Last month, I had the honor of attending the United Nations’ Conference titled – Commission On The Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. I was present for several of the briefings. The conference drew in ambassadors, representatives, leaders, Deputy Secretary Generals, directors, policy makers, founders of non-government organizations, delegates, chiefs, ministers for human rights, and others from around the world. The event brought together incredibly bright minds from various backgrounds to examine ways to empower women through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I was also invited to partake in many side- events that were organized by many of the people present for the conference. Typically, these events were smaller and conversations took place over a meal or coffee. At one side event, there were eight of us sharing a meal at a local restaurant.

What struck me about those in attendance not only for the larger conference and also for these side-events is that these individuals were not only successful leaders, but they were clearly what one would consider change- makers/ over- achievers. As a clinical social worker and author, I’m interested in observing behavior patterns. During these events, I began to notice that these change- makers had some traits and behaviors in common that I thought would be valuable to share. This list is in no particular order of importance.

Ten Things Change – Makers Do:

  1. Change – Makers identified a cause near to their heart, and it became their passion. They can list the successful implementation factors of their business plans, and they can tell you why this issue is critical to them on a personal level. For example, it might be that their family member was impacted by the issue.
  2. Change – Makers deeply listen. They promote engagement in small and large conversations by not interpreting and asking thoughtful follow- up questions. They know that listening is a key role in terms of furthering any discussion.
  3. Change – Makers are on the ground doing the work. They formulate policy recommendations based on some of their lessons learned from their work experiences. They know the needs of the individuals that their work will impact.
  4. Change – Makers value their colleagues. Relationships with peers are valued. They consult with their peers when creating any type of business plans. Dialogue empowers their work.
  5. Change – Makers are open. While ideas may vary, they strengthen their projects by remaining open to the ideas others present. This enhances their work.
  6. Change – Makers share. They will discuss their experiences, setback, and lessons they’ve learned to hopefully help their peer. They will exchange ideas about how their peer might spearhead or improve upon an idea.
  7. Change – Makers understand growth is a journey. While frameworks and agendas help one to stay on task, they know that mechanisms for growth do not occur within one policy. They know that while one goal may be met, further collaboration is often needed.
  8. Change – Makers aren’t afraid to address the facts. Often, closing gaps and developing new blueprints requires one to read the statistics that prevent progress. They understand that creating effective measures requires one to closely examine what is at stake.
  9. Change – Makers love to learn. You might call them nerds or geeks, but they find genuine happiness in educating themselves. Learning can come from reading books, attending lectures and exposing themselves to new experiences. They enter into this realm with this sole purpose- to learn.
  10. Change – Makers do their work for a higher purpose. They might be the engine behind huge global development, but they are also working to make a lasting impact. Often, they provide support in ways that will never be public knowledge.

The educational, financial, religious, cultural backgrounds of Change- Makers vary. In other words, graduating from a particular university doesn’t guarantee one would become a Change- Maker. Early on, they often go through life unnoticed, in the sense that they aren’t always the most popular in their class or the richest child. However, they know that they can make a difference.

Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level social worker, speaker, writer and author of the book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice For The First Five Years.” She can be reached via her website.