In this series we invite you to meet and learn from thinkers, doers, and believers who find success by actively living in the grey.
Yiorgos Boudouris is the Founder and CEO of Acts of Greatness, an organization in Canada dedicated to helping LGBTQ students attain a higher level of education. Yiorgos has a background in learning and development, communications, and program management and is passionate about issues relating to diversity, youth, and culture.
After a disappointing year at work that left Yiorgos feeling very disconnected from his community, he started focusing on what he could do to live in the grey. The result was Acts of Greatness, which Yiorgos says is ” a way for me to get back to my roots, challenge myself professionally/personally, and give back to the community I’m so proud to be part of.”
Yiorgos shares more about his grey journey with us below:
What does living in the grey mean to you?
I see living in the grey as a commitment to lifelong learning: to being open to new possibilities, and change.
Do you have a boundary between work and life? If so, how do you define it?
If you asked me this question a year ago, I’d have a very different answer. But right now, I’m trying really hard to blur the boundary between work and life. I’ve begun to re-examine my life. I want to start with what makes me happy first. And what makes me happy is being directly involved with my community.
This is what drove me to start Acts of Greatness. The idea for this non-profit organization came to me after I read an article in a local student newspaper about the lack of scholarships for sexual and gender minority students in Alberta, Canada. As soon as I finished reading the article I thought, “Well, what can I do?” So I immediately started working on developing the vision for Acts of Greatness. I’m proud that within a few months of Acts of Greatness launch, we’ve created Calgary’s only award for sexual and gender minority secondary students.
Who is a mentor of yours and how do you nurture that relationship?
A mentor I have is Kristan Nielsen. She’s the Principal at PeopleLead and the Founder and CEO of Zaypo. She’s an incredible person who inspires me. In our chats, she allows me space to express myself freely without fear of judgment
What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
The BBC News. I need to know what’s going. Our political climate changes so quickly that it’s really important to stay current.
What are three things you make sure you do everyday?
Walk the dog, listen to awesome music, and read at least one article that introduces me to a new idea.
Do you have a motto?
Bat for Lashes has a song called “Travelling Woman.” Lyrics that really stand out to me are:
Hang on, traveling woman
Don’t sacrifice your plan
‘Cause it will come back to you
Before you lose it on the man
These words have stuck with me over the years. For me, the point is to remain centered, keep myself grounded, and don’t lose sight of those things that are important to me. Stay focused, and don’t ignore who I am and want to be.
Do you work differently than you did one year ago?
Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, I’m putting more emphasis on what I need out of my work. This idea has been discussed for a few years now but I’m yet to see it fully realized. As I re-imagine how I work, I’m looking to be empowered to bring my whole self to work.
Bringing the whole self to work means a few things to me. Small stuff like not having a work versus personal wardrobe. And more major actions like being able to call into work sick because I may feel miserable that day and need personal time to reflect. I know my work improves as I became more personally connected to it, and my dedication to the workplace follows the same pattern.
How do you ensure your intentions become actions?
I like what Henry Watkins said, “Just go for it.” In the end, no one cares about something you didn’t do; so don’t just sit their idle. Get out, explore, and damn straight, live in the grey.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be as kind to yourself as you’re to others. It’s amazing how hard on and outright mean to ourselves we can be. It’s definitely a challenge to look outside yourself, but it helps so much when you do. I hope to one-day find a balance between self-improvement, and judging myself harshly.
What advice do you have for others beginning their grey journey?
Be coachable. This involves being humble, and sometimes taking a backseat as other people lead you on your journey.