How an event changed my life
Someone once told me there are two days that represent the most important days of your life. The day you are born and the day you find your purpose in life.
For me, the first is March 22, 1984 and the second, Nov 30, 2009: the day I was introduced to DIODE camps. My name is Yasir and here is the story of how DIODE Camp changed my life.
In a nutshell, DIODE Camp is a series of camps dedicated to building leaders through interactive, fun, and experiential learning. For me, it is so much more than that.
It is a space where you find out who you are, what you can do, and who you want to become. It is a combination of micro and macro moments that revolve around four aspects – empowerment, relationship, community and inspiration.
Before I volunteered six days of my life back in 2009 to be a facilitator, I always knew that I liked working with young people. I have always known that I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives in a positive way.
DIODE Camp gave me that opportunity and empowered me to do so in the most fun-filled way. It opened the doors for me to be part of something special, and in return, I myself learned to be a leader.
Micro inspiring moments
Fast forward to present day, after 20 DIODE Camps, I now work in Leaderonomics, the social enterprise that runs the camps, and I still have the feeling of excitement the moment I step into a camp hall.
It was all down to the micro moments, the small short interactions with both the youth and my fellow facilitators. The simple conversations that have stuck with me till now.
The moment I saw a quiet 14-year-old boy turn a corner and start leading his team when it needed a leader. The instant I heard incredible wisdom from a 16-year-old girl regarding world issues.
The conversation with 15-year-old guys about gaming and how they learned teamwork and collaboration with others through it.
The simple affirmation that because of her experience in camp, a dyslexic girl can now not only speak in public, but judge a public speaking competition.
It all boils down to the relationships that we create in camp and the friendships that still hold to this day. I made some of my best friends during camp.
The camp focuses on getting young people to break out of their comfort zone, encourages them to speak their mind, and empowers them to do amazing things while learning about themselves and what they are truly capable of. I had never expected it to do the same to me.
During a session, the speaker Eric Lau, invited me, a facilitator at the time, to speak in front of the whole camp about my experience climbing Mount Kinabalu.
It had elements of failure and learning from that failure. Lau empowered me to have a macro moment.
He got me to break out of my comfort zone, tell my story and inspire the youth. It was one of the most significant events that changed my perspective of myself.
The feeling that I have within me, the ability to inspire others taught me how to empower others to do the same.
As leaders, it is not just about inspiring others, but also to empower them to do greater things. That is what Lau did for me and what I strive to do for others.
Speaking about inspirational, I also learnt that the youth of Malaysia only need the opportunity to lead to know that they can actually be leaders.
There are many examples, one of them being three remarkable youths from our Advanced Leadership Camp. They conducted their own programme to inspire their friends to chase their dreams.
Another example would be a youth who dedicated her weekends to help an orphanage, and another youth who came from a challenging background, who now runs a business to help single mothers.
Keys to building leaders
I can go on and on about these people who have the drive, ambition and love to make a positive difference. By only giving them a chance, the next generation can create incredible things for not only their own benefit, but the benefit of their communities.
We believe that leadership is a learnt attribute. It is critical to create the right atmosphere in order for these youths to flourish as leaders.
The diode factor
Every DIODE camp is an artificial community that lasts between four to six days. Therefore each activity or session has a specific purpose to instil leadership values and lessons. The formula that we use is called AVP – no, not Alien versus Predators.
AVP stands for Awareness, Vision, Plan, and another “V” which stands for Values. A leader must have these four elements to succeed.
Awareness of who they are, the vision of what they want to become, a plan on how to get there and the positive values that they need to accomplish it.
Throughout the camp, there is a project each group must complete and present to a panel of judges comprising senior leaders from big companies.
Through these projects, they not only learn about teamwork, but also how to delegate, brainstorm, manage their time and resources, speak in public, and communicate interpersonally – all of which are essential competencies in the workplace, especially in a leadership role.
The sense of accomplishment after the presentation is amazing. For the participants to go through hardship and coming out learning more about their own capabilities is such a confidence booster for them.
For me, it is the feeling of pride of helping them achieve that goal.
Through DIODE camp, I learnt my purpose in life: To empower and inspire the youths of today to create a positive impact on their communities and to develop meaningful relationships, as leaders of tomorrow.
So, what’s your purpose in life?