As we discussed in the previous article, there are four foundational A’s of influence that every youth leader needs to know. If you need a quick reminder click here.
The first two, and in a very specific order, are the Acknowledgment of your influence and Appreciating the power of your influence.
FULFILLING A NEED
Whether they admit it or not, your youth are on a desperate search and not just for someone to meet their needs. They are on the lookout for someone to add value to their young lives.
Value is a tricky word for adolescents. They believe it translates to, in its simplest form, finding something or someone to make them feel special today and every day forward. What they may not understand, but a key aspect of growing up that you as their mentor must recognize, is they are looking for an influencer.
BEEN SEARCHING FOR YOU
This fact cannot be understated because the battle to get the upper hand in influencing your youth is happening everywhere and at all times. They can be influenced through media outlets and the oftentimes, the most dangerous influencers, their peers. I cringe at the thought of my daughter receiving life advice from friends who know as much about the world that she does.
To ensure the tug-and-war battle for your youth is a fair fight, you as a mentor must be equipped with the same knowledge the media has known for decades.
What media sources, such as television, music and especially social media are fully aware of is the foundational principles of influence.
Let’s look below to find out the first two steps you must take to understand and utilize the influence you have on your youth.
1 ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR INFLUENCE
When you make the decision to work with youth, you have to, you must, it’s necessary to recognize you have influence. Whether you want it or not, it’s there and always will be. Every one of your interactions will, in some way, be influential in their lives. For better or worse.
If you remain ignorant to your influence, then you are saying you choose to neglect any responsibility in the relationship. Good or bad. If you choose this route, understand this means you can’t take credit when they turn out great and you can’t point fingers when their life goes down an undesirable path when you know you could have stepped up and made the investment.
As a mentor you should understand though, this type of apathetic mindset can’t fly when working with youth. They need someone who cares. Not someone who wants to be admired or respected.
It’s very easy to confuse respect with influence, so here’s a quote to help you out a little.
2 APPRECIATE THE POWER OF YOUR INFLUENCE
Once you recognize you have influence and the significant impact it can have on your youth, don’t shy away from it.
Your influence is valuable and you have so much control over how great that value can be. You get to control the message you want to convey.
Your words will no longer be empty because they will mean something to someone else. Your actions will serve a deeper purpose because you are setting an example of how a young person should live.
If you are taking on the responsibility to help your youth reach their full potential, then the opportunity to have a positive influence should get you excited.
A bit of a warning. If you choose to not appreciate the power of your influence, then there is a good chance you will end up being a negative influence.
Remember, whether you like it or not, accept it or not, you always have an influence. Take a moment, right now, to accept it and embrace it. Love it.
BE THE INFLUENCE
Our African American youth are surrounded by far-reaching influences, both positive and negative. On your journey to recognizing and appreciating your influence, understand that you will always have the opportunity to stay one step ahead of television, movies, and even social media.
You have been blessed with the opportunity to have face to face, personal contact.
You can’t afford to take this responsibility of wielding your influence lightly. It is the prime opportunity to accomplish your goal of encouraging positive growth.
Don’t settle for being someone they are forced to respect because of the position you hold in their lives. Start today, and strive to be someone they respect because of the positive influence you continuously have on their lives.
Are you ready to take hold and use your influence in a positive way? Now that you are aware of your influence, write down one way you can change your approach to working with your youth. If you are brave enough, let us know in the comment section.
We still have two more A’s to influence we must cover. So check back in to learn about Application and Abuse.
Originally published at terrencedjakes.com on August 13, 2018.