The question, “Who am I?” is especially pertinent during adolescence. The combination of physical, cognitive, and social changes that occur during that time, plus the serious life choices to be faced (occupation, life partner) spur what Erik Erikson famously called an identity crisis. He used the term, “crisis,” to mean a turning point rather than a period of profound or debilitating uncertainty. Erikson acknowledged that identity issues could arise throughout the life course, but saw identity formation as the critical “developmental task” of adolescence.
In this day of instant information there is no doubt that you can perform an internet search and find everything you need to know about mentoring. However when I consult my heart about what the core of mentoring truly is there are several qualities that come to mind. When I mentor I have the goal in mind to have a lifelong effect on those whose lives I am impacting. If that resonates with you then check out these five traits of a memorable mentor.
1. Leadership. Mentors know the way and show others the way; this is true leadership at it’s core, and an essential trait of an effective mentor. Mentors also understand that it’s about serving others and equipping them with the tools and training needed to flourish both personally and professionally. As a leader mentors should set high expectations and walk alongside their mentees until they reach their new level.
2. Purposeful. Mentors who enter the relationship with a clear cut direction and a plan have the most effect. Every interaction, assignment, and meeting has an objective. But the difference between great mentors and exceptional mentors, is the greater understanding of pushing beyond the written goals and objectives they may have planned, to seeing that they can achieve anything they can conceive.
3. Anticipative. Great mentors are able to anticipate the needs of their mentees. Their gift of foresight is what’s needed for a mentee to truly grow in areas that they’re unaware of.
4. Empathetic. Empathy is the ability to see the world as another person, to share and understand another person’s feelings, needs, concerns and/or emotional state. Be able to identify your mentees way of thinking, feelings and attitude and how those affect his/her overall goals.
5. Orderly. When you are well disciplined it’s creates a model for self-discipline in others. Self-discipline is one of the hardest traits to develop but seeing how others model this will at the least give your mentees a positive example to simulate.
6. Passionate. Memorable mentors are passionate about their work. Passion drives excellent habits.
7. Principled. Operating with integrity is essential as a mentor. Everything that you do is built on the foundation of your principles and is a reflection of your principles; showcase them proudly.
8. Selfless. Memorable mentors show that success is not about fame, position or money. They are devoted to the cause and find ways to be helpful and loving. A famous saying says “I may not remember what you said but I will always remember how you made me feel.” Your mentee will never forget how they felt as a result of your selflessness.
9. Wise. Memorable mentors understand that it’s not about sharing knowledge but it’s about sharing wisdom. Wisdom comes from understanding and understanding comes from experience.
10. Authentic. Mentors have to possess a genuine love and spirit for people. They have to have a certain level of realness and relatability. Mentees want to have mentors who not only want to share their successes but their failures. Being authentic isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being real with yourself and sharing that with others.
11. Great Listener. Mentors have the blessed ability to listen and hear the needs, complaints, frustrations, and joys of their mentees. Through listening we truly learn about others and have a perspective into their world. Exceptional mentors are able to effectively tap into their mentees unspoken needs and guide them through meaningful conversations.
If you knew better you’d do better, right? That’s what our young people deal with everyday. They make mistakes or carry regrets because they simply didn’t know better or they didn’t understand the consequences of their actions.
They didn’t have the luxury of having people share honest truths about their experiences. Sometimes people are ashamed of sharing their experiences for fear of being judged but it’s critical for our young people to know that there are situations they might find themselves in, that there are people who’ve been in them before, and there is another side!
They need to know that there are overcomers and that everyone’s story isn’t clean and perfect. They need genuine, authentic, transparent, honest individuals who are willing to help infiltrate their minds with stories of resilience and strength.
There are sometimes that we wish we could go back and tell our younger selves what we know now to save ourselves from making poor choices or to have made a better choice. I decided to create the “Letter to Your Younger Self Project” to collect letters from people who have sat down and been very intentional about giving quality advice to themselves and compiling them into a book. So here’s what I need for you to do.
Take about 5-10 minutes and go to a quiet place. Take out a blank sheet of paper or take out your tablet or laptop and write a letter to your younger self. Write to the “you” that was rebellious, invincible, stubborn, and independent. (You know the “you” I’m talking about). Think back to the most challenging times in your life and share what it was like in that moment for you. What were you thinking and feeling? How did you come to your final decision? What was it like when you overcame that challenge?
