Life Coaching for Teens

Life Coaching for Teens is a leadership workbook I put together to aid Latino youth, which explores topics on the essential foundations in leadership development.

I am making the PDF copy available to you to use in the training and development of Latino youth.

Link: Life Coaching for Teens _ Seminar Version

Please fill out and provide your comments about Life Coaching for Teens, thanks!


A Dating Checklist for Latinas

As a father of two Latina daughters I have had my encounters with young men who were of less character than I was expecting when they wanted to date my daughters. Now granted, we are talking about High School age youth, but at the same time you wonder if their parents where really parenting and shaping virtuous qualities into these young men. Over the years, with my own daughters and many other young Latina ladies from church and the Unknownworkplace, I have noticed that many Latinas struggle with Latino male selection. For example, I know of a Latina who has been married twice. She has mentioned a few times her regret in Latino male selection. When she looks back into her life, she questions herself; was it my immaturity or stupidity, or are all male Latinos self-centered with a sprinkle of Machismo? As a minister, I have seen many examples of pregnant, unmarried or uncommitted, Latinas and I wonder – where is their male counterpart? They are nowhere to be found. What happened with the male selection or discernment process of these young and naïve Latinas? After reflecting on many fronts about his subject matter I have identified five criteria Latina’s should consider placing on their checklist when dating or selecting a male companion. This first one is fundamental…

1. Is he working?
Perhaps you’re thinking – this guy is really insensitive to the Latino male struggle in finding employment in today’s economic topsy-turvy world. Not really! When you are selecting a male companion you must first consider is this man stable? One of the ways to do this is to work on your discernment skills by ask ing yourself a few questions:

a. Is he working?
b. Is he dedicated to his work?
c. Can he keep a job?
One thing is for certain, you don’t want to commit to a Latino male if he is not working or is constantly “in and out” of jobs. Why? It’s an issue of character, an unwillingness to learn from others and one who is not totally engaged and dedicated by keeping and maintaining a job.

2. Is he a moral and ethical man?
The second item on your checklist is simple – Is this man honest and sincere? If you desire an immoral and unethical man you will have marital problems of huge proportions down the road. The reason for this is when times get tough, your man will cut corners, compromise and cheat to meet an end. Is this the type of boyfriend or husband you want? Perhaps, but I would rather place my money toward your more intellectual side of male selection.

3. Does he know where he is going?
The third item of your checklist is simple – does your man know where he is going? What I mean is, has he found purpose for his life? Does he possess vision for himself and the route he will be taking for his life? A person who has purpose has one distinguishing quality absent from other males – he is confident in whom he is (identity), and the direction he is going (destiny driven)? When challenged he confidently states his opinion and sticks with it, regardless of the backlash. Another test is the test of passion. Vision and purpose energizes a man with passion. When a man lacks passion, you know he is also deficient in self-confidence and life purpose.

4. What does he do on his spare time?
I asked a Latina female friend of mine one day – what did you do this weekend? She responded in emphatic tone saying, “Nothing!” I responded, “You had two whole days to do something. C’mon, you had to have done something worthwhile.” She paused and said, “My fiancé watched football all day on Sunday, and he was too tired on Saturday to do anything.” I thought to myself, “And you intend to marry this man?” Now, when I see her on occasion I am noticing a bit of unhappiness, emptiness and a deep longing for affection. I understand that we need rest and relaxation but not at the expense of developing relationship. I would suggest that you find a man who loves a balance between recreation as well as retreating… with you!

5. Is he spiritually attuned and aligned?
Finally, unless you are given to the nightlife, “clubbing” scene and the uncommitted male relationship, I would suggest that you find a man who is spiritually attuned and aligned with the values you desire to see in yourself and eventually your children. I have witnessed too many Latinas committing themselves too soon to a man, blinded by love, making decisions they will later regret. This blindness makes them hang onto their significant others “words” that they are Christian/Catholic or spiritually engaged. When the time comes for spiritually engagement or substance, it is missing miserably.

