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In June, a movie was released in select theaters across the country: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It was a well-done documentary on the life and career of Fred Rogers, the man who hosted the show we came to know as kids—Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. My entire family enjoyed the inside story of how this person caught his vision to impart into the lives of young children between 2 and 6 years old.

Photo via PBS/Facebook

Surprisingly, we were given a leadership clinic from his life. Below, I’ve outlined some insights and applications you and I can employ in our own leadership:

1. Be sure your leadership addresses a tangible problem.

As a recent college graduate, Fred Rogers planned to enroll in seminary, when he visited a television studio and became enamored by this new piece of technology. He immediately told his parents he planned to wait on seminary and get into television. He saw it as a tool to connect with young people who were beginning to experience trauma. His first year was 1968. Americans were watching the Vietnam War on the 6:00 news; two significant assassinations took place (Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.) higher divorce rates, riots and other societal changes spread across the land. His career didn’t stem from the love of entertainment. It was from a desire to meet real needs in the hearts of children and solve real problems as they grew up. Fred actually hosted an entire episode where he explained what an assassination is. He dealt with issues no other children’s program did at the time.

Question: How does your leadership address real problems around you?

2. Your most natural leadership will stem from your own past pain.

Between the ages of 10-13, Fred Rogers gained a lot of weight. Consequently, he was the target of bullies who made fun of how fat he was. They called him, “Fat Fred.” He recalls those memories without any bitterness, but built his career helping children who endured similar hardships. He saw himself as someone who filled gaps in their life—especially when Mom or Dad didn’t have the language to respond to the pain. He said, “No matter what our job is, we are all supposed to be repairers of creation.”

Question: How does your current leadership style stem from your own past pain?

3. Never fear lobbying for your deepest values.

In the early 1970s, Pubic Television was in jeopardy of losing $20 million in funding for their programming. PBS found themselves in a hearing before a congressional committee in an attempt to keep the network alive. When the committee heard one attorney after another merely reading statements in their defense, one senator said he didn’t want to hear one more person read something to them. At that point, Fred Rogers took his turn. Instead of reading, he spoke straight from his heart and right to the hearts of the bureaucrats. He was poised yet passionate and spoke directly to the men on the panel. When he finished, one senator replied, “I think this is just wonderful. Looks like you just earned yourself the $20 million.”

Question: Are you doing anything so valuable that you’d lobby to keep it alive?

4. Practice the Law of Reciprocals

When Fred launched into TV, he noticed that nearly all the other children’s programs consisted of fast-paced action, lots of noise, and people throwing pies into the faces of others. He never condemned those shows, but instead decided to complement them. He did the opposite. Just like a reciprocal in math is an inverted fraction, leaders do well to offer people what they can’t find elsewhere. Leadership rises based on providing the scarcest resource. Mr. Rogers’ show offered an extremely slow-paced show; it was never noisy, it had low production value and it was simple. His producer literally said in recollection: “We took the elements that made up children’s TV at the time and we did the opposite.” What a great idea: Don’t emulate. Complement.

Question: How does your leadership complement what’s going on around you?

5. If you can’t replace what is broken, learn to redeem it.

Even as early as the 1960s and 1970s, Fred Rogers could see that television had the power to accomplish constructive or destructive goals in the minds of kids. While he knew the hours in front of the TV could take kids away from time with parents, he also believed “TV can be used for good or ill.” So, he labored tirelessly for decades (between 1968-2001) to offset the violence, pain and destruction on that screen in our family rooms. He always felt that if you can’t replace it, redeem it.

Question: How can your leadership either replace or redeem something destructive?

6. When you lead many people, think of one person.

Mr. Rogers explained how he remained so steady and personal in front of the camera for so many years. He said he always imagined one child he was speaking to, not millions of them. It enabled him to keep a human and intimate style as if he were speaking to only you, as a kid. The outcomes are amazing. When kids were asked later what this did for them they said, “This made me trust him.”

Question: As you lead larger teams or groups, do people feel that you speak to them?

7. Find a place where your leadership is seen as a calling.

There were times when Fred Rogers told his wife and even his producer he wasn’t sure if he was even making a difference. He’d cry when he was overcome with the thought of not “moving the needle” for kids in society. But he kept going because he saw his job as more than a job—it was a calling. When Fred Rogers was blamed by the press for all the entitled, lazy Millennials who felt they were special just for showing up, he never got defensive, but he did clarify his message: “What my message has always been is this: you don’t have to perform in some extraordinary way to be loved.” He stayed clear and true to his original mission.

