Mentoring and Mentorship – The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

How do we implement Mentoring and Mentorship of young adults  and get them where they need to go? Start with where you are… So here we are. A new year has begun. Your Millennial is back in university and you are hoping that last year’s effort (best described as crap-tabulous) will not be repeated. Horrible marks. Terrible self-talk/self-image. Massive anxiety.
Here’s the worst part… who can you talk to about your child? Especially if you believe (as so many of the parents who talk to me about this feel) that every other person’s child is doing fine and it is just your child who cannot cope.

I will give you the answer to the parent/Mentor issue at the end of this article but let’s start first with helping your child:

The Three Challenges

1. Just-in-Timers. for lots of students, it was easy in High School to wait to the last minute, binge study and pull off some nifty grades. The harsh reality is that this doesn’t work in University/College and the student does not have the resources or experience to try another way.

2. The Deliciousness of Indulgence. Being away from home and having no external controls, mixed with a massive amount of booze, weed and fellow video-gamers with unlimited internet access is a recipe for badness. The uninformed will say “just say no”… good luck with that.

3. The Scourge of Social Anxiety.
This is at epidemic proportions in North America. This anxiety can make it practically impossible to reach out for help in school. Making it difficult to get back on track when they fall behind, it can push them to make self-destructive choices when the inevitability of their situation is shoved in their face by mid-terms.

The Three Solutions

1. Just-in-timers meet the Daily Routine. By starting with the simplest tasks inserted in one’s day-to-day life, the Millennial learns to use a scheduler (why does this generation prefer to keep notes on loose slips of paper?!?) to take control of their daily lives. It may seem like a small step but simply being able to do one five minute task a day instills in them what they didn’t get by obligation or just-in-timing High School

2. Indulgence meet Observation: Remember what I said about “just say no”? Well double that on this one. We are not talking about people doing serious stuff in a way that is self-endangering. Those people need immediate action but for those indulging just enough to keep them from doing anything in life; here is the solution; observe it. Yes. Notice when you are doing your indulgence. Think about why you are doing it. Is it to self-medicate (i.e. deal with your anxiety)? Is it to alleviate boredom? Is it for social sharing? Is it ‘just ‘cuz? This may seems nuts but all of those are valid. The trick is to figure out which one, when, offer better things to do that you would enjoy more for some and leave the others (at the beginning). This is the start of conscious use and helps make different choices in the future.

3. Calming Social Anxiety. This can seem so formidable. It requires a Mentor who conveys non-judgmental trust. It requires the Mentee looking at their challenge with kindness instead of harsh self-judgment and then to implement the following over six months; deep breathing (versus shallow breathing); visualization/meditation; learning positive self-talk; patience and relaxation.

Why Mentoring Young Adults May Not Work (at first)

OK. It will work. (Deep breaths please). The three solutions I mention above work for 90% of the young adults I encounter, just please don’t try this at home folks at least until you finish this article: Let’s start with a story:

The Long Spoons.

So… true story. I wanted to understand Heaven and Hell. So first, I travelled to Hell (Insert Donald Trump joke here…)
There were rows of tables piled high with platters of the most delicious food. Each platter was more aromatic and more beautiful to behold than the last. Every person held a full spoon but both arms were splinted with wooden slats making it impossible to bend their elbows to bring the food to their mouths. The people were emaciated, suffering and bereft of hope.

So I went to Heaven (Insert Wayne Dyer tribute here…)
Everything was the same. Same tables, same platters of food, same splints on the arms making it impossible to bend elbows but the people were satiated, happy and fulfilled. The big difference: In Heaven as a person picked up their spoon and dug into the nourishment availed to them, they stretched across the table and fed the person across from them. That person thanked them and then leaned across the table to feed their neighbor.

What’s This Got to Do with Me?!?

Chances are there is nothing wrong with your mentoring skills (if you have been working on them) but imagine the mentor is the person with the spoon, the wisdom is the food and the person starving is your child. You cannot mentor your own child, the whole concept of tribe was designed to have you mentor your neighbor’s child and them mentor yours’.

This is why people come to Professional Mentors/Life Coaches like myself and the Mentors I train. This is why you should become a mentor but get a distant relative or friend from another city to study mentoring with you. Then, you mentor their child and they should mentor yours’.

Let’s start a movement and use the long spoons the way the were meant to be used. I believe today’s young adults have the potential to be the greatest generation since the 1940’s but they need new mentoring paradigms.

