UpliftAnother1

Building Community Through Better Relationships

Pop Tart Therapy

Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts have quieted children for generations. The original idea was to cook them in a toaster for a child to have a warm treat during the course of their day. Original flavors like Apple Currant Jelly, Blueberry and Strawberry, suggested enough fruit that parents could claim health benefits. The reality is that they are a sugar-injected, carb loaded treat that kids love. On the other hand, Pop Tarts are emotionally healthy. A quick treat on an empty stomach can be therapeutic. Stretch that concept to community building, then using that treat to bring people together makes them more receptive to sharing experiences. Pop Tart Therapy is about coming together and getting along. That connection starts community.

Food For The Soul
Real food nourishes. If someone wants to address a typical youth’s emotional problem, feed them. Exchanging a snack for a better attitude is often a legitimate communication technique. This technique has generationally driven results in faith-based communities, summer programs, and schools. Once fed, youth migrate toward a better mood; they become coachable. Then the opportunity slowly cracks to discuss emotional challenges. Over time, with a routine and conditioning, even youths’ willingness to be more sociable when they are not hungry becomes possible, too.

Particularly in cultures featuring people of color, food remains a major connective tool for community building. Pop Tart Therapy simply continues that cultural tradition. Neighbors gathering with a plate and a common cultural perspective facilitate connectivity, as well as engagement. Sharing Pop Tarts accomplishes the same objective. It is an easy, initial step to continued conversations. Whether the desired next step is team building, or community building, that outcome is a natural progression. Considering that the soul reflects people’s innermost being, feeding it with a Pop Tart does not destroy its essence. However, it definitely raises the energy level when the sugar rush kicks in! Now, people can address the deeper needs for the individual and the community!

My Daily Bread
Problems have priorities. “Feed me now, then let’s go build a stronger community!” The community’s deeper needs can surface in such a fashion that they can drive determining priorities in pursuing solutions. Daily Bread has co-equal functions in terms of establishing routines and expectations, while also speaking directly to fundamental nourishment. Whether metaphorically or literally, having something to eat helps people get along. Additionally, having routines results in establishing habits.

In school, youth have regularly scheduled lunch times so that they can be nourished to perform throughout the day. Still, they need to follow the regulated schedule to maximize their energy and productivity. Upon establishing routines, people have additional opportunities to create successful behaviors. By creating consistency and facilitating progress, the daily sustenance can be aligned with literacy, tutoring younger kids, accepting chores to clean the environment, assuming leadership roles as a direct response to individual initiatives. Daily Bread represents fulfilling the needs of individuals so that they are strengthened to the point that they can further contribute to the community.

Takeaway
Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the great. Social Emotional Learning is important because broken communities are comprised of broken people. Instant remedies are a myth. Deliberately nourishing bodies and minds are proven to improve quality of life. Foundations of people and community were not broken in a day, a year, or a generation. Still, repairs can start immediately. Pop Tart Therapy represents the first steps. Giving kids a place to grab a treat that causes them to return to a nurturing location is a start. Teaching them with minimal judgment and maximum compassion, the difference between right or wrong, is another step. Reinforcing their personal value, and subsequently their self-importance is a leap! Pop Tarts are simply a tasty metaphor. Community-based organizations that deploy Social Emotional Learning tactics deliberately take advantage of chances to steer youth toward better individual, community, and future choices. A marginally healthy snack is a small price to pay in exchange for building a community that embraces self-respect, self-esteem, then communication, coaching, and community.

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even donate – go to www.TYRS.org

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August 7, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Want Me to Put the Burden Down

Lower 9th Ward Community Center

“We’re from the government, we’re here to help!” The statement has created laughs for generations, except when the absence of a real solution strikes too close to home. Outsiders with power and authority routinely launch brilliant programs in distant communities for minimal results. Too often, government programs lack effective outcomes despite valuable resources thrown at generic solutions. Locals have solutions, but impotently watch their true needs denied. While available resources help a little, too often only a limited group of contributors really benefit. Consequently, the greater good often means specific workers gain, and most individuals in the community lose. If only tools existed to equip community members with social-emotional power to articulate desires, then leverage inherent strengths?

