We All Need to Know We Matter
Last week we talked about how a defining purpose inspires a life of passion. Unfortunately, for some, that’s easier said than done.
Take teenagers who receive no expressions of love or healthy modeling from home: it doesn’t take long for that deficit to show up in academics, motivation, and demeanor. In acts of desperation, they join gangs or get pregnant or drop out of school. It’s a tragic cycle that has become all too common, with one unhappy ending after another.
During the past year, I’ve had many opportunities to speak with teens and young adults who are, in one form or another, facing a crisis of relevance. They see school as irrelevant, and worse yet, themselves as irrelevant. Some of their questions:
- “What am I worth when my parents never tell me they love me?”
- “What’s the point of staying in school? I’ll never use this stuff anyway.”
- “What can I do to convince my father to let me live my dream?”
- “I’m not that smart in academics. Can I still become a great leader?”
These conversations can be heart wrenching. But, interestingly, these are the kids who are most engaged in my talks on leadership! They ask the most questions and ask to share in private. They’re searching—for hope, relevance, and worth—even though it may not appear that way on the surface.
We’ve got to give it to them. All of them! Until young people see the relevance and value of their lives, there’s simply no way they’ll reach their full potential.
Here are some ways adults can help:
- Recognize that no one (especially a young person) has a complete and accurate perspective on all he or she has to offer—whether character qualities or skills. They need the perspectives of others who can offer a more complete picture of their worth.
- Parents can ensure each of their children understands his or her unique value, and avoid showing favoritism toward siblings through words or attention.
- Educators can offer opportunities for skills/aptitude assessments and programs where friends, relatives, and mentors honor each student with expressions of value. For example, some innovative schools hold special retreats where students receive letters collected from important people in their lives—life changing keepsake experiences.
- Look for opportunities to “speak life” into young people and encourage them to do the same.
Remember, relevance breeds hope and hope breeds motivation and direction. It’s a vital gift to give the young people in your life. Give generously.
Are you aware of the need for the young people around you to feel a sense of significance--and how much it means to to their ability to succeed in life? In what ways do you "speak life" into them, to make a difference that can last a lifetime? "Share" this blog with a friend, and let us know your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below!
Tagged as: What I Wish I Knew at 18, significance, purpose, success, hope, relevance, direction, value, parenting, making a difference, at-risk youth