Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘youth coaching’

Keeping The Magic Alive

During my long career as a primary school teacher, there were many occasions when high levels of tact and diplomacy were required. This was ever so when dealing with those age groups where the children were starting to question the reality of Santa Claus. There was always the awareness that some knew to their core that he was real, while others had lost the magic and their truth was founded in logic. Of course in between were the doubters who could not quite bring themselves to let go – just in case!

Parents would ask how to deal with the difficult questions, often feeling that honesty should prevail. Like a true Coach I would return the questions, “What do you think?”, “How would you feel if……” etc. Of course the perennial concern was the problem of not wanting to lie to the children. Everyone is convinced that at some point in the future they will be faced with an angry teenager declaring that “Because you lied to me about Santa, you lie about everything!” Ask anyone who has had teenagers. That will be the least of your worries! On the other hand can anything really out do waking up on Christmas morning to wide-eyed children gleefully shouting “Santa’s been!”

Modern life is chipping away at childhood and its magic in so many ways.  I say,  perpetuate the magic as long as possible! I firmly believe that as adults we need to experience moments of awe and wonder whenever we can. How will we learn to do this if, as children, we have not experienced magic in our lives? The Santa Claus period should be seen as an important positive element in our education and development as well rounded human beings. Keep the magic alive for as long as possible. All too soon your lanky, skinny-jeaned offspring will be replacing the letter to Santa with a list of vouchers required, while calmly announcing that they are spending Christmas with the boyfriend’s family!

Back in 1897 one little girl expressed her worries and this lead to one of the most famous editorial responses ever from a newspaper. Her original letter to the editor read as follows:

Dear Editor

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says: If you see it in the paper it’s so.

Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

115 West 95th Street

Virginia sent this to Francis P. Church, the editor of a New York city newspaper, The Sun. On 21st September He published the following thoughtful and passionate response:

“We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication above, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The New York Sun:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds Virginia, whether they are men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! How dreary would be the world be if there was no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Not believe in Santa Claus!

You might as well not believe in fairies!

You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?

Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.

Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart.

Only faith, fancy, poetry love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real?

Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever.

A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Let’s perpetuate the Magic and as adults let’s remember the joy of it.

Now, does anyone have an email address for the Tooth Fairy?

Young People: Our Promise For The Future

For a while now, our youth have been dominating the media headlines. All too often it appears that they are presented in a negative way. This has been made worse since the recent riots in London and around the country. Far too many adults have become armchair sociologists, who all seem to know exactly the reasons why our young people have lost their way. Worst of all are the ‘professional’ amateur sociologists (e.g. politicians) who are generous with their opinions and their distribution of blame!

There is a reckless presupposition involved here. Are they ALL so bad? Over recent months, while young people in general are being marginalised, my life has been touched by several amazing young people who prove the stereotype wrong. They have not so much restored my faith in our youth (I had never lost it), but they have shown me that in their hands, the future of our society is looking bright.

I have also come to realise that many amazing young people are being ignored in favour of their less focussed peers but they deserve better!

As a school teacher I feared that the education system was failing our young people. As a coach I have had the privilege of getting to know a variety of young people who have proven to me that, given the right attitude, they can achieve whatever they desire. It is also clear that they can do this either in, or outside the education system. In fact, I am convinced that our tertiary education system has been so hijacked by commerce and politics as to disable it. Our colleges and universities are being forced to turn out students who are ‘fit for purpose’ (commercial) but who are often not fit for life in a rapidly changing world.

I know I am venting here, but I am at heart a believer in action, so let’s look at some examples of the kind of young people who I see as shining beacons for the future. Then I want you, dear reader, to look about you and find other examples to be proud of! Let’s move to a culture of positive thinking about young people and their potential.

I have had the honour of coaching, mentoring or befriending several young people who are moving towards a goal oriented future whether through focussed study or on the job training and experience. None of these come from a privileged background, nor are they being groomed by pushy parents. In fact it appears that they are following their chosen paths in spite of their histories and not because of them! I will give details for some of my examples in the hope that you might look in on their work or achievements. Others will be allowed some anonymity for reasons I am sure you will understand.

