UpliftAnother1

Building Community Through Better Relationships

Communication Using Compassion or Engagement?

Why do so many people talk and relatively few communicate? Verbal communication is relatively straightforward. A person speaks. Another person listens. Optimally, they are using the same language. But, even without a common language, grunts, expression and gestures can often carry the point. Still, what happens when essential communication is required? What occurs when a point must truly be made?

Urgency suggests two communication approaches emerge: Compassion and Engagement. Although many approaches are available, these two work well because they involve the emotional connection that best serves effective communication. If an idea is being communicated, then the associated emotion contributes to context.

Compassion

Communication with a sense of compassion reinforces the emotional component that facilitates transferring ideas. Compassion is best described as experiencing with your heart, as well as your ears. In return, the other party has the option of continuing the conversation with an emotional foundation. Feelings matter! The advantage through this verbal mechanism is creating support for an idea, a sentiment, or participation.

The advantage of sharing feelings in conjunction with the knowledge or point is that the emotion reinforces understanding. An infant demonstrates this point through various levels of crying: whimpering and wailing communicate very different messages. Additionally, school- aged children show this point as they respond to instruction. Children respond to praise and punishment based on the teacher’s attitude in delivering these responses. Is the teacher joyful in giving praise or treating it like an obligation? A child can tell the difference. Obedience by obligation is never genuine.

Engagement

Another facet of the communication jewel is engagement. In engagement the transceiver and recipient are bound in mutual benefit. Engagement goes beyond an emotional connection and can transcend into an intellectual connection. Engagement occurs best when the communication clearly involves vocabulary, voice inflection, and visual cues. Multiple senses and channels are involved in transferring information to maximize communication.

Engagement equally emphasizes the speaker and listener. Engagement features listening with ears, eyes and heart. Engagement is established with the intent of being understood and the expectation of sincere response. Engagement’s power resides in the expectation and establishment of a meaningful dialogue. Returning to learning environments, engagement comes equipped with the expectation of understanding, in addition to facilitating more communication to ensure better understanding. Engagement maximizes understanding by establishing the framework at the beginning.

Conclusion

These nuanced communication techniques are essential in elevating intellectual and emotional comprehension. Creating an environment where more understanding occurs enhances the learning environment, as well as inspires additional learning. The joy of learning is not a student’s transition to better English skills. The joy of learning is transcending to the point that an appetite for more knowledge emerges. Fundamentally, communicating with engagement elevates the joy of intellectual growth. Engagement inspires growth and cognitive development between teachers and listeners. Essentially, engagement facilitates educating more broadly and inclusively. Consequently, we all grow.

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, or donate go to TYRS.org

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Same Trauma, Next Generation

Hispanic father and daughter

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Unknown. Trauma behaves similarly. People embrace fears “that just ain’t so”, yet have just enough truth to be believable. The challenge is that fear often overpowers the ability to discover truth. Under those circumstances, trauma can then spread. Fear can then overpower facts. Once a set of facts are associated with a specific outcome, people will go out of their way to protect and perpetuate that misguided truth. Trauma explains why an adult survives an auto accident, then never drives again. Generationally, that mindset can extend fear into that adult’s children. Are fears stop lights or beacons? The answer lives in the individual’s relationship with trauma.

 

Coping Skills

To move beyond debilitating trauma, the person has to acknowledge the obstacle. An important part of coping skills is recognition that an issue exists that requires management.Successful management depends on persistence as much as proper techniques. For a child to overcome a fear of reading in front of the class, the remedy involves confidently practicing reading as opposed to reminding them that “a” represents the sound in “apple”. To reinforce the point, a willingness to release old ideas in favor of new ones empowers a child to learn new materials while releasing old fears.

 

Applying coping skills to new challenges results in better behaviors. Overcoming old beliefs requires releasing them. As young and old people develop, releasing former beliefs to make room for new and improved ones is essential. Wounds heal. New experiences displace old fears. People, regardless of age, who are receptive to accepting new experiences are taking steps toward embracing a new and improved reality. Exercising the courage to displace fear with activity is essential to coping with new challenges and celebrating new achievements.

 

Family Curses

Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons that old fears overtake new possibilities is the traditions and mores embedded in families. Each family, or any other group, has both acceptable and unacceptable practices. These practices evolve over time based on stories and experiences that are passed down. This phenomenon is true across cultures and time. The problem occurs when lessons from stories and traditions no longer reflect reality. For example, a parent insists that a teenager cannot go to college because the teen’s grandfather took a college class decades ago and was badly injured in a campus riot.