Heavy Burdens
Unfortunately, allocating resources to local, social problems resembles bringing earth moving equipment to plant a community garden. The equipment is valuable and powerful, except it is being used for the wrong job. In cases where solutions require more finesse, and less pure power, burdens need to be handled more delicately. When improving the fabric of a community, the solution requiring finesse repeatedly contributes a little, as opposed to real solutions releasing raw power once.

Heavy emotional burdens combined with social suffocation drive poverty! Consequently, building social-emotional strength is necessary to battle poverty successfully. Regarding building community, desired results emerge from handling incremental improvements repeatedly, not just deploying one lump sum of assets. When considering a community’s population and improving their well-being, mental health and self-esteem must be prioritized. Success requires regular attention to account for individual progress and failures. Communicating and rewarding life-affirming behaviors solidifies the foundation for a community to prosper.

Strong Community
Nevertheless, good behavior and community pride only start stronger, more prosperous communities. Prosperity is attainable only upon reinforcing these behaviors. The more common solution is to empower adults and authority figures to communicate and enforce community building behaviors. But, kids are smart. Youth routinely see straight through hypocrisy and recognize abuses consistent with disingenuous programming. Strong and vibrant communities require a self-policing and cohesive environment that community members can respect. Otherwise, dysfunction emerges.

Deliberate action, where the community owns the process, is the only real solution. Such action requires equipping locals with life skills, tools and tactics to combat negative forces, like gangs, drugs, ignorance, and apathy that already occupy the community. Strong communities result from consistent, deliberate, and iterative improvement in behaviors and rewards. Social emotional skills to fortify a structure that rewards and reinforces life-affirming skills must be intentionally introduced and sustained. Communities that clearly know the risk and rewards of this approach are equipped to battle dark forces that attack community vitality.

Takeaway
Fundamentally, endorsing and supporting Social Emotional Learning and programming within communities will initiate positive change. Skill development for anti-bullying, self-esteem, and conflict resolution actually make a difference. Resistance will still be present. The difference is that delivering social emotional skills into local schools, community centers, and places of worship, reinforce the community as a place where people care. Opposition inside the community and government bodies will work to sustain the status quo. Nevertheless, success requires embracing, then lifting the burden. The burden is not the problem. The status quo is the problem. Lift the burden to develop community-based self-improvement. Educate to communicate with empathy. Community members must actively acquire tools, then own solutions for mutually respectful livelihoods! But first, people young and old, must unite to understand and reinforce social emotional benefits which will uplift another individual, then communities.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sitcom Solutions And SEL

watching-TV-with-kids mesmerized

Watching your favorite show typically means that the episode’s issue will be resolved in a predictable amount of time. Unfortunately, real-life challenges are not done in a 30 minute block. Even considering longer programs, 60 minute increments of time rarely solve real-life issues either. Problems like sharing personal challenges, figuring out positioning in social groups, or equipping someone to manage raging emotions all need deliberate steps amidst uncertain navigation. But, who has tools to help these situations? How do people of all ages and maturity navigate paths resulting in functional adults? Why are these problems not resolved in one episode?

Nature
Watching a school yard full of children play at recess illustrates a full spectrum of human experiences. In 30 minutes outside the classroom, exercising physical bodies, social skills, and innermost insecurities are all simultaneously happening. As children develop over the years, these seeds flourish further into identities resulting in varying degrees of functional behaviors. However, at the dysfunctional end of the spectrum, emotions run rampant toward aggression and rage. While tools are available to curtail negative behaviors, who is responsible for deploying them? Who stops the negativity from dragging down the community?

Uplifting the community coincides with uplifting the individual. While authority dictates establishing rules and parameters, positive societal outcomes result from listening. Technically, positive outcomes are a result of communicating. However, the listening component is the more difficult part. While popular entertainment delivers conflict, then resolution within a single episode, human behavior does not obey any set schedule. Strengthening tools to communicate and cope depends on the skills of the teacher and the learner. Consequently, teachers proactively need to acquire effective coping skills so that they can teach the elements of cooperating socially.

Nurture
Unfortunately, developing such coping skills defy any imposed schedule. Based on the learners, emotional, psychological, or intellectual baggage, the necessary time for correction varies dramatically. Factors ranging from school environments to home structure affects any individual’s ability to communicate appropriate, social interaction. Furthermore, this variance includes, teachers, leaders, and authority figures. The absence of Social Emotional Learning reverberates through communities and learning environments. Teachers that are burdened with emotional baggage are often ill-equipped to impart skills they never adequately received. Essentially, they cannot nurture attributes that they have not acquired themselves.

Consequently, without tools, nor allocated time, the problem festers. Poor behavior that results from poor guidance continues to foster aggression, apathy, and insensitivity. Simply starting to develop stronger listening skills often contribute to improved behaviors in developing minds. Furthermore, incorporating role play scenarios with encouragement allows positive behaviors to surface from turmoil. Also, empowering learners to establish group guidelines often facilitates positive behavioral outcomes. However, requiring conflict resolution inside a pre-designed timeframe is a recipe for frustration and failure for all involved parties.

Takeaways
Without understanding the degree of scarring that initially created dysfunctional behaviors, leaders are ill-prepared to predict in any way the necessary time to correct behaviors. Through intentional academic and community-based programming, people have the potential to develop behaviors that are more consistent with socially acceptable actions. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) helps build that strength. Creating ongoing education for all involved parties, leaders and learners, reinforces the tools to reform aggressive behaviors and transform them into more compassionate interactions. Despite not fully knowing the necessary timeframe to conclude training that improves social behaviors, the evidence is clear that the time to start instilling better behaviors is now.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even DONATE – go to www.TYRS.org

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Believe In This

Young Cross Country Runners

Runners hit walls! Particularly distance runners, whether training or competing, they eventually reach a point that severely challenges their will to continue. At that point, each individual runner must make a decision. Listen to the pain in the body, or the strength of their mind! In most cases, they choose to continue. Runners realize that this challenge is typical. Their experience has taught them that their mental capacity is more than sufficient to overcome the situation. This embedded will actually extends to physical, mental, and social goals. Victory depends on persistence.

Expect to Succeed
While the example is easy to see physically, what happens when the struggle involves a community? Or, when fatigue appears over years of working to encourage burdened neighbors, or the stomach knots from ongoing emotional burdens of dangerous environments? The fundamentals remain the same. First, believe that the obstacle can be overcome and that the result will be better. Next, accept the discomfort of taking the next step, and the next step. The pain is real! The alternative is the ongoing burden of the status quo.

The expectation that a better solution exists has strategies, also. Like runners in training, often the work is done in groups. Each individual owns their personal pain, insecurities, and aspirations. Yet, they routinely work through them in each other’s company. A community looking to raise their quality of life will encounter challenges. These challenges will seem overwhelming. But, believing in this change being futile solves nothing. Approach one challenge together, and also bring the expectation to succeed. Like the runners, let the group cooperate toward better outcomes.

Path to Results
Because improvements take time, the path requires a plan. Pain will also be part of the path. Like all teams, internal bickering happens. However, an underlying theme of encouragement overcomes many rough spots. Hurt feelings and hurt body parts both require compassion. Consequently, encouragement and healing becomes part of the group dynamic. Simply, knowing others have overcome similar setbacks set the foundation for recovery.

