A couple months ago, I sat with a community leader in education.  We had a great conversation about the importance of building leaders today.  (I wrote about it in this blog)  Recently, we had part two of that conversation. 


Part Two – Got 20 Minutes?

We had both agreed that we’re now living in a world where information flows and our lives are impacted at a far greater pace than at any point in the history of humankind. 

We also agreed that our visibility as humans to what is going on around the world has never been more transparent while the thoughts, feelings, emotions and curiosities of our students have never been more tested.

We agreed that it can be challenging for a young mind to have the confidence to seek out mentorship they can trust and get the quality of mentorship they crave and/or need. 

It can be challenging to navigate today’s world.  It’s the only time in history where the generation growing up is doing so in a world that their parents and grandparents literally never grew up in (E.g., the iPhone was launched in 2007).  A lot has changed in the last 15-20 years and we're still figuring things out.

I asked this leader, “Can we give every student 20 minutes of 1:1 time every month?”


A 20-minute check-in:

“What would you focus the 20-minutes on?”, asked the community leader.

“Life”, I said.  It would be a 20-minute check-in with a student to simply chat about life.

“How would you structure this conversation?”, asked the community leader.

Let’s Start with Consistency:

Currently, nowhere in our education system are we consistently (“Why Consistency Matters”) teaching our students how to play the one game that they all have in common (the game of life). 

Imagine if we started with focusing all our efforts on consistently teaching students and the coming generations how to simply play the game of life. 

Imagine if we consistently walked every student through a process in which they started every year:

  • With a clear plan for themselves
  • Confident in who they are
  • Defining what success looks like for them
  • Understanding the fears they will need to manage
  • Establishing goals for themselves
  • Establishing a network of people they can lean on for help
  • Knowing the immediate steps they can take to win that day, month, year.
  • Excited about the future they are building for themselves

Imagine if every student had a personal roadmap for success that they felt was authentic to them and they were passionate about pursuing. 

The first step to achieve this is to create a platform that allows for consistency in communication to flow. 
That's why we created Project OTY.

Then, imagine if every teacher/leader consistently checked in with their students for 20-30 minutes each month and was aware of how their students perceive themselves and equally understood the vision, goals and fears of each student. 

Structure the 20-minute check-in:

First 10 minutes:

Lead with a few questions:

  • How’s your world going? (Listen for two things.  Is their answer coming from a spot of personal accountability?  And, do you have their trust?)
  • Tell me, what are you most excited about in your plan for life?
  • Tell me about any success that you’ve enjoyed in the pursuit of your plan?
  • Tell me, what would you alter or improve in your plan right now?
  • Have any of your fears changed?
  • Has your definition of success changed?
  • What goals are you on pace to accomplish in your plan?
  • What steps do you need to now take in the pursuit of your vision and goals?
  • Have you learned about anyone new that you can enroll to help you?

Next 5 minutes:

Give the student time to update and edit their plan to be something they are excited and passionate about pursuing.

Last 5 minutes:

  • Share a highlight or two from your own plan.
  • Share a struggle or two that you have faced.
  • Review their updated plan and share some words of encouragement.
  • End the check-in with planning the next date/time for the next check-in.

After the Check-in.

Send the student a confidence-building note of encouragement that reminds the student that you believe in them and their ability to create their world.

The point of this entire check-in is not to judge.  We have GPA’s for that purpose.  The point is to instill the habits of personal accountability, build confidence, and let them know that someone cares.  The point is to facilitate ongoing learning and establish a process that empowers a student to stay future focused on building the type of life they want to live and the world they want to live in.

Parting Thoughts:

How much easier would it be for teachers to connect what they are teaching to a student’s vision of success and how much easier would it be to connect students with resources that can help them execute their plan?  It makes you wonder what the impact would be on the traditional measurements (GPA, Test Scores, etc.)?

It's been my experience that when people can connect the work they are doing with their vision for success, their work is passionate.

I'm sure that we can all agree that it's no longer our job in today’s world to tell a student what their future is going to be.  We're competing with too much other information coming at them.  It’s now become our job to inspire them to build the best “them” that they can be and to empower them to create their future.

Imagine the culture of personal accountability that you would create and what you could layer on top of this foundation as a leader.  You would have all the answers you need to create a win-win for everyone.  And we all know... winning is way more fun than losing!

We know that businesses will need employees with certain skill sets.  We know that our economies and world need a variety of unique strengths working together.  Students will find their future when we start working on helping them create their future and playing the game of life. 

Give them 20 minutes of structured conversation.  It’ll be priceless.

Need a framework to start with?

1.      Watch the webinar

2.      Review a copy of “Build YOUR Roadmap

3.      Get in touch – let’s chat.  Let us know what you think.


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