Prepare Them for Anything!

Resiliency takes practice. So does Critical Thinking, Communication, Decision Making, Empathy and Adaptability.
We can hope that they learn it in school or by accident, which they often do to a degree, but to continue their development we must provide real world opportunities for them to exercise these skills & learn from their results. Then, practice it again in a new way with new results.
Build a Biz Kids uses Entrepreneurship as a medium to practice Real Life Skills in Real World Interactions. But of course throwing students into a situation without preparation wouldn't set them up to succeed.
Students attend 10 weeks of programming designed to prepare them for these real world interactions. Step by Step, they role play scenarios, plan and make BIG decisions, gain confidence through leadership and develop empathy for their customers who they will meet very soon.
As adults, we are cut off in traffic on a regular basis. Sometimes by accident, sometimes by overconfident people who believe their schedule is more important than ours.  How do you react?
For me, sometimes I'm glad not to have my son in the car with me, lol. It really get's to me. Other times I really impress myself by how little I react and that I empathize with the driver that they must have someplace important to go; or how sad for them that this is how they feel in control by making power moves that are dangerous and disrespectful. Aren't I the bigger person today?
Which was the better response? To be honest, it doesn't matter. No one was around to know about either of my possible reactions, unless they are in the car with me. The other driver doesn't know. My parents don't know. My favorite teacher who would be so disappointed in one of the responses, also doesn't know.
What matters is whether I did either one on purpose. Did I stop and reflect on how one reaction made me feel over the other? Did I question if one was more right or appropriate than the other? Did I even ask WHY I reacted differently from one occasion to the other in an objective manor?
Here is why these ACTIVE thoughts and reflections matter.
Just in this one situation, I had an opportunity to practice self control, empathy, leadership, self awareness, body language, conflict resolution, personal branding, adaptability, self confidence, resiliency, and possibly depending on the situation, time management and planning. All of the skills that I listed are known as soft skills. There are actually 87 of these skills, each one important in their own way. I prefer to call them Practical or Essential Skills myself. According to top employers in virtually every sector, that's exactly what they are; even superseding technical skills in many cases.
That is an entirely separate write up so let's jump back to the road rage (or not) situation. Everyday we are presented with opportunities to develop skills but instead of being "active" in our approach to practice and be aware, we work on autopilot and fall into habits that are already ingrained and getting deeper by the second.
The statement, "This is just the way I am" has always been one that has made me cringe. It couldn't be further from the truth. In actual fact, that statement is more accurately read, "This is the way I choose to continue to be".
The reaction in the car could be a reaction you are happy that you made. It made you feel good and therefore you just continue on your way. Or perhaps you didn't like your reaction and the rest of the car ride you feel embarrassed or scold yourself for not having control or more self worth. Again, both reactions are not helpful.
During either moment where you feel either reaction, the only thing that can ensure progress and growth, is to be self aware, reflect and contemplate what reaction you would like to have. What reaction would help you or someone else the most? What reaction do you envy when others display? And, most of all, what reaction would you like to train yourself to have going forward. What would you like to have as your new Autopilot?
Our reactions are very similar to addictions in that they are cycles that need to be broken and it takes an active, conscious approach to do it. Most of our habits have been developing for years and have deep pathways in our brains that must be filled with something new. However, the only way to do this is with the desire to grow, to acknowledge when opportunities arise to practice, and then to take action in those moments sooner and sooner in the "heat" of the moment.
I want to leave you with one take away example around our kids that I see often. Sports could easily be looked at as a place where our kids can learn resiliency. They missed the ball, missed the goal or they lost the game but tomorrow still came. Yes, they COULD learn resiliency, but are you and the coaches working actively to develop this SKILL in them?
It was the game right before championships. Both teams were great! It was back and forth and I have never seen a crowd so big at a baseball game for 9 & 10 year olds. The final inning and it is close. My son missed a key catch that could have easily knocked one of their out. No prob, we still have another batter up and either we get the 3rd out or they get a run in. That's it. It's as close as it gets.
Well, the other team won. There was a LOT of drama around a pitch with the Umps and I will save you the chaos but that was it. Our team lost.
WELL, I have NEVER seen such absolutely meltdowns of LOUD sobbing and yelling and tempers and tears in all of my life. These kids were squealing through tears saying words no one could make out. 90% of the losing team just lost it! It took me aback. The coaches did their best to say that everyone did an amazing job. That it's ok that we lost because they won so many and there will be another chance next year and so on. But it didn't work. In fact, there was a brother of one teammate who lost who was melting down as well and yelling how my son had lost us the game for missing that catch.
So, how many of the players were developing resiliency that day? To be honest, I have no idea. What I do know, is that each of them were too young and too emotional in the moment to understand that it was an opportunity for them to reflect and grow. All they could think about was the loss. That is where coaches and parents must come in to lead them through that.
Some parents consoled and said they did great, that it's ok to lose and that they are proud. Kind words, and I'm sure it helped a little to help them with perspective in some way, but it hasn't help them to be active in their thinking. Instead, these words are your attempt to implant positive thoughts in their mind but that's not how new habits are formed.
Other parents were disgusted in the behavior and told their kid to "Stop it! That's enough of that", which most likely came from a place of fear that their child would always act this way to a loss, or the parents were just embarrassed to have one of their own kids meting down.
So what could be helpful? What could start them on the trek to developing positive habits around loss?
Asking insightful, non leading questions. Questions where their answers have no right or wrong answer. The objective is getting them to Think Through their emotions and options with the desire to create a positive outcome.
In the first parent reaction, the parent is trying to implant positive thinking into the child's mind; to think for them about the situation and try to make the child see it their way. The problem is that the next time they lose something it might not be a baseball game where the same thinking applies and their parent might not be there to tell them how to feel again.
Instead, ask them how they are feeling?
Why do they feel that way?
How would they feel if they won and how would the other team feel?
Did they do their best? Was there anything they wished they had done more?
What actions could they take now that would give them a better chance next time?
Lastly, emotions are tough sometimes; especially in moments where we feel defeat and major loss. So keep this in mind when asking these questions. They may still give answers that are considered "not appropriate" or immature. That's ok. This is practice. This is simply helping to equip them with questions they can ask themselves later that night once they are calm and have time to reflect.
**On that note, give them time to reflect. no iPads, no TV. those are escapes. Give them time to reflect and process. that is where the magic happens.
Happy Practicing!!

