If we’re really going to ensure that more young people have more opportunities to change the world and their own lives, we have to reach further. We have to touch the hearts and minds of children, youth and the adults who are with them every single day in as many ways as we can. That means teaching, engaging, learning and engaging with them as much as we can in as many places as we can.
In all the time I’ve been working with schools and nonprofits to engage people more effectively, I have had entire years where I felt professionally endangered, including some times when I felt personally at-risk.
I’ve frequently worked with groups of adults who initially behaved in hostile ways towards me. Other times I’ve worked with young people who adults said I could never reach. However, given the opportunity to reach them I try again and again. Sometimes I fail, and other times I succeed.
I think we should ALL operate this way, as often as we can, especially if we’re not comfortable with it.
Are you not sure if you’re uncomfortable? Then you aren’t.
5 Ways to Get Uncomfortable
Are you not sure how to become uncomfortable? You can try these five ways to get uncomfortable:
- Raise uncomfortable questions in meetings with your colleagues.
- Challenge other people to stop saying things that discriminate against other people – including children, people of color, low income people, youth, people who identify as BGLTQQ, and others.
- Spend your money in places you know you should, but you don’t.
- Push your friends to become more accepting of differences. Make new friends with people who are different from you.
- Open your mind to the farthest possible extremes of your thinking, and walk in that direction.
In order to reach these unknown spaces, we have to commit ourselves to doing things that can’t be done. We have to learn things we don’t know. And we have to try, intentionally and with determination, to make a difference wherever they can. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”
Do what you can.
Do what you can with what you’ve got.
Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.
I know the people who are truly committed to changing the world because they are truly reaching beyond where they know they’ll succeed every single day. They’re doing things they’re uncomfortable with and passing by the mundane, predictable results they can anticipate.
We should get uncomfortable by sticking our necks out.