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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Train Up A Teen

SEL Child

Mark Twain said, “When a child turns 12, he should be kept in a barrel and fed through the knot hole, until he reaches 16…at which time you plug the hole.” The Old Testament raises the issue of disobedient children. And, today because we have the internet and artificial intelligence, children are supposed to know better and be more obedient. Regardless, where the blame lies across generations for children, teens and young adults are still reluctant to accept advice and wisdom from their elders. Instead of yelling louder, perhaps authority figures should listen more. Equally important, they should listen earlier. And, that listening from authority figures begins with parents, teachers, and youth leaders. By modeling listening behaviors, young people will be more likely to apply listening skills. Too often, youth cannot hear words from adults because their actions are too loud.

Engage
Dialogue by definition is bilateral. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a tactic that develops young people by cultivating specific communication tools. This tactic delivers tools to young people to articulate their pain. A straightforward example is the focus on bullying. SEL provides tools to help process the blizzard of emotions and destructive behaviors associated with youth aggression. Power, control, frustration are all elements of bullying. By engaging youngsters they have opportunities to begin processing root causes of these activities. Furthermore, they gain insight to their consequences.

To promote growth, authority figures must acknowledge and accept the privilege to teach, guide and mentor young people. Too often teachers assume they are right because they have spoken. Through emotionally connecting with young learners, teachers forge a path for truth to emerge. They earn the privilege to be right upon achieving awareness that students received the information. Fundamentally, engagement establishes an emotional connection that results in communicating information to a listener equipped to process it.

Respond
Assuming authority figures know best is a slippery slope, especially when interacting with young learners. Responding with right answers is too simplistic. Assuming away the learners’ emotional state because rational facts are presented is a disservice. Treating academic facts as irrefutable truths compounds the problem. Instructors ignore their learners’ emotional filters at their own peril. Students cannot accept facts if they do not trust their source. More importantly, they cannot respond properly to new information without an emotional connection to the facts. If the communication filter is clogged with learners’ confusion, pain, insecurity and hopelessness, then the facts never reach their understanding.

Pressures to understanding, embedded in young people, have changed dramatically in the last generation. Today’s adult parents of school age children are too old to have been cyber-bullied in elementary school. The argument that bullying is bullying is the equivalent of saying that a library’s card catalog has the same research capacity as Google. Sensitivity to the differences in acquiring and processing information is essential to communicating and educating. Teachers who exercise insight to students’ social-emotional needs have a tremendous advantage in conveying information. Developing and exercising abilities to identify and respond to felt needs is an advantage resulting in better learners.

Takeaway
Training young people to learn and apply their knowledge productively is an old priority. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”, is a lesson from Proverbs 22:6 (English Standard Version). Communicate, listen, respond, listen some more. Listening is not the pause while waiting for the next turn to talk. Empower students to process information that they receive, not just accept the authority’s experience as the only option. Even if the authority’s path is best, it does not necessarily reflect the individual youngster’s reality. Teaching is empowering learning to occur; it is not spewing knowledge. Learning socially, emotionally and intellectually requires delivering knowledge using proper tools so that intelligence transfers. The youngsters’ ability to progress and function depends on it.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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October 20, 2017 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Urgency of the Tyrant

Child_boss Tyrant

The Tyranny of the Urgent is a common phrase referring to people held hostage by immediate problems that they face. People cannot perform important tasks because they are trapped by urgent ones. Long term benefits are at the mercy of short-term demands. However, an equally counterproductive and evil relative also lurks. The Urgency of the Tyrant is when someone else’s problem becomes your problem. And, that someone has authority! Where’s coaching when you need it?

Lack of Planning
“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!” This clever quip is empowering until the poor planner exercises their authority. For example, the boss arrives late at the office following an early morning “networking meeting” with his golfing buddies. The report he needed two days ago, that he neglected to tell anyone, is now the nearest subordinate’s problem. The Tyrant has struck!

The subordinate cannot plan for such contingencies. They make the hard decision and sacrifice another priority. Consequences emerge from missed deadlines. Other leaders and peers question the subordinate’s competence. However, the subordinate’s best defense is contingency planning that anticipates the reckless leader. Enlist colleagues to absorb the resultant overflow that the Tyrant created. Likewise, be prepared to reciprocate among those colleagues. Reckless Tyrants do not discriminate. They wreak havoc from their egomaniacal vacuum. Defeat the Tyrant’s lack of planning by overcompensating with superior proactivity among a community of teammates.

