When was the last time you saw a mother hooting, whistling and shouting at the top of her voice, words of encouragement when her son was on stage?
When is the last time you saw mother imitating her son with flexed muscles as she turned the audience for a moment into a mirror? I call them the mojo moms.
These are some of the scenes from the recently concluded grand finale of Youth leadership program in our apartment. On April 13th we started an 8-week journey with 19 kids between the ages of 13 and 17. All the participants said only one thing, we are here because our moms pushed us to take this course on public speaking and leadership. I too understood when I had the first meeting of parents, mothers outnumbered fathers and when it came down to communication in the WhatsApp groups that was even more evident.
It was an evening when parents, siblings, grandparents all came to see how their kids performed on stage. It was noisy in the beginning as the teenagers struggled to get used to the mic system but after they got into the groove their voice overpowered and they mesmerized everyone including themselves.
The program had topics of impromptu speeches, getting parents to participate, excellent emceeing with a well-drafted script along with a good opening note of welcome with humor and final closure with a vote of thanks which was done with finesse. When a mother spoke beyond time, her son raised the red flag to show her that she has crossed the time limit! That was a treat to watch and payback time. The program left parents, grandparents and others spellbound when they saw a very different side of these kids. In fact, during the post-event conversations, I heard from some grandparents “we still get shivers if we are called on stage.”
There were those metaphorical Punches, Jabs, and hooks. My fellow coordinator was a handsome young man. So, of course, the MC’s introduced us as “Bald and Beautiful!” After all, self-deprecation is the best way to connect with your audience and I literally asked for that kind of Intro.
On stage, I shared my experience of being a coordinator of these young leaders from the last 8 weeks. We started by understanding the kids’ expectations and challenges. The one thing that stood out was “FEAR”. in the next 8 weeks, they redefined the acronym of FEAR from “FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL” to ” FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE” and that was a treat to watch.
With clarity and brevity, the prepared speakers caught the attention of parents. During the break, a couple of parents told me it is time for us to go back and learn about neuroplasticity. One said, ” I wonder how these teenage kids have got this kind of interests”. The teenager who heard this jumped in and said, “I was fascinated with a talk on ” Brain that changes itself.”” In my mind, I uttered silently maybe it must be Daniel Amen as I had heard his podcasts in the past.
The gulf of difference in the topics these teenagers picked was fascinating. We heard 5 amazing speeches and it was all done brilliantly starting with how one can learn from sports, Benefits of curiosity, Caring for fallen soldiers, Emotions, and Neuroplasticity. Each one of them spoke with a touch of elan which they have developed over the course of time. It was a race with their mate in the beginning, in the end, they faced the challenge and aced their individual race like winners. I coined a new word “RACEMATEACE“
So how did they do what they did? I call it a Tran”SIT” formation. SIT is an acronym I thought embodied what these speakers did on stage:
- S stands for Stage Time. Over the last 8 weeks, these speakers had put in a good amount of Stage time. I reflected on Darren Lacroix’s words on stage time, “Don’t be perfect, be present.”
- I is for Impact. Over a period of time, these 5 speakers have developed impact using various tools they picked on the way. They did it by their selection of topics and using all the tactics and tools they have learned in the program.
- T stands for Time, they say practice determines how much we can go ahead. If your speech appears rehearsed, then you haven’t rehearsed it well enough.
I had the opportunity to share some facets of my learnings with these teenagers on the leadership side. They were always full of energy. Energy and Fun were always high. The camaraderie among the participants was the best. Their ability to pick up hard topics and do research stood out. They adapted quickly from a situation where they were pushed by moms to circumstances when they started sharing their learnings with moms. Finally, the way they showed how they care for the environment was eye-opening. I saw them picking up all the water bottles and separating the empty ones and unused ones and carefully packing it up and storing it for future use. We got to know how much parents did not know about their kids. On the other hand, the kids also wondered how their parents were watching them when they imitated them on stage.
It was an evening when mojo was high and I asked this question to the audience, “everyone said we are here because of mom. Where are the Dads?” Pat came the reply from a group of moms ” They have delegated this to us”. Everyone had a good laugh.
This got me thinking about the roles fathers play.
Last Friday night I had the chance to see a dad in action when his son kicked a debate on Live in a relationship vs marriage. I noticed how cool and composed he was, listening intently, making some tacit comments in between and steering some thoughts intermittently. At the end of the debate, he gave the best advice to his son to only focus on one thing at the moment which is education and the rest will fall in place with time. I liked the way he heard his son out and made his point. I saw a vulnerable dad in the beginning but at the end, I saw a dad who showed us (in the words of Jason Silva) “Vulnerability is no joke, it is the pathway to healing ”
Dads may not always be visible but they are always present. They make sure that when it comes to crunch situations, they are ready to take up any challenge. Many dads believe in keeping an arm’s length distance from their kids’ activities. I wonder how the kids perceive their dads. As I pondered my younger daughter walked in wishing me “Happy Father’s Day.” On her Tshirt were these words: