It’s time for Latino/Hispanics to set aside their “cultural lens” and see life through a different one. The one I am referring to is the “success lens”. I, for one, am personally exhausted hearing the same ‘ol lingo from family, friends and casual conversations at networking events, such as, “That’s how Latinos do it!”, or “Pues, a si somos!”, meaning that there’s a settled way of doing things in our culture. This is cultural pride, and that’s the central core of this issue… cultural pride keeps our community stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. It’s time to put off the old, and put on new thinking.
So what do young Latinos need to know to succeed? I was contemplating this question for awhile on a Saturday afternoon as I watched a game of college football. The following strategic tools emerged before me to empower Latino youth:
1. Seek to be Spiritual – Spirituality should be your top priority since it’s key to awakening your inner person. Many Latinos are stuck in a lifeless religion; we must move away from that mold and seek the truth. Keep in mind that the life you live is the truth you follow.
2. Learn to Master the English language – Learn to write effectively and communicate well. Don’t be shy to take classes that challenge your verbal development such as speech class, debate, and rhetoric. Speech class in college helped me overcome my fears of speaking in front of people. The funny thing was that everyone else in that class had some fear of speaking in front of others, which put me more at ease. I’m so thankful for that class.
3. Find your Passion and Life Mission – You must ponder and answer these questions: Why am I here? What was I created to do? Start by developing a life mission statement, something that will guide you and direct your decision making. Here’s a glimpse at mine:
I was created to help others find their niche and passion in life, and to develop them to display their fullest potential.
My life mission statement is simple yet tells people that I love personal development and helping others find their place in life. Second, your passion is what energizes you to do what you do best each day. When you’re passionate, it’s like there is no difference in days; a Monday is like a Friday because you love what you do. Combined, your “mission” and “passion” are powerful tools for personal engagement, and engaging others.
4. Discover and Cultivate Innate Gifts and Abilities – You must ask yourself: What are my personal strengths? The Gallup Organization conducted a 25 year study and discovered 34 innate strengths most common in people. The test will reveal your top 5 signature themes. You can take an Online test to discover and develop your personal gifts. Go to this link: http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx . Yes, there is a small cost but its worth the investment.
5. Find Good Mentors – A mentor is a catalyst for change in a young person’s life. So find a mentor(s) who will help you think critically, and teach you “how” to think, not “what” to think and believe. Usually, youth pastors make good mentors.
6. Build Your Relational Network Early – A network can be your school, church and place of employment. Make friends horizontally (your peers and co-workers), and vertically (your teachers, coaches, employers, etc.) When you graduate from High School keep a list of teachers and administrators who made a difference in your life, and stay in touch with them. You’ll never know if you’ll need them in the future to provide you with a reference or open a door. Don’t forget to foster new relationships while managing old ones. Relationships are key to your success!
7. Focus on Developing Your Character – Character is developed over a lifetime of choices, so start early in life; speak well of others, learn to love others, and respect them even if you disagree with them. Ask others, like your mentors, to speak into your life, and to provide critical feedback for change and to periodically check your blind spots.
8. Learn and Practice Generosity – Learn to give your time, talent and personal treasures away to others. Freely you have received, freely give. A generous person never has to worry about the lack of supply. What you sow you shall reap. Generosity is basically living with an opened hand.
9. Never Stop Learning – Some people develop pride and think they “know it all”. Therefore, be a life time learner, read books, leadership journals, magazines, listen to audio tapes of great leaders. Don’t settle for mediocrity but strive for personal excellence. Learn from others, even if they are younger than you. Build a personal culture of a learner.
10. Seek to be Affluent and Influential – When you seek to become affluent (possessing wealth) and influential (impacting others), you won’t have to count on government to take care of you, and you will be able teach others to be self-sufficient. Don’t allow others to make you think wealth is “wicked” or that the “wealthy” are greedy. Those who point to “greed” are full of envy themselves, don’t listen to them. Class warfare causes unnecessary divisions. Wealth is a biblical concept. God meant for you to have money. Godly people like Abraham, King David, King Solomon and countless others were wealthy individuals. God meant for you to have wealth and be influential. However, don’t let the love of money control your life. You must control your desire for the love and pursuit of money since “the love of money of the root of evil.” However, building personal wealth is critical to your viability.
Can you add your wisdom to this list?