Gary Young’s Five Steps to Empowerment

What empowers you? What imbues you with the feeling that you can do anything or the desire to reach for greater heights? Is it a member of your upline, a friend, or a particularly good podcast or TED talk you heard? Maybe you read a very good book on the subject recently that gave you the right mix of tools to help you accomplish a dream you never thought you’d be able to see, let alone accomplish. These are all wonderful resources, but the ultimate source of your empowerment is you, according to Gary.

Greg Larsen, former president of The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation, said recently that Gary’s philanthropic vision was a model of empowerment that all of us can absorb and apply in many different areas of our lives.

Taken from Young Living’s most recent convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, Greg’s comments, in fact, provide both a model and a map for empowering ourselves—and it begins with hope.


Gary hoped for many things throughout his life, despite monumental challenges. When he came upon a crackling, crumbling building in Ecuador on his way to a Young Living farm, he began to hope that he could make life better for the children trying to learn within its walls.

Andrea Olleague, country manager for Young Living Foundation Ecuador and a co-presenter with Greg during his “Three Keys to Empowerment” convention speech, said: “With Gary, he never wondered, ‘Could this be achieved or not?’ For him, it was about, ‘How are we going to achieve it?’ That was the biggest lesson he gave me, that everything is possible, you just need to look for it.”

He could have thought it wasn’t his business to interfere in Ecuadorian education or that the townspeople or government there would figure the dire situation out. He could have been overwhelmed by the destitution. Instead, he hoped.

When we come upon the crumbling buildings of life, do we hope for a change? Whether they’re struggling marriages, health challenges, job demands, or the needs of so many others around us, can we see past the difficulties to form even a kernel of hope that we can improve things somehow?

Several people talking

Andrea, on far right, discusses the Academy with service trip volunteers.


Education is empowerment in action, according to Greg. “That is when someone really knows that they are free because they can choose for themselves. Empowerment isn’t necessarily us telling someone exactly what they need to do and then telling them to go and do it. It’s saying, ‘Here, let’s educate you. Let’s educate us. Then you are free to choose the direction you go with access to the tools you have now been given.’”

Young Living empowers its members by providing them with ways to educate themselves about its products and ways to set and accomplish their own missions. If you’re a member who has a Young Living business, you probably know how important it is to train the members of your organization and equip them with the resources they need to educate themselves so that they can speak from their hearts when sharing information about essential oils.

In the case of the Academy, Gary educated himself by talking to property owners and townspeople to explore the possibility of acquiring land and doing what was necessary to make a proper school.

In 2017, he said, speaking to members:

Do research about your idea. For example, if you’re looking at being a Silver or a Gold or a Platinum, research and learn all you can about the aspects of being that person and what it takes to get there. Study your business; study the market. Look at the pitfalls. Look at the negative things. Look at everything. That’s how you make a firm decision about what you really want to do with your life. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether you’re buying a franchise of an auto parts store or aiming to be a Royal Crown Diamond; it’s the same principle.

He continued:

What empowers us to build a business? What enables us to be successful? Changing our paradigm, changing our belief system, changing how we see ourselves. Do I see myself being successful, or do I see myself going down to the welfare office and getting food stamps? I can change my outcome by changing how I see myself.

Some would say that fear keeps us from doing this, and I say, no, it’s not fear. I’ve heard people say their greatest fear is public speaking. If that were true for me, I wouldn’t be up here on this stage. Public speaking is not my greatest fear. You know what it is? It’s you not taking the risk to change your paradigm.


Once you have hope that you can accomplish something greater and have educated yourself about how to do it, “you’ve got to be all in,” said both Gary and Greg. You have to be 100 percent committed to a specific vision and mission for your organization or life. This isn’t just about hoping for a better life anymore; it’s about envisioning a specific future result.

When Gary and Mary bought the Ecuadorian swampland on which they were going to build the future Young Living Academy, Mary said: “Everything was dilapidated. It was just terrible. I said, ‘Gary, this is disgusting.’ He said, ‘Can’t you see it finished? Can’t you see the school?’ And I said, ‘No, I can only see the swamp and the mosquitoes.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll raise the level of the land. I’ll fill in the swamp, and I’ll just drain the water off.’ And that’s exactly what he did.”

