There are few things more beautiful in life than helping teenagers learn how to lead. There’s something about their longing to achieve, the tepidness of the unknown, and the realization that they can actually “BE!” I started yesterday teaching leadership skills through a kinetic challenge course at our retreat center here at KIVU. Every time I take a group through the obstacles down by The Los Pinos River, I’m amazed when the light bulb in their life lights up and they’re able to begin believing in themselves.
Learning Who They Are
The first part of relational leadership is knowing each other’s name. It still amazes me that there are people in working groups who think they can achieve something great without really knowing about the people they’re working with, especially when it comes to something as simple as a first name.
I meet youth leaders and teachers all the time who lead with “Hey Pal, I hope you’re having a good day.” And I want to look them in the eye and just be real. HE HAS A NAME!! Hey Pal doesn’t get the job done. After all, the sweetest name in the English Language is when someone calls you by your first name.
So each time I begin this leadership challenge, I take the time to learn each person’s name in the group. Nobody wants to be referred to as HEY PAL!
First names are easy, but to truly begin trusting one another you have to get real. When I begin our leadership training, I put the team in some sort of event where they can actually touch one another. Of course there’s nothing inappropriate going on, but I believe humans respond to caring touch with trust. Just think about from our earliest memories we have someone who reaches out and touches us in a caring loving way. Again, nothing sexual; just someone who wraps their arms around us and holds us.
Then when we grow to toddler age, we long to hug someone we know cares for us.
Elementary school leads us to high fives and continues hugs.
Jr. High gets a little weird, but my kids still want me to put my arms around them and just show them I care.
And on it goes.
Getting Acquainted with one another is learning how to exist in a space where we can care for one another “in a friendship way” and touch.
Much has been made of Disney’s movie FROZEN with the soundtrack LET IT GO.
My kids dance around the kitchen singing the song until my ears are literally in pain. And then a few hours later I can’t get that song out of my head.
Yesterday, I had the song in my head and I had an epiphany. Let it Go is a primary lesson when it comes to leadership.
I’ve read so many leadership books on the latest management styles. Some advocate making sure everyone is doing exactly what you want them to do, and under the guise of Micro-Management, you can control the outcome of those you lead. I find this totally non-compelling.
Sure leaders ned to guide and keep accountable, but I find when you LET IT GO, and give a detailed vision of outcome, people rise to the creative occasion and figure out ways to get to the finish line. What’s so amazing about LETTING GO is when someone has the confidence to get the task completed on their own volition, they look for other opportunities to express the skill sets they’ve been given.
Ok, so nobody is ever going to do it exactly like you want to do it. But if the task gets finished, WHO CARES?
LET IT GO.
After a few exercises yesterday, I had 25 teenagers talking about the importance of integrity in every area of their lives. They confessed times they lied to get to a desired result, and then as a group we committed to working on what it means to live in holistic integrity with our parents, our teachers, and our work environments. It’s always better to tell the truth, even if the consequences seem dire on the front end. After all, wouldn’t you want someone like that working for you?