How To Ensure Your Child Get's a Great Job

How can you ensure your child get's a great job?

Well, a magic ball would be a lovely answer. And yes, we can certainly push them to succeed in ways that we have been told will prepare them for a successful future, but what WILL their future look like?

Let's take a walk back about 40 years and see how the future can help us to "predict" the past.

When I was born in 1981, industries were booming, working in the trades was steady, and getting a corporate job where you could move your way up was the best possible outcome. Plus, everyone was unionizing. Even Safeway had a union and was easily able to entice fresh high school grads to work for them and make "loads" of money today and have job security rather than go to school. Or, you could go to school, that cost money, with hopes for more financial security and health benefits later.

Then, 10 years later, those 80's babies grew up a little and went to school and we were told, Baby Boomers will be retiring in droves! Prepare yourselves for any job your want so get as much education as you can to ensure you get the best, secure job. So we did. In fact, in my final high school year they introduced CAPP, Career And Personal Planning. AKA, how to write a resume and how you can earn the most money having the most number of letters after your name on a business card.

Grad came and, low and behold, the boomers all stayed put. They couldn't afford to retire. No jobs were to be found. Some industries were starting to fall backwards a bit, but all was still fairly stable in the job economy. We had the choice of starting at the bottom of a union seniority list in hopes of moving up after many years and some of those Boomers started to retire, or become career students until things got.... well... better. Trade Schools looked really appealing to my generation. They made good promises and taught a lot of content in a short period of time so many of us managed to get decent jobs after completing a couple years of hands on education.

