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Would you be able to fathom in an age of Positive Psychology, that I grew up in a family environment who believed that when you praise a child, the evil ones will steal them or cause misfortune to befall. Mine is not the only family.

Children have names like pig, dog, or demeaning names, as dogs are not cute well-groomed poodles in a culture which eat them for food due to poverty.

Learning to affirm someone is hence, not a familiar trait to most of us. I could not help notice the irony when my Spanish Mentor Coach, was giving me coaching feedback about my lack of acknowledgment of my client, and spending 95% of our time together telling me where I needed to improve. 5% rushing through where I did well, before our 1hr session ended. Thankfully, I’m well trained by my culture to appreciate that I’m paying for her to tell me where I can improve, rather than being affirmed. (My strength is ideed Perspective taking.)

As an educator and coach, parent, we can acknowledge the people in our area of influence. Acknowledging my students in the virtual classroom for stepping out of their comfort zone and asking questions or attempting the answers. Even if the answers are not correct at first attempt, can I acknowledge their effort? Can I acknowledge their willingness to get out of their comfort zone, or even to clarify their learning?

How can I improve on “acknowledging” and “affirming” others? Here is a short list of what to watch out for, in acknowledging your “target”:

🍋 Accomplishment/ Achievement/ Awareness/ Appreciation

🍋Boldness/ Bravery (I’m hearing bravery/courage to try something new)

Commitment (I’m wondering what will you commit to today?)

Determination/ drive/ resolve/ desire (I hear your determination, I can see this is really important to you)

Effort ( Or you can acknolwedge the emotion. I can sense some emotion, I’m wondering what’s happening there)

One last thought is that “whatever you pay attention to, you will encourage more of”. If you want to encourage a positive behavior, expand on that. How true is this belief?

What are your thoughts on “acknowledging” and “affirming”?

How are you acknowledging yourself?

As my mentor coach pointed out, “thank you” – which I do a lot of – is not acknowledging someone.

What are some practices which you try out and would like to share with us in this space?

Remember, sharing is caring.

Sharing this beautiful song – Royalty

Like a brush in the hands of an artist
I am Your masterpiece
A thought before life ever started
You took Your time on me

A friend shared this insight. Does a brush know the intentions of the Master Painter? Sometimes, dark paint is used. Sometimes, empty spaces -silence. Other times, bright paint on the canvas of life.

At times, dabs, blobs to create texture. A brush does not know and cannot comprehend the final painting but trusts completely that the Master Painter will bring about a final picture that is full of glory.

Today, are we willing brushes? As humans, we have choice to use or not use our skills and where to use them.

Do you believe you are a mistake, accident? Or do you believe that your life is co-dependency with a Master Painter who wants to work with you and share the blue print of your life.

As I was walking to the neighbourhood stores, a thought struck me. What if I do the boring stuff, ie visit the same place 30 days in a row.

I started thinking, what if I visit the library, 10 mins walk away and borrow a different book every day.

And so my adventure begins, without taking a flight. Of course I can borrow eCopies from the digital library. But physical store has the pleasure of flipping through aisle by aisle.

Road less travelled, expand my mind. Books I normally will not pick up. Easy to read.

The first book I found using “coach” as key word was “Vladimir Putin: Life Coach”.

Seeing with new eyes

Except for what I read from American newsfeed, I do not know much about Russia. Granted, I studied history in school, have visited Siberia twice and been on trans-Siberian railway.

Written tongue in cheek, eg “Show your gentle side”. To win respect, you must be ruthless. To win love, you need to show a soft side. Putin’s approach is to help his country’s cutest animals at every opportunity.

He’s been photographed feeding a baby elk outside Moscow … and shaking hands with a walrus in Vladivostok.

Be more Vlad. If you’re known as a workplace meanie, show your colleagues you’re actually quite nice by booking a day off and hiring a professional photographer to join you on a trip to the petting zoo. Then share the photos far and wide with plenty og squidgy emoticons. Be sure to wait at least twenty minutes before returning to your hardass persona. (Sears, p119)

Rob Sears, the author, writes comedy. I cant wait to read his book on “The beautiful poetry of Donald Trump”. I can see how this experiment of picking up books I normally would not read, will help “re-imagine me” as Humour is not on my resume. If I were to teach “leadership topics”, this book will help inject a bit of humor on the complexity of leadership behavior.

#coach #humour #Russia #80books #TIME #Treasures #NLB #leadership

Highly recommend: 🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋

Category: Humour, Leadership

I have been told that visualisation and relaxing is very important. To encourage more coaches and group facilitators to try, Ive posted my script here. If you can attribute my post as a source, feel free to use it. Share your experience in comments below. My inspiration was the book of Ezkiel 47.

Start to feel comfortable. Sit comfortably. Take a nice breath in, and as you exhale, feel the muscles on your face and jaw relax. Now let your breadth take you down to your legs, feet and toes. Check that there is nothing blocking, in front of you.

Picture yourself in a peaceful park. It can be somewhere you’ve been before or from your imagination. Picture yourself there. You feel the gentle sunshine on your face. You feel the calm of the space around you. You hear gentle running water. As you do so, you come to a river, with running fresh water. Its a beautiful crystal clear river.

(i) Ankle deep

You walk into the water. It is ankle deep. Feel the coolness of the water without getting wet. Refreshing. Now, take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. You feel the sunshine gently caressing your face, the wind enveloping you, a feeling of warmth/ kisses from the gentle sun. Calm space, gentle running water.

Something catches your toes. It is a pebble, it is smooth and oval shaped. The pebble represent stress or worry in your life. You place the stone in your hands and throw it back into the water. Notice how the pebble hits the water and creates a ripple effect. You let it go, and notice how the ripples become still. How does it feels like? Take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. Let the pebble and stress drop to the bottom of the river. You start to explore, and find your place.

(ii) Waist Deep

Take another step deeper into the water, you feel your feet firmly on the ground. The water is waist deep. Movement is more difficult. Take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. You notice your thoughts. Others have returned to the ankle depth level where there is more fun and freedom. You notice leaves on the water. You pin your thoughts on the leaves let them go. There are beautiful fishes in the water. You want to discover more. You struggle. As you struggle, your muscles become stronger like a butterfly’s wings trying to emerge from the chrysalis.

(iii) Over your head

You’re now one step deeper in the river. The water is over your head. “The water here is beyond your control – it’s all
around you. You don’t fight against it – you calmly go with the flow. Breathe in breathe out. You let go of the firm ground. You notice your thoughts coming and letting go. Where is the river taking me? You notice the beautiful fruit trees on the riverbank. Fishes in the clean river, colored stones at the bottom. The old has gone, and the new has come.

You are letting the river carry you to a new place, going with the flow. Notice your thoughts and letting go. Breathe in and breathe out. Place your right hand on your belly, feel it rise and fall. Feel your feet on the ground, and being present at this moment. You have arrived. Prepare to open your eyes at the sound of the bell. Breathe in, breathe out.

Check in:

  1. How was the visualisation experience?
  2. What are your thoughts? What did you discover?
  3. One thing that’s better today?

NB: What is this river? This river can be lovingkindness, peace, hope for a better future. Often we’re full of stress, anxiety about what we cannot control, given the negative news around us. Just like we need to resist the temptation to rescue a butterfly trying to emerge from a chrysalis, as its muscles get stronger in the struggle.

Go slow.

#river #visualisation #Ezkiel47 #script #coach #coaching

(Continued from Part 1)

3. Aspirations

Developing a positive outlook and curiosity about the world are two attitudes that would benefit young people to cultivate. This would shape the way they perceive and respond to challenges. Are they willing to struggle through, learn to problem-solve and find options or alternatives or view them as setbacks and roadblocks? 

Experts estimate that 70% of our skills come from solving challenges, 20% from watching others, and 10% from classes/reading. Start building these attitudes in young people through asking thought-provoking questions:

“If you can change something about the world, what would it be?”;

“What’s a challenge you faced, which you can help others going through something similar? 

Get them thinking about how they can make a difference in the lives of others, as 1 Peter 4:10 said, we are called to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace. 

4. Reality Check

Professor Damon suggests that it’s important to give young people a sense of agency to take responsibility for their actions. For instance, helping them think through the trade-offs between job satisfaction (people you respect, work you enjoy), lifestyle (hours worked) and income (pay off student loan). 

Ian Ang, Co-founder of Secretlab, and youngest winner of EY Entrepreneur of The Year, reflected how his mother’s insistence that he fill out an excel sheet with projected expenses before he could claim his school allowance helped him become pragmatic about business expenditure. Interestingly, Ian’s long hours playing in eSports competition not only helped him find his tribe, but also gave him the idea to develop an ergonomic chair for eSport tournaments. This proved even more successful during the Covid-19 work-from-home season, where he found an unexpected fanbase in armchair Zoom warriors. 

Finally, James Citrinnoted expert on leadership and professional success, suggests that parents resist the urge to relate “everything back to your experience which can come across as this is the road you should take”. Instead, encourage them to learn how to take ownership and read the map for themselves, despite the winding path their careers will take.  

Even though these might sound like a lot to support our young people through finding their careers, it comes down to building a good relationship with them and being able to have meaningful, and at times difficult, conversations. 

#mentor #career #pathway #SOAR #strength #aspiration #Citrin #Damon #purpose #opportunities #reality

In this changing world, how can we help young people find their career futures?

Is the response you get when asking a young person what they want to do after graduation, “I’m not sure…”? This seems to be the norm, with research showing that 70% of young people today do not have a clear vision of their career future. 

Today’s young people face several dilemmas—an increase in options due to a global economy, increased pace of change, as well as alternate realities on social media. Largely accorded to the advances in technology, the scope of jobs are uncertain with 85 million jobs to go in the next 5 years but 97 million more to come, according to a 2020 report released by the World Economic Forum

As a youth worker or parent guiding a youth, you might be thinking: how do I help? 

The following SOAR framework* might be helpful in guiding our young people clarify their Strengths, Options, Aspirations and Reality check.

1. Strengths

One of the best pieces of advice I received, was to pray and ask God for insights into a child’s strengths. While interest inventories have a place (e.g. MOE Skillsportal Site), chance events as simple as diving deeper into conversation t could provide young people the best opportunities for self-discovery. As adults or mentors in their lives, you can pose honest, open questions, rather than directive statements, to help them discover inner truth, skills, gifts and values and “make meaning” of their experiences.

Through observing young adults who found their paths, educators found two key ingredients for thriving in life—a compelling purpose and supportive relationships. “A purpose” is defined by Stanford University Professor William Damon as a “deeper reason for the immediate goals and motives that drive most daily behaviour”. 

Take advantage of opportunities such as holiday gatherings to open a dialogue with your young people. “Why does this matter to you? Why are you doing it?” Practice the art of asking good questions and listening for their answers with an open mind. You may want to adopt a 10-2-2 rule, e.g. 10 minutes, 2 questions, 2 affirmations. 

Convey your own sense of purpose and the meaning you derive from your work. In my case, conversations around current affairs at the dinner table with my Dad helped prepare me, an Economics graduate, for my first job interview with the Foreign Service. 

2. Options/Opportunities

In the last twenty years, a field of social learning “Planned Happenstance” has emerged in career counselling to help clients reframe career indecisiveness. To shift from “what if nothing interests me?” to being open to possibilities and picking up skills to seize those opportunities. 

Instead of assuming a pre-planned job pathway of being a doctor/lawyer/accountant, parents could start introducing your children to potential mentoring conversations among friends, relatives and church or cell group about the work they do.

+How did those opportunities happen?

+What skills do I need to develop to get there?

+Brainstorm on opportunities in church or community to develop skills and meet people.

+What are some careers in the Bible or at a different point in history? How different are they from the ones today?

+If they are playing a computer game, “Would it be nice for you if you had a career in this field?”

<h6> Source: Microsoft 365 Stock Images <h6>

(Continued in next post)

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In November 2019, I was invited to facilitate a CRU workshop for March 2020, on helping youths find their purpose. Unfortunately, Covid 19 hit, and we pivoted to transferring the workshop via Zoom. In November 2020, the CRU communications executive who attended the session, invited me to write a thoughtleadership article for the 2020 Thanksgiving report.

The article above was first printed in the CRU 2020 Thanksgiving report.