My Why (Leveling the Playing Field through Education)
(I wrote this as a Toastmasters speech in Dec. 2017)
“How do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?” This is how Simon Sinek started the third most watched TED talk in the world. He talks about why having a strong why, a strong purpose, cause or belief behind everything you do is so important. I couldn’t agree more. And I’d like to demonstrate it by sharing my goals, the why behind those goals and how having a strong purpose influences everything that I do.
My biggest goal in life is to provide an environment for as many kids as possible that will allow them to discover their strengths and tap into their potential. I plan on doing this in two ways. First, by opening schools in the most marginalized communities in Colombia. Second, by involving the communities to provide more opportunities for kids to flourish outside of school.
Now, why would I want to do this? What’s my purpose or belief behind these crazy goals? Well as I mentioned in my ice breaker, it all started from seeing the impact my mom made by offering those kids a chance at an education. This has influenced me and given me some perspective: no matter how talented or smart I might be: Me. The same exact person. If I was born to one of those disadvantaged families, there is no way that I would have the life that I have now or anything even close to it. Even if I worked 20x harder, it just wouldn’t be possible. That knowledge keeps me grounded.
I am only here because I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that could provide me with an education and who never had to worry about where our next meal would come from. I won the lottery of life, but there are a lot of other little me’s out there or kids 10x more talented than me, possibly the next Bill Gates or Mother Theresa, who didn’t win and because of their circumstances they will most likely never reach their potential. They were never given the chance.
If you’re born poor, you’ll die poor in the developing world and no child should die unfulfilled just because they’re born poor.
As Shakira said in one of my favorite speeches: “There are over 200 million learners out of school who face extreme poverty, conflicts and displacement, poor nutrition, and little hope for the future with no access to schools. It’s proven that for every $1 invested in a child’s early education, that same child returns $17 to the state in his adult life.” Which is why I hold such a strong belief that in giving kids access to an education and helping the parents is as Ghandi once said, my best way to be a part of the change I wish to see the in world.
I believe that through more access to products like online education and schools I will be able to help and have the biggest impact starting with the children and in the long run their families, their communities, and their countries as a whole.
Another interesting piece of research has shown that the first 6 years of a child’s life are the most important and the ones that determine their future because during these years they shape their brains, their learning capabilities, their psychomotor abilities and their ability to relate to others. Because of this, I would also like to empower parents through education and an entrepreneurship program to be able to (re)enter the workforce or, even better, start their own ventures and in turn create more jobs so that the families can spend some time thinking further than their next meal. I would also like to provide parenting classes and community support at the schools we open to help make sure the kids receive adequate nutrition, stimulation, and support which are so fundamental in their development.
My decision to work on my leadership skills, on my health, relationships and business are all because of this. If you do things for the right reasons, all of the stars seem to align for you and that’s how I believe you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions.
Without the why behind all of my goals, I would not have taken the first step towards achieving what I have achieved. The why is what keeps me focused and keeps me moving forward. Every once in a while we all forget what our why is. I encourage all of you to find your why if you haven’t already and then write it down somewhere where you can see it daily so that you don’t lose that sense of purpose and drive to be your best self every day working towards your goals.