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13
Sep17
Time 12:21

 

Less Than A Handful



Less Than a Handful
Isaiah Allen - Executive Director

At the STLF office we begin our weekly staff meeting with each team member answering this prompt:

Respond to any two of the following sentences, and then share something you learned this past week related to your STLF role.
Something I did.
Something I learned.
Something new I experienced.
Something for which I’m grateful.

This discipline predates everyone on the current staff. I mention it because this practice is a great expression of the STLF ethos. I know that sounds fanciful or pretentious, but let me explain. 

I need you to play along. Take a moment to reflect on this past week and respond to the above prompt. What would be two responses you’d be excited to share to these questions: what was something you did, something you learned, something new you experienced, or something for which you’re grateful?

Think about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Got it?

When you reflected on the questions, your mind came up with a bunch of potential responses. You then narrowed down all those things that were significant about your week to two things. They may not have been the most important or meaningful things about your week. They may have been light-hearted, or funny, or meaningful; but you choose those two because you liked what they communicated about you as a person. That’s significant in two distinct ways, that together say a lot about STLF. 

The first revelation of this practice is the impact of guided personal reflection. The second is the significance of interpersonal connection and investment, or more simply, relationship building. 

Right now in leadership development circles it is obnoxiously vogue to talk about the importance of self-understanding, but self-understanding is hardly a new concept. Every major world religion, every twelve-step program, and every serious counseling/therapy practice places a significant emphasis and value on knowing one’s self. Through our Pay It Forward Tours and other programs, STLF provides young people with an environment and intentional activities that encourage and facilitate healthy, constructive self-reflection. Young people come away from their STLF experience with energy for their passions, confidence in their abilities, an appreciation for their own unique identity, and courage to express themselves. Self-understanding may be trendy, but that doesn’t make it less valuable or more common. In our society self-understanding continues to be a rare, yet valuable quality. 

The second value of the STLF experience that is reflected in our meeting practice is the formation of meaningful relationships. Consistently taking time to hear about other people’s life experiences and listen to what matters to them builds meaningful relationships. Those relationships don’t just matter because humans are social creatures and like friendships. This capacity to translate listening into relationships is valuable because it builds strong emotional intelligence, and strong emotional intelligence is an increasingly important asset in our economy. Emotional intelligence is only becoming more important in both the public and private sector. In addition to the need for increasingly complex technical skills, the emerging economy is creating a high demand for people who are highly competent at successfully managing diverse interpersonal relationships and conflict. STLF may build emotional intelligence outcomes better than anything else we do. 

I hear from a lot of alumni, students, and supporters that they imagine STLF as a fun place to work. It is. In my ten months I would be hard pressed to come up with more than a handful of “bad days.” STLF is also a challenging, demanding, and complicated place to work. We do important work with young people balancing the demands of parents, students, educators, funders, board members, and alumni while staying true to our mission of revealing leadership. Most importantly for me, STLF is a significant place to work because STLF is making a profound impact in the lives and communities of our participants, and our team. 

This transformative work of revealing leadership in young people happens because of the support of people like you. 

You can help students become more self-aware and develop essential relational skills in two ways. 

Make a financial contribution. Your financial support enables young people with limited resources to participate in STLF programs. 

Take action. STLF has college chapters at universities all across the upper midwest that would be able to do more with your involvement. Every middle school and high school would benefit from a STLF opportunity. You can help make that happen by building relationships with educators and students, advocacy, and volunteering. 

It’s hard to have more than a handful of bad days when you make a positive difference every day.

Yeah Buddy!

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