Andrea agreed: “Gary left us with a big mission, to raise a new generation of leaders in Ecuador. In these 10 years since then, we are celebrating the growth of all of us, of each one working here, each one of the students, each one of the parents. And we are celebrating this wonderful idea and his amazing heart that may not be here physically, but he’s going to live forever with us and in every generation graduating from the Young Living Academy.”

It may be hard to visualize specifically what you want or what you feel empowered to do specifically, but making a picture in your head of what it will actually look like will power you through the challenges and hard times, because you will have those. See the way Gary saw.

Two people, a young woman and an older man, stand in front of a wall decorated with the word "empower."


It may seem obvious that it’s one thing to see and another thing to act, but how many of us see a need, problem, or challenge and think that someone else will figure it out? You are only partially empowered if you are not acting on your hope and vision. Step in, like Gary and Mary did, and build your own “school,” like they did. Your vision may be more modest or more ambitious than the Young Living Academy in Ecuador; what’s important is that you act.


If empowerment were a plant, maybe hope, passion, and action would be the water, sunshine, and dirt needed to make the plant grow. Commitment would be the stalk and stem, the conduit for all the energy that feeds and strengthens the beautiful flower at the top.

a bedewed plant in a field

No matter your goal or vision, there will be challenges. Gary was always 100 percent committed to his goals, no matter the challenges. In On the Road With Gary, Jared Turner said: “Whenever we faced challenges as a company, Gary always invited the executives into his conference room and instructed us, ‘Walk backwards from where you are, analyze the situation, and pay attention to the direction that will come to you, and you will recognize what course you should follow.’”

Jared Turner speaking at an event.

Jared agreed: “The sad truth is that even in our business of health and well-being, competition can be fierce. Detractors, competitors, and copycats all line up to point fingers at us as we swim our lane rather than keeping their focus on their own game. We have competitors with integrity who compete fairly and respectfully and acknowledge how Gary pioneered and led this industry, then go forward with their businesses. We also have other competitors who are perpetually frustrated that they can’t compete with our original, authentic, and rich history, so they attack the source and the strength of that narrative: Gary.”

In your life, you will also have detractors, copycats, and naysayers. Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Dream Giver, would call them “Dream Stealers.” They may have good intentions; they may not. Regardless, stay the course you’ve determined, because the benefit will come.


In Greg’s convention speech, he said that if you are driven by empowerment, purpose, and intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivators, these are your three keys: mission, vision, and commitment. If those keys are all aligned to lift those around you, you will become a catalyst of change and good. If you’re truly empowered, you’re driven to empower others, as Gary was.

As Jared said, again in his book: “Gary’s number-one goal was connection.” Changing lives is where you get real happiness.

Both the benefit of empowerment and its perpetuator is connection. That’s what drove Gary to travel to Nepal in 2015 after two huge earthquakes struck the country. There, he saw a whole village destroyed in Yarsa, Bagmat, district of Nepal. He committed to rebuild 100 homes and one school in two years. Despite challenges caused by difficult weather, fragile topography, machine problems, and material unavailability, he and hundreds of villagers, volunteers, and Rebuild Nepal staff accomplished that goal.

Gary Young with several residents of a Nepalese village

Subash Singhe, director of Rebuild Nepal, said: “Because of his effort and the efforts of the service trip volunteers and our staff, we were able to complete all homes in two years’ time, all 100 homes and one school. That was a record.” Even more astounding, though, is the fact that all of the people in the community decided among themselves that none of them would move into the completed homes as they were finished. Instead, they all waited until the last home was built. They lost their homes at the same time, so they would move into their new homes at the same time. “There really was a community coherence because they all waited two years,” Subash said.

As important as hope, education, passion, action, and commitment are to empowerment, without connection, they matter little. It is connection with others that is the true marker of success and the thing that makes more empowerment possible.

As of today, the Young Living Academy has had four graduating classes, with 79 students having graduated and many now attending college. In addition, its students have even won two baseball tournament championships. Graduates give back to the school by mentoring current students.

What began with Gary’s hope continues with many connections. What can you do with your empowerment?

What has empowered you the most in your life? Let us know in the comments below! hope?