Question: Is your leadership role a mere job to you or a calling?

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According to recent studies, about 77% of your students strive to be leaders. In order for you to help them reach their maximum leadership potential, you must first determine how to empower them to positively impact your campus. With more than 40 years of leadership training experience, Dr. Tim Elmore explains his proven process for developing more and better student leaders in this free, four-part series.

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  • Recognize the intrinsic signs to look for in young leaders.
  • Learn the four primary characteristics of every successful leader.
  • Comprehend the necessary process for young leader development.

Access to this video series ends August 1st at midnight. Access it today!

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The post Seven Leadership Lessons from Mr. Rogers appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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Two years ago, UConn women’s basketball coach, Geno Auriemma, did an interview just before the Final Four. It was re-posted on Facebook a couple of months ago and has gained traction again with so many coaches across our nation.

Ole’ Geno didn’t pull any punches in the interview.

After more than 30 years as a head coach, Coach Geno Auriemma said that recruiting “enthusiastic kids is harder than it’s ever been.” One reason I listen to him is because of what he’s accomplished. Geno once went two years without a defeat and played for five consecutive national titles in a row.

He remarked how different connecting with prospective athletes is today. Here is an excerpt of his :

“They haven’t even figured out which foot to use as a pivot foot, and they’re going to act like they’re really good players…Forget about playing for the love of the game or to support teammates; too many players focus on themselves…They’re allowed to get away with just whatever, and they’re always thinking about themselves…Me, me, me, me, me. ‘I didn’t score, so why should I be happy?’ ‘I’m not getting enough minutes; why should I be happy?’ That’s the world we live in today, unfortunately. Kids check the scoreboard sometimes because they’re going to get yelled at by their parents if they don’t score enough points. Don’t get me started.”

While this sounds harsh, I think there’s a kernel of truth in his words.

Why Do Athletes Feel So Entitled?

It’s a good question. If Geno is right, why does an 18-year-old feel so self-centered today? Certainly not all of them are, but a growing number act this way, according to an informal poll I took among Division 1 coaches. Why are so many young athletes so selfish?

  • Their parents often push club coaches to increase their child’s playing time.
  • They’ve often been the best player who got to “write their own ticket.”
  • Their world today promotes individual achievement—at any cost.
  • They grew up in a culture that fosters a “free agent” mindset.
  • They continue to live in a society of “selfies.”

Today, however, there is a new twist to this perception.

They Feel Self-Sufficient Without Their Coach

Young athletes today feel very empowered. It goes beyond mere selfishness or performance. Some feel they don’t even need you to reach their goals. Why? Our culture today makes us feel we can do anything. Consider the world today’s kids have grown up in.  The average student athlete:

  • Has access to free video coaching on-line, thanks to YouTube.
  • Has likely had personal trainers who guided them as individuals.
  • Can ask any question and get an instant answer from Google or Alexa.
  • Often arrives in college with a personal plan for getting ahead on their own.

Generation Z athletes bring a paradox with them to college. On the one hand, they may be extremely naïve about how adult-life really works. On the other, however, they arrive in college with a “hacker” mindset, believing they’ll figure out the system and be self-sufficient, not needing someone else to guide them. Naïve and savvy.

I spoke to a coach recently who smiled as he told me that the most common phrase he hears from young players as he offers direction to them is:

  • “I know.”
  • “I know.”
  • “I know.”
So How Do We Lead These Athletes?

Let me offer three big ideas today’s coach must consider in order to lead this kind of athlete:

1. Unique Differentiation

Because they have so many other voices in their life offering advice, consider how you can differentiate your voice from all the noise around them. What do you offer that distinguishes you from the others? Your stories, your insight, your connections, your unique angle on the game—may enable you to stand out in their minds.

2. Added Value

Because free “content” is everywhere, consider what value you can add to their life that they can’t get anywhere else. Here’s the principle: “the greater the value you add to their life, the more likely you’ll win them over and gain their allegiance.” What do you offer that YouTube doesn’t offer? Adding value is king.