Essentially, whether a team, community, or individuals seek to improve, a few fundamentals must apply. The problem did not start in isolation, and will not resolve in isolation. One star performer will not carry the burdens for the entire group. Mutual respect for individual contributions is necessary so that aggregate contributions continue. In the name of teamwork, even small contributions need to be acknowledged and applauded. Camaraderie matters. Pain is inevitable. Success has many fathers, so let them appear. Failure is not final, so lean on the group with their individual contributions to overcome barriers to the desired results.

Takeaway
Believe In This: People encounter challenges. Choose to persevere. The mind stops before the body ever does. Like runners in training, teammates have come too far to stop. In approaching milestones, expect to achieve them, then surpass them. In building character, expect to demonstrate the desired behavior, then continue it. In building community, expect to reach out to a neighbor, then make progress with them. The same old idea only remains, if the parties choose not to change them. Believe that progress in people and communities result from encountering individual walls with the full belief and expectation that they will run through them to the greater rewards. Lead yourself. Lead your community. Overcome social, emotional, physical walls to achieve personal bests.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Better Community | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Were Kids Together

Kids on the Playground (2)

Here’s a quick test of your competitive spirit. Would you rather compete with your best buddy or your fiercest enemy? Friend or foe, who gets your best effort? Unsurprisingly, champions and conquerors often refer back to competition in their younger years that later developed unconquerable spirits. Great achievement involves more than overcoming significant obstacles, it features competing and defeating assorted adversaries. The core of the friend or foe argument is whether the competitive spirit is forged in the cradle of friendly contests or the crucible of heated combat. What exactly happens in these metaphorical sandboxes that breeds competitive greatness over time?

Competitors
Competition is the father of achievement! You got to play to win. Whether on the playground, in the classroom, or inside a laboratory, competition inspires superior performance. To be clear, competition also involves communal efforts. Teams integrate individuals who work together for group achievement. Applying this mindset to communities, victory is not a singular accomplishment. Having assorted individuals and groups contribute toward an identifiable goal is the heart of victory. Winning involves defeating circumstances as much as an opponent.

Engaging competitors is more than a group identifying a common, external adversary. Competing against internal apathy is also part of the battle. The best victories emerge when individuals unite against a common enemy whether it is an individual, a community, or an institution. The benefit of competition is that it consolidates complimentary resources to defeat external opponents. Having common bonds resulting from common perspectives and backgrounds truly builds a spirit of camaraderie that is hard to overcome.

Comrades
Team building matters. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield built Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream on a mutual obsession for ice cream and other foods. Inseparable since high school, their mutual passion jointly led a revolution within the food industry. Ben & Jerry’s redefined and reignited the ice cream industry by providing a premium product in both retail outlets and specialty shops. In their case, their common background facilitated common values, as well as a desire to disrupt that conquered the ice cream industry. Their collaborative, cooperative, communal perspective was anchored on joint experiences that led to a joint perspective, then joint domination.

The power behind collaborative success creates synergy. Aligned focus results in more strength targeting solutions. From a teamwork perspective, aligning synergy among several individuals impacts a community. Positively impacted communities lead to progress. The metaphor of kids growing up together directly applies to building unity in several common endeavors. Camaraderie directly correlates with teamwork and incrementally impactful outcomes. What better image to establish an environment where relationships facilitate common culture than kids sharing a playground?

Takeaways
Returning to the initial question: would you rather compete against your best buddy, or your fiercest enemy? There is no right, or wrong answer. But, an individual’s ability to compete, discern, cooperate, and win is undoubtedly revealed during competition. Anyone can compete for individual glory. However, teams also benefit by competing for communal rewards. Cooperation fundamentally is a learned individual trait that produces collective benefits. The ultimate benefit is when groups form to find new challenges and overcome them. Simultaneously cultivating competitive and cooperative foundations helps a lot. Kids who literally grow up together geographically, or grow up together experientially, will build common and functional cultures that will flourish over time.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Head Down, Eyes Up

Head Down Eyes Up

Too many young people use images to inflict pain and despair. Furthermore, institutions often perpetuate images that discourage overcoming such crippling emotions. Imagine a young man of color with his head buried on a desk. He could easily be reflecting his manhood’s institutionalized destruction. However, the same image could easily be illustrating the convergence of great purpose connecting to great outcomes. Specifically, this gratifying image reveals a young man preparing for his SAT Exam approximately four weeks before accepting a full basketball scholarship which became available upon receiving his final score.

Know Your History
His academics were questionable largely because his environment and expectations were stereotypically assigned to him. He possessed exceptional athletic talent. Still, that narrative fit a convenient stereotype. However, when his basketball coach boldly approached a special tutor with a proprietary SAT preparation program, stereotypical walls were threatened. The coach knew of the tutor’s success in increasing SAT performance with high school students. The coach also believed in the player’s heart that wanted to decimate stereotypes of academically underperforming athletes. The coach needed to facilitate an environment that illuminated that stereotype’s foolishness.

In arguably the coach’s greatest recruitment job, he explained to the tutor why he would deliver a seven-week program in three weeks and achieve significant results. First, the coach dismissed other unflattering labels that had been assigned to the kid. He emphasized the player’s unyielding tenacity. The coach then assured the tutor that he had the singular voice who could reach and teach this student-athlete. So, when other “authority figures” explained to the kid that boys from his part of town do not go to college, the tutor simply moved his mindset to a different location! The student was no longer home; he was on the road to college basketball! The tutor’s Social Emotional Learning experience interceded to challenge the young athlete to grab new tools to make constructive decisions for better outcomes in a new psychological environment.

Make A Solution
Coach G! SAT Training program clearly had the academic tools available for a successful outcome. However, building trust as the right authority figure to guide the youth in the right direction was more challenging. But again, Social Emotional Learning skills provided a path to encourage confidence and competence. Where slow academic progress created sympathy, the new learning environment embraced empathy. Creating conversations about the feelings of academic success quickly led to sharing a common desire to succeed. The goal was less about academic success and more about achieving a goal of a better life.

As the academic learning continued, his emotional strength grew. The student’s concern of sacrificing his present for an unknown future disappeared as his comprehensive learning embraced new realities featuring life-affirming outcomes. As the student further acknowledged an encouraging ear, he became more intentional in sharing what he knew and what else he intended to learn. His new learning community emphasized accomplishment, instead of judgment. Most importantly, as the test date drew closer, he equated his success with better life choices. He encountered an authority figure who cared how he felt and supported his choice for an improved self-image.

Takeaway
The student realized that his college aspirations required more perseverance than intellect. Athletically, he brought a strong sense of tenacity and desire with him. He then channeled those attributes to help close the knowledge gap with new peers. By building skills based on tenacity, outcomes and self-worth, the young man learned to set personal goals pointing to positive outcomes which he personally desired. He envisioned, embraced, and engaged his future, while owning the outcomes with the support of wise counsel. In short, the image of the jock with his head down transformed to reflect purpose with emotional maturity. More importantly when his head rises up, he sees a future where he possesses tools and maturity to create achievement as he sees fit.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more about social emotional learning (and even donate) go to TYRS.org (link)

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Curious

Raising-Questions-in-Meeting Curious

What does the first day of school and the last day of professional training have in common? Everyone is excited about having a better learning community! Whether learners understand what new knowledge they acquired, they are typically curious about what to do with the new information. While it is easy to point to leadership being the key to ultimate success, the truth is that leadership is merely a connector between people and knowledge. Frankly, learning happens at the lunch table, on the playground, or during the math lesson. If only a structure existed to harness the camaraderie from a learning group to satisfy their individual curiosity, then deliver exceptional, communal results.

