Our “Youth Inspire Programs” began about 9 years ago while I was working at Brunswick City Schools in Ohio. I helped a teenage student resolve a problem with a school bully. The issue resolved itself so quickly that the teens’ mother inspired me to assist other kids in the district. Since I was already in the seminar business, I eventually began to speak to large and small groups of youths in classrooms, auditoriums, assemblies, and school cafeterias.
Although I address several issues such as: goal setting, memory & concentration, stress management, avoiding drugs and alcohol and designing your future; I am convinced that the most important factor for inspiring greatness in our youths is to build their self-esteem. Therefore, self-esteem is a common thread running seamlessly throughout all of our programs.
Were you aware that approximately 1/3 of victims of violent crimes are between the ages of 12-19. Approximately 2800 teenagers in America become pregnant every day, 1 in 3 high school students will not graduate, and over 3,000 youths start smoking daily. Our children can easily fall prey to these behaviors and become a statistic due of a lack of self-love. Your child’s self-esteem is the key to avoiding peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous, self-destructive activities. They utilize these harsh behaviors to distract themselves from facing issues at home or at school.
I am convinced that the single most destructive type of mind is the mind that feels it has no value or worth. By boosting your youth’s self-esteem, they become the masters of their destiny. Then they can then easily abolish self-doubt, overcome fears and anxieties, overcome the defeatist attitude and win. This is the true road to greatness.
By high self-esteem I do not mean an arrogant, self-centered, narcissistic type of mindset. Instead, a healthy self-esteem is demonstrated by realizing your own self-worth. Understanding your own uniqueness and the contributions you can give to our world. Realizing that out of the 80 billion people who have walked the Earth, there was never anyone like you and there never will be. A healthy form of self-esteem is realizing that you are perfect just the way you are. You’re comfortable with yourself, your beliefs and values. You hold yourself in high regard, yet you maintain a quiet humbleness and an aura of serenity. These are the common denominators our children must acquire to rise to greatness.
A high self-esteem is the key to better grades, improved social skills, greater self-confidence and higher quality friends. (Remember: an excellent way to measure your child’s self-esteem is to notice the friends they associate with and the boyfriends or girlfriends they have.)
We must constantly remind our children that we can never rise higher than the image we have of ourselves. If the image we have of ourselves is negative we will never reach our peak and be all we could have been. However, if the image you have of yourself is positive, we can rise and meet our greatness. We can discover who we truly are, avoid psychosclerosis (hardening of the mind), and leave a magnificent legacy. With a high self-esteem your future is limitless.
Here are a few powerful exercises you can do at home with your children to help fuel their greatness. These are excellent strategies I use with my own children and they seem to create fine results.
1. On a piece of paper, have your child write down all of their good points, positive traits and things they admire most about themselves. Spend as much time as possible on this. They’ll be surprised how many admirable qualities they possess, and can be appreciated by others.
2. Teach your child to become a “Good Finder.” Always catch yourself in the act of doing something good. You can easily magnify your worth by focusing on the positive feedback which you give yourself. Constantly focus on your strengths and view any shortcomings as signals reminding you there is still work to be done. Remember, you are not your weaknesses. You are a positive individual with enough personal power to recognize a shortcoming and to transform it into a strength. Teach your child to pat themselves on the back often, they deserve it far more than they realize.
3. Work with your child to constantly question the ideas they have about themselves. Teach them to challenge their critical inner voice. They are in charge so they must take control. If ever a disempowering image appears in their mind they must ask themselves, “Is this picture accurate, or must I update my mental resume?” “Am I stuck with this image or can I change it?” The moment that you begin to ask these questions, you gain control and empower yourself to change. If you should hear your inner voice criticize you, remember you can always have the last word. Go out of your way to prove that internal critic wrong. Use its voice as a signal to keep pushing ahead and achieve freedom. You disarm the inner critic every time you prove it wrong. As your child continues to respond in this manner, the voice will gradually disappear, realizing it has met its match.
I’ll close with a powerful story:
One day a farmer was walking through his field and he came upon a small glass jar in his tomato garden. Out of curiosity, he poked a small tomato through the neck of the jar, being careful not to break the vine. He placed his little experiment on the ground and then left it alone. At harvest time the farmer was working his way down a row of big ripe tomatoes when he came upon the old glass jar. This time it looked very different and strange. Upon examination he soon discovered that the small tomato he poked inside had now completely filled its’ glass prison. Having no more room, it had simply stopped growing. The farmer broke the jar and held in his hand a runt, deformed, distorted tomato. It was less than half the size of the other tomatoes and exactly the shape of the jar.
Although our youth are not tomatoes, their self-esteem might be something like that jar. It plays a role in determining the size and type of person they become. We can enlarge our self-imposed limitations by breaking out of our glass prisons and enlarging our self-esteem. The path to greatness lies outside the jar.
I wish you luck & success!