ONE Thing You Want Your Students to Know

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Jason Connell of Ignited Leadership. His work focuses on working with millennials to create leaders who can change the world. During our conversation, he asked me this question:

“If you were standing on stage beside me and I told you I had a magic wand that would make your students believe/understand whatever you said to them, what would you say?”

Ummmm, what? I did the awkward laugh, “that’s such a tough question”, umm wow, lemme think. At that point, I figured I couldn’t stall anymore. It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything, it’s more so the fact I had a million things running through my mind. I have to choose ONE thing, just one? As I continued to think, and probably spent more of Jason’s time than he actually had, I said this:

“I want them to know it’s okay to ask for help.”

For those of you laughing and thinking to yourself: Millennials, need to know it’s okay to ask for help? Are you crazy!!! These students will ask for everything! While in some ways, I agree with you, I think there’s a little more to the story. A story I’m going to tell you. Last spring, I conducted a workshop with 25 high school women. These women were some of the brightest students from across the Nation. Each student was paired with a mentor for our week in DC. The beginning of my workshop went like this: “Please put on your blindfold, put your hand on the shoulder of the person in front of you. I will lead you outside.” All the students entered a “maze” I created. But here’s the thing, the maze really wasn’t a maze. It was enclosed and went no where. It was basically a circle, never ending. There was no way out. For 30 minutes, I watched this girls walk and walk and walk. During those 30 minutes I continually said, “If you have any questions just raise your hand.” “If you need help, we’re here.” In 30 minutes, ONE girl raised her hand and asked for help. The rest just walked… When we got back inside, I asked, “How many of you would never have asked for help no matter how long we were out there?” Every single one of them raised their hand. Why? Because we have a need to prove ourselves. We can do it on our own, without help from anyone. Why do I tell you this story? Because some of our students believe success comes from doing it all on their own. Now, back to my conversation with Jason. What is the ONE thing I want my students to know.

I want you to know you don’t have to do it alone. I am here for you. Your friends, your family, they’re here for you. Your advisor, professors, counselors, they’re here for you. All of the campus resources are here for YOU. They’re here for you and they WANT you to come to them with your concerns, questions, hopes, and dreams. Asking for help is not weak, it is a sign of strength. If at first you don’t succeed, try again…or ask for help.

That’s exactly what I want my students to not only know, but believe.

What’s the ONE thing you want your students to know?

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