Turning Principles Into Practice: Bringing the principles of thriving to life in your program.

Posted: May 6, 2013 in Leadership Development, Monday Morning Message, Youth Development

Several years ago Hollywood produced a movie about a billionaire with a photographic memory and a love of books who was involved in a plane crash in a remote North American region.  The story is really about how this man needed to draw upon all of the obscure facts that his mind had collected over the years to help him survive.  I really liked this movie because I believe it has a powerful message for those of us who work with youth: we can KNOW all the best practices and strategies for creating a thriving environment for our youth to reach their full potential but if we don’t put them into practice, they become useless pieces of knowledge.


The principles of thriving go beyond a program or curriculum. This month’s Monthly Memo will focus on how you can take the principles found in the iThrive Leadership Curriculum and apply them in every aspect of the 4-H experience.  I want to make a very clear point…THIS IS HARD WORK!  It will take time and persistent effort on the part of staff and volunteer to do this successfully.  Here are some beginning steps to embed the principles into every aspect of 4-H:

  • Safety & Relationship Building

Since this is the FOUNDATION to EVERYTHING we do, we need to spend time regularly and intentionally building safety and healthy relationships within our groups.  Having a regular check-in question at the start of club and project meetings is a good place to start.  I have some discussion starter questions on my blog that could help.  www.4hvolunteercafe.wordpress.com

  • Helping Youth Discover Their Spark

Providing regular opportunities for youth to try new things is a GREAT way to help them discover their sparks.  When thinking through a club or project meeting, ask yourself, “what opportunities can I give my youth to discover something new?” and then invite them to participate.

  • Using the G.P.S. Goal Management System

The G.P.S. Goal Management System is a very easy tool to use to help youth set and reach their goals.  Introduce the model in project planning, club meetings and special events to help the tool become part of your youth’s everyday life.  (Tip:  It’s great for adults also, I use it regularly!)

  • Promoting a Growth Mindset

Focusing on intentionally praising a young person’s effort rather than their skill is a great way you can regularly encourage a growth mindset.  For example you could say something like, “Kim, you really worked hard on getting your goat ready for fair” instead of “Great job Kim on getting the Grand Champion Market Goat award”.

  • Ways to allow for Self-Reflection on the 6 C’s

When doing any activity allow time to reflect on it using questions that would help you tie it into the learning you are focusing on for that meeting.  Develop questions that fall under each of the following categories:

o   What Happened?

o   So What?

o   Now What?

So where do you begin?  I would encourage you to take one area, create a goal around it and work to incorporate it into the normal routine of your 4-H experience. This will not only help reinforce the principles of thriving that go FAR beyond the curriculum, it will enhance the depth of the 4-H experience for your youth members.  Also, if you haven’t checked out our virtual workshops on SPARKS, GPS, Mindset, and Self-Reflection and the 6 C’s, go to http://bit.ly/ZIT9vd.

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