As a life coach who works with teenagers to help them develop their leadership skills and character strengths, I see the biggest growth happen when students take on some outside project that nurtures their passion.
I’ve seen a tenth grader start a business making greeting cards and then get them on the shelves at Powell’s Bookstore. Striving to take her business to the next level, she is planning strategies to get her cards in several local grocery stores. Imagine what she’s learning about sales and marketing, advocating for a product, and the administrative side of running a business!
Another student I work with realized that he couldn’t join the speaking group “Toastmasters” until he was 18. So he started his own organization at his high school, a “Toastmasters for Teenagers.” He needed 12 people to show up in order to be recognized as an official club. He reached out to professional speakers in Portland and found two who were excited to present to high school students at two events. At the first event, nearly 25 students showed up. At the second, 40. Imagine what he’s learning about stepping up to take a leadership role and making something he desires actually happen.
In Life Coaching, I have the privilege of participating in meaningful conversations that move teenagers forward in their life. Teenagers who are tentative to pursue a passion and create something outside of school most often identify their biggest obstacle as the fear that “I don’t know enough yet” or “my work isn’t that good yet.”
The ironic part is that their reason may be true. Teenagers don’t know a lot yet. Their performance usually needs work. But even adults wrestle with these thoughts.
However, here’s the bottom-line: these are not valid excuses.
The only way to learn enough and to get good enough is to start.
When I started Academic Life Coaching at the age of 24, I didn’t know enough. My work wasn’t that good. But I did take the first step, and another and another. Eight years later, I look at my thriving company with over 50 Academic Life Coaches from Portland, Oregon to Dubai, UAE.
If you’re a teenager, you have a 6 to 8 year head start.