Build Inclusive Communities
Inclusion is a popular synonym for diversity in group dynamic settings. Likewise, community is a euphemism for a group that acknowledges similarities, regardless how frail their common binds. Consequently, it is important to bring together both inclusion and community to manifest real power! Inclusive communities result from combining assorted people into an environment that values mutual respect despite differences. Whether it is a community group, a classroom, or a business department, successfully inclusive organizations ultimately achieve mutual respect.

Curiously, inclusive communities’ structure develops organically. Leaders introduce guidance. But, the group flourishes when members buy in to common progress. For example, a group of high school students collaborating on a project experience progress upon working toward a common goal through a mutually agreeable path. Work teams evolve the same way. The best leaders are not the biggest personalities. Superior leadership occurs upon empowering others to own the eventual results. Structures that target challenges, then create ownership among members and sub-groups, prevail. Achieve enough small wins until the big wins become the expected norm. Leadership can be singular, but victories are undeniably communal.

Build Learning Communities
Fortunately, this understanding can be taught. Despite assorted categories of books and multi-media content on leadership, applying learned concepts remain the most powerful learning tool. To get results, people grow by doing. In professional training, role playing regularly provides powerful outcomes. In youth development, hands-on learning repeatedly delivers results. Harnessing the curiosity required to seek personalized solutions is the secret. At the core of human learning, practice makes perfect. To deliver improved results, create environments that permit developing and practicing new skills.

Additionally, role play encourages mental and muscle memory to activate. Group activities facilitates camaraderie leading to mutual growth. “We won” is more powerful than “I won”! Learning communities evolve among all types of experience. Family events and shared memories create bonds that emphasize common lessons. Furthermore, field trips and professional outings deliver identical results. The social emotional component of group activities emphasizes togetherness which leads to more memorable experiences. Additionally, they create an appetite for enjoying the experience again. Common activities provide a common history leading to desiring repeated memories.

What’s Best for Communities?
People coming together create community. Social emotional ties reinforce common values resulting in stronger communities. Unfortunately, this dynamic only works with sufficient input. Common experiences and bonding exercises help groups identify commonalities that make them productive. Furthermore, instilling communication skills to manage and realign differences enhances productivity. The benefit is a community that embraces curiosity and subsequently new discoveries. The safety that results from a social emotional learning foundation generates bolder growth. Whether the goal is building professional, school, or social communities, encouraging curiosity is an enlightening and satisfying aspiration. At the heart of stronger communities is inclusion and learning. Encourage curiosity to reveal additional ways to expand that human experience!

 
By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problems? I Have Puzzles

Quincy Jones Diverse Humble Band

Legendary music producer and epically cool dude, Quincy Jones, once quoted, “I don’t have problems. I have puzzles.” Considering the 27 Grammy awards he has earned over his 50+ year music career across genres, personalities and time periods, he has solved a lot of puzzles. Formal education did not give him the ability to solve problems or puzzles; he has no earned degrees. Yet, his unceasing approach toward education and innovation clearly reveals his enormous learning capacity. So, how does a young overachiever replicate any portion of Jones’ success? What tools are available to equip the next legend to promote selfless collaboration and excellence?

Building Blocks
Foundationally, Jones is a lifelong learner who seizes learning opportunities everywhere. He travels globally. And, he refuses to define himself into any genre or stereotype. To benefit from assorted experiences, Jones constantly embraces interactions with enormous empathy and curiosity. He sees other emotional viewpoints. Through constantly embracing diverse interactions, an inquisitive nature, and ongoing practice, Jones builds enduring relationships and curiosity which contributes to his leadership and innovation.

To apply this skill to youth, first establish a culture that encourages interactions with people outside immediate social circles, ethnic backgrounds, or demographic profiles. Create environments where social tensions and conflicts can be intentionally discussed without forcing resolution. Support listening to other perspectives with the expectation of understanding instead of winning arguments. Advance these practices within an environment of empathy and mature guidance. Help create a community of collaborators, not alpha dogs. Emphasizing commonalities through open discussion and shared experiences provides the final building block.

