Written by Ivy Tse
Chief Executive Officer, Halogen Foundation Singapore

A new age of influence, or is it? We are undeniably in times of change and there is a pressure to keep up with the pace of changing societal and economic landscapes. Perspectives on what it means to lead has also evolved, and we see how forces of influence sometimes have more sweeping power than formal titles do in today’s world. Peering through this lens and charting the future, the volatility and complexity sometimes brings more uncertainty and fear.

We can’t stop the change, but we can build upon core anchors that can keep us grounded in the changing times and amidst the noise. Halogen has and will continue to impact young people in the course of their journeys, because we know this influence – if harnessed well – is the same power that can bring lots of energy, vibrance and promise.

In all our interviews with our partners, volunteers, and supporters from their respective domains, all of them bring a different voice to what this magical power of influence can look like. Despite the diversity of contexts, sectors, and languages, there are patterns and basic principles that can help us navigate these cycles of change. There are pressing concerns, yet there are hopes and dreams of the potential ahead. The struggles are real, but not insurmountable to overcome.

Back to the basics

Influence is not merely about the actions we take but what kind of person we are. The type of influence we exert stems from the character values we embody, so we first need to have the ability of introspection and develop clarity of these core values. This formative phase is essential in the walk alongside our youth, especially in this day and age where it is harder to identify and discern good role models in our midst.

Every other interviewee shares a story that alludes to this internal compass, one that is also a powerful navigator in the avalanche of information from the digital world, echo chambers and complex challenges of today. The more prevalent digital influence becomes, the more important real-world practice of personal influence must also be taught. All these start with a visibility of one’s personal values.

Flipping of a perspective

The way we see influence also determines the part we choose to play in it. Some identify as subjects of the forces of influence around them and feel helpless; others proactively consider how to use influence as a momentum for them to attain their goals. Workplaces, generations and society at large are also experiencing this shift in perspective, uncovering new lens and fresh insights to which influence can show up in their respective domains.

In the many stories we covered, there often was an eventual awareness that we, as individuals, do wield the power to exercise influence under any circumstance – even if it’s just in influencing ourselves. In every situation therein lies a potential to choose the stance of ownership and make a difference, to take an opportunity to create a shift in mindsets, processes, and practices. Such is the duality of influence. And such is the reason why influence can be a powerful source for driving change.

Every action has a ripple

We need to recognise that the smallest of actions we take can have immense ripples to the community way beyond ourselves. To cast doubt and break the convictions of another, or to affirm and lift up another who has lost the confidence to shine – do our words tear down or build up? Do we add on to the signal or noise when we take up a stand on something?

Like it or not, we are all responsible for being stewards of change. We are all products of what others have sown into us and we ought to be even more sensitive to the responsibility that we hold towards others. We play an important role in influencing any young person who walks into our  life, consciously or unconsciously.

The time of need

It is imperative that the youth get this influence right, to navigate the future ahead. We need to partner young people in developing clarity of their personal values, learning to see multiple perspectives and to be conscious in the actions they choose to take. Even more commitment is to be undertaken, if we want to make sure no young person is left behind in this journey.

Influence is meaningless to progress if it’s not harnessed for the use of building up society. Halogen is fully aware of our position as an agent of change and influence. We want to invest in building sturdier civic citizens, more empowered change agents and more inspired communities to step forth and be a spark. Our nation’s diverse social fabric has ample place for individual voices to flourish as well as a macro narrative to advance as a collective.

There is power in solidarity and I hope the featured stories encourage you to continue on your journey, and alongside us. We are thankful for the unwavering support of our volunteers and partners over the years and for firmly believing that the power of influence can bring about tangible change. Together, I have no doubt that we can inspire a generation, one youth at a time.