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Friday, June 8, 2012

A Special Salute to A Very Special Group of Young People

I am so proud of a group of "young wunderkinds" that I felt compelled to share their story with you.

This past year I had the honor to spend every Wednesday with 29 eighth graders at Mount Tamalpais School in Mill Valley, California, the school where my wife, Kate Mecca, is the Founding Head. Each and every one of them distinguished themselves by enthusiastically engaging in the Lifeplan process.

They worked so well collaboratively, acknowledging at the end of the year that building their Lifeplan together was the most valuable part of the experience. They chose their individual top values and then worked together to select their graduating class' top five values. Those were Love, Friendship/Family, Determination, Creativity and Living Your Dreams.

These spectacular young people then divided up into teams to produce sixty second PSAs on each of the class values. In this process they distinguished themselves by how well they worked together and also demonstrated their creativity. They premiered these productions at their end-of-the-year Lifeplan presentation.

This class was wonderfully expressive and trusting in sharing their innermost dreams and aspirations. They then built smart goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) that helped them define a game plan to realize their dreams.

This group was wonderfully animated in exploring the AIM exercise. This is where they learn to Acknowledge their inner voices, Identify if it's positive or negative and Morph negative talk into positive, affirming talk. They marveled at the realization that all their classmates admitted having this inner voice and that much of it was negative. They then shared with one another at the end of the year that this was one of the most potent assets they had gained from the Lifeplan experience. I shared with them that one of my favorite views on life that captures this is, "Optimism is the only philosophy that justifies getting up in the morning," so keep it positive.

In the Lifeplan experience, young people learn to recognize that "stuff happens" and it's how you respond to those speed bumps that will define your character and your life. A powerful asset these young people get to build is their "Board of Directors." This is a group who will help them navigate the challenges ahead and teach them to understand networking and how to cultivate and nurture a supportive network of mentors.

At the end of the year, this distinguished group of young people invited their Boards of Directors to an evening where they presented their Lifeplan journey and what it has meant to them. They completed the presentation by sharing their individual DREAMS and inviting their Boards of Directors to help them succeed.

What august dreams this group has: From dancers, musicians, teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, and paleontologists, to professional athletes, counselors, and yes, even President of the United States!

I always encourage these young people to keep their journals in pencil because dreams might change. This group however, had considerable resolve regarding their dreams and they expressed sincere thanks for having the opportunity to explore their dreams and aspirations.

Truth be known, I am the one who feels honored to be included in this Lifeplan conversation and to have the joyful memories from sharing this time with such a special group of young people. I have a profound appreciation for each and every one of them! Congratulations to the Mount Tamalpais School Class of 2012.

All the best,


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