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Learning By Teaching Others Can Drive Satisfaction for Your Team

What I love about today’s generation is that they don’t want to wait until they’re older to contribute to the greater good. They want to experience what bestselling author John Maxwell calls “significance” now.

Maxwell explains that we achieve significance or true fulfillment when we make it a priority to help others. Today’s generation asks, “Why wait?” They want to experience a sense of purpose today, every day, and—most importantly—within their careers.

I’m fortunate to be currently involved with an organization that isn’t waiting. Colorado Uplift provides plenty of opportunities for all ages to take part in experiencing significance. Uplift teaches character and life skills for urban youth from fourth grade through college. Staff members mentor high school students, and high school students mentor grade school children in the Little Lift program.

Uplift’s Ross Curington explains that this ecosystem of leadership training has a powerful impact on everyone involved. Learning by teaching others has proven to be highly effective. When these young adults discuss how to share the practices they’ve learned from staff in a context that children can understand, it reinforces their leadership journey. Standing in front of a classroom of thirty children, answering what courage or integrity looks like in fourth-grade terms, and taking on the role of mentor nurtures a transformation from the inside out.

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In fact, Ross and I recalled a story together. One of the high school students in the Uplift program experienced a tough moment and found himself tempted to shoplift in a neighborhood store. Right at that moment, he heard, “Hey! You’re my Uplift teacher!”

After the two had a happy exchange about the coincidence of seeing one another, the high school mentor couldn’t help but feel as if he’d pushed a reset button. Suddenly, the idea of taking something from the store was unthinkable—especially after he was greeted with enthusiasm by a student who looked up to him. The role of mentor influenced his future choices in a profound way.

The staff at Uplift are experiencing significant realizations of their own from mentoring teenagers. Ross speaks with a smile when he talks about the relationships he has built with the students he’s guiding in high school. “These young men have helped me be a better father, husband, and person.” Ross explains that helping these students find a way forward in their lives produces incredible affirmations of the work he and his colleagues at Uplift are doing.

For instance, Ross read a recent text to me on his phone from one of his program graduates that essentially said, “Because of you, I’m going to pursue teaching. … I wouldn’t be where I am without you. …”

How do you top that? I’m not sure. From where I sit, and I’m blessed to have this seat, everyone involved in Colorado Uplift is experiencing their own version of fulfillment that stems from supporting someone who needs it. Who in your world could benefit from your help right now? It’s never too late to be part of the greater good, but why not take a playbook page from today’s generation? Don’t wait.

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