It is a sad thing when young people don’t realize that they exist for a purpose. I run across these youth way too often. They think life is just about the right now. They are self-centered for way longer than Piaget contemplated. They cannot see beyond their zip code. And as a result, their actions indicate that they are not accountable to anyone. They exist merely to survive. The thought of understanding others or that they can add value to someone else is not apart of their schema. Why? They have never been taught that life is a precious commodity that can yield a return. No one has told them in an authentic and believable way that what they do matters and that they can have a positive impact in the lives of others. No one has imparted words of wisdom that increase their emotional intelligence. And they have never come to grips with the fact that they were created for a purpose.
How do we get young people to understand that they can succeed because they have an obligation to fulfill their purpose?
1. Share examples of a variety of people who have succeeded at fulfilling their purpose. Dr. Martin Luther King and Ghandi, while great, don’t have a monopoly on impact. Think about artists, architects, teachers and preachers. Young people, old people, creators of hip hop and creators of classics are all model worthy.
2. Affirm the fact that they were created to fulfill a purpose. If you tell someone something long enough they start to believe it. Does self-fulfilling prophecy ring a bell?
3. Hold them accountable for their actions and inaction. Young people should always be striving towards something. Creating, working, sharing- quite simply doing something helps in understanding and discovering purpose.
4. Highlight their talents and natural gifts. I once heard Oprah Winfrey say that “we can look back over our lives and see the constant thread that leads us to our purpose.” This constant thread more than likely is aligned with things that we are good at doing or that we have a natural leaning towards (AKA gifts and talents).
5. Encourage them to share their gifts and talents with others. This is the training ground for reaching others and fulfilling purpose. Gifts are not intended to be kept to ourselves. The world is full of people whose purpose has gone unrealized. This sad state is less about the person and more about those who were intended to be impacted by the untapped potential. Move these youth from potential to realization.
I do believe that when young people feel worth and value as a result of discovering their talent they have no choice but to run towards success.