I know I have been tough in these five recommendations… I have a few more that will address on another blog post. However, I have also witnessed countless of Latina lives destroyed by wrong male selection. I would hope Latino fathers are teaching their daughters by being examples of what long-term relationships should look like.

Ten Strategies to Empower #Latino Youth

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: . 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?

The Integrity Wheel

We should all seek wholeness and emotional health through the proper channels of course. For some of us, the process to become “whole” and “healthy” is discovered through spirituality, counseling or other areas dealing with the inner self, which brings personal healing, growth and maturity within. In other words, you and I should strive to become a better version of ourselves, where all of our parts (spirit, soul and body) function properly.

I have chosen the “circle” to exhibit this model since a circle is symbolic of something that is perfect and whole.

The Integrity Wheel is a concept I developed a few years ago to assess one’s personal integrity in four areas:

1. Our Private Life
2. Our Personal Life
3. Our Professional Life
4. Our Public Persona

Each level has at least three areas to probe and evaluate (Go to link: Integrity Wheel). For instance, your personal life consists of many things. In my opinion, the most important areas is your marriage and family life, the way you view and practice financial planning, and your transparency (truthfulness, honesty, and openness) within the relationships that are most important in life.

Assessment Questions:

1. Private Life

a). What is your source of truth? Bible, Pagan Philosophy, other texts. Is your truth dynamic or static?
b). Is character important to you? If so, how do you go about cultivating character? Do you have mentors, who you allow to speak into your life? Are you constantly seeking self-improvement or just live day by day?
c). When searching the web, have you ever put your browser on “private settings” to view sexually illicit material? Is keeping your thoughts pure and unsullied important to you? What do you with a lustful thought?

2. Personal Life

a). How healthy is your marriage? Communication, Intimacy, Resolving Conflict, Openness, etc.

b). Is spending time with your children a priority? Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Annual Vacations. The common cliche’ is “Love is spelled T.I.M.E.?” This infers that time spent with your kids is loving them. I differ, you can spend time with your kids and have a true connection with them. How do you spell LOVE?

c). How do you view debt, and financial planning? What’s your view of wealth?

3. Professional Life

a). How close are you with other employees, direct reports, even your supervisor at work? Are you relationships improving? Do you avoid opportunities to grow in your relationships?

b). Is speaking out for just causes and doing things right important to you at work? Do you cut corners to get work accomplished? 

c). Is there a secret relationship developing in your life at work, like a flirtatious relationship? Does your wife know about the “opposite sex” relationships in your workplace?

4. Public Persona

a). How involved are you with your community; neighbors, civic organizations, etc.? What do these people say about you behind your back?

b). Reputation: How do you build one? How important is having one out in public life?

c). What’s your involvement in your “house of worship”? Would people in this setting vouch for your reputation?

Take a few moments to reassess your integrity. The quality of your life just may depend on this assessment.

The Integrity Wheel, all rights reserved (c)2008 by Joel Garcia, Founder and President of Latino Townhall, Inc.

Are You Having An Emotional Affair?

“A touch creates heat, heat creates a spark, and a spark turns into a fire.”
-Rev. Paul Goulet, Senior Leader ~ International Church of Las Vegas

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to tell you that you’re having an emotional affair at work. Those who are having one should know better yet they continue in their risky behavior, thinking they can get by undetected and unscathed. According to Gail Saltz:

Emotional cheating (with an “office husband or wife”) steers clear of physical intimacy, but it does involve secrecy, deception, and therefore betrayal. People enmeshed in nonsexual affairs preserve their “deniability,” convincing themselves they don’t have to change anything. That’s where they’re wrong.”[i]