3. Insider Connections

Finally, because you are face-to-face with them now, take advantage of that relationship. Help them to feel they have an “insider” connection with you and the other professionals on campus that gives them an edge on their peers back home. Build an individual relationship with as many as you can and earn their trust.

Practice these three items above, and you may be able to transform that selfish and independent player into a mature, interdependent adult.

New Free Video Series:
The Simple Process to Better Student Leaders

According to recent studies, about 77% of your students strive to be leaders. In order for you to help them reach their maximum leadership potential, you must first determine how to empower them to positively impact your campus. With more than 40 years of leadership training experience, Dr. Tim Elmore explains his proven process for developing more and better student leaders in this free, four-part series.

The Simple Process to Better Student Leaders video series helps you:

  • Understand who today’s teens really are.
  • Recognize the intrinsic signs to look for in young leaders.
  • Learn the four primary characteristics of every successful leader.
  • Comprehend the necessary process for young leader development.

Access to this video series ends August 1st at midnight. Access it today!

Access Now

The post Leading Student Athletes Who Don’t Think They Need a Coach appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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A bit of a firestorm was ignited four years ago, when parents Alexander and Danielle Meitiv allowed their two children (ages 6 and 10) to play in a nearby park without their parents watching. A by-stander called 911, and police grabbed the kids and returned them to their home. Alexander and Danielle were later released after questioning about child neglect. Later, the kids were allowed to play at another park (where they had played dozens of times), and they didn’t come home at the designated time. Why? They’d been detained by police. Soon after they were visited and interrogated by Child Protection Services to ensure they were fit parents. Eventually, CPS determined they were a decent mom and dad.

Whew!

All of this caused Danielle to run for local office to change the laws in their Maryland town. In her campaign messages, she described herself as a “free range mom.” Do you remember this term? It became popular some years ago when Lenore Skenazy let her son ride the New York subway without her supervision. She got lots of flack from other parents, but she contends allowing kids to be unsupervised at times will help them become more effective adults.

Now, some lawmakers have joined the chorus.

Last month, Utah became the first state to pass legislation for “free range parenting.” It changes the state’s definition of neglect to allow children of “sufficient age and maturity” to engage in independent activities like walking to and from school. The bills’ sponsor, State Senator Lincoln Fillmore, said he hopes the law will enable kids to grow up “learning to take responsibility for themselves.”

So, why is this such a big deal?

Why Are We Not Free Range Parents Today?

When I talk to parents, almost all of them acknowledge they got to do lots of “free range” things when they were children, such as walk to school, go skateboarding in a park and play with friends in another neighborhood. Those same parents, however, also admit those are things they don’t let their kids do today.

Why is this?

In a word, the answer is fear. Adults tend to have a narrative of fear in their minds about the safety of kids today. Lenore Skenazy says, “We’re being hypocrites because we’re coming to the erroneous conclusion that any time a child is unsupervised they’re automatically in danger and it’s not true.”

“Parents’ perception of how dangerous the world is has changed over the years,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, a professor of psychology at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

“Parental anxiety,” Saltz says, “is inflamed by a global, always-on news cycle, as well as increased connectivity on social media platforms, which recycles ‘over and over again’ kidnappings, rape and other threatening incidents.” In fact, while violent crime has dropped sharply in the U.S. over the past 25 years, Americans generally perceive crime rates are continuing to climb, according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center. And perception is reality, at least for many parents today.

On top of this, I believe parenting has gone from a “community” thing where we all look out for each other’s kids to a competition. We are all trying to be the best mom, and we often judge others for their lack of engagement or provision.

Steps We Can Take to Be Both Engaged Yet Empowering

1. Ask someone to hold you accountable to resist the “fear narrative.”

We all do better when we know someone is going to ask us about the commitments we’ve made. Ask a respected, trusted friend to weekly ask you if you’re rejecting the “fear narrative” our culture feeds us. Believe the best.

2. Take “baby steps” forward to allow your kids to increase their level of risk.

If your kids are young, they obviously need to be watched and directed more closely than when they reach middle school. As they mature, they need more autonomy and responsibility. Let them take slightly bigger risks each month.

3. Invite a community of moms and dads to create a village to watch the kids.

I believe it truly does “take a village” to raise good kids. Reject the competitive parenting model we see so often and create a community of parents in your neighborhood or town who will help keep watch over your kids’ play time.