Find someone you trust and believe in to train you and your mentoring partner and begin a tiny revolution! It shall grow.

Click Here to Book a Free 15 Minute Consultation 

Young Adults Communication Issues

Young Adult Communication Issues: Baby-Boomers and Cyberdonians

Baby-boomers. You thought you had it all together, man!

Like, you were totally prepared! The right retirement savings plan, paid off the house early, avoided Bernie Madoff and even had time to live a healthy enough lifestyle to enjoy your retirement but… the dread young adults communication issues.

The one thing you could never have planed for,
the one thing that makes Madoff look like a shmear at Carnegie deli reared it’s uncoiffed head… Cyberdnians! Young adults communication issues, work problems, school challenges, etc. If we were prone to metaphors, we might liken them to hurricanes on cyprolex… wiping out people’s savings, destroying homes (at least making them very messy), going into a rages or depressions without warning and sleeping really late while texting… so much for the metaphors.

Now here you are having to continue to work to pay for a 2nd or 3rd university education to prepare your 20-something to work as a Barista (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Cyberdnians: You thought you had it all together, bro.

You had it totally planned. If by planned you mean buying into the ‘rents song and dance about education, hockey and
showing up for Christmas (and actually talking), avoiding the great recession by … oh wait… you didn’t ☹ They way you see young adults communication issues is in your parents problems. (they feel the same way btw).

The one thing you never planned for
, the one thing that makes the great recession look like a bad socio-economic hair day is the dreaded… Boomers! If we were prone to metaphors… OK, so I like metaphors, get over it! It would be like a big needy Kangaroo on Prozac, sucking up all the fun in life and sitting it’s big ass down on that place in line called “the gravy train”. Sucking up all that gravy, while letting some of it drop onto it’s gravy-stained golf shirt. Slowly, it turns back to the millennial stuck behind them in the next Kangaroo pouch and says “suck it up princess, its your fault I have to keep working”.

But wait! There is a way out of being stuck in the gravy-train line to nowhere-ville.

Here are the seven things Cyberdonians and Boomers can do to survive each other and eliminate young adults communication issues.

1. Avoid really talking to each other!
Talking is vastly over-rated. All it does it force you to actually hear the other’s side of things and that can only lead to understanding. which makes resentment much more difficult.

2. Eschew finding things you have in common. It’s soo hard to mock someone when you have common ground. Stuff you both like can really challenge the best reasons why everything is the other person’s fault.

3. Circumvent occasions for pleasantries. Nothing good comes from giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. They have a better opportunity for “winning” and you have missed the best opportunity for a cheap shot.

4. Sidestep teaching moments. Your job is not to teach by example, your job is complain why they aren’t doing what they should be doing.

But wait! There’s more!

5. Circumnavigate the cesspool of “sentiments”. Hey if showing your vulnerabilities would help, Oprah would be a multi-millionaire by now.
And exactly how could showing your vulnerabilities ever help the other side to do anything but take advantage of you. Better to be a dork with a cork then take the chance of sharing your deepest feelings.

6. Duck danger with disbelief. Believing in them? What is this, the land of the lost boys? Nine out of ten scientists have proven that showing lack of faith for each other is a great way to enjoy the day… of course they also said that about cigarettes in the 50’s.

7. Unconditional Love? We don’t need no stinkin’ unconditional love! It’s so messy. It makes you feel things and let’s face it, most of the times in the past when you opened up your heart to them, they didn’t just step on it, they ground their heel in it, through in some chipotle mix, a can of refired beans and then made a meal out of it. Why would anyone take the chance of unconditionally loving someone when things have gone wrong in the past?

There you have it.

The secrets to surviving each other in a challenging time.
Let me know how it worked for you. Did I mention I have some swampland for sale?

Click here to learn more about mentoring Young Adults and their families 

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Millenials, Save Yourselves With These Do’s and Don’ts

So, everything you were told was a lie.

You are not brilliant because you could play three strings on a guitar when you first picked it up. Your artwork really was just pieces of pasta, glue and paint… it wasn’t “just like Van Gogh”. It wasn’t the cutest thing when you first passed gas (or the last time in front of Grammie) and most importantly; doing what we did to get a job in 90’s now, will get you S.F.A unless being a barista and living in your parent’s basement is your idea of success. (Yes, I’m talking to you Bachelor in Social Anthropology)

Don’t you feel better now that all that is out of the way? And they wonder why you feel entitled, moody, depressed and full of anxiety.

I have some good news and some bad news

A lot of the Millenials really do act entitled and the amount of people in their 20’s who are barely coping with anxiety is friggin’ scary!

People in their 20’s tend to be “out of the box” thinkers. That means anything is possible if you look at life in different ways. Here are a list of 10 things that you should avoid and 10 things you should embrace. May the force be with you (I mean the Episode VII version, of course).

Don’t Do

10. Don’t settle for a job, waiting for your 76k a year position to fall in your lap… you’re not fooling anybody.
9. Don’t live with your parents. It’s soooo much easier but unless you are doing something to create your own future, you might as well make your own Spock ears and learn Klingon.
8. Don’t buy a crazy red BMW while living in said basement. You will have to bring whomever you pick up and date more than once to your basement, so unless you’ve done in your parents or they are working for Greenpeace with a long Russian layover, the car’s not fooling anybody.
7. Don’t sleep with everything that moves
. It really doesn’t help. Look at the Kardashians.
6. Don’t try to win friends and influence people by your bong-toking prowess
5. Don’t twerk. Just don’t.
4. Don’t measure yourself but how your successful friends live. They are doing the same thing and resenting the hell out of not being Justin Beiber. But seriously…
3. Don’t focus on your flaws. That’s your parent’s job.
2. Don’t make excuses. That’s Rob Ford’s job. (Remember him?)
1. Don’t give up, give in or run away.

Do do (Heh, I said “do do”.)

10. Do embrace your craziest inner passions. The things that you create that make you forget time when you are engaged in them. Yes, everyone will tell you that there is no money in it but money comes after all-consuming passion and mastery.
9. Do live with your parents! If you have a plan. If you do odd jobs to get the money to make your dreams come true. Just remember to act like a guest. Don’t make messes and show appreciation.
8. Do go after a crazy dream. Invest your time, your money and your heart in the thing you believe in with all of your heart and keep it to yourself until it is a done deal.
7. Do love everyone you meet. That’s easy if they are cool. But I also mean the loud ones, the rude ones, the annoying ones. Send them love (but keep a wide berth).
6. Do win friends and influence people. (Read the book)
5. Do not twerk. OK. I cheated, but it’s for your own good.
4. Do measure yourself in moment by moment micro-successes. Reading that extra article. Finishing that piece of music. Avoiding the extra treat. Cleaning one square foot of the floor in your room.
3. Do focus on your strengths. The ones you earn vs. your God-given talents.
2. Do own your mistakes. Admit them. Accept them. Embrace them. Frank Zappa and Miles Davis were geniuses partly because they weren’t afraid to mess up big.
1. Do not let your fears stop you. Take your passions, your talents, your earned accomplishments and make your dreams come true. Make them big. Make them crazy and don’t stop no matter what.

You are brilliant.
You are your own work of art.
But you must practice it.
Live it!
Be it!

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Delayed Gratification in the Entitlement Generation

Being a teenager is about living in the now. This is a double-edged sword.
We spend our whole lives trying to live in the now and give our teens grief for doing it way too much.
The main difference is that we have the experience and they have the conviction.

In the late 1960’s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel invented the “marshmallow task”. A four year old child would be asked to pick between a treat of marshmallows, cookies, or pretzel sticks. They were told that they could either eat one treat right away or, they could have two treats after the researcher returned in a few minutes. If they felt they couldn’t wait, they could eat one treat but would lose the bonus treat. Then the examiner left the room.

kid and marshmallow ourkids.netSome kids ate the treat the moment the researcher closed the door, others struggled to resist and ended up eating it within three minutes and about a third of them successfully delayed gratification until the researcher returned 15 minutes later. They found a way to resist temptation.

Revisiting with these subjects a decade later, time had shown that the low delayers (who ate the marshmallow immediately) tended to have all sorts of problems, from behavioral, social to lower S.A.T scores, while those who waited did better across the board.

It was not “will power” but the “strategic allocation of attention” that made all the difference. Mischel commented: “The patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek, or singing songs to themselves.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place. If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television, and you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”

Studying people in grade 8, researchers found that the ability to delay gratification was a far better predictor of academic performance than I.Q. test. The study showed that “intelligence is really important, but it’s still not as important as self-control.”

Character matters for success. In the early years, parents should create rituals that help their children to delay on a daily basis. Encourage your child to wait and make waiting worthwhile. According to Mischel, even the simplest childhood routines such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning—are exercises in cognitive training: we’re teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires.

For teenagers, I have found that creating a daily routine which includes the following can be truly life-changing:

a) quieting the mind (meditation)

b) exercising (walking, yoga or playing a sport)

c) some sort of creative outlet (music, writing, dance, painting, etc.,)

d) keeping your workspace organized

Using these daily tasks as ways to give yourself rewards (video game time, texting with friends, some new internet site that has become the rage while I was writing this article) builds character. I have a client, let’s call him Ishmael and he has a dilemma. Ishmael, has an amazing new role playing video game (RPG) that will be coming out in December, during his end of term exams.

“The problem”, says Ishmael, “with an RPG is that it becomes difficult to take yourself back into the real world. It is good to have something immersive in your life but only if it’s done appropriately.

“I have some tools now that I put into place in my previous school term that I can call upon; (reward system vs procrastination) so I intend to do my schoolwork first and then get my video game reward breaks. To get to sleep at a reasonable time – I have a cut-off time”. There was a time when cut-off times were a hypothetical idea rather than a reality but now… Ishmael is able to honor his cut-off time by putting school “as my first priority”.

“You have to keep things in moderation. It’s ok for your thoughts to be of video games or magic cards as long as it doesn’t interfere with your daily stuff. You have to believe that finishing school is more important than finishing the game. I choose to find the middle path”.

I’ll leave you with Ishmael’s final thought which transcends the use of delayed gratification:
“Moderation in all things”. How very Zen!

Young Adults Failing at Life

How many incredibly talented young adults have we known who never seemed to get out of the starting gate  

Or  young adults who start new things brilliantly but never “go the distance”? Basically smart young adults failing at life.

The majority of the clients I work with on a weekly basis are young adults failing at life. They are clever, well spoken, considerate and fun to be around. They also really know how to play any system put in front of them and yet, here they are in my office through Skype, wanting to find a new way. This is a great starting point in their self-growth. At this point, I tell them they have a condition. Their ears practically perk up in alarm. I tell them they have “Norman Jean Syndrome”.

When people reflect on one of the 20th century’s most electric movie stars,

Marilyn Monroe, most focus on all of the things she had. She had fame, money, public adoration, success in the movie business, as well as people who cared for her. Yet each time she would have to leave her trailer to film another scene she would be paralyzed with fear.

She worked hard to be where she was but what she was most admired for was her looks and the way she “sparkled”. To her, these were things that had come easily. Things that come easy are often discounted by us as being without value. When people praise these easily obtained things, we end up feeling like imposters because no real work was done to achieve that praise.

But that praise is addictive, especially to young adults failing at life.

These young adults failing at life are constantly lapping up the easily won praise, shunning the hard work that would have to follow. Going from one project to the next, from one mentor to the next, drinking from the cup of quick praise and then running from the bitter taste of  “going the distance”. This becomes a way of being.
And so it was for Norman Jean, Marilyn Monroe’s real name and probably the person hiding in Marilyn’s trailer.

Norma Jean Syndrome is essentially the feeling many naturally talented people have when they are praised for their facility at doing new things. It feels so good that they end up staying in that “start-up state”. The fear of having to prove themselves and of being an impostor begins to rule their decisions. They end up living their lives in their own version of a trailer; their room, their home or their addictions.
At some point, these people must seek out someone who understands this phenomenon and can give them what they need to rise above the formidable walls of their trailers of safety.

It is the simplest of tasks to begin. 

Start with a daily set of exercises that are generative, something that adds to the quality of your life. It could be meditation, reading inspiring stories, walking, painting, music, sculpting or anything that would enrich your life. I suggest starting with three different daily tasks and working your way to five.

By working on these exercises daily and seeing what obstacles stop you from working on them, you will find ways to carry on. Then you will begin to have control of a part of your life that is there just for you, free from outside feedback. You will have gone through a side wall in that trailer and out to a less threatening world, free of fear.

It is these exercises that will liberate young adults failing at life.

Warning! Be on guard. A million “reasons” why you shouldn’t do them will come to you: “What’s the point?” “I want to be doing my life’s work now!” “This isn’t the real world!”  “What! Futurama’s on?” Your job is to put aside these reasons and do your daily work and slowly over a matter of weeks you will find your power. Within a matter of months, you will find your path and within a year you will begin your success.
Should you end up running away, remember, you can always start again.

No one ever said it would be easy but you will slowly get what you wanted and it will work out.

Interested in mentoring young adults who are failing at life? click here
For people with serious mental health issues, please check click here