Where do you start when it comes to tuning in to people around you, and achieving meaningful things?
I think it starts with being comfortable in who I am, staying true to that, and let it flow naturally. It is a maturing process that I think we all go through over time.
I keep that close to heart while coaching youth in public speaking, communication and leadership. Can I create an outlet for them where they feel comfortable in their own skin? How can I create a niche for where every one of them is encouraged to believe in him/her, and to stay true to his/her heart while expressing ideas?
How fascinating this journey has been!
What happens when youth opens up to this? What do you get from that space? They bring incredible range of colorful ideas; their creativity knows no bounds. The energy they bring is infectious.
Can they develop confidence in public speaking? Yes, I think youth develops confidence probably faster than adults. There is a refreshing lightness to try new things, and spirit of just doing it without thinking too much about what if’s that can be a drag.
Can 12-17 year old think critically, organize their thoughts and articulate meaningfully? I think the answer is resounding yes, too. They absorb it all like a sponge. They have drive to make things happen given the right structure. Critical thinking is such an integral part of a kid in the middle school or high school. It’s only natural for them to apply those skills to communication once they understand it.
Can they give effective feedback to each other? Yes. We have kids as young as 12 year old, express reaction and opinion on speeches in a constructive way. We introduce the idea of giving feedback over a number of sessions, showing how to give feedback. They are able to understand it all, and give feedback without being judgmental or harsh. Lightness in the air helps here as well. Speakers are able to receive feedback in the spirit of help, in the spirit of a valuable support system. In time, it becomes a deeply enriching experience where they can speak and give feedback to each other in self-sustaining ways.
We have a number of teenagers that completed their speech goals, leadership goals and got their awards from toastmasters international. That is an eye-opening experience for me as well – when they have a goal and a clear path to go for it, they show incredible drive to make things happen.
I think everyone wants to feel validated. When we have a channel to express without having to pretend; it connects with something that is so core to our being. It brings out the fire, the passion and synergy. And when it comes to youth, they give it all without any inhibitions.
What an opportunity for me to be in front of abundant creativity and boundless positive energy of youth.
It is a magical, priceless experience that draws me back to it over and over.