4. Talk about “trust” with your children and teach them to build it over time.

From the beginning, my wife and I talked to our kids about trust. They got increasing levels of freedom as they proved they could be trusted with it. Let them earn the right to be a “free range kid” by their mature conduct.

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Fill out the form below to access the Parental Engagement Scale and watch the free bonus video.

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The post How to Become a Caring Yet “Free Range” Parent appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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“The single best step I took to get students engaged in my classroom,” said one faculty member, “was to move from my typical lesson plan to using design thinking.”

Have you tried “design thinking?”

It’s a practice that’s gaining interest among educators, coaches and even parents across our nation. I have advocated for it for years now, believing it made the difference for me as an instructor, trainer, parent and leader of students. According to Mary Ellen Flannery of the National Education Association, “At the heart of design thinking are students trying to solve problems that affect people. Those people may be fictional characters in a novel, or they might be their community’s very real homeless adults. The process requires students to interview others about their needs, or to ask themselves what it’s like to be that person, the client or ‘end user.’”

High school teacher Dan Ryder says, “The secret sauce is the empathy piece. It’s the idea that students are attempting to solve problems—real problems—with their brainpower, and that their level of success depends on how well they serve the needs of others.”

The root of design thinking goes back centuries, as the best mentors and teachers always began with questions about real world problems, not merely theories from a text book. However, its recent popularity stems from Stanford University and their “d.school.” Laura McBain, is the director of K12 community and implementation at K12 lab in Stanford University’s d.school. She says, “The human-centered piece is probably the most profound and important thing we do as educators. It allows students to think about the challenges the world is facing and puts them in the driver’s seat to be really engaged to solve those problems to feel empowered to change the world.”

I agree. Suddenly, school becomes real for students, not merely hypotheses and facts to be memorized. And it actually prepares them for a well-lived life. 

Design thinking is a mindset. It begins with empathy and ends with problem solving.

Five Steps in Design Thinking

So how might you begin to implement design thinking in your work with students? It can begin with students noticing a problem in their school or even their own classroom. Or it may start with observing the property next to the school campus or down the street. It might be a social problem in their city, or somewhere in the country, such as the Flint, Michigan (clean water) or Houston, Texas (flooding water problems). In any case, students actually read up and research the problem. Then, they begin to problem solve as if they were the ones in charge of it. Here is the simple five-step approach popularized at Stanford’s d.school.

1. Choose and define the problem.

As a group, students must first decide on what problem most needs to be solved and which one they are best equipped to address. It can be a campus, local, regional, national or global issue that captures their attention. This fosters engagement.

2. Brainstorm and ideate multiple solutions.

This is where the “metacognition” process begins, when students stop looking to a teacher, parent or coach to come up with the answer and simply tell them. Instead, they get creative and begin a list of their own potential answers.

3. Prototype the best solution.

Next, they must test one of those solutions to see if it’s relevant and helpful. This is a maturing process that forces students to move from idealism to realism. They must think through all the possible outcomes that might happen.

4. Test the solution once you’ve tried it.

Now, they must actually try it out and see if there’s any hope that the idea might solve the problem in a beta test. This goes far beyond the “story problems” our math teachers used to give us. It involves applying knowledge to real life.

5. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t work and why.

Finally, critical thinking skills develop as students reflect on why or why didn’t their solutions work on the problem. In a way, students give themselves their own “exam” on their project and decide how successful they’ve been.

I love how design thinking makes subjects like math, science or social studies come alive because they become real, not just facts in a textbook to memorize. Probably the best news is, “design thinking” builds what educators call the “4 Cs” of 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. It cultivates both hard and soft skills students will need as adults, and it frequently beckons students to think and act like leaders. It’s a win/win situation.

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Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

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The post How to Launch “Design Thinking” in Your Classroom or Home appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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Earlier this year, a firestorm erupted between guardians of “free speech” and those who are trying to safeguard inclusive language. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

A handful of students from Syracuse fraternity “Theta Tau” held a private “roast” this past semester. They lambasted others who were not present, in a frolicking party that got recorded and posted on Facebook. Doubtless the words were crude, obscene and inappropriate for the public. In fact, I would say unbecoming of fraternity members.

However, the gathering was private and never intended to go public.