First among these are my own wonderful nieces all moving through school and into university one by one to follow their dreams through careful planning and sheer hard work.

Next the spotlight shines on an amazing, hardworking young Irishman. Sean lives with his family in a small town in Ireland but there is nothing small about his ambitions. Sean is passionate about literature and writing and is an aspiring author. I have read a good deal of his work and the teacher in me has been mightily impressed by the quality of his work. Sean graduated from a prestigious Irish university this year with a great degree and was immediately offered a place on their post grad MA course. After testing this opportunity against his personal goals, Sean decided that what he needed was time to write and polish his craft, not more studies. Like many of his generation Sean has immersed himself in the internet and is a regular contributor to his own and other blogs and web based book review sites.

Sean has now found a job to support himself (no mean feat in present day Ireland) and he makes time to write every day. His first full length novel is almost finished and I wish him every success with it. While many of his peers might choose to riot, Sean’s strong opinions are delivered from his keyboard and are well worth reading.

Now the spotlight shines on a young Arab with a remarkable story. This is a profound example of one’s past being no model for any goal driven future. Safaa is a young Iraqi lad whose parents feared for his safety in Bagdad during the Iraq war. A bright intelligent 17yr old with a passion for music and sport he could have carved out a future in either arena at home. In fact he was well on the way to being able to represent his country playing tennis. This was not to be since his family sent Safaa into exile rather than risk his life at home. This was a huge wrench for a boy devoted to his family but Safaa travelled to Syria and started university where he too graduated this year with a great degree in IT engineering. Of course living in Damascus he is once again in fear for his life but his ambitions are undimmed and he has not left his goal driven path. I find such strength, self-motivation and drive in one so young, to be truly inspiring!

Now I want to highlight a newer breed of young person. There are a growing number of passionate, young entrepreneurs who are not following any traditional path. Instead from an early age they are carving their own way and inspiring everyone they meet. I am not referring to any bright young things working in ‘the city’ earning huge salaries and leading cash hungry lifestyles. Instead these are the kind of young men and women who each have a personal mission. They have huge ambitions, but serious goals and an action oriented work ethic.

The first of these young entrepreneurs is Jamie Dunn from Birmingham. This remarkable teenager is already Managing Director of his own company called Made By Young People. Jamie is already an international speaker, a Youth Ambassador for BXL charity and has been recognised with a prestigious Youth Excellence Award. It is well worth reading Jamie’s story on his website, from his first business at the age of 12 to his current venture challenging and inspiring fellow teenagers. Jamie also uses social media, but unlike so many he does not just broadcast on Twitter. He truly engages with his many followers. This young man is just the kind of role model we need to promote!

Finally we come to Josh Chandler from Lincolnshire in the east of England. Josh is the founder of ‘Windows Media Player Updates.com’ a truly excellent user support website. However Josh is so much more than a clever IT guy. His real passion is social change and Josh has a real desire to highlight issues and to influence both community development and social change. Having already established his online credentials and his credibility as an entrepreneur, Josh has decided to now further his education and is about to study business management at Leeds Met University.

Both Jamie and Josh are well aware that real success cannot be based on luck or a youthful smile. Over this last weekend while so many of their peers were out enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer, both lads were hard at work, mostly alone, writing business plans, goal setting and strategizing for the future.

Let’s stop looking for reasons to knock the youth of today. Look around and search out those young people who are carving out their own positive futures. Congratulate them, support them and be proud of them! Do let me know of any individuals worth highlighting and watch out for planned interviews with some of these beacons for the future.

Links:

Sean: www.seanwills.com Twitter: @seanwillsalt

Safaa: http://www.facebook.com/Safaa Al-dulaimy  Twitter:@safaa_Aldulaimy

Jamie: http://www.madebyyoungpeople.co.uk/ Twitter: @JDEntrepeneur

Josh: http://twitter.com/@joshchandler Use this link while Josh’s main site is being rebranded.