I'm not selling books anymore

I'm in 4 different YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs this week doing free workshops. I met with the marketing manager of the Boys and Girls Club today and Socially Acceptable (the company I do all this under) and the Boys and Girls Club will be doing some cause marketing. September 24th is the first, non-free independent workshop (outside of the clubs) where I'll be teaching kids writing and drawing and the Boys and Girls Club is allowing me to use their logo to build trust. My buddy was generous enough to lend his conference room in Scottsdale to use for the first independent workshop.

As I spend more time with pre-teens, I'm realizing that nearly all of them want to achieve something or explore achieving something. Today at the YMCA, we rehearsed to make a youtube video about our long-term goals. There were about 13 kids in the class and 6 did the rehearsal. The rest looked on as the others told me their long-term goals as I pretended a camera was in front of them.

I walked away saying, "I bet this had a bigger impact on the kids who didn't do the rehearsal than the ones who did." Wait, what?

I'm noticing patterns. 3 demographics of kids in every workshop want to participate. Ambitious, smart, academic kids who respond well to authority. This group likes teachers and wants to achieve things. Pretty easy to identify. The second group is artistic kids. "When will we learn to draw and write?" they always ask. Makes sense since I'm introduced as a writer guy. The third is a group whose ears perk up when I talk about being a self-made person. Especially when I say, "being a self-made person is for EVERYONE." Their heads raise. They listen. It's a route of life that speaks to them. It, too, makes sense.

What about the rest of the kids? Well, there's a lot of them who will do the exercises in between talking to friends. They'll ask me a couple of times, "What was number 6?" It's no big deal. I'm happy to serve them and help them discover their passions, but it makes me think.

That's when it hit me. The kids who have me repeat the questions want to set long-term goals too. I mean, I'm convinced everyone does! But they're scared. They're scared of standing out. They're afraid of being made fun of. They value fitting in more than putting themselves out there. After further thought, it makes sense.

That's when something else hit me. I'm not selling books, I'm selling kids on the fence to go against peer pressure and set goals. I'm selling kids on the concept that it's okay to come from a place of positive emotion. Hmmm....

Experts say becoming an expert takes 10,000 hours. When I tell adults what I'm doing, they unanimously think it's a positive thing. Who wouldn't want to be 27 and reap the fruits of something they've worked at since they were 12? Selling adults on the concept is easy because they're able to turn around and look at it. But selling a kid on setting a long-term goal is like having them look through a dark telescope and encouraging them to go towards that one, small, far-away star instead of doing all the immediate, fun things. I'm selling them on something they don't know with only positive emotion, creativity, and some credibility as my tools. No wonder I had to go through so much to get this job.

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