When the word got out about the “roast,” administrators at Syracuse University pulled together a panel and leveled a penalty against the unruly students. According to an article from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education,  (FIRE), “The suspensions of up to two years were were handed down Tuesday, after a three-person panel tried the Theta Tau students as a group and found them guilty of violating university policies. The disciplinary proceeding was prompted by the unauthorized release of certain videos from the private roast on April 18. Stripped of their satirical context, the videos were described as sexist and racist — despite the fact the pledges punished were racially diverse — and provoked calls for the university to impose discipline, even though nobody actually present at the event filed a complaint.”

Those who came to the defense of the students say that Syracuse University should either stop saying they believe in “free speech” and “support the first amendment.” They believe you can’t have it both ways.

The article also shared a quote from Ari Cohn of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, “When a university expels students for a private roast consisting of completely protected speech, it has no business pretending that it cares about free expression.” In a letter to the Syracuse chancellor, Cohn demanded that Syracuse respect expressive rights and drop the investigation. He wrote, “Despite objections that these students were being tried as a group, by a biased committee, and ‘represented’ by an agent of the university, Syracuse has the gall to maintain that justice was served.”

This Begs the Question: What Is Most Important for Students?

Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer | The Daily Orange Staff Photographer

Most of us agree that colleges should be places of free speech and an opportunity for adolescents to mature into adulthood. After all, that’s what it means to turn 18, right? Historically, colleges have been places for debate and challenging the status quo. Too many of them today have become bastions where students can continue to complain when anyone says something they disagree with, assuming they shouldn’t have to hear anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

But—is Syracuse right in suspending these students?

While the students’ words were inappropriate, were their words worthy of suspension and silencing? Would it be better for students to learn to resolve this conflict themselves without adults stepping in to govern such private meetings? Where do we draw the line?  In fact, my questions are:

  • Although it was crude, do these students have a right to do what they did?
  • Was there any honor code that directs student behavior? If not, why not?
  • Does an adult-student’s right take priority over the school’s ambition to develop good citizens and good leaders?

My question for you is this: What is more important? Allowing students to begin to face such controversial conflict, learning to both handle it and resolve it, or to ensure proper behavior by policing such events. I could make an argument for both. Would you take a moment and comment?

New Habitudes Course:
Social & Emotional Learning

Our Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning curriculum uses memorable imagery, real-life stories and practical experiences to teach timeless skills in a way that is relevant to students today. Students are constantly using images to communicate via emojis, Instagram, and Snapchat. Why not utilize their favorite language to bridge the gap between learning and real-life application?

Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

Request More Information

The post The Fine Line Between Free Speech and Inclusive Language appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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I plan to get very personal today. I want to offer you a summary of what my wife and I did to prepare our kids for their post-secondary experience. Perhaps it will be an encouragement to you and spark ideas of your own.

Both my son and daughter thought they wanted to go to college. But I knew enough from the narrative of so many teens that college isn’t right for everyone.  A recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article describing how so many parents put their kids on a “forced march to college.” The standardized tests, the language we use and the assumptions we possess all push adolescents to feel like second-class citizens if they choose to do anything other than a four-year university following graduation. The only choice some have is choosing which one.

“If you’re smart, you will go to college,” so says the narrative.

So our journey began in middle school with several experiences that we all hoped would pave the way for a wise decision. Let me describe the steps we took.

1. A Parent-Child Trip

Our first step took place when each of our children entered the sixth grade. When they turned 12, each could choose anywhere they wanted to visit, and I would take them there for some fun time and some conversation. Bethany chose Orlando, to visit some theme parks; Jonathan chose Minneapolis for some shows and Camp Snoopy. Along with the fun, I facilitated an experience about what it meant to become an adult and what choices lay in front of them. My goal was to simply set the stage.

2. A Rite of Passage Experience

At age 13, we orchestrated a yearlong “rite of passage” experience. Just like other cultures celebrate a child’s entrance into manhood or womanhood, we planned a year of meeting mentors with a variety of vocations and gifts. Each of my kids got to ask questions along the way, experience different locations, receive artifacts and take notes. Both of the years ended in a celebration of who they were and what they had to offer the world as they matured. Both of my kids recall it as a defining year for them.

3. Purposeful Extra-Curricular Activities

We did not allow our kids to sign up for several after-school activities each semester. Even though all their friends seemed to do five or six at once, we let them do one at a time, so we could process their day well and determine their level of interest going forward. We had dinners together—more often than not—where we used that time to help them learn to think critically about life and their future. From sports to theatre, they each focused on one at a time and we all remained sane. We learned that mono-tasking beats multi-tasking every time! We learned that staying focused on one activity at a time proved to be beneficial.

4. Meeting with Specialists

As each of them matured through high school, they got a clearer picture of what they wanted to do upon entering their career. So, my wife and I arranged meetings with people who actually served in those industries. Both of them came to the meetings prepared with written questions and lots of curiosity. Bethany is 30 now, but she still meets with the woman she met with in high school.

5. Personal Assessments and Meal Time

As high school students we introduced our kids to several evaluations that enabled them to assess their gifts and interests. After they took the tests, we had a rich time in conversation about their personality (MBTI), strengths (Gallup’s StrengthQuest), style (DISC profile), and their leadership approach. We also discussed Habitudes®, which I had begun to formalize. We even discussed their life purpose. Our goal was to liberate them from feeling they had to imitate someone else to be successful.

6. A Gap Year

Following high school, neither one of my kids knew exactly what they wanted to do, but they had a good idea. However, I wanted to take one more step before they chose to attend a college, go to a trade school or simply enter their career. They each took a full year and worked. They served as an intern at Growing Leaders, learning to talk to partners on the phone; ship boxes of books, travel with me on trips, work at a resource table and take direction from real supervisors full-time. It was rewarding to watch their skills and emotional intelligence sharpen.

So What Happened?

When each of my kids finished their “gap year,” they were more ready than ever to choose their next step. In the end, both chose to attend a university. However, it wasn’t until several real-life experiences (working with adults) informed them.

Neither of them made “straight A’s” in high school or college, but both were more equipped for “real-life” than many adolescents. Upon graduation, both were employed immediately. Education reformer Ted Dintersmith writes, “I’d love to see more colleges embrace applicants who can demonstrate that they’ve actually made a difference in the world instead of submit a bunch of scores or numbers that are, at best, loosely correlated indicators of downstream impact to life.”  Dintersmith goes on, “Our mantra is ‘higher test scores’ on more rigorous college-ready content, so that every kid goes to a four-year college. For every kid who succeeds at that, there are going to be five to ten for whom it’s a particularly terrible path.”

Let’s lead our kids well, based on who they are—not who we want them to be.

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The post How I Helped My Kids Decide What to Do After High School appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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The answer to this question about being friends with our kids probably depends on the personality and age of your child. Some parents and kids connect well via smart phone and others do not. According to Pew Research:

  • 53% are friends with their parents. This tends to work better when the child is between 12-14. By ages 15-21 it often feels “smothering” to them. Then, later as a young adult, it seems to feel OK again to them.
  • 47% are friends with their children on Facebook. This feels nice to the parent but it’s usually the reason many teens get off Facebook and on to other sites.
  • 41% are connected with people they have never met in person. Teens do this because it feels adventuresome, yet safe. They think, “After all, it’s only a screen.” Later, however, it often leads to LMIRL: Let’s Meet In Real Life, which can be dangerous territory.

Whatever the case, most parents can bank on one thing for sure: your child may befriend you on a social media site like Facebook or Instagram, but they likely have platforms where they use false identities you know nothing about. A parent may assume they know all about their teens, but they’d be shocked if they knew the total amount of personas their children actually use.

For example, consider “Finsta.” This is a fake Instagram persona, where teens can create a totally fraudulent identity and post things you may never know about. They might have five Snapchat accounts. Or, several Twitter accounts. Just know that if you and your child connect on one platform, that doesn’t mean it’s the only one they use. It may be helpful to talk about this with them, or even talk to one of their friends to naturally discover if there are any personas you don’t know about.

I recently spoke to a parent who said that since she became “friends” with her daughter and son on social media sites, they have been guilty of “phubbing” her. Phubbing, as I’ve mentioned before, is the act of snubbing someone because a phone is in your hand. A person can snub someone standing right next to him or her, by merely staring down at the phone and not acknowledging their presence. This mother’s kids felt they didn’t need to talk to her in person as much. After all, they’d already updated her on their lives. Hmmm. Not what she was shooting for.

It’s up to us, adult leaders, to model and equip today’s emerging generation to embrace excellent people skills. While we do see a “new normal” due to phones, there are some timeless relationship skills—like acknowledging others, asking good questions, expressing gratitude, showing respect and courtesy—that must be taught. That is our job.

I may sound like an “old school” leader who’s just not up with the times. I contend, however, our kids need good leadership from us. Their phones can be helpful rather than damaging if we lead them intentionally.

Rate Yourself:
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Find out how your parenting measures up with our brand new Parental Engagement Scale. This scale is a simple tool enabling you to evaluate your parental approach. The hope is that none of us are guilty of moving to either extreme on the scale, but your reflection and subsequent marks will enable you to see where improvement is needed. This is only helpful as you respond as honest and accurate as possible. Place an “X” on each dotted line, indicating where you believe you’ve set the example for your children. Afterward, discuss your answers.

Click on the link below to take the Parental Engagement Scale Assessment and watch the free bonus video.

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The post Should Parents Be Friends with Their Kids on Social Media? appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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Today we celebrate our past.

Independence Day is a remembrance of our ancestors that make up American history. Forefathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin sacrificed their lives to live out what they believed. They fought for American independence and won our freedom in the 18th century.

I join you in that celebration.

At the same time, I propose we become just as serious about celebrating our future and the young people who will succeed us, assuming the reigns of leadership from us. Do we care enough about our nation to become consumed with preparing for a great future? What if we celebrated the influence our kids are building; the gifts they are uncovering and the potential they are cultivating?

We celebrate our past today with fireworks and barbecues.

The best way we can celebrate our future?

It is by investing in students, who make up the future leaders of our nation and our world. By investing in them, we will secure good leadership for decades and even centuries to come.

We cannot choose our ancestors, but we can influence our descendants.

New Habitudes Course:
Social & Emotional Learning

Our Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning curriculum uses memorable imagery, real-life stories and practical experiences to teach timeless skills in a way that is relevant to students today. Students are constantly using images to communicate via emojis, Instagram, and Snapchat. Why not utilize their favorite language to bridge the gap between learning and real-life application?

Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

Request More Information

The post Happy Independence Day appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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This year, I actually heard a graduating senior say in a speech: “I would like to thank my arms for always being by my side; my legs for always supporting me and finally, my fingers because I could always count on them.”

Even though his tongue was firmly planted in his cheek, and everyone laughed, I later reflected that his comments were spot on. He was joking about how he’d learned to lean on himself, to do things for himself. That’s not a bad thing at all.

It seems everyone is talking today about 21st century skills kids will need in the workplace. Conventional wisdom has been that students need to study STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). And maybe they should learn to code as well. While I agree these are steps in the right direction, it appears this is a definite oversimplification of our situation.

You Mean There’s More to Getting Ahead Than STEM Subjects?

Cathy N. Davidson is the founding director of the Futures Initiative and a professor in the doctoral program in English at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and author of the new book, “The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux.” She recently said, “All across America, students are anxiously finishing their ‘What I Want To Be …’ college application essays, advised to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by pundits and parents who insist that’s the only way to become workforce ready.  But two recent studies of workplace success contradict the conventional wisdom about “hard skills.” Surprisingly, this research comes from the company most identified with the STEM-only approach: Google.”

Yep. For the latest insights, Google has something to share.

Google was launched twenty years ago, in 1998. When they first started, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Paige (both brilliant computer scientists) set an algorithm to locate great computer science experts. In 2013, Google decided to test how their hiring and firing process was working. “Project Oxygen” shocked everyone. It turns out that of the eight most important skills at Google, STEM expertise came in dead last. Topping the list were strong interpersonal skills. Google began adjusting their hiring process. They realized that elite science universities were not handing them their best employees.

The Seven Top Skills Google Now Looks For in Graduates

This all begs the question: What are the most valuable skills Google now looks for in job candidates? They don’t sound anything like a computer science major:

1. Being a good coach
2. Communicating and listening well
3. Possessing insights into others (social awareness)
4. Empathy and support toward colleagues
5. Critical thinking
6. Problem solving
7. Connecting complex ideas

Wow. Those traits sound more like a Humanities or an English major than a programmer. In the end, Google’s findings absolutely support Social Emotional Learning (S.E.L.). The most transferrable skills in almost any industry fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. Here is what’s most interesting. Google takes pride in their “A Teams,” made up of top scientists, each with specialized knowledge and able to come up with cutting-edge ideas. The data analysis revealed, however, that Google’s best and most productive ideas came from their “B Teams” made up of employees who aren’t necessarily the smartest people on the team.

