Last night I had the privilege of being invited to speak at the Lamar High School Business Administration Magnet program Banquet. Why am I surprised — repeatedly — that I often learn more myself, when I show up as the one doing the teaching?
I promised many of you that I would write about the 5 Habits today, so you can share with your teens, but today I have to tell a different story. The unexpected story of what I learned last night. The 5 Habits can wait until tomorrow.
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I have spoken in front of hundreds of professionals and felt fairly at ease, but teenagers can bring you to your knees.
I pitched the “5 Habits for the Road Ahead” to the level of the teens who told me last week that it “was stupid” to bring pen & paper to a college honors weekend (check out that story at “Bring a Pen and Paper“). But, what I met at the banquet last night was a completely different group. These teens responded with eager faces, sparkling eyes, and enthusiastic participation. There was no hint of “this is stupid”. This was a group of young people, who felt lucky and privileged to have been accepted at this magnet high school, rather than attending the high school in their neighborhood. They had been given a chance to get a better education. They knew it and they were not going to squander it.
After my talk, they each stood up and gave impromptu testimonies about their business internship experience with the business partners. They were thankful for the mentoring they received, for the experiences in the real working world. Thankful for the relationships built, for the genuine interest and support given them. No piece of advice was too obvious, no assigned task too simple, no challenge too scary.
At the end of the night, they walked away with pens, papers and personal notes on the 5 Habits. They walked away with the 5 Habits imprinted in their memory. A couple of them even referred to the habits immediately after my talk, when they shared their stories about their internships. So there’s hope that they will think about putting them into practice on the road ahead.
What I walked away with, was a new level of respect for their desire to grow, learn and make it in life. I walked away with a renewed appreciation for the value of adversity and hunger to succeed. We need enough challenge in life to encourage better performance, but not so much that we fail, or feel defeated. I walked away humbled by the real life-changing work that is done in our public high schools.
I experienced a renewed hope for the next generation, that belies the discouraging stories in the media of crime, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, and much more. I witnessed the impact of special programs like the Lamar High School Business Administration Magnet program and the sponsoring business partners. Investment in these programs is giving young people chances that might not otherwise be within their reach.
I’m left with many questions about what else I can do to help.
Tune in tomorrow for the 5 Habits …..