Thriving

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Monday Morning Message
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In 1995 a movie called The Cure, hit movie theaters.  Set in a small town of Stillwater, Minnesota, Erik is an adolescent loner with a vain and selfish workaholic mother, Gail who hardly spends time with him. Dexter is his neighbor who lives behind Erik, who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. Initially, Erik is put off by Dexter, but the two soon become good friends despite their differences.

Erik begins to try and find a cure for AIDS to save his friend.  He first attempts to feed Dexter things and “make medicine” until one day Dexter got sick from one of the things he ate.  When the boys read an article in a tabloid about a doctor in distant New Orleans who claims to have found a cure for AIDS, they set out on their own down the Mississippi River in the hope of finding a means of saving Dexter’s life.[i]

I remember how this movie deeply touched me at the power of friendship and how far someone was willing to go to help people that they care about.  What would we be willing to do to make sure that the people we love are taken care of?  How would we meet challenges that hindered our efforts to help?  Who would we enlist to help us get to success?

As I reflect on our 4-H mission to help our members thrive and the plot of the above mentioned movie, I see some similarities with powerful implications for our work.

  • Look for the most effective and proven strategies 

In a very sincere, childlike way Erik seeks to find a cure for AIDS which ultimately leads him to take Dexter on a journey to meet a Dr. who “found a cure”.  Thankfully for us, we don’t have to “experiment” with a solution!!!  Thrive is the best practices in positive youth development, backed by over 50 years of research.  We want to make sure that we are implementing them to ensure that all 4-H members are experiencing them.

  • Look beyond the obstacles

In the movie, Erik and Dexter decided to go to meet this Dr. that they had read had a cure for AIDS.  Along the way they encountered insurmountable challenges from getting robbed to deciding how they were going to travel to their destination yet their larger goal was their motivation to looking for ways to work through those challenges.  In the same way, we are faced with limited amounts of time and resources combined with many other things that are calling for our attention, having a mindset of resourcefulness and optimism with aid greatly in working through some of these challenges.

  • Embrace change

Let’s face it, change can be very uncomfortable but done strategically, can provide us with a much more stable and productive environment.  Think about where we would be if Henry Ford was content to travel by horse and buggy.

  • Enjoy the journey

In youth development, the journey is just as important as the destination.  The journey is full of practical lessons that come from living these principles out in our lives.  They are a way of being and not a list of tasks to complete.  When we live out these principles in our day-to-day lives, it becomes as second nature as breathing, which is the goal.

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