Youth to Youth Initiative
Karolina Mazetyte is the co-Founder of the Youth to Youth Initiative, which helps youth to participate efficiently in decision making processes and community building. The organization provides a three-fold platform for networking and collaboration. They host annual thematic summits, which are designed as a platform for dialogue and networking with the aim to inspire participants to collaborate and start their own projects. Further the Youth to Youth Initiative provides and online incubator for socially beneficial youth-led ideas, projects and initiatives. Thereby, young leaders are equipped with tools for project management and development, funding, marketing and design. Last but not least, they are initiating and supporting diverse projects that are in line with their claim of “Change created by youth for youth”.
Starting from unsatisfying personal experience
The idea to start an own initiative came after participating an event in 2014 with over two hundred participants. Karolina realized that the event did not match her belief of free speech. Instead it was providing a one-sighted perspective with a fixed agenda that did not allow participants to get involved. She thought that this was influencing the youth by sending out a disturbing message. The person who was sitting next to her agreed and eventually they together founded their own youth initiative.
Their belief was that participants should be able to express their ideas freely and without an agenda. This principle results in that topics for the next event or support from the initiative are based on the need of the community.
What she realized was that the youth often lacked necessary skills to implement their own ideas. At the same time, many organizations are not willing to take the time to teach the required skills, which left young people in a paradox situation. They were lacking what organizations demanded, but at the same time could not acquire these skills. That is why a lot of youth voices are often unheard.
Karolina, therefore, puts the challenge as well as the responsibility totally in the hand of young people who want to implement their own ideas. Young people can organize events by themselves or coordinate trainings for example, so that they can grow personally and are better equipped to enter a job. If they still want to work for someone else after having realized their own ideas however, is another question. Karolina was, nevertheless, able to get a job herself after having organized the first summit due to the results and commitment she was able to show.
However, she continues with own projects as well. With Malmö Meditation she has set up a community for mindfulness and well-being. Karolina helps individuals to create more consciousness and self-awareness. Her motivation comes again from personal experience. When she was in a bad place with a lot of stress, anxiety and panic attacks, which led to a slight depression, she was asking herself how to deal with it. Mindfulness and meditation has helped her to recover without any medication. When she realized that others have similar experiences she wanted to help them to become more present in the current moment.
Since businesses are often the starting point for stress, which is based on her personal experience and the fact that one of the biggest reasons for sick leaves in Sweden is due to depression, Karolina not only wants to solve this problem, but to prevent it in the first place. People in a healthy state are simply more productive.
She hopes that the consciousness of individuals also translates to organizations in general. Internal members as well as external stakeholders are demanding more of organizations in regard to social consciousness and environmental sustainability. We want to express what we can, but at the same time also want to have a balance in life to think about personal and not only work-related issues. Mindfulness could help to increase productivity by reducing the days of sick leaves as well as the time spent on one task. This can be achieved by avoiding multitasking, which not only decreases the quality of work, but increases stress for jumping between individual tasks. The time efficiency achieved by being present and focus at the task at hand increases the risk of simply adding more tasks to our schedules instead of using the time for recreation. However, with increased self-awareness we are also more mindful to when we reach our limits and need a break.
New approach to work
Since organizations are created by people, they are not able to run without employees. In a social system a changed mindset changes the dynamics of the whole system. Karolina receives from her meditation sessions the feedback that when her clients tell about mindfulness at work it sparks a curiosity in their colleagues.
Karolina would love to see regular group meditation sessions in organizations. She is convinced that a new leadership style and organizational design is inevitable for the changes to come in the future. Instead of managers splitting required tasks between their subordinates, it will be the employees that come up with their own solutions. This requires a management style that is able to see the big picture and provides self-directed and autonomous work environments. She believes that organizations in Sweden are already setting good examples by inspiring members of an organization and leading based on values.
Need to collaborate to face complexity
Karolina also realizes that mindfulness is not the single solution to all workplace problems. This is such a complex problem that it requires collaboration with other experts. It takes a diverse range of tools to be in a better shape for the changes to come. Such tools could include improved communication, inner and outer conflict solving and training management teams leadership styles based on empathy. Organizations should in the end decide by themselves what is relevant for them and should choose the most appropriate solution.
Sharing our stories
“We as citizens often demand to have rights, but often we forget our responsibility to give.”
Karolina’s motivation to work is the responsibility she realizes that comes with gained knowledge. Her experience has taught her how hard it can be to solve problems without any help. That is why she wants to help where she can. She is aware of her strengths and sees the responsibility to help others with her knowledge. Karolina knows that we can only give what we know to people. That is why she believes that we need to share our stories often to inspire as many people as possible.
What are you not happy about and want to change?