YCLA winner urges youth to prioritise

In his acceptance speech Saturday night, Young Caymanian Leadership Award winner Stephen Ryan urged other young Caymanians to prioritise their lives.


Young Cayman Leadership Award winner Stephen Ryan, fourth from left, along with, from left, 2007 YCLA award winner Canover Watson and 2008 YCLA finalists Susan Barnes Pereira, Dorothy Scott, Winston Connolly and Donald Spence. Photo: Alan Markoff

‘A while back I had the privilege of hearing a speaker that had a profound impact on me,’ he said. ‘He challenged his audience with this statement: ‘We are not to be people that are driven along by the demands that are placed on us; instead, we are to be people who are motivated by our priorities’.’

Mr. Ryan said the quote has come to embody much of what he felt it means to be an effective leader.

‘Young Caymanians, take a long, hard look at the things that are priorities in your life,’ he said.

‘Then seek to live a life that refuses to be driven by any negative demand that is placed on you. Instead, keep those priorities always at the forefront of mind.

‘Strive to live a life motivated by those priorities, and not a life that in driven by your circumstances.’

Mr. Ryan won the YCLA award during a gala event attended by some 500 people at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Other finalists included Dorothy Scott; Winston Connolly, Donald Spence and Susan Barnes Pereira.

The event, which was carried live on Cayman 27, also featured a keynote address delivered by U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and a special tribute to Caymanian entrepreneur extraordinaire Linton Tibbetts.

In accepting the award, Mr. Ryan thanked those who had invested in his life.

‘I am a firm believer in the idea that anytime you see someone make an achievement, you are looking at direct result of someone else taking the time to invest in that person’s life,’ he said, adding that he was deeply grateful for all of the teachers, pastors, colleagues, mentors and friends that had invested in him.

Mr. Ryan also thanked he mother and sister, and his late father as well.

‘Even though I lost him at an early age in life, he taught me much in the time we had together,’ he said. ‘He lived his life in such a way that long after his passing from this life, he continues to challenge and inspire me.’

Mr. Ryan gave special thanks to God.

‘Looking back over my life, I am eternally grateful for the blessings that He has given me in my life, and every day I discover his mercy and goodness again.’

This year’s YCLA event was themed ‘Dare to Dream’. During his keynote address, Mr. Huckabee spoke about the risks involved in daring to dream and about what it takes to be a leader.

He told a story about the time he was asked to participate in a governor’s bobsled competition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics while he was governor of Arkansas.

Because he knew nothing about bobsledding, Mr. Huckabee said he was given a lesson by a 16-year-old junior Olympian. Seeing that his trainee had not retained all the information about how to handle each curve on the course, the young Olympian simplified things for Mr. Huckabee.

He said the young man had told him not to worry about the ice behind him, because that couldn’t hurt him. He also told him not to worry too much about where he was, because at the speed they were travelling, centrifugal force would pretty much negate anything he tried to do.

‘He said, ‘As soon as you see a curve ahead of you, start steering for that curve. And as soon as you come out of that curve and you see another curve ahead, start steering for that curve’.’

Mr. Huckabee said the young 16-year-old had inadvertently taught him a valuable life lesson.

‘I realised that to be a leader, you need to steer for the curve ahead because the centrifugal force of life has already taken you beyond where you are,’ he said.

‘One way a person can dare to dream and get there is to steer for the curve ahead.’

Mr. Huckabee also said that daring to dream required knowing that some risks in life must be taken. He also urged those who dared to dream not to be dissuaded by nay-sayers and to fight for what they wanted.

‘We have a saying in Arkansas that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,’ he said.