Being a Citizen is Your Education [Day 7 Citizenship]

April 25, 2014 by John Andrew Williams

helping others

Today’s Thought: Being a Citizen is Your Education

I didn’t think I’d ever be a parent of a high schooler. I mean, I started life coaching teens when I was 24. I was closer in age to the high school students than the parents.

I didn’t have my own children yet, and I really identified with them. I essentially created the Academic Life Coaching Program that I wish I had when I was 15 years old. Of the ten life coaching sessions in the program, the last three focus on helping a teenager take all the goodness applied personally to the larger community. It’s a student’s chance to grow by being of service.

The research supported community service as a way for teenagers to pick up life skills, develop emotional intelligence, and feel more confident and be proactive. Skills and concepts central to the Academic Life Coaching Program.

Being a citizen and being of service is your most sacred education.

Thinking about choosing which high school to send your child? Ask about the school’s leadership and community service program. How much a school devotes to delivering not just academics but the opportunity to tap into service is one of the most overlooked aspects of choosing a school.

Look at your life. When were you the happiest? When did you feel the most fulfilled?

(Probably when you were first falling in love.)

Then probably next when you had the space in your life when you were being of service to others. (And you could probably argue that when people first fall in love they are really kind and helpful to each other. The key – and after being married ten years to another life coach – is to keep it up…)

And it’s not just my firsthand experience or seeing dozens of the teens I’ve worked with go through the Academic Life Coaching Program, studies back up the tremendous benefits of being involved in a community service and leadership program. (Youniss and Yates, 1999; Billig 2000; C.A. Flanagan 2006.)

My theory is that when we are of service, we learn the most about one of the best versions of ourselves.

When you’re volunteering or being of service, what do you notice about the qualities and talents you emphasize?

Also read: Laughing (and Creating Laughter) is Good for Your Health

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