Three Questions to Discover What Engages You(th)

When I talk with educators and staff from the helping professions, they are often so busy and caught up in work and life that they lose the brilliant part of themselves. The part that comes alive lets them live in the flow, and they know what truly excites them. 

Do you want to explore that part of who you are?

Embrace the power of self-reflection. Find a serene spot, armed with a journal, pen, and your favorite beverage. Set aside 10 minutes of uninterrupted time. Engage with the questions below, penning or doodling your responses. This process of self-discovery is a crucial step toward understanding your passions and strengths.

  • Imagine waking up one morning with the freedom to engage in any activity or activities for as long as you desire. What would these activities be? 
  • When in your life do you feel happiest? What are you doing at those times?
  • Have you ever been so engrossed in an activity that you completely lost track of time? This state of ‘flow’, where you are fully immersed and enjoying what you’re doing, is a powerful indicator of an activity that brings you joy and fulfilment. Can you recall those moments of ‘flow ‘and what you were doing?

Your time is up! Read what you wrote. 

What is your Spark? 

According to Peter Benson, past CEO and president of the Search Institute, Sparks are skills, talents, or interests that a young person (or you) finds deeply motivating. They are hidden flames in youth (and adults) that light their provable fire, excite them, and tap into their true passions. Strength is a term that may also describe Sparks.

When paired with core values, Sparks can give you a firm direction for what you want from life and how you want to engage in it. When you share your core values and Sparks with someone close to you, and they listen, the experience can help you define what matters to you and who you are.

Connection between Sparks and Engagement

Focusing on our strengths and innate talents can significantly improve our lives. According to a Gallup survey, only 23% of employees worldwide feel engaged in their work. Disengagement in the workplace decreases employee productivity and well-being. However, when employees know and use their talents and strengths at work, workplace engagement increases to 50%. 

When leadership intentionally focuses on strengths by acknowledging best practices, engagement in the workplace grows to 72%. When we can tap into strengths in our jobs and daily lives, we ‘show up’ at our best and can more easily connect with and identify the strengths of the youth in our schools and programs. Your engagement grows when you are convicted of your strengths (sparks) and values. 

Try This!

  • Ask the youth in the classroom or program the questions above and find their answers. Then, give the youth time to express their Sparks within the program or learning environment.
  • Play “Would You Rather” with Sparks and make participants choose. Examples are:
    • Play music or listen to music
    • Read a book or write a book
    • Work inside or work outside
    • Eat a meal or cook a meal
  • Journal about Kathryn Lasky’s quote, “A spark can become a flame, a flame a fire.” How can you fan the flames to help your Spark become a fire?

Tapping into your sparks daily can help you and the youth you work with identify and tap into their Sparks. When you support youth in developing their Sparks, you increase engagement, strengthen relationships, and create a community where everyone thrives!

Four Resources for Exploring Culture

Culture is described in the dictionary as “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.”
In May 2020, the murder of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota—my home state—the state of Minnesota Nice. Minnesotans are white Scandinavian folks that eat lefsa and bring hotdishes to potlucks at the church. The event did not fit my perceived image of Minnesota culture. There was something I needed to explore and get curious about that was not within my worldview.

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Six Books on My Summer Reading List

In my past posts, I have talked about how I take some time over the summer to dive into learning things I want to know about. Many times that includes books. I am a book lover; I buy books that look interesting to me, and then they sit on my shelf, collecting dust and looking like I am more intellectual than I really am. Many of these books are on subjects I want to deepen my understanding to include the information in my keynote speeches and training. This summer is the summer of deepening my knowledge of trauma-informed work.

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