Fast forward a bit and next was my sisters generation. Millennials. She was born 13 years after me. Don't worry they told her. The boomers are all definitely retiring now and those Gen X kids are all out of the way to make room for you to walk into all of these job vacancies. But, the boomers were STILL around. AND the jobs that they did have were becoming obsolete in place of tech jobs instead. Who could have seen that coming?!? Jeeze, I wish they had been teaching technology and coding when she was in school... Wait, they still don't do that?? Anyway....

Now it takes us to today. My son is 10 and at this point, no one knows what the heck things will be like when he graduates high school, or even why there is high school. I think many economists prefer to guess, I mean "Predict", what happens next in oil and gas rather than education.

Being that I am "Technically" a cusper of Gen X & Millennial, or so the book "Y-Size Your Business" told me, I like to think I can speak wisely from 2 generations experience about market conditions, false promises, and overall, teach those who come next.

PREPARE FOR ANYTHING!

Sorry, that got a little over dramatic but seriously, prepare for anything. How? Well it sure as heck isn't learning about WW1 (unless you want to be in the military or a history professor) and it sure as heck isn't learning about Geology (unless you love rocks and want to be a scientist or teacher). I have nothing against learning these areas of education if someone is curious but I would rather you Learn HOW to Learn and about the brain than content that traditionally, from experience, is crammed in and spewed out onto a test to determine how much value we have in this world.

Science and Math and History and English and Art, this is ALL needed in this world. But if we don't teach kids HOW to learn and expose them to all that this world has to offer, and where the world needs help, how will they ever be able to grow up to be contributing adults who can pivot and take action in ANY scenario that arises?!?

The lessons that need to be taught are those that can't be graded with an A, B or C+. They are areas that are ALWAYS in development. Area's that we all have different levels of to begin with but all need to understand and be conscious of. They have been called by many "Soft" skills but in my opinion, they are the hardest and most critical skills to acquire, on purpose, in today's education system.

Unfortunately, this blog is already incredibly long and I want to finish my original point so I will leave diving into these Critical (Soft) skills for another post. But picture this;

Your baby is now 17 years old and about to walk up on stage and collect their high school diploma. In that moment of joy, you feel that moment of fear seep in as well. What's next? What are they capable of? What has school prepared them to do? I mean, 12 years is a LONG time to have taken them away and taught them "things", but what can my child actually do to take care of themselves while also feeling fulfilled and happy throughout their life???

Do they have to go to college now and possibly take on debt? Do I have to take on debt for them?
What will they take in college? And what if they don't like the field they choose? What if there are no good paying jobs in that field when they graduate?

So many questions. What are the answers?

The answer is this, and it's not all on you, but you are the one in a position to take action. Before their graduation, help your child gain experience and expose them to as many experiences and topics as possible. Help them find out now what they like and don't like. Help them help others and feel what real contribution and internal fulfillment feels like. Give them the chance to develop and practice these Critical Skills (soft skills) so they can start to develop them before it becomes more difficult for them to adapt.

From 7-17 years, focus on giving them 10 years of real world experience so they feel like college is an empowered choice, not a mandatory debt. Help them to be capable of self care before they become adults. Allow them to hit the ground running.

I promise to go deeper into these Critical Skills (soft skills) next. For now, I just want to prepare you to prepare them for the unexpected future that they will have a hand in shaping.

Build a Biz Kids hopes that through our programming, and utilizing entrepreneurship as a medium for learning, we can be an option to parents to help them develop and practice these Critical Skills. We are also in development for what comes next. Stay Tuned. You will be hearing more about The Fuel Academy over the coming months but know that we are in your corner, a part of your village, and here to support you and your child on their journey.