Manage Emergencies
What can victims do? Getting angry or vengeful certainly does not help. Negative emotions drain time and energy from fulfilling the impossible assignments. To survive, reprioritize assignments quickly. According to Gene Kleiner, “The more difficult the decision, the less it matters what you choose.” Choices fall in the “Damned if You do, Damned if you don’t” category. The choice is real; so are the consequences. Choose anyway.

However, long-term issues remain. Once a subordinate performs a miracle, the Tyrant returns with equally impossible tasks. It is his true nature. Like most tyrannical regimes, escape is an attractive option. The tyrant already has authority and no incentive to change. Subordinates have alternatives. Upon considering equally brutal choices, ongoing submission is a possibility. But, finding a new environment, galvanizing fellow oppressed colleagues, standing up for individual respect are also options. Explore possibilities that maximize personal attributes for individual gain. Consequences maybe difficult, but that cannot silence the right for dignity.

Takeaways
Tyrants emerge in many types of organization. Often, bullies are bullied themselves. However, loyalty to an oppressor is really enslavement! Explore options. Coaching helps. Prepare for promotions, develop new skills, explore different life choices, pursue personal happiness. Find new inspiration that empowers fulfillment beyond the Tyrant. Waiting for the oppressor to lose creates additional burdens. Having courage to escape oppressors because skills, talents, and value exceed current situations builds a path to liberation. A Tyrant has power through fear. Overcome the fear through individual efforts. Then, facilitate community. Ultimately, pursue conquering the abuse, then own your personal value.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Better Business, Better Community | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ABO: Attitude Behaviors Outcomes

Bootcamp Obstacle Teamwork

Getting teenagers to achieve meaningful changes for their future benefit is an enormous task. Young people routinely alter their life trajectory every ten, social media – driven, seconds. Nevertheless, creating positive change happens. Goals and timelines are established. The journey begins. However, progress is impossible without a strong foundation. Regardless of age, obstacle, or circumstance, significant achievement only occurs with a strong foundation. Three cornerstones establish the structure to change teenagers, parents, professionals, or anyone else interested in progress.

Attitude
Considering young people, if “attitude” and “change” are seen together, the word, “bad”, is nearby. However, attitude is simply, “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” Most importantly, attitudes can change. Individuals must want or be incented to change. Nevertheless, change is possible. To improve, it is necessary. By creating a positively accountable group, peer pressure can help facilitate growth-oriented change. Daily reinforcement of group benefits and goals gives the team permission to police itself. When “it’s all about us kids”, they own the improvement. They own the results. Their attitude ignites their winning drive! The leader merely points it in the desired direction.

Behavior
“If you can believe, you can achieve” is a clever quote. The achievement part requires work. Changing behavior requires work. Establishing structured activities is essential to creating a framework where that work happens. Different habits are introduced. The habits do not necessarily have to be new. But, they must be different than previously ineffective habits. Simple actions like choosing a different seat, selecting the first activity, picking their own nickname qualify. Individual ownership within the group framework instills ownership of progress. When every individual inside the group owns a decision that leads to group success, individual behavior matters. Furthermore, members become eager to exercise their new power so that their next behavior matters. Personally, each contributing individual can own the results.

Outcome
The foundation’s final piece features consistent focus on the ultimate result. Each individual must know their contribution matters. Everyone must share a stake with their teammates. This mindset only develops through consistent reinforcement that is established early and communicated often. Measurable goals work best. While individual goals create ownership, emphasizing cooperative benefits encourages teamwork. The rewards do not have to be equivalent. They must be individually meaningful. And, the rewards must be celebrated! Established outcomes are essential to successfully executing this process. Leaders who mutually serve the individual and the team reap the greatest benefits.

Takeaways
This process works for kids. It works for adults. Communal success and ownership of results is culturally hard-wired. Leaders do not need to dictate the result. Effective leaders are secure in knowing that they drove the result. They also know that their followers are ultimately responsible for executing the result. The purpose is success, not credit. Attitude, behaviors, outcomes represent the foundation. Reinforcing this foundation builds a stronger structure. If young people can be successful with this framework, imagine the success available to them when the stakes are higher!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment