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Andy Braner

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Where a Teenager Finds Identity

Posted: 07/08/2013 4:14 pm

I had a chance to work with 150 teenagers this week at our summer conference center in Colorado. They come from all over the world, which gives me a unique cross section of teen life. The question on the table in our first session, "What forces in the world make you who you are?"

They were quick to point out:
1. Friends
2. Parents
3. Teachers
4. Media/Culture
5. Faith
etc.

But one huge component they left out, BIOLOGY.

I wonder why teenagers don't count the obvious genetic information coded right inside every cell in their body? It seems like that might be the easiest place to look for obvious personality conflict, coded pre-disposition, or even some sort of malady that might make a teenager act a certain way over another.

Could it be, the lack of credence given to a teenager's biological code might be a result of a culture that seeks to present each one of us in an equal view? It's almost like we look at the future for teenagers as though every one has the same chance. But that's not reality, is it?

This is not a blog post on any racial inequality issues, but it is a question I think deserves a little more investigation. Are we all really created equal with the opportunity to be whatever we want? OR, are there certain genetically coded pre-defined skill sets we just can't take for granted?

I run into parents all the time, who are trying to create environments for their kids that will lead to ultimate success stories as they graduate from high school and enter into vocation or university studies. They spend countless hours on the traveling soccer teams, the musical instrument societies, or even the academic rat race; and many times, students perform to please.

Don't get me wrong, if your kid is a natural athlete, you should put them in every possible potential scenario where they can train and perform for their gift. But all too often, I find parents chasing that illusive "Division I" scholarship but their kid isn't fashioned to play. Just take an afternoon to sit at a little league baseball game, and watch the veins pop out of the dad's heads when they think the coach has made the wrong decision.

I'm a firm advocate of helping to mentor students to find the skill they were born with. Too many teens are sitting on the couch without any drive or motivation, and often all they need is to be introduced to that simple something that wakes them up. It might be sports, it might be academics, it might be music, or it might be business, medicine, law, mechanics, or just trying to work on whatever is important to them.

With the new revelation that university student loans are on the rise, it's ever more important we find the gifts our kids have naturally and encourage those gifts in environments they can succeed.

It's been a crazy summer at our facility in Colorado, but I'm finding more and more students who are waking up to know their gifts, pursue their passion, and come up with a game plan they can move on into the workforce with clear goals in mind. It's been incredible to mentor bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, computer programmers, engineers, medical professionals, and social workers. What a great time for a student to be alive and see the world with unlimited potential and opportunity.

 

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