by Trish Carr

Like many of you, I’m impressed with the uprising of young voices in our national conversation, the most recent being the #neveragain movement initiated by students from Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the February 14th shooting.

I’m inspired by the many new emerging leaders. Everyone from 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, a speaker at the March for Our Lives Rally who reminded us that black women are disproportionately represented among the victims of gun violence, to actor Rose McGowan, whose book Brave exposes Hollywood’s exploitation of women.

We’re navigating a minefield of critical issues that will shape our culture, our country and our lives for years to come. You’ve seen the hashtags: #metoo; #blacklivesmatter; #climateactivists; #globaltrashformation; #wearethe99%; #confidenceeliminatesbullying; #neveragain; #payequitynow; #deletefacebook; #stoprussianinterference…

People are coming together for causes more and more, and for the first time since the Vietnam War, it’s the next generation leading the charge.

“Millennials” often get a bad rap. (Depending on who you ask, Millennials were born between 1982-2004.) The common myth is that they’re narcissistic, spoiled and lazy. Nothing can be further from the truth.

It’s not easy being at the forefront of change, especially in today’s environment where everything you say and do is scrutinized, spun for effect and broken down into three-second soundbites. Even high school students aren’t immune to the vitriol heaped upon leaders who step up and speak out for what they believe.

It’s clearly not a walk in the park to be the voice for change. So why do it? Why put yourself out there? Why subject yourself to it? For me, it’s part of my DNA to be an active voice for change, a voice for global peace and a passionate crusader for women’s causes. I wanted to make a difference for myself and for others.

Great change is often preceded by great anger, frustration and indignation. If there ever was such a time, this is it. Today’s young people are shaped by experiences that generations before them cannot fathom: school shootings, police shootings, a recession that some say was deeper than the Great Depression, confidence in banking, financial and government institutions at an all-time low, unprecedented student loan debt, a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, and an electorate that is fed up and fired up. It’s the perfect formula for change.

Wouldn’t you agree that the time has come for each of us to take a lesson from the next generation and stand up and speak out about the things we believe will better our world? Isn’t it time that instead of talking about it, we do something about it? And “it” is whatever you believe would make a positive change.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~
Mahatma Gandhi

It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Keep it simple. What kind of world do you want to live in? In what small way can you be the catalyst to create that world? What’s happening in your neighborhood, your community or even in your household that you want to change for the better?

Natural Awakenings publisher and renowned artist SusieQ became a voice for change simply by being fed up that there was too much trash on her local beach. She started to be the change by picking up the trash herself. That grew into others helping; from there, she initiated community beach cleanups. She creatively repurposes the trash collected in her works of art, bringing awareness to the literally tons of garbage left behind by unaware people.

Take a Small Step

What kind of a world do you want? Start with what you can control. And the first person you can change is yourself. As I look at the world I want to live in, I know that change starts with me. The world I see is a world:

• That when problems arise, we find common ground and seek solutions that make sense and effect real change

• Where people are leaders in their own lives, where we keep our word, first to the promises we make ourselves and then to the promises we make to others

• Where we treat each other with respect

• Where we live by the Golden Rule

• Where we afford each other the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions or placing blame

• Where we celebrate our uniqueness rather than labeling and name calling those who are different

• Where, ultimately, each of us strives to be the person our parents wanted us to be

You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” That’s the sentiment here. Each of us can be a leader, starting with being a role model in our own lives. Be the change. Start first with you and then step up and speak out—just like those narcissistic, spoiled and lazy Millennials.

Trish Carr is a bestselling author, business mentor and leadership expert. Since her early years, she has worked to “Be the Change” by stepping up, speaking out and leading the way on women’s issues and human rights. She is co-founder of Women’s Prosperity Network, a global enterprise dedicated to inspiring, supporting and educating women within a trusted network of professionals so that through connections, learning and laughter, they love the life they live and create a life they love. Contact her at [email protected].