9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

Have you ever chased a dream and succeeded in reaching it? I remember, as a 15-year-old, how I chased a dream to represent my State running Cross-Country, the sacrifices I made, the hard yards I put into training and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I was selected for the State team at the end of my most successful Cross-Country season and then achieved 6th place in the Inter-State race. Trent Grimsey’s story reminded me of those days, as well as the importance of sharing one’s stories with young people. They love true stories!It was a while ago that I listened to Trent, at that time the current world record holder of the English Channel swim, share his story with a group of impressionable young students. Trent described how, as an average swimmer (in his opinion) he had achieved medals and much more as a swimmer, yet narrowly missed out on selection for the 2008 Australian Olympic Team.  Wondering what he should do to stay motivated, Trent decided to swim the English Channel, not just to complete the swim, but to break the World Record. Listening to his story, I felt that there were at least nine lifelong lessons we can all learn from Trent’s experience planning and swimming the English Channel. Always have a clear goal and share it with someone you trust. Trent firmly believed that, when we have a sense of purpose, it is easier to stay motivated and inspired and to live a positive life. As a swimmer, he needed a Coach, someone who believed in him and what he was  setting out to achieve; someone...
You choose your attitude

You choose your attitude

What attitude did you choose when you woke up today? While young people might not be able to choose the circumstances in which they are living, they are able to choose their attitude towards the environment in which they are living. They are also able to choose their attitude towards their studies, friendships and other relationships, though having a non-judgmental Cheerleader by their side will probably assist most young people on their journey to become the best they can be. These thoughts, while reflecting about the power of mentoring relationships the other day, reminded me of a mentoring journey I undertook with Emma (not her real name), a while ago.When Emma popped in to my office to see me at the beginning of a new term, she appeared to be anxious and worried about how things were going in her final year at school. While she was talking, I looked at my watch and said, “Emma, I’m going to interrupt you.” She looked a little puzzled, even surprised. “You have only been sitting here for a few minutes. What one word have you used more than any other word?” Emma paused for a short while and then shook her head, “I don’t know.” “It begins with a W,” I responded, sharing a clue. “Work?” “No.” Emma smiled and shook her head again. “Worry. Almost every sentence has the word ‘worry’ in it and that is not healthy.” Emma was a top student who will go far. However, through her own admission, she was a perfectionist. I had vowed to myself and to her that, during the time we would...
The Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt

The Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt

What is the most important or greatest life lesson you have learnt to date? This is a question I have thought a lot about during the past 12 months as I have adjusted to retirement after 42 years as an educator. My response to this question is obvious (to me!), yet equally challenging to live by in a 21st Century increasingly secular and politically correct global community.I pause and look at the current global situation. We are told that the level of poverty is decreasing, yet there are still millions of people living in poverty. The Middle East remains a powder keg which could explode any day. The number of authoritarian, egocentric rulers – dictators would be a better term – seems to be increasing. This means more and more people are likely to be living in oppression, some of whom, who know no other lifestyle, probably don’t even realise this. Ruling with fear is no way to bring about global peace. In 2016 I visited Terezin Concentration Camp outside Prague where I was deeply moved by the drawings by children, most of whom were put to death by the Nazis. I have studied the major world religions in an effort to better understand the make-up of our global community. What, therefore, is the Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt? Men or women with big egos are unlikely to bring peace to the world, as their motives lack the heart of the Great Teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I have learnt that God is good and He is working out His plan; that I have no comprehension of...
A life lesson for you and me from a teenager

A life lesson for you and me from a teenager

How did you approach competition as a teenager? Prior to retiring and having stopped coaching sport as a result of my schedule as an Assistant Head of a large School, every Saturday I would head off to watch as many sports matches as I could – even if I watched a match for five minutes that was okay, as the students could see I was interested. I tried to watch matches of students I taught or informally mentored. A two minute conversation about a match, while a class was settling down for a lesson, could positively affirm or impact at least one life – I know this did happen! However, a memorable moment was watching Caitlyn (not her real name) playing a Netball match.The day before her match I had been having an informal chat with Caitlyn as we were passing one another on the school campus. I had noticed she had been wearing a brace on her hand the previous week and wondered if she was injured. As we parted company she asked me if I was going to be watching the match the next day. I assured her I would be cheering on the sidelines! Caitlyn’s team came close to winning. I know nothing about the rules of Netball, but I can see that it must be such a frustrating game to play when the shooters just can’t get the ball through the hoop consistently. While other mistakes inevitably occur for a variety of reasons, Caitlyn’s team lost the match in the final minutes. I decided simply to focus on watching Caitlyn for a period of time...
Choose these 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be

Choose these 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be

Have you ever felt that your life had no purpose? Maybe you were drifting? Especially when you were an adolescent? Jack, a talented sportsman, Sarah, revealing signs of antisocial behaviour, Mike, disengaging from school, Kelly, feeling overwhelmed with life’s challenges and Anne, facing the real prospect of failing, were young people I worked with over a period of time, encouraging them to become the best they can be. Although these are not their real names, each one of them made significant choices and now some years later, to the best of my knowledge, they are all achieving great things, because each of them followed the overwhelming majority of the 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be.The 10 Habits were developed over many years of coaching and mentoring young people. When a young person feels unconditionally cared for, that their opinions are listened to and valued and they begin to start seeing some meaning and purpose in their lives, they are well on the way to becoming the best they can be. These 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be will provide young people with important choices. When they have a significant adult walking alongside them – a parent, teacher, coach, volunteer adult mentor – as they choose their future pathway, more often than not you will witness significant, positive developments occurring, as well as the emergence of a more resilient person able to bounce back in challenging times. 1. Surround myself with positive friends and be a positive person of influence, becoming a great listener, respecting the viewpoints of others and a team player. 2....
Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

If someone asked you what tips you would pass on to them to help them be an encouragement to young people, what would you say? This is a topic I have researched for many, many years and have gathered all that research to produce some short tips to encourage parents and mentors as they journey with young people through adolescence. Indeed, these tips would be relevant for anyone working with young people. So, here are the 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers. 1. Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen more than you speak. 2. Love unconditionally and NEVER quit! 3. Empathise and genuinely affirm their EFFORTS (so you are not seen to be judging character). 4. Negotiate boundaries and be consistent. 5. Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them. 6. Walk alongside them as they explore their career options, always encouraging them to chase their dreams. 7. Catch them doing good and celebrate! It is so important to keep a sense of humour and have some fun. 8. Journey with them through failure to make this a positive learning experience without trying to enforce your values on them. 9. Support their idealism and let them know you believe in them and are their greatest, non-judgmental Cheerleader! 10. Keep envisioning the people they can become. NEVER let go of that vision. Keep reminding yourself that the young person in front of you is trying to find their way during the most confusing time of their lives, while their brains are still developing and they are so conscious of how they look. Be their rock and...