I work with young people who surprise me every day.
Life at the Cork Life Centre is never boring.
92% of these are good surprises. And the 8% can lead to good things too if you are open to the fact that the difficult things we go through together make us stronger, better, more ready for what is yet to come(These statistics are not based on any kind of valid research methodology but rather my own special brand of mathematics!)
But I was not at all prepared for the good surprise I got yesterday. 10 of our young people have undertaken a 10 week leadership course over the past number of months. And as part of our Edmund Rice Week they had requested a platform to present their learning.
This sounds kind of standard…but not the way our students do it….because we walk with warriors.
What we got was a master-class in leadership from our future leaders. And the future is safe in their hands.
Through the mist of my tears I saw 9 young people sit before an audience and create pure magic. 1 young person was missing physically but he was there, they put him in the room.
It is my privilege to know all 10, to know that like all of us they have had their challenges, but also to know their great strengths, personalities and journeys. I know that for most sitting at the top of that room before an audience likely seemed impossible 10 months ago, 10 weeks ago, right up to 10 minutes or 10 seconds before the presentation for some I don’t doubt! But everything seems impossible until it’s done. And they did it up right!
They unveiled for us a magic metaphorical box where at the beginning of each of their group sessions they have put the things that will stop them from participating and being fully present. I know that box can get really heavy but they lifted it like it was as light as air.
Here are some of the things I learned from our students:
- Leaders come in different shapes and sizes-they don’t always come in clearly labelled packages.
- We can learn much about others if we have the time and space. We also have to resist making assumptions based on appearances.
- Seeing the good in others is easier than recognising it in ourselves. This is why group work works. We have other people to hold up a mirror and reflect to us our best selves.
- When we are prepared to open up, to be vulnerable, to break the boundaries of our comfort zones we create a safe space where powerful things can happen.
- Bravery can be your middle name.
- We can all identify leaders in our lives. But not one student named someone famous or in a traditionally recognised position of power. They named their parents, families, friends, teachers and one was even able to name himself.
- Laughter is a key ingredient-humour makes things happen!( I knew they were having ‘‘too much fun’’ in leadership class)
And one more thing I learned was something I already knew. But I was very glad to be reminded of it. This is the power of ‘one good adult’ and the huge impact they can make in the lives of children and young people.
“Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her”
For more than 10 weeks for his group of 10 that adult was Stanley Notte. Thank you Stan for facilitating our leadership journey so beautifully with such a steady hand.
Thank you for being a leader, a mentor and a friend.