Lollipop Moments: Why You’re Already a Leader

As a recently declared social work minor, there’s a phrase I’ve heard time and time again in the lineup of my minor’s required courses: change agent. To be in a minor that teaches me I have not only the capability but the responsibility, to be a change agent in the world is uplifting and empowering. But after only a semester of taking a mix of advocacy classes and general social work classes, I’ve come to realize it shouldn’t take being a social work minor to feel as though you have the power to change a life and help people on a daily basis; and here’s why: you’re already a leader.

A seven-minute TED Talk by Drew Dudley puts it into words perfectly. Before reading my summary of it, I suggest you guys first watch it for yourself because he recalls his story in a light, but powerful way that really hits home. To sum it up, he recounted a time in which a young woman was extremely uneasy upon entering her first year of college, and had already decided to go back home on registration day. However, Dudley was handing out lollipops to students on behalf of a charity. He handed a lollipop to a young man and urged him to “give a lollipop to the beautiful young woman [the nervous one]” standing next to him. Dudley then proceeded to joke with the young woman’s parents, exclaiming that she already took candy from a stranger on her first day of college. This sent the people around them in an uproar of laughter. It was at that moment that the girl felt more reassured she was in the right place and chose to remain in school despite her nerves. As a bonus, she ended up dating the young man that handed her the lollipop. Four years later, the once fearful freshman found Dudley and thanked him for changing her life within just a few minutes.

Dudley defines his story as an example of a “Lollipop moment: a moment where someone said something or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better.” He ends his monologue with the message that our power lies within those smaller moments. According to Dudley, “how many we create, how many of them we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward, how many of them we say thank you for.” 

Just the fact that I’ve remembered this TED Talk years after I first heard it in high school and have since then been able to link so many fleeting moments in my life to it proves that lollipop moments are real. One of my most notable moments was when my News Reporting professor, who is already a well-established journalist, pulled me aside after class. I was prepared to get in trouble for something, but instead, he asked me if I had written for our school’s newspaper yet, urging me to do so since he felt I was a good writer. Something that took him just one minute to say has stuck with me for almost a year now. It was a simple comment in a passing moment that gave me part of the confidence to in fact write for the paper, join the Her Campus community and secure a spot as next year’s president, and believe that my passion for writing has the ability to take me where I want it to. It made such an impact on me that I’ve recently emailed that professor and updated him on my accomplishments, letting him know that a large part of them was possible because of his encouragement.

Just as Dudley does, I really urge you all to reflect on moments like these in your own life. Has someone ever given you a piece of advice or a compliment at exactly the time you most needed it? Has someone ever gone out of their way to perform a small act of kindness for you that you can never seem to forget?

Once you’ve pinpointed those moments, decide what you want to do with them. I personally find it so important to let people know that you’re grateful for the impact their actions have had on your life. It not only feels refreshing for you to be vulnerable with people and share your appreciation for them, but it shows them how impactful they are. Going along those same lines, this is a reminder that you have the power to change a person’s morning, day, week, month, or even their entire life around through the smallest efforts. Don’t underestimate the power of a few words or an act that takes just a minute. If you have the urge to compliment someone, do it! If you have the means and time to offer someone help, do it! You never know whose lollipop moment you might be creating.