TED Conversations

Morgan Rich

Life Coach, My Family

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How can we help kids and teenagers develop the deep belief in self they need to feel worthy, to be motivated, to feel confident?

The concept of those who feel a sense of love and belonging are those who FEEL WORTHY of love and belonging is awesome. In the same way, teenagers saying they want to live their passion, know who they are, and live the life they were born to live, is a great idea.

The challenge is that these things are easy to say, but hard to do. I'm curious how we help our young people gain the strength and capability to actually feel worthy, discover their Real You, feel confident, and know who they are.

Yes, Grit is important. How do we learn it? I'm interested in answers beyond, you just commit to it, or just do it, or try it out. Sure, but not the shy kid who lacks confidence or the bully who is insecure beneath the bravado or the lonely kid who feels alone and broken.

If these things were easy, we'd be doing them, but we struggle. How can we help our young people feel worthy, be gritty, see the good and positive things?


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    Jul 20 2013: I think by putting them in uncomfortable situations where they can't turn to their rote ways of conducting themselves. Here's where Henry Rollins does this to a kid, some say he's bullying, I think he's trying to make the kid stretch himself and react to ideas and a confrontational style he hasn't encountered before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-xMkHgan0Y
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      Jul 21 2013: Phew. Interesting video. Do you think that Rollins actions had the desired effect? How would you make that determination?
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        Jul 21 2013: Yes, sorry, Morgan, another way to say it is he takes the kid out of his comfort zone.

        Yes, I think they did, but it was probably delayed, the kid probably woke up the next morning and said oh gee that's what I should have said there, that's what I should have said at that other place, etc.

        The only way to know would be to ask the kid, but I probably wouldn't hunt him down to ask him, I might not care quite enough. I just know I've had similar experiences, for instance I often call in from home and talk on the air on talk radio shows, and sometimes I get tied in knots on these shows, the hosts are so clever and you're so conscious of trying to please the thousands of people listening. And yet it's a good experience, afterwards I think about the conversation and what I might have said better and I slowly get a little smarter and better at thinking on my feet and more confident.

        Some would say Henry is bullying the kid but knowing a lot about Henry he is a pretty humane guy under some roughness. If you don't follow him, he's at henryrollins.com. He's a fantastic writer and sometimes very interesting speaker.

        Obviously one would want to be careful with kids, and people in general, some would take to this style better than others, it would be a fine line. But I would think that even though there are some initially hurt feelings, some people will realize in the long run that it's kind of edifying, like I did with talk radio.
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          Jul 23 2013: I'm interested in how we can support people to get to the place where they are strong enough to take that kind of feedback, not get crushed by it.

          Your being able to jump on that show, screw it up, and go, "oh, that was a great learning experience" is pretty amazing. It takes confidence and a strong sense of self to turn that thing around. It awesome. And I LOVE those kind of learning experiences for myself, they've been the most powerful of my life.

          But, they were done with a caring and thoughtful energy. There was awareness of being pushed to the edge, but not over it.

          In this video, my read of the kids body language is that Henry pushed it too far. It was hard at 3 minutes. At 9 it felt like too much,

          I don't know Henry, glad to hear that you think he's a humane and thoughtful guy. Made me want to go check him out more.
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        Jul 23 2013: well, part of it is that I don't always screw it up, in fact I've gotten on the air over 200 times, most of them are at least somewhat successful, even the unsuccessful ones aren't terrible, there's still some exchange of ideas. One recognizes that it is after all just words, and one is somewhat anonymous on these calls. I think one reason I don't mind failing is that I always try my best, as long as you try your best you don't have to apologize to anyone, perhaps that's something to teach kids, just try your best, then you don't have to apologize if it goes less than you hoped.

        My second cousin, Amy Van Dyken, is a full-time national radio show host here in Los Angeles. She first came to fame by winning six gold medals in two Olympics.

        I don't see Henry taking it too far because he never gets any significant reaction from the kid, it seems to me you'd see some anger or something from the kid if Henry was taking it too far. I will say that the punk rock milieu is a little rougher than other milieus, perhaps kids who aren't so punk rock might want gentler treatment. I maintain that the kid woke up the next morning and felt good about the entire experience.
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          Jul 23 2013: I totally get that you are able to have that experience of using your radio appearances as learning and making you better. You have enough confidence/experience that you trust yourself to either do it well enough or be able to handle a big mistake.

          It's a mistake to assume everyone can do the same. Or that it's easy. Or that just anyone can feel good about doing their best.

          I think it is something we should teach kids, and that's the question, because I see lots and lots and lots of people not able/willing to step into those places and handle the difficulties of the world. How does it take to create that level of confidence/belief in self?
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        Jul 23 2013: Well, I suppose one way might be to role-play with kids, do a little acting improv (if you notice, Morgan, I live in Glendale, California, about two miles from Hollywood, and we're always talking about acting around here.) You might ask kids what situations they find difficult and then play those scenes out. For example, a kid might feel uncomfortable about asking their teacher why they got a "C" on an essay. So you could set up an improv where the kid has gotten a "C" on an imaginary essay and has to approach you, the teacher, to ask why they got the C, and you're belligerent, you don't have time for them, you have papers to grade. And see how they handle it. Or perhaps they bought a gallon of milk and when they got home it was spoiled, and now they've come to see you, the grocer, and try to get their money back, except you don't want to give it. Heck, they could even call in to your imaginary radio program, and you're the host, and you strongly disagree with their point of view, how will they cope? I know these are all potentially rough on people's egos, but in an improv they're somewhat safe and you can discuss them and see how they went. I think they could build confidence. But is the ordinary kid comfortable with doing an acting improv?

        The other thing that comes to mind is Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see." If you're challenging yourself and building your self-confidence, you can share that experience with kids and inspire some. And you can make the point that sometimes you fail but you always do your best, and it will resonate because you are living it.

        Preparation usually helps self-confidence. Once I planned to call Mark and Brian, a very popular comedy show. I knew it'd be difficult cause those guys are just crazy, so I talked about it with a friend beforehand, what might Mark and Brian say, what might I say back? It helped.
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      Jul 21 2013: Amazing video ,... Thanks .. vdo says - "Are you scene conscious?, you take care of your scene. You imagine you scene ? wooohhhh .. ultirior
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        Jul 21 2013: yes, did you follow my point, shishir, I think Henry's trying to take the kid out of his comfort zone, make him think a little harder and better. Would you agree, or do you see something else in the video? Sorry, I don't recognize the word "ultirior" that you used.
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          Jul 21 2013: His intentions were -Existing beyond what is obvious or admitted; intentionally hidden motive behind his act" ...
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        Jul 21 2013: I'll have to think about that one, shishir, I think you're seeing it a little different than me, I think Henry is more trying to get the kid to think about himself and his life, where it seems to me you think Henry is just trying to learn about the kid. Maybe I'm wrong.
        Here's another one in the same spirit, also with Henry but older, let me know if you like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIhyZaA8yqo
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          Jul 21 2013: To me, it was more of your statement in the very first comment of yours saying- The true purpose of henry was to push the kid to the original point of that kid, I m sure the kid would have done a significant thinking of his true self after this episode.
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          Jul 23 2013: I'd say possibly. But, as I said above, my read of his body language is that it got pushed beyond where he he would have done significant thinking and might have hit him too hard. This might make the "recovery time" quite long, where it could have been a hammer tap instead of a full swing with a sledgehammer.

          Also, might depend on the kids support structure. Does he have a place to lean into, feel safe, and process, or is he going to have to process and work through that one alone?

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