My high school counselor was the best. There was nothing that Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t do to help a bunch of ragtag kids from the urban core see that they had hidden potential. She engaged young men from the community who had successfully waded through the same challenges to connect with those among us who were the most incorrigible. Their number one goal was to champion our potential. Perhaps they were connected to a program; I never noticed nor do I believe it mattered.
Programs are useful tools when a person desires to do something different in their life. Absent this desire, it is virtually impossible to change the course for adults who have the power to choose their direction. Just ask any person whose job it is to help people. There are some intrepid people who believe strongly in a person’s ability to overcome any predicament. These devoted helpers may have their hearts broken more times than they celebrate, but they serve a valuable purpose. They see hope in the most difficult circumstances. They nurture small flickers of possibility in people. They understand that deep down, on the inside of each person, are gifts shrouded by hard-knock life conditions. They understand that no one fits neatly into common caricatures of the unmotivated. Thank the heavens that there are people who specialize in seemingly lost causes. I was once lost, but now I am found.
I have heard the statement a thousand times from people who grow up in tough environments that “no matter what I do, the outcome is still the same.” Wouldn’t you become disillusioned if your effort, no matter how small, in business or personal life, was never reinforced with success? Of course you would! Programs and technology can’t make the call on whether someone just needs a bit of encouragement to realize their full potential – it takes people connecting with other people at the heart level. People who champion others are amazing because they understand there are a host of reasons that people become demotivated, and these champions work with them to overcome them. To change the trajectory of a generation, we have to mobilize an army of caring people – not programs.