60 Min­utes with Craig Kiel­burger

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY LIA HENNIGAR

Not too long ago, I had the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend my hus­band’s an­nual in­vest­ment con­fer­ence in Colling­wood, Ont. The event team al­ways has an in­ter­est­ing com­pan­ion pro­gram planned for the spouses and with the kids back in school, I was all for a grown-up get­away!

On the last day of meet­ings, when my op­tion was to go to a pop­u­lar day spa to in­dulge in wa­ter ther­a­pies, I had some­thing else on my agenda. En­ter Craig Kiel­burger, the clos­ing speaker for the con­fer­ence.

If you haven’t heard of Kiel­burger ask any high school stu­dent who has at­tended or been ex­posed to the ME to WE move­ment (WE Day takes place in Hal­i­fax on Nov. 30) and they might use words such as, amaz­ing and awe­some and lifechang­ing!

Now, I’m a self- pro­fessed “spa girl”, what with the plush robes, lemon wa­ter, calm­ing colours and all, but as much as I love a good salt-wa­ter soak, Kiel­burger’s topic - An Un­con­ven­tional Ed­u­ca­tion: What I learned about Lead­er­ship from Nel­son Man­dela, Oprah and my Lia Hennigar, her hus­band and Me to We move­ment co-founder Craig Kiel­burger.

Grandma - pulled me in another di­rec­tion. I knew this talk would ben­e­fit me years from now.

Kiel­burger was only 12 when he was moved by a boy who lived on the other side of the world. As he told us, he was eat­ing his Chee­rios and look­ing through the Toronto Star comics one Satur­day morn­ing at his par­ents’ home in Thorn­hill, Ont. when he came across an ar­ti­cle about a boy named Iqbal Masih, who was also 12, and lived in Pak­istan. The young boy had just been as­sas­si­nated while play­ing in front of his house.

Masih was born into poverty and sold into slav­ery by his par­ents at the age of four. He es­caped at 10 and be­gan telling his story, determined to spread the word that there were chil­dren like him who were be­ing sold, beaten and worked to near death. He be­came an in­ter­na­tional fig­ure­head for the fight against child labour. And be­cause he would not stay quiet, be­cause he would never stay quiet again, this 12-year-old hero was shot and killed.

Kiel­burger’s world was rocked. Com­pas­sion moved him to ac­tion and he took the story to his teacher on Mon­day. He asked, “who is go­ing to join me and do some­thing about this?” He said 11 friends put up their hands and the fundrais­ing be­gan. They named their cause, Kids Can Free Chil­dren (even­tu­ally, Free the Chil­dren) and Kiel­burger hasn’t let up since.

He co-founded the so­cial en­ter­prise, ME to WE move­ment, with his brother Marc and also cre­ated, WE Day, a day of youth em­pow­er­ment where young peo­ple pack sta­di­ums and are en­cour­aged by Kiel­burger, celebri­ties and ev­ery­day heroes to make a dif­fer­ence in the world. You can­not buy your way into this event – you earn it through acts of lead­er­ship.

The ME to WE premise is sim­ple. Stop liv­ing purely from a po­si­tion of, me, my­self and I and start liv­ing from a place of com­pas­sion that ex­tends out­side of your per­sonal com­fort zone. Get out there and make a dif­fer­ence – near or far - be­cause there is much to be done. Be­cause of his work around the world, Kiel­burger has re­ceived life lessons from the Com­pas­sion “Dream Team” of sorts: Nel­son Man­dela, Oprah, Mother Theresa. The list is very long and very im­pres­sive and he tells us sto­ries that are both amaz­ing and heart-break­ing. I watch as grown men cry.

On Man­dela, Kiel­burger re­calls speak­ing to him about lead­er­ship. Man­dela tells the story of how his fam­ily was poor. So poor that he did not even own shoes. He could not at­tend school but he would take on the im­por­tant work of be­ing a shep­herd. So, on the morn­ing of his new role, he goes out­side, ready for his first day of lead­ing sheep. He stands tall and proud in front of his flock, he turns and be­gins to march. March, march, march. Af­ter a mo­ment or two, young Man­dela stops and turns around, pre­pared to see his dot- ing pack right there be­hind him. But wait. No one told the sheep they were to fol­low!

What hap­pens next? Man­dela re­al­izes that he has to get be­hind them. That if he wants them to go left, he has to get be­hind them on their right. If he wants them to go right, he needs to get be­hind them on their left. Look­ing back, Man­dela re­al­ized that lead­er­ship doesn’t al­ways hap­pen when you are front and cen­tre. When all eyes are on you and you have some­thing to say. Some­times, lead­ers need to move to the back, get quiet and gen­tly nudge their team from be­hind. Lead from be­hind. Who would ever think of this? Man­dela, of course.

Kiel­burger has taken this mes­sage to heart, and off he goes. His flock ahead of him, ready to be moved.

If you would like more in­for­ma­tion about WE Day, ME to WE or WE Char­i­ties, visit, www. we.org

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