug songs selected to be performed at a concert in Madison Square Garden. Because of his experiences, he’s been able to turn a negative into a positive for not only himself, but his family, and for others.
Deanna LeBlanc, Nevada’s “2012 Teacher of the Year,” discussed how she finds something to love about every single one of the children in her classroom, because “when children know that you love them, they’re willing to move Heaven and Earth for you.” LeBlanc discussed a particular situation in which she had with a student who was habitually angry, and how she had worked to help him trust her and build a relationship through not only unconditionally loving him, but by being strategic, persistent, and letting go of that which she could not control. Because of her patience and persistence, LeBlanc has no doubt made a lasting impact on this child’s life.
On a similar note (from the standpoint of education), Hug High School principal Lauren Ford talked about the fact that in 2006, Hug High School had only a 36% graduation rate. While the school now has a 51% rate of graduation, she noted that her school is not without its troubles given its demographic positioning. Because many students are just trying to make it from one day to the next, she stressed the importance of creating a structured and safe environment for her students to be able to focus on learning.
Senior Deyanira Baca is one example of a Hug High School student who has benefitted from this approach, or from the effects of the movements that have been created by Ford. In her talk, Deyanira, who is in the top 5% of her class, discussed her desire to attend medical school despite having had a violent, and oftentimes unsupportive, upbringing. With an alcoholic father, a mother who worked as a housekeeper, and siblings who never graduated from high school, she noted that her teachers had been her lifeline, providing her with much-needed structure, support, and guidance at a time in her life when she had none. She credits her success with the stability she has received from her teachers along the way. The ripple effects of Lauren’s leadership will no doubt have long-lasting effects on the lives of her students who choose to rise to the challenge of pursing their education despite being faced with unfortunate challenges at home.
When the unexpected happens, or when things turn for the worse, it’s imperative to keep pushing forward. By creating movement that has a positive ripple effect on others, you just never know how or whom you’re going to impact.
Photography provided by Theresa Danna Douglas.