I often find myself sighing as I say to my teenage boys….
“Well, it’s not like it used to be.”
Of course it’s not!
Despite my best efforts to perpetuate the myth that my generation, now mid-lifers, can still totally relate, I’m frequently reminded that today’s teens are growing up with an entirely different backdrop.
They text, often through platforms I never knew existed. They use acronyms that sometimes take me hours to decode. They gather in the digital space, leaving the “open door policy” at our home largely underutilized.
And they have boundless opportunities to learn about every corner of the globe. Endless options to design a life aligned with their passions and values. Limitless streams of people with whom they can forge connections. Infinite possibilities when it comes to how they use their time on this Earth.
But while their backdrop is vastly different from that which shaped our generation, the soft skills needed to feel productive, confident, and fulfilled are timeless. And as adults, I believe that’s where our focus should be. We have a responsibility to cultivate these skills alongside them. In fact, some of the skills need more attention than ever before. We must remember that we are their mentors, their coaches, their future employers, their fans, and one day, we may even be grandparents to their children!
So, how can we break it down to ensure we’re supporting the development of those soft skills? What are the top 3 areas we may want to focus on? You may have your own to add, which I’d love to hear about - but here are the "big three" that pop for me:
Confidence (stepping into their authentic selves and fully knowing and trusting their abilities, values, dreams, and ideas as an important part of their work for humanity)
Communication (reading body language and social cues, speaking publicly, listening actively, understanding the power of words/tone/voice, knowing how to inspire and engage those around them)
Resilience (being able to navigate conflict, stress, and tough times with a spirit of ‘hey, I’ve got this’ - understanding that life is not without challenge and hardship, but that they have the tools they need to continue to carry on and shine on)
Think about the young people in your life. What can you do to strengthen their self-confidence, communication, and resilience?
Consider what made YOU more confident, resilient, and a connected communicator. Maybe someone simply believed in you when you vocalized a desire to embark on a new adventure, building your confidence. Maybe someone reminded you to speak from the heart when in front of an audience, building on your communication skills. And maybe someone helped you tap into gratitude during tough times, building your resilience.
Think on those things, and consider how, in the smallest of moments, you can make the biggest impact on the kids in your life. An impact that could position them to write the kind of life story that will ultimately impact countless others.
I’m passionate about this topic. And while I provide leadership coaching and training to people of all ages and from all walks of life, I’m excited to launch a special program for students entering grades 9-12 this summer called Emerging Leaders. It’s a 5-morning teleconference series for students; there are 3 session options this summer (each one is held Monday-Friday, 9:30am-10:45am). Topics to be covered include: Communicating with Confidence, Stress Management: Resilience Tools, Building a Circle of Support (aka Networking!), Inspiring Others by Leading with Vision and Purpose, and Designing a Life You Love.
The cost per student is $225, and since it is a teleconference-based program, teens can participate regardless of geographic location. Visit estuaryleadership.com/emergingleaders to check it out and to register.
Each one of us can make a valuable difference for the next generation. Let’s make it happen!
Note: Scholarships may be available for students who qualify. Must show valid proof of income eligibility - use the contact form at estuaryleadership.com to inquire.