It takes a village.
Every child’s future is our future, whether you’re related to them or directed invested in their little lives or not.
Those kids are our future leaders, entrepreneurs and change makers who will create our world of tomorrow. We don’t need more mindlessly working zombies… We need leaders who can inspire with vision and that all starts before they’re five years old.
Most kids start out with this incredible child-like wonder and as they get older, the world kills their ambition, hope and creativity one teeny tiny bit at a time.
Break that process.
Sometimes, all a kid needs is an opportunity.
… Sometimes, they just need someone to inspire them.
I had the chance to talk to about 20 high school seniors at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach, FL for a program called Suits for Seniors.
Suits for Seniors is an 8-week program for underprivileged seniors to learn, grow and develop. Throughout the eight weeks, they have different speakers come in to talk to them about leadership, goal planning, financial literacy and even emotional intelligence and at the end of the 8 weeks, they have a suiting ceremony where each participant gets a tailor, fitted suit.
I spoke to another group of Suits for Seniors last year about the importance of contributing value before you get to ask for anything in return and we went through the various ways to contribute more value.
This time around, I wanted to focus on making sure that their focus was on finding their purpose, building a vision leading a life of fulfillment and I even recorded it so that you can watch.
This is my favorite workshop to do in the entire world.
I’ve done a simplified version of this workshop for high school students (seen below) and in-depth workshop for young professionals who are already in their careers and are looking for direction and experienced professionals who are successful from the outside but lack fulfillment (professionals that aren’t considered young anymore). Because this workshop can be adapted to every audience, I’ve been blessed to receive incredible feedback.
The beautiful thing about this workshop is that it can be tailored to any audience and receives a ton of value.
What I love most about it is that I always get emails, texts, and Facebook messages after about how much clarity and direction it gave them.
Since the beginning of mankind, we’ve spent our time teaching our children what we’ve learned… and that’s how society has progressed.
We are failing our children because we don’t spend time teaching them what we’ve learned. We trust schools to teach them the things that only experience can…. and we are the ones with that experience.
More than anything, spending time with kids has been rewarding in itself, but I never expected to grow so much in the process.
Just because you’re a young professional and don’t have it all figured out yet doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to teach kids… They want to know what you know and they can’t wait to be young professionals.
Your advice means more to them than the advice from a 40 year old… After all, when you’re 13, anyone over 30 is like 70 and they want to hear from you, not from old people.
Here are six ways that you can contribute back to the next generation….
1. Be A Mentor
You know all of those times when you’re like, “if only someone had told me…”
Be the person to tell that thing to the next generation.
Our society will only flourish if we build upon each other, rather than going through a continuous cycle of trial and error.
There’s absolutely no faster way to help the next generation grow and develop than to help them through their struggles.
You can mentor someone that you know personally or you can get involved in an organization like Big Brothers, Big Sisters or Take Stock In Children.
The best mentors ask a ton of questions and help their mentees discover the answers for themselves. I wrote a whole article about how I learned that the hard way and how to engage in powerful conversations.
2. Find An Organization to Speak For
I’m addicted to speaking… Especially for kids and young professionals. I get a natural high off of it.
The things that come easily to you, teach the next generation.
You don’t have to be a professional speaker to inspire and you don’t have to be an expert to educate.
Wherever you are in your life right now, there’s a kid somewhere that wants to be where you are.
My three favorite parts of speaking are sharing stories or examples to help them understand, make it concrete and actionable and make it interactive.
If you can do those three things, those kids will admire you forever.
3. Read To (Or With) Them.
Reading is dying and that is terrifying.
We need to bring it back ASAP.
Every problem that we’ve ever faced has been faced and solved by someone else before us.
… and the crazy part is that it’s all documented in writing, in a book.
You know those idols of yours that you want to sit down with and pick their brains?
You can literally get into their head by picking up a book.
I wrote a whole article about how reading is the cheat code to life and how it can cut your learning curve on any subject in half.
4. Take Them For Ice Cream and Listen To Them.
Instead of trying to shove knowledge down their throats, let them talk to you.
Get to know what they’re passionate about and encourage them to pursue those passions.
Your simple encouragement can ignite a purpose within them that turns them into the next Elon Musk.
In the process, you’ll learn to appreciate the world through a child’s eyes and fall in love with the simple things again.
Their wonder is incredible…
There’s no such thing as “no” to them, it’s simply “not yet”.
When you see the world through their eyes, your mind opens up to an infinite number of possibilities.
5. Share A Video Or Podcast That Inspired You
If you watch podcasts, inspiational videos or spend any time in self-development, share what you’ve learned and share the experience.
It literally takes five miutes to reach out to someone who looks up to you and share something that you recently learned. The fact that you want to share it with them means more to them than anything on the face of the planet.
Most of the values that kids have come from interactions like this where you’re sharing what you’ve learned and then talking to them about it. What better way to start a conversation than to show them something that will set their imagination ablaze?
Seriously, go watch a TED talk, share it with them and ask them about their thoughts on it.
6. Coach A Kid’s Sports Team
For the last three years, I coached cheerleading. I started at the YMCA and then ended up coaching at the gym that I used to compete at.
We’re not talking about go-team-go cheerleading, we’re talking about all-star cheerleading and developing athletes.
The most amazing part of coaching to me was how much I saw myself grow while I thought my job was to grow them.
The four hours a week that I spent at the gym taught me patience, how to appreciate the process rather than being so stuck on the result, how to refine my messaging to make it simpler and how to enjoy myself through the journey.
In the process, I got to teach them about leadership, team work, work ethic, dominating fear and mental toughness.
It’s been the most incredibly rewarding experience I could’ve ever asked for and even if you coach a recreational team that practices once a week, you’re developing the future generation.
7. Start An Organization
If you’re brave, have the resourcefulness and are willing to take some seriously massive action, start your own organization.
Generally, the best organizations are started because of a specific passion.
Maybe you’re passionate about art and want to raise the next generation of painters, or maybe you’re passionate about entrepreneurship and want to teach kids how to start businesses… Even an hour or two a week can make a HUGE difference in these kids lives.
Starting an organization is incredibly exhausting and time consuming, yet it’s probably the single most fulfilling thing you can possibly do with your time.
If you really, really don’t have the time, make a donation.
The best investment you will ever make is in yourself… The second best is in the future generation.
Every dollar that’s spent on education gives a $30 return… Where else are you going to get an ROI like that?!
Your time will always mean more than your money, but if you’re in a position where you just can’t give up your time, your money will be put to good use.
“I’m too busy” isn’t an excuse for not developing our youth.
At the end of the day, if we don’t invest in our youth now (whether that investment is time and/or money), the future is going to be a much scarier place to live.