 

The events coincide, they do not reflect causation. In this case, the curse is internal ignorance, not external evil. Information and awareness can minimize the likelihood of repeating the tragic event. Too often, updated information is rejected in the name of preserving tradition. While traditions have their place, environments to establish progressive thinking is not necessarily one of them. In managing family trauma, embracing new possibilities with other people who can articulate positive outcomes provides a healthier growth outcome. Removing the sting from curses with better preparation and education, provides a pathway to progress.

 

Conclusion

Fundamentally, progress emerges when old baggage is discarded. Trauma does not have to move from one generation to the next. Learning facilitates new experiences. New experiences can introduce more progressive ideas. Trauma can be overcome with better information with regards to fears, outdated beliefs, and growth opportunities. Fears can be flushed out of the shadows with enlightenment and truth. When the stove top is on, it is hot. Staying out of the kitchen in fear keeps you from getting burned. It also keeps you from eating. Reverse the curse. Embrace new ideas. Enter the kitchen. Use a mitten. Wait for the food to cool before eating. Enjoy a better experience.

 

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

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Quarantine Fifteen

Lion Cub Mirror

During a scorching California summer featuring pandemics and quarantines, I decided to wash my 20-something daughter’s car. After sitting in a desert driveway for weeks with nowhere to go, her vehicle had finally accumulated enough dust. Nevertheless, even good deeds must abide by edicts, rules and protocols. “Thou must not touch the radio in her car.” is one such edict! As I listened to music that I had never heard before, and commercials for products that I did not know existed, some 20-something on the radio mentioned the “Quarantine Fifteen”. I quickly peeked at my stomach that was uncomfortably close to the steering wheel and knew exactly what that 20-something meant.

Quarantine
I felt shamed. I felt alone. It had nothing to do with me driving in a car by myself. I had just been outed by an unseen voice who knew my loneliness and had imposed body shaming on me. How did he know? In reality, the voice was a recording and I had already internalized some trauma regarding my weight. The loneliness of the quarantine made me vulnerable. Conforming to the Covid 19 pandemic’s authority, I physically and emotionally retreated. Snacks were my refuge. I retreated behind groupthink so not to spread the virus. No one cared. Unfortunately, more of me had become available to be alone.

But, aloneness and loneliness are choices. The recorded radio voice really did not know me. Physical distancing was designed to minimize human-to-human contact which could decelerate spreading the virus. But, engagement remains alive and well. The “Quarantine” exposed that I was susceptible to messages that did not reflect my reality. The “Quarantine Fifteen” shamed me to accept that consequences exist for being alone. Equally true, it can be a call that self-care demands to be a priority. Not just cleaning the car, but cleaning my esteem, health and personal appearance is still a priority. Positive results are available.

Fifteen
The “Fifteen” simply indicates a number rhyming with quarantine. Nevertheless, body shaming is real. The commercial wants you to see the world through their lens. Individually, we each can determine the lens in which we see the world. Fifteen pounds is too much because someone with a microphone, that you will never meet, said so? The truth is that an individual has the authority to dictate their own perception. A Fifty and Fabulous grandmother has as much authority over self-esteem as a teenager dragging around the Quarantine Fifteen. Realize that Grandma is having a much better time.

Likewise, Dad washing the car is performing an act that brings joy. It may not be as much fun as being Fifty and Fabulous. But, it beats the heck out of hiding in the living room waiting for the quarantine to be lifted believing that the extra 15 pounds will leave the house first. The fifteen is not the problem. The attitude is the problem. Personal uplift results from identifying the point of pain and remedying it. Soap and water coming out of a wand solves the problem of the dirty car. Proclaiming “Today I am going to do one thing to be a better me.”, promotes improving your personal identity.

Conclusion
“Be True To Who You Are!” Whether you choose to reveal yourself as you are today, or intend to be in two weeks, perform consistent with your chosen reality. Kind people need to go ahead and perform a kind act for someone else. If loneliness in a pandemic has you down, find individuals that you like and trust both personally and health-wise so that you can arrange to engage each other. No one is absolutely sure what the New Normal will look like. Nevertheless, being true to who you are, and showing kindness will probably be an important part of your successful plan.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chairman,Touchstone Youth Resource Service
www.TYRS.org

July 19, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viral Boundaries, New Behaviors

woman wearing black face mask

Photo by Zulurid on Pexels.com

 

Children now stay at home from school, highways overnight became abnormally empty, and adults dramatically changed work options. American society is experiencing severe shocks to its normal course of operation! Particularly changes in routines that our youth must endure has caused dramatic shocks to society’s normal flow. This disruption has created many unexpected consequences that extend beyond a uniquely violent strain of the flu. Besides wearing masks publicly, handshakes, bro’ hugs, and gentle squeezes between genders are endangered gestures. Personal space is now sacred. Who even heard the term social distancing before this insanity began?

 

VIRAL BOUNDARIES
As American society endures its latest pandemic, individuals must learn the unique terms of engagement for this latest illness, while acquaintances, friends, and loved ones are dying. The body count has become part of the news cycle. And through it all, both young and old are clueless regarding next steps for the behaviors that will permit our species and society to continue. The boundaries are determined by a virus that we cannot see, hear, feel, or smell. Nevertheless, once it impacts anyone, all doubt is removed that it is present.

While adults struggle to figure out society’s new normal, our youth are baffled.Yet, as youth has done across the ages, they make up rules as they go along. Presently, six feet represents the benchmark for physical distancing. But, how well is a five-foot tall grade schooler equipped to measure that distance? Beyond the physical boundaries, emotional boundaries are impacted. Hugs can result in severe illness. Job losses disrupt harmony at home. Friends of all ages are viewed with suspicion because everyone is absolutely clueless regarding what contact any given friend has had with other acquaintances and family members. Plus, it only takes one innocent contact to circulate a mind-numbingly painful and contagious illness. Frustration in every household begins when the first alarm clock rings. Then, it escalates!

NEW BEHAVIORS
So, new sets of behaviors are required. Except that old behaviors have not been properly displaced. Alcoholism that has been routinely in the family unit, now must stare down a quarantine. The new reality features a casual drinker in the house who typically has a daily drink or two to take off the edge. Except, the new reality leads to abuse because the edge never leaves! Elsewhere, friends are sick or scared, so socializing is minimized. Even, close family members are contagious and cautious such that everyone at home is justifiably paranoid. Once social outlets have closed, then domestic abuse surfaces as a convenient option for frustration. Unsurprisingly, the next generation follows suit. Consequently, substance abuse, and its BFF, domestic violence, now run rampant throughout our communities’ new reality. Data confirms this.

With fear, violence, and uncertainty taking up permanent residence in every corner of our community, destructive cycles perpetuate. Dysfunction literally goes viral, as children have no escape. Their schools are closed. This means, social outlets are closed. Their physical outlets are closed. And, far too often, recreational options are closed. New behaviors are driven by fear, hunger, uncertainty, separation, and physical loneliness. How do our youth cope? How do our youth connect? How do our youth manage the unprecedented rush of emotions that floods every corner of their existence? Who is in charge? Who knows what to do?

TAKEAWAYS
Ironically, the solution resides exactly where the problem began to gain significant momentum. Unfortunately, the solution is back in the belly of the beast. Community is the answer! In this case community means convenient resources and relationships that are trustworthy. Community means guidance from trusted authority figures to help youth navigate these uncharted pathways. Community requires instruction from multiple sources that at least include, law enforcement, healthcare, education, and local government. Unfortunately, any moral breakdown from any of these social pillars will only escalate the destruction of public confidence or progress. Currently, boundaries are established by a viral enemy that has the ability to take what we hold dearest. Consequently, communal efforts that align with common behaviors over time will save society. Either trust the authorities to guide communities within proper boundaries to return to safety or risk anarchy.Accept conventional behaviors that benefit the masses, even at the risk of the individual. Or, descend quickly to social and physical depths featuring yet unseen horrors and destruction. Let’s choose each other. Be Safe! Good luck.

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

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose Community Wants 3 Cs?

Father-Son-Talk-Truth

In Kansas City, years ago a young, urban preacher, barked a bold and abrasive interpretation of biblical passage which caused many worshippers to bristle. Then, to emphasize the rough edge that the passage indicated, he challenged his allegedly more polished congregation by proclaiming, “I can say that… y’all don’t know all my previous addresses!” As the laughter subsided, it successfully raised a key point. What community does he truly represent? Community can often refer to neighborhoods, ethnic groupings, or a core of common beliefs. Fundamentally, a community can arguably be a manifestation of a core set of similar behaviors and morals.

Community
With regards to establishing local behaviors and morals that embrace destructive tendencies, determining what people a community truly represents becomes very valuable. Consequently, when coping skills are required to manage individual inconsistencies in acceptable local behaviors, the community has a larger role in establishing acceptable standards. For example, in a rough and tumble community, an unwritten rule may exist that real men do not cry. The unintended consequence of this rule is that young men never learn to process their emotions. That dynamic results in another generation of young men who only learn to express themselves through anger and retaliation. They never developed, let alone expressed, more advance emotional skills. However, a community can function much more emotionally balanced through residents, and particularly young men, who develop a more rounded set of emotional expression. Less inhibited frustration clearly leads to less violence.

Coaching
While developing more balanced emotional capacity and expression works well in controlled environments, human interactions actually occur in a complicated world. Role models, both positive and negative, exist in that complicated role. By intentionally equipping adults, young adults, and youth with balanced emotional skills, violent outbursts erupting from pent up frustration can be minimized. Specifically, coaching can build emotional tools to manage already identified destructive community behaviors. Coaching is different from teaching. Coaching emphasizes developing established skills to an improved level so that people perform better in their environment. Ultimately, by developing positive coaching acumen among community leaders and formal teachers, the result is building coping skills in future generations to interact productively.

Communication
Creating all these positive connections among generations and community segments are unproductive without developing better communications tools. By communication tools, the community must develop abilities to share and receive ideas. In other words, people need to speak and listen with equal understanding. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the population believes listening means waiting on your turn to talk again, people’s listening skills are in serious need of an upgrade. That upgrade can start with local students, who already are in learning environments, and equipping them with skills that require paying attention. Then, encourage them to share without judgment to develop communication skills so that basic understanding will meaningfully improve. Consequently, a key element for improving Social Emotional Learning skills includes elevating listening skill levels. Effectively developing listening skills can significantly reduce misunderstandings and resultant violence.

Takeaways
As developing these tools, Community, Coaching, Communication, the 3 Cs, becomes more prevalent in communities, mutual understanding will elevate. Unsurprisingly, as cultural rifts and angry expression are currently enabled, violence and division continue to escalate across too many communities. No group, class, nor social strata seems liberated from these ills at this point. The 3 C’s of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are essential tools to build more cohesive local environments. The benefit begins once communities become receptive to coaching so that civil communication can begin in developing better coping skills which result in more harmonious environments.

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

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fearless, Reckless, or Clueless

Fearless Clueless School Fight

Violence rages out of control in too many schoolyards and playgrounds! Today, should school-aged children be taught to be brave, or fearless? While boys are traditionally taught to be brave as a sign of maturity, society is increasingly communicating that bravery must now cross genders. Bravery used to be a physical characteristic, featuring feats of strength. But now, it is really a social-emotional attribute. Walking away from a fight can be a sign of bravery. It demonstrates cooler heads prevailing. But, what happens when fear irrationally appears? Typically, undisciplined and reckless behaviors follow in the form of fight or flight. Often, violence follows.

Fearless
The absence of fear is close to bravery and its positive attributes. However, the absence of a negative action is not necessarily the presence of a positive one. The ability to look fear in the face while maintaining dignity clearly suggests being fearless. Where school children used to learn “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”, know today that words can be painful and scarring. Consequently, at best, fearless now means looking at long-term potential harm, and still deciding to act. Fear can be present. It may even be limiting. But, persevering through the fear and embracing the consequences is literally courage.

In most communities, youth carry many fearful emotions with them daily. The emotions result from various forms of abuse and irrational role models that routinely intrude into their daily lives. Whether these threats are real from dysfunctional families, or fabricated from media images, they contribute to many destructive decisions when interacting with others. To combat such fear-based environments, school structures must contribute to reinforce knowledge and productive life skills. Unfortunately, that step means more training for educators. The next degree of difficulty features constructive coaching from other community influences and authority figures, as well. Simply, young people need to spend more time in social environments demonstrating life-affirming traits.

Reckless
Destructive behaviors among youth often result directly from them being reckless. Such behavior coincides with the absence of discipline. Fundamentally, discipline is acknowledging established rules. In its absence, lawlessness takes root and chaos quickly follows. From a community standpoint, locals lose confidence in authority figures, including law enforcement. More aggressive rogue influences organize and assume control. The groups may be called gangs, community organizers, or concerned citizens. Regardless, once they communicate disruptive values, and then fear, locals can expect violence, and lawlessness to influence the community’s behaviors.

This social evolution potentially spreads until reckless behavior becomes the norm. Furthermore, with aggressive groups increasingly dictating local behaviors, positive and cohesive activities to strengthen community values disappear. Recklessness is the byproduct of fractured communities establishing their own guidelines despite being inconsistent with the greater society. The outcome is local groups leading through intimidation. Then, the youth grow in an environment where inconsistent rules and random authority figures represent their reality. Recklessness takes over the community and re-establishing a positive social order consistent with the broader community can literally take generations.

Takeaway
In prior generations, bravery implied standing up to bullies. Now it means being intellectually clever and emotionally flexible to avoid physical confrontation. Furthermore, youth are increasingly vulnerable to psychological stressors, in addition to physical trauma. The ability to look fear in the face and do it anyway has become increasingly difficult, yet more necessary. Developing camaraderie among youth remains a powerful tool to reduce fear. Likewise, building personal relationships among like-minded peers is an effective coping skill at all ages. Even in a digital world, common traits, mutual likes and similar dislikes attract like-minded personalities. Fearlessly welcoming others into personal, social-emotional engagement is the first clue toward building relationships. Then, personal relationships will evolve to build strong 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

 

 

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, 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

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

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