Building Leaders
Another essential component of Jones’ broad success is his ability to nurture leaders. In the studio, he is known for empowering, corralling and liberating talent. By not entering the studio acting entitled to the alpha role, Jones approaches the environment collaboratively, and then persuades other alpha dogs to follow him. Leadership is much more powerful when followers select the head. Dominant personalities still maintain their dignity as leaders and essential contributors. Yet, Jones’ skill includes persuasion to use superior talent to strengthen the group deliberately. If this developed skill can win over prima donnas like Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, it can work in any community.

In building leaders, the most necessary skill is to value followers. In community building, that priority means influencers need to develop skills to listen empathetically, as well as to communicate prioritized team goals. Furthermore, adult leaders who demonstrate an “I know better because I am older” attitude will eventually recognize that approach worked poorly in their generation, and most likely in the generation before theirs. Sharing responsibilities, in conjunction with opportunities to succeed and fail, builds strength and resilience in adversity. At that point, youth are equipped to solve puzzles. Also, big problem gets managed because smaller tasks that initially created the monster are resolved.

Takeaways
Building skills that emphasize empathy, values and legacy encourage human development by rewarding individuals in ways that they specifically own. Listening to the team’s desires and personal objectives helps leaders identify proper rewards for contributors to the communal good. That skill requires listening with hearts, as well as ears. The resulting legacy relies on learners accepting that today’s decisions will impact tomorrow’s results. All these moving parts result in complex puzzles. But, when communally valued tools and reduced egos drive each step, using heads and hearts to solve puzzles becomes much easier than solving bigger problems birthed from uncontrollable egos. This approach has worked in Quincy Jones’ orchestras. It will work in developing nearby communities.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Your Value?

UA1 Community Center Value - 4

Finding people and organizations to pour into needy children and their communities is easy. Delivering meaningful progress in improving communities is much, much harder. Too many social initiatives proclaim to save underserved communities! Upon securing enough attention, these advocates shout louder about creating environments to improve everything that is ruining that community. Once the audience gets large enough, then references about returning to days-gone-by to build a better community overwhelms the emotions of any baby boomer with selective memories. Nevertheless, for building better communities, start with functional communities comprised of respectful people. But, what does that even look like?

Faith
Common beliefs regarding right and wrong is a logical starting place. While faith discussions quickly deteriorate into religious differences, constructive alternatives focus on observing faith as belief in a common set of ideals. Before religious conversion, common understanding is required. Otherwise, it is called a crusade and people die! Regardless, communication facilitates faith. In building a functional community, common values emerge to lead to agreement on the fundamentals for a better environment. Results require a structure that equips young and old with tools to reach common beliefs to benefit the community.

Growth
Community growth is a reasonable outcome for community improvements. Beyond wishes for prosperity, growth works well as a stepping stone to better communities. Additionally, economic development and education are often reasonable indicators for growth. But, those attributes also imply finite resources. In a community where numerous people will ultimately co-exist, not everyone will have equal access to resources. Too many communities and their residents believe, “I can only have more, if someone else has less.” To contradict such limiting beliefs, adults must demonstrate the ability and capacity to share to establish an example for the younger people. While advocating communal sharing of resources is most likely unreasonable, creating environments and safe spaces for people to exchange ideas and common experiences starts the path to trust. And best of all, when common experiences start to be shared in the spirit of having more, it is a short leap for shared trust to manifest additional community resources. Then, sharing objects logically results in sharing emotional well-being aspirations.

Legacy
As these first two legs establish a foundation of beliefs and common experiences, the third leg secures the community’s mutual improvement through background and attitudes. Spending one Saturday afternoon with a neighbor to check the box for community activity is clearly counterproductive. However, start connecting with hello. Then, have two adults from different families actually observe their children together sharing positive experiences. Parents can even set the example. The kids can keep their own toys, just acknowledge their time together. In this case, legacy can mean transferring knowledge from one generation to the next, or simply transferring examples from one grade to the next inside the same family. Socially, children learn from their siblings and immediate environment, as much as from their parents. A focus on growth through legacy allows for youngsters to benefit deliberately from their elders.

So, what is your value? Start with creating capacity and structure to continue important work in building better people inside communities. Consequently, these better people will be equipped to demonstrate faith, growth and legacy so that the community progresses toward delivering a vibrant, compassionate and enduring culture leading to better livelihoods in the future. Specifically, value is not necessarily an amount in this context, it is interpersonal assets building better people and communities. Teach tools, like empathy, to improve emotional character which results in improving the community’s quality of life. Then, despite communities’ previous perceptions, residents benefit from owning their individual self-improvement.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more (and even donate) go to TYRS.org

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Which Character Are You?

Diverse Teen Leaders Group

Great stories rely on great characters! Particularly, the young, and young at heart, connect with certain stories because they emotionally identify with specific characters. Whether a given character fills the role of hero, villain, buddy, moral compass, or narrator, their connectivity reveals relationships. Ultimately, these relationships become the foundation of a specific group, community, or culture. Whether characters are real, or make-believe, individuals identify with certain roles and embody the character in personal scenarios. It is perfectly normal, and healthy, for a kid to pretend to be a favorite superhero! So, which characters reflect the virtues that a defined community wishes to perpetuate? Furthermore, how does a community encourage realistic social growth as a result of stories and characters that its members embrace?

Collaborative Community
A community inherently reflects the living, breathing characteristics of its people. In building community, characters inevitably interact, whether positively or negatively. The deeper the characters, the deeper the stories, and consequently the deeper the community. To maximize everyone’s benefit, the community’s assorted members must communally and collectively reveal the story. The hard part is introducing the tools and framework for effective collaboration.

For starters, fundamental communication skills like listening, reflecting and sharing are required. Embracing emotions like empathy and compassion helps, too. While the community’s leadership my set the tone, the rank and file perpetuate the environment. The skills associated with developing the emotional foundation must be regularly communicated and reinforced for success. For example, children that engage in group activities that feature positive interactions benefit the most upon modeling behaviors that facilitate additional positive interactions. Fundamentally, developing and exercising teamwork equips collaborative communities to grow individuals’ progress.

Inspiring Individuals
Unsurprisingly, teamwork and collaborative progress require intentional effort by the community and its leadership. Cooperation, empathy, and measurable results are all admirable characteristics for developing better connected communities. To ignite such productive traits, a results-oriented culture must emerge that celebrates individual contributions for the common good. These character victories then become part of the community’s stories. This process leads to establishing heroes who are necessary for any great story.

These heroes emerge as they demonstrate characteristics that the developing community admires. Conversely, villains appear as personalities that seek to disrupt the growth. Comic relief characters add levity to activities that progress toward desired outcomes. The voice of reason perpetuates the logic that guides functional communities. Besides revealing characteristics that contribute to communal traits, these roles combine perspectives and skills to reach optimal resolutions. Ultimately, building community requires balanced and cooperative interactions for success.

Takeaways
While observing children seems easy, improving their behavior with better experiential examples is hard. The same is true for adults. To create a great story, complex characters must be faithful to roles that the community recognizes. Every community member adopts a role that contributes to establishing that community. By selecting, inspiring and rewarding more positive characters, the community promotes positive traits in its environment. The result is better contributors, and more importantly, better leaders.

Nevertheless, protagonists and antagonists are too simple to describe evolving characters in complex stories. Good guys, bad guys, anti-heroes, and corrupt authority figures now dynamically blend together depending on circumstances. The greater good no longer provides a simple foundation with regards to delivering more functional societies. The challenge is developing positive characters that contribute to their defined community, who then create even better stories as future leaders. So, what character are you? The more important question is: what characters are developing in your story to create more effective and productive communities?

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more (and even donate) go to TYRS.org

July 11, 2018 Posted by | Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment