Has your nonprofit received a grant to engage youth? Does your local conference need a keynote speaker? Do the staff in your agency need professional development? Contact me today to talk about what The Freechild Project can do for you!
Training teaches how to carry out a specific task more efficiently and reliably. Education, on the other hand, opens and enriches a person’s mind. To train a person, you need know nothing about who they really are, or what they love, or why. Education reaches out to embrace the whole person. Historically, we have treated money as a matter of training, rather than education in its wider and more dignified sense.
From now on, I educate. Join me in this venture by visiting my website at http://adamfletcher.net
Want to identify what skills you have that are good for engaging young people? Ready to learn where you can improve?
Here’s a snapshot of my Youth Engagement Equalizer, a tool that I developed to challenge youth workers and others on how successful they can be at their jobs.
I want to share it with you for FREE! Just contact me.
The other week I published 16 Capacities to Change the World. So many of you responded so awesomely to it, that I have been thinking over each item carefully for the last week. Today, I’m going to elaborate on each point and add some more to the list.
I call these items “capacities” because they provide definition to our vessel in life. They determine what we can do, who we can be, and where we are. Each of us is absolutely limitless in our capacities. The following attributes are what I’ve experienced and observed are useful when working to change the world.
The Original List
You’ll remember that the list included these items: Change Management; Humility; Collaboration & Teamwork; Conflict Management; Decision-Making; Diversity & Cultural Competency; Coaching; Motivating & Empowering; Personal & Professional Goal Development; Knowledge Management; Problem-Solving; Training & Facilitation; Verbal & Written Communication/Public Presentation; Personal Engagement; Compassion; and Systems Thinking.
In the original list I was originally considering the skills that a person needed in order to be a successful change agent; you’ll see that I began to add on the dispositions I know are important at the end.
The 18 expanding capacities are Challenge; Focused; Deliberate; Facilitate; Release; Listen; Simple; Action; Help; Amaze; Driven; Funny; Bold; Learning; Openness; Community; Passion; and Humility.
- Humility: Despite all the things I may have accomplished in the past, there will always be challenges ahead. No matter what happens, I want to always respectful towards everyone. I love to celebrate my successes, but not in an arrogant or boastful way. I believe in a quiet confidence because in the long run my character will speak for itself. I strive for humility.
- Passion: What keeps me going? It’s passion for engaging people. I’m inspired because I believe in what I am doing and where I’m going – even when I don’t know where that is! I don’t take “that’ll never work” for an answer. A lot of people tell me that the Engagement Revolution will never happen; imagine if I had listened to them so far! I have a positive and optimistic attitude because I have open eyes and am inspired by everyone around me. I am passionate.
- Community: I want to build community, not just colleagues. I serve children, youth, adults, and organizations by removing obstacles and enabling people to succeed on their own terms. The best decisions and ideas are made by people who take action, and I want to foster action among people. I collaborate with people and organizations to address the challenges in their worlds. Beyond that, I watch out for my community and care for others. I work together and play together with my community because our bonds go beyond the typical consultant/coach/trainer/speaker relationship. I work to build community.
- Openness: I am an open book. My availability and vulnerability can lead to creating strong relationships built on trust and courage. I can use these strong relationships to accomplish so much more than I can otherwise. It’s not easy getting there! I strive to always act with integrity, be compassionate and loyal, and try to be a good listener. At the end of the day it’s not what I say or do, but how I make people feel that matters the most. I cares about others, both personally and professionally. Peeling away the layers, I work to be open.
- Learning: I work to S-T-R-E-T-C-H myself both personally and professionally. I see the differences between being stuck in a rut and moving through a groove. I know everyone, including me, has more potential than we ever realize. I work to constantly unlock that potential, both in myself and the people I work with. I will never “get it right,” and that’s a reality I gladly accept. The only way I can solve new problems that arise is by learning and growing myself to meet them head-on. I am learning.
- Bold: I am bold and try not to be reckless. I’m not afraid to make mistakes because that’s one way I learn. I take appropriate risks and I encourage others to take risks too, and I use my risks to make better decision. I believe gut feelings. Everyone can develop gut feelings about decisions as long as they are open to new ideas and can allow failure to happen.
- Funny: I have a sense of humor, and I know it’s good to laugh at myself frequently. Living shouldn’t be drudgery or toil. I can fun and be goofy even when there’s work to get done, and I get lots done. Being a little goofy requires being a little innovative, and I am always looking for a chance to fully engage in my life and bring out the fun and goofy side of it.
- Driven: I constantly change and embrace it with open arms. I never accept status quo and I’m always thinking of ways to change processes, perspectives, and opinions, hopefully for the better. Without change, I can’t continue to be useful to myself or other people. I am driven.
- Amaze: I think anything worth doing is worth doing to amaze. To amaze, I differentiate myself by doing things in an unconventional and innovative way. I go above and beyond the average level of action to create an emotional impact on people and organizations and to give them a positive story they can take with them the rest of their lives. I seek to amaze.
- Help: Help is a key word for me. I offer it and ask for it often. Often, I can’t do everything required in a project, so in a large part, part of my livelihood is helping others do their projects successfully. I am not expected to know all the answers, but I know where I can go to ﬁnd them, and I share that with others. I help myself help others.
- Action: I avoid the risk of not trying and the regret of wishing I had done something. When I was young, I knew that it would be far more haunting to live with the regret of having not followed my instincts than to have followed my gut and failed. I have lived in action and done risky things. I see my ideas when I have them and make note of them. That’s why I always have a notepad. If I think an idea is compelling, I go after it. We live life only once, and we all die too soon. I always try. I take action.
- Simple: More and more, I realize the power of simplicity. Since I am in the business of ideas, I want to share them as effectively as I can in our complex world. I do that by being simple. It takes more mental space for me to create something simple or communicate something complicated in basic terms, but ultimately, that’s what people want. I don’t need to explain everything the first time around. I need to facilitate the best tailored learning experience for you and your organization or community. I always need to break down knowledge into easily digestible, clear statements and actions. I work hard for simplicity.
- Listen: I speak by listening. Instead of rushing to come up with a quick reaction to what someone has said or done, I listen to them. When the time is right, I respond with knowledge. When I was younger, I assumed that the world was more interested in me than I was in it, so I spent most of my time talking. I was generally under-informed, I shared whatever I thought, I tried to be clever, and I thought about what I was going to say instead of listening to what someone else was saying to me. I have learned to slow myself down and engage rather than debate. I take time to really listen to what people say, and I try to learn from everything I hear. I listen to people.
- Release: I have to release everything I do when it’s done, and just let it go. Instead of trying to figure it out, I just let it be and accept that it is what it is, nothing more or less. It doesn’t determine my worth, others don’t validate my choices, and my contributions never go unnoticed, even if it seems like it. I release what I do when it’s done.
- Facilitate: I provide appropriate support to learners. I do not train people, because we don’t do tricks or routine work. Instead, I adapt and contrast, modify and transform. I encourage learners through questions and activities that build confidence, stretch understanding, and foster engagement in learning. I facilitate learning.
- Deliberate: I regularly stop to check my intentions and affirm my actions, so that what I’m doing actually reflects who I am. If I’m not aware of why I do what I do, I am disconnected from what matters to me. If I’m disconnected, I’m ineffective. Staying aware of my intentions and being deliberate allows me to guide my work with purpose, and challenge myself when its time. I am deliberate.
- Focused: I work to change the world, no matter what I’m doing. I do not look for fame or fortune, and I reject greed and deceit. Instead, I constantly look for opportunities to serve others, and I share my energy and efforts as often as I can. I see the ripple effect in everything I do, not just the flashy or huge things. I know every action in my life sets off an entire cascade of responses whose overall impact is huge, and I know this is true for others, too. I am focused.
- Challenge: When a I get too attached to the way things are, I lose the the greatest freedom of all: the freedom to fail. Without feeling like a failure, I don’t have to assume that a slight misstep is a deep plunge into the abyss. Instead, I step forward to challenges and see them each as an opportunity to innovate using a smart idea or strategic thinking. When I’m stepping up to challenges, I accept that failure is going to happen while I’m growing. Ultimately, I won’t become a better person because of how I respond to success, but instead, what I do with failure. I accept the challenge.
The entire list of capacities to change the world is now: Change Management; Humility; Collaboration & Teamwork; Conflict Management; Decision-Making; Diversity & Cultural Competency; Coaching; Motivating & Empowering; Personal & Professional Goal Development; Knowledge Management; Problem-Solving; Training & Facilitation; Verbal & Written Communication/Public Presentation; Personal Engagement; Compassion; Systems Thinking; Challenge; Focused; Deliberate; Facilitate; Release; Listen; Simple; Action; Help; Amaze; Driven; Funny; Bold; Learning; Openness; Community; Passion; and Humility.
Respond to these capacities in the comments section below and let me know what you think!
Olympia, WA—Every parent, teacher, and youth worker knows they aren’t as effective as they could be, but often aren’t sure why. Using willpower to force children and youth to comply, even the most well-meaning adult uses curfews, takes away toys, and bribes with rewards.
There’s hope. ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE, by internationally-recognized youth expert Adam Fletcher ($19.95, Createspace Publishing), uses powerful analysis and introduces language related youth discrimination to show readers where, how, and why this problem affects them every single day.
ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE details how society routinely discriminates against young people by forcing adult will, implementing rigid age-based policies, and encouraging negative attitudes towards children and youth. Diving deeply throughout communities, Fletcher exposes cultural assumptions and details structural systems that keep young voices from being heard. He also shows how social injustices such as racism, classism, and sexism are related to discriminating against the young.
“We don’t like to hear it, but every adult discriminates against young people,” Fletcher explains. “Understanding and accepting that reality is the really the first step to creating a more just and equitable society for all people.”
Like many parents and youth workers, Fletcher wondered for a long time why more young people weren’t powerfully, purposefully engaged throughout their own lives. After a decade training youth, Fletcher began to piece together the massive, society-wide patterns of discrimination against young people. When he began finding language throughout psychology, sociology, and youth work describing different parts of this discrimination, he saw a blanket literally smothering children and youth in every corner.
ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE is the only modern book designed to explore this reality in depth. What better way to become a better parent, more effective teacher, or more positive role model than addressing your own biases?
With this book, Fletcher hopes adults will, “develop new perspectives of young people to open positive, powerful futures for all people, instead of just a few, so that instead of times getting impossibly hopeless, they show that another world is always possible.”
To set up an interview or to request a review copy, contact Adam Fletcher at 360.489.9680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE
by Adam Fletcher
As teachers, youth workers, parents, counselors, and other adults who work with young people every single day, we have our secrets. They’re not true for every adult, and being able to admit them takes courage, especially when we admit them to other adults we work with.
3 Secrets of Adults Who Help Youth
SECRET #1: Adults don’t trust young people.
Generally, the reason why adults work with young people in any supportive way is that they simply don’t trust them. They don’t believe children and youth can get the supports, experiences, ideas, knowledge, or outcomes adults think they should without the active participation of adults throughout their lives. This is true in the best classrooms and the lovingest homes, as well as the friendliest offices and healthiest workplaces. Ask an adult if this is true, and they’re likely to adamantly deny it. You can tell adults don’t trust youth when they…
- Make decisions for young people without young people
- Give young people consequences that wouldn’t be there without those adults’ interventions
- Use phrases like, “I’m the adult here,” and insist on young peoples’ compliance
SECRET #2: Adults almost always think they know best.
An evolutionary mechanism of many creatures, including humans, is called the fight or flight response. The idea is that animals react to threats with a feeling in our nerves that helps us determine whether to fight or flee. I believe adults are almost constantly aware of what they perceive is the compromised ability of young people to respond accordingly to perceived threats. Because of this, there is an evolutionary response within adults that causes us to believe that we need to know the best for ourselves and young people whenever we share company. This is apparent when…
- Adults limit young peoples’ options “for their own good”
- Young people are infantalized (treated like infants) no matter what age they are
- Children and youth constantly defer to adults
SECRET #3: Adults are scared of youth.
Any adult who says anything about the future in a negative context is plainly afraid of youth. This is true because they lack the faith, trust, or perspective to see that young people are inheriting a world that is gonna survive. It’s not going to fall apart, stop spinning, or implode at any second. Instead, it’s going to keep on turning, and things are going to work out. This becomes obvious when…
- Adults talk about “kids today” in a negative sense, or talk about their childhood and youth as if there was nothing wrong, bad, or challenging when they were that age
- Young people talk, act, dress, or behave like adults in order to make adults more comfortable with them
- Adults make generalizations about today’s generation
|Things dropped by well-meaning adults still do what?!?|
There are several ways that adults undermine young people. I have grouped them into three main categories: well-meaning adults, indifferent adults, and hostile adults.
- “Well-meaning adults take the fun out of Halloween“
- “Well-meaning adults meddle with kids fantasies“
- “Why are adults so negative?“
- “How Well-Meaning Parents Cheat Their Children of Self-Confidence and Self-Compassion“
- “3 Traps Even Well-Meaning Parents Fall Into“
- “A Surprising Risk for Toddlers on Playground Slides“
Focused on stopping youth violence among youth in their high school, this particular group was led by a pair of 18-year-old students who were set to graduate. Other students in the group were from throughout their high school (secondary school), with the youngest ones being 13 or 14. There were 15 students in the meeting when I was there.
One of the oldest students facilitated almost the entirety of the group’s 40 minute session. The other took notes and questions, and seemed to have the “behind-the-scenes” authority. In 40 minutes, the students did a short training on strategic summer communication to their peers, voting for the next year’s leaders, finishing plans for the end-of-year celebration, and reflecting on this year’s challenges and successes.
However, instead of those two student leaders talking the entire time, watching conversation throughout the session was like watching a great juggler handling a dozen balls in the air. One student volunteered to take notes while another showed them how; everyone engaged in brainstorming when a different student stepped forward to lead the key question period for that section; while students took student-driven reflection to a whole other space through its depth and brevity!
- Student 1 gives direct instruction, mentoring, and critique to Student 2: In this group, that meant training and facilitation by the senior students throughout the school year;
- Student 2 provides instruction to Student 3: Roles in this group were designated according to interest, versus the age of the students, so younger students actually facilitated the reflection questions for the whole group;
- Student 3 learned from Student 2 and led reflection for Students 4 and 5: When less-capable students were stumped, students with a bit more experience or knowledge were empowered to assist them in activities;
- Student 5 was acknowledged for their role: All students were involved throughout the group’s activities, both within the 40 minute meeting and throughout the group’s operations in the rest of the school year.
- Download Adam’s complete article, “Cascading Leadership Among Students”, at https://adamfletcher.net/products/articles/