What are you teaching your students to enable social emotional learning that will prepare them for any career?

New Habitudes Course:
Social & Emotional Learning

Our Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning curriculum uses memorable imagery, real-life stories and practical experiences to teach timeless skills in a way that is relevant to students today. Students are constantly using images to communicate via emojis, Instagram, and Snapchat. Why not utilize their favorite language to bridge the gap between learning and real-life application?

Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

Request More Information

The post The Seven Top Skills Google Now Looks for in Graduates appeared first on Growing Leaders.

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I founded Growing Leaders in 2003. From the beginning, our mission has been to partner with schools and organizations to help them develop emerging leaders. Today, I have a confession to make that might sound surprising.

For most students, leadership should not be a pursuit. I don’t believe we should send the message that everyone should chase a position of power and prestige. Instead, leadership should be a by-product, not a pursuit. We must first teach our students to pursue service, and watch their influence and leadership naturally expand as a result. In fact, except for those young people who are “gifted” leaders, (those with a take-charge temperament that genuinely find it natural to organize or direct others), service should be the target. Why? Our motives can easily become warped when we pursue power—we begin doing things for the wrong reasons. When we choose to serve, everything else seems to fall into place.

Let me remind you of a classic story that illustrates this truth.

In the late 19th century, a poor boy went door to door in neighborhoods trying to sell whatever he could to make money and pay for his upcoming school tuition. At one point, he only had a dime left in his pocket and he was very hungry. He decided to ask the people in the next house for some food, instead of trying to sell something.

Upon knocking on the door, an attractive young woman answered. She was so beautiful the boy lost his nerve to ask for a meal and simply asked for a cup of water. The woman felt he must need more than water, so she brought him a tall glass of milk. “Thank you,” the boy said. “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us to never accept payment for a kindness.” He smiled and thanked her again. As he walked away, the boy, Howard Kelly, never forgot that encounter. She gave him more than he asked for, wanting nothing in return. Although he’d considered quitting his work, his hope grew, and he later chose to go on to college, determined to serve others.

Years later, the young woman became critically ill. She was taken to a big city to get treatment. Specialists were called in to study this woman’s rare disease. Howard Kelly, now a medical surgeon, was called to help as well. When he heard the name of the town this woman was from, he remembered the door-to-door sales he’d done as a boy in that town and wondered if he might have met this person.

DR. HOWARD A. KELLY
(Feb. 20, 1858 to Jan. 12, 1943)
Surgeon, Professor & Writer

Out of curiosity, he visited the patient’s ward and recognized the woman at once. He returned to his consultation room resolute to study her case and do his best to save her life. In fact, from that day on, he gave special attention to the case. It became central to his work.

After investing long weeks on the disease, Dr. Kelly succeeded in coming up with a cure for this lady, who was eternally grateful. He asked the hospital authority to pass the final bill to him for approval before sending it to the woman. When the invoice was eventually sent to her, she feared opening it knowing it would take the rest of her life to pay it off. After an hour, she finally gathered the courage to open it, and found some words scribbled over the top of the bill:

“Paid in full with one glass of milk.”
 Dr. Howard Kelly

Years earlier, this woman had simply chosen to solve a problem and serve a person. In response, Howard Kelly simply chose to solve a problem and serve a person. His life’s goal was to “pay it forward” and along the way, he paid her back. In time, his influence grew naturally, without his even trying to make it happen.

This is the course I believe we should encourage students to take. Just serve and solve. It will feel less intimidating to most of them, and it will ensure their motivation is about adding value—not gaining power. Let’s inspire them to look for problems to solve and people to serve. In the end, many of them will be asked to be leaders.

Looking to develop leadership skills in your students? Check out
Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes Habitudes helps students and young team members:
  • Break out of the herd mentality to influence others in positive ways.
  • Take initiative and set the pace for other teammates.
  • Overcome complex problems through creative persistence.
  • Capitalize on personal strengths to be career-ready upon graduation.
Learn More Here

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