How well are you connected to others?

How well are you connected to others?

How important is connecting with others to you? Can you remember how important this was to you when you were an adolescent? I can remember having friends mostly grouped around the different sports I played at school, so sometimes they were seasonal groups. From those years, I have my closest friend with whom I am still in touch. We connect from time to time via Skype and will happily chat for an hour about our news, how we are pursuing our dreams, working on a new project and so on. We are able to be totally honest with one another and have lots of humorous moments too! Not that long ago I was reminded of how important connection is for young people who are having to deal with peer pressure at different levels each and every day.I was watching school sport one Saturday morning. “I need to give my watch to my mum, can someone come with me?” I overheard a young teenage girl saying. The students were in an Indoor Sports Centre and her mum was sitting less than 100 metres from her, yet she had to have some company when she left her team mates for a couple of minutes. The power of connection! There will be reams and reams of research showing how important adolescents feel it is to connect with one another. My own research over many years suggested that one of the key points about adolescents is that they would like to be cared for and loved. It is the unconditional love that will allow them to move out of their comfort zones, risk...
Introducing you to my mentor I never met!?

Introducing you to my mentor I never met!?

Perhaps you are surprised by the title of this Blog? Well, while sitting in the sun of the deck of our apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee – the joys of retirement! – I was reflecting on all the people who have influenced my life in positive ways. I was thinking of the many people who have been my mentors during different seasons of my life journey and names like Peter, John, Pieter, Dave, Tony, Shelagh, Mike and Chris came to mind. However, I want to share one of the people who continues to have a significant influence on my life, yet is someone I have never met.The film Chariots of Fire rates as one of the best films I have seen and it introduced me to a mentor I shall never meet, Eric Liddell, the ‘Flying Scotsman’. Eric was born in China to Scottish missionary parents, was schooled in London, attended University in Edinburgh and became a duel international sportsman, representing Scotland in Rugby and Athletics. Eric was regarded as the fastest man in the world over 100 metres before the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics, yet, on a point of principle – he would not run on a Sunday because of his strong Christian faith – he was unable to participate in that race at the Olympics. Instead, having come third in the 200 metres final, he also ran the 400 metres final and, not only won the race, but also set a new world record, which would last until 1936 when it was broken at the Berlin Olympics. His strange running style saw him running for the...
The 10 most important 21st Century Emotional, Entrepreneurial and Employability Skills to become the Best you can Be

The 10 most important 21st Century Emotional, Entrepreneurial and Employability Skills to become the Best you can Be

We can all probably remember our times at school when we asked why were studying a certain subject? How was it relevant to our lives beyond school? Then, we might have sought further understanding and asked, ‘Why is this particular skill important for the world of work?’ I have thought about these questions a great deal, read relevant books and articles and worked with hundreds of young people, during which time we would have discussed these questions as we explored hopes and dreams. I have collated all my information under 10 skills as an encouragement to anyone working with young people, though they are as relevant to anyone of any age seeking meaningful work in the 21st Century.Author Tony Wagner, in his challenging book, Creative Innovators – The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, writes: “The Millenials are our future. They are the generation who can and must create a healthier, more secure and sustainable way of life. While some might not care to admit it, they also need us in order to succeed. They need our expertise, guidance, mentoring and support, but we have to offer help in new ways …. to actively encourage the Innovation Generation to create an economy and a way of life based on innovation – one that cultivates habits and pleasures of creative adult “play”, rather than mindless consumption.” With these thoughts in mind, let’s consider 10 of the most important 21st Century skills that most employers would be looking for and all young entrepreneurs will need, along with other financial skills, as well as skills specific to the particular...
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...
7 ways you can better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers

7 ways you can better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers

How do you ensure that teenagers grow up to be happy and positive young people? Given that their brains are developing until they are in their mid-20s, we know that there are mood swings, irritable moments, impulsive actions with no or little thought, explosive outbursts, sometimes an inability to focus or follow through on a task, overcome the temptations to use drugs, alcohol and engage in other antisocial behaviours and so on. Well-known author and educator, Sir Kenneth Robinson, makes this point: “How we think about the world around us can be deeply affected by the feelings within us, and how we feel may be critically shaped by our knowledge, perceptions and personal experiences. Our lives are formed by the constant interactions between these two worlds, each affecting how we see and act in the other.” Neuroscientist, Dr Francis Jensen, reminds us that the teenage brain is ‘a puzzle waiting completion’, so what can we do to better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers to become the best they can be? My research over the past 20 years continually reminds me that our young people want to FEEL: cared for (loved unconditionally); valued; that their lives have meaning and purpose. Consider these 7 Ways you can better understand and encourage today’s teenagers: Most of today’s teenagers learn best by doing things, reflecting on the experience and learning lessons from the activity which they can then apply to their daily lives and often they enjoy sharing their thinking and experiences in groups. We can help them make sense of what appears at times to be much confusion. Teenagers value and appreciate recognition...
12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers

12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers

Have you ever feared the unknown future? It seems as though this is an issue that many of today’s young people are grappling with. What jobs will still be around when I finish school? What jobs will there be available to me when I graduate from University? How will robotics and Artificial Intelligence impact my career prospects? These are all legitimate questions and our young people need to be encouraged and supported as they journey through adolescence to become the best people they can be, so let’s consider 12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers.Lou Thompson, who has worked extensively in New Zealand and Australia in the areas of education psychology, behavior management and Special Needs, has written books on developing self-esteem in young people, as well as mentoring adolescents. The following 12 points include some of the ideas Lou has shared over the years to help anyone working with young people develop their resiliency and a healthy self-esteem: React calmly and constructively to mistakes, errors and disappointments; Overcome setbacks and adversities; Display confidence in their interpersonal relationships – their ability to make friends and maintain friendships; Have greater belief in their ability to achieve their goals; Set themselves realistic goals; Persevere at striving for their goals in both the good and the bad times; Are prepared to take ‘acceptable risks’ ie, engage in tasks they haven’t attempted before; tackle old tasks in novel ways; engage in tasks that there is a good chance they might fail at; Are more likely to actualize or use the top 10% of their performance potential; Are less likely to be...