Our youth need to hear your story! Once you’ve completed your letter please email to email@example.com. If your letter is selected you will need to sign a release waiver to be included in the book.
I look forward to reading your letters and I thank you in advance for your commitment to empowering the lives of today’s youth.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
There’s a big problem in America-in every state and quite possibly right in your own neighborhood. We’re living in 2015 and blatant racism still exists.
If you are African American and haven’t dealt with it yet, you’ve managed to beat the odds. However far too many families have had to say goodbye to loved ones before their prime. Not just the ones who’ve made the nightly news, but the ones who go without media coverage everyday.
As an Educator and Youth Advocate, I work in a sector that works primarily with urban youth; the population mostly affected by these events. As a mother that frightens me for my children’s future but as a member of society it should frighten all of us for all of our futures.
As leaders we have to be aware of what we’ve done wrong and what we’re going to do to fix it. Without our foresight, insight, and vision of the future we won’t be able to lead the change.
Society has glorified an urban culture that depicts instant gratification and the faster and easier way. We don’t teach process anymore we appease the product and what’s in your hand.
When I compare our cultures past to our current culture, I see a loss in several areas that have brought us to this place.
I see a loss in church attendance. I mean real church not just the motivational feel good church but the service that used to teach you principles, values, and struck fear in the hearts of the consequences from God if we didn’t live right. For many African American families church was our foundation and therapy when we had problems. Now we allow coaches and people to solve our problems.
I see a loss in raising children. Notice I said raising and not rearing. There are many parents who support their children, but not all of them are raising our children. When you raise children you are the voice in their head, you are the eyes through which they see the world, and you are responsible for elevating them. Parenting is not just about feeding, clothing, and getting them to school because your power as a parent is then given to the school system. It’s about nourishing, edifying, and cultivating your child until you see them bloom into independent, self sufficent adults.
I see a loss in community. There are so many nuts walking around the world that we have become fearful of each other. We don’t trust other people with our children, we don’t trust businesses, books, programs and ideas. We don’t accept others influences and words because there have been so many phonies that have taken your money in exchange for crappy products and services. Which leads to me to the loss of integrity.
I see a loss in integrity. We don’t teach character in schools anymore. We aren’t teaching honesty, responsibility, accountability, respect for authority but we still expect it. How can one expect what hasn’t been taught?
Every great leaders know that we have to inspect what we expect. That means that it must be taught and monitored. What programs and systems are in place in our society for this “inspection”? This is why we need a revolution!
Revolution’s have occurred all throughout history. They’ve stemmed from major changes in culture to global events. With recent events in our society we desperately need a revolution.
We need to rise up and revolt because the opposite is complacency and stagnation. For slavery there was the abolitionist movement, for civil rights there was the civil right movement.
Why would these times require anything less of us? Peaceful protest are a great ways to start but what are we saying to the rest of the world and how are we saying it? Who are our leaders that we hope to account for this change? Who is our cultural representative?
It’s not enough to just be upset about what’s going on and chat about it with our friends and co-workers, we have to get organized and we have to continue to have a much needed conversation within our homes, within our schools, and within our communities. This should spark new ideas, new community programs, and inspire others voices to be used as a vehicle for change.
We must recognize what we want our young people to recognize and that’s where we’ve been and where we are going.
They have lost their identity and their way because they don’t fully understand who and what they come from and it’s diminishing the path of where they should be going. When youth path is diminished, the future’s path is diminished.
We need a revolution that will remind our young people of not only what they can do but who they are. Then I believe the #BlackLivesMatter movement will make more sense to us all and it won’t just be something that’s nice to say and looks good on a t-shirt, but will take root in their hearts and birth something magnificent enough to truly change our society and the mentality that so greatly needs to be changed.
Question: What do you think youth need to know to spark a new revolution?
Recently there was a girl who on Spring Break and was gang raped on the beach while others recorded on their cell phones and did NOTHING to stop her attackers. When I first heard this story it made me extremely upset to know that anyone had the audacity to violate a young lady in public. The moment that sent me over the edge was realizing just how many witnesses were there and did nothing to intervene!
Since when did young people become so complacent and so comfortable that they can’t step up to the plate when someone is being done wrong? Since when do they run their mouths about young black men who are shot by police and shout “Black Lives Matter!” but can’t show it in their actions?
Since when did they learn about their ancestors who have sacrificed their safety, security, and their lives for them to have opportunities and not seize them? Since when did young people get to the point of complacency that it’s okay to just “go with the crowd” rather than stand up and be the leaders and change they so desperately need?
I have a huge problem with this and I’m sure you do too! So what can we do about it? We’ve got to teach them better. We have to remind our young people WHO they are and teach them to be accountable to each other.
They are more than “likes” on Social Media and more than “followers”. They are leaders, they have voice and they have purpose. They have to be as on fire as we are about matters that affect their lives.
When I think back on who started movements, it was young people who pulled together and worked collectively under one vision. We have lost our way as a people but our young people need responsible people like us to guide them, teach them, have patience with them and not grow weary. They need me and they need you!
Here are several ways we can embrace youth voice:
1. Give youth a safe, non-judgemental environment in which to share their thoughts and ideas.
2. Allow them to use language that is comfortable to them. They aren’t us and will express themselves using acronyms and slang that’s generational; that’s okay.
3. Create or allow the young people to create a platform to share their voice. This may be an online magazine or YouTube channel.
Let’s not forget our responsibility to them. Be present and show they way! Let’s help to restore their fires.
Question: What will you do this week to help youth find their voice?
Moving from high school into college or independence can be both an exciting and stressful time. Sure you can’t wait to finally be on your own but you may be trying to figure out how you’re going to do it all by yourself.
1. Decide on your career path. There are many adults who get to college and choose a major only to find out they have no interest in what they’ve been studying. Making such a critical choice at such a young age is difficult because what you like now will change over time. To assist you in making the right decision check out Career One Stop: Skills Profiler.
2. Choose a good college. College is the place where you’ll make lifelong friends, possibly find your spouse, begin your career, and learn more about yourself. With all that pressure wouldn’t you want to attend the best college possible that meets your needs? The number one thing you should look for is will Career Services help you find a job once you’re ready to graduate. I would hate for you to complete an educational program with the goal of securing employment only to receive not help in the end. When you visit your campus, make sure to visit their offices.
3. Find and keep a mentor. Transitions are moments of discovery and challenge. Having a mentor that can assist you through the process will help to keep you focused and on track so you won’t lose your way. I would recommend my Youth Mentoring Program
4. Brush up on your skills. The US Department of Labor created a very nice curriculum which includes videos and PDF downloads entitled Soft Skills to Pay the Bills-Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success. I would suggest visiting their site and working through the curriculum to ensure you’re in tip top shape!
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
Managing finances is not a simple task. It requires building the right skills and learning and exercising the right principles. It’s important to learn these principles with your first job (which may not be paying all that much) so when you do receive an increase you’ll have the know how to manage it well.
1. Spend less than you earn. If you spend it all, you have nothing; plain and simple.
2. Open a savings account. It is important to have a savings account with money that you add to monthly in case of an emergency. They will happen to you and it’s best to prepare the funds now.
3. Cut expenses until you earn additional income. There is always something you can go without whether it’s reducing your cell phone, cable, or utility bill. Find out
4. Create Income. You are creative, talented, and smart and there is something you can share with others to create an additional stream of income. Can you do hair? Babysit? Make beats? Do it!
5. Invest in stocks. Let your money make you money. Read books, follow blogs, but learn everything you can about investing your money.
6. Create a spending plan. Don’t just be frivolous with your money. As soon as you find out how much you’re expecting, sit and plan out how it needs to be spent.
7. Handle those credit cards wisely. The best advice I received is don’t borrow from your future to pay for today. It’s good to develop credit if you can manage it but it’s not wise to max out your credit cards for clothes, fast food, and hanging out.
Question: What’s the #1 tip you’ve heard about managing money?
Let me know below…
This presentation was created from the powerful words of women who I feel are speaking to our black girls today. Listen to the words and take them to heart. This is your life and your story can and should be the beautiful tale of your determination, strength, and commitment to what you believe in!
Your palms are sweating. Your armpits feel like a faucet and you’re trying to remember if you brushed your teeth. You’re in a room full of new people and it feels like everyone in there knows each other. You’re wondering if people care that you’re there and you don’t know what you’re going to say should one of them walk up and actually talk to you! If only you could just calm your nerves, maybe…just maybe, you could let the real you shine through.