It’s this “deniability” that blinds them, and sooner or later, their clandestine affair is exposed. Emotional affairs are more prevalent in the workplace than you may think. In a study looking at infidelity statistics in the United States, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy revealed 15 percent of wives and 25 percent of husbands engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. That’s quite alarming by itself, but when emotional affairs are thrown into the equation, the numbers jump by more than 20 percent. In this day and age, it seems no relationship is safe from an affair. Emotional affairs at work tend to make up a large percentage of these numbers, and some research shows over 50 percent of opposite sex, work friendships end up turning into something more. [ii]

I remember sitting in a meeting with a high profile public leader, discussing his embarrassing exposure. The affair started subtly until they were alone and the rest is history. Once exposed it was a BIG disappointment to all involved. An emotional affair starts with a simple wink, then a compliment, an accidental bump in the hallway, and an innuendo here and there. Then all the sudden strong “feelings” take over and an uncontrollable urge and curiosity sets in to experiment further. Boundaries are then tested until it’s too late, you’ve gone over a boundary line. So what actually is an “emotional affair”? An emotional affair is an affair of the heart and mind, where a person sends subtle messages to another conveying a playful purpose yet keeping the relationship secretive in nature. If you want to know you are having an emotional affair at work, take the following assessment:

An Emotional Affair Assessment:

Is it your custom to…

  1. ask a particular person of the opposite sex out to lunch or coffee?

  2. purposefully go “out of your way” to talk to someone of the opposite sex each day?

  3. have closed door meetings with a person of the opposite sex?

  4. share marital problems or details about your marriage to the opposite sex that your spouse would not want others to know?

  5. look forward to seeing a particular person of the opposite sex at work each day?

  6. playfully text or email a particular person of the opposite sex on a regular basis?

  7. use innuendo language with a person of the opposite sex?

  8. be consumed in thought about a particular person of the opposite sex during or after work hours?

  9. inappropriately touch someone of the opposite sex at work by rubbing up against them or hip bumping in the hallway?

  10. write a private message to someone of the opposite sex, whom you happen to work with, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., without your spouse’s knowledge 

– If you answered 2 in the affirmative, you maybe a little misguided or just a big flirt, be careful!

– If you answered between 3 to 4 questions in the affirmative you’re in serious danger or on the boderline of having an emotional affair, and need to reconsider your boundaries before something more serious happens.

– If you answered 5 or more questions in the affirmative, then you are having an emotional affair at work, and need to reassess your behavior; seek counseling or speak with a mentor.

What boundaries can you design (personally or in policy form) to curtail an emotional affair in your workplace? Does your workplace have a code of ethicis in place addressing this type of behavior?

[i] Could you be having an emotional affair? By Gail Saltz, May 21st, 2009.
[ii] Emotional Cheating Signs – Could These Be Signs Of An Affair? Monday, February 21st, 2011.

A Football Player’s Metamorphosis

My son was an outstanding football player who played first-string positions in offense, defense and special teams during two of his High School prep football seasons. He played so often that he rarely got a break on the sidelines to catch a breath of fresh air. The joke around our house posed in question form was, “Man, are they ever going to allow you a breather between plays?” 

His genesis in football, however, was dismal at best and I wondered if he would ever play the game well, until one day he had a metamorphosis of his own. Prior to his high school years he played in the Nevada Youth Football League. He had never played the game before but wanted to passionately play. He had one small problem; he was timid when it came to tackling others, which is a major part of playing the game. Whenever he would tackle a player he would grab on and wait for some of his teammates to join in on the tackle. It was obvious he was fearful of hurting someone or being hurt himself. This was a personal constraint line he imposed on himself, perhaps for his lack of experience playing in an actual game. In my best estimation, the line of resistance in his life was fear due to a lack of knowledge and experience.

One day there was an option play that took the running back around the side and down the sidelines. My son was playing the defensive end position and followed the play well. He ran toward the sidelines and gained so much momentum running that he just happened to meet the running back on the sideline at the right angle, at the right time with the right amount of speed and force. He had no other option but to plow him over by his shear momentum. It was a great site for any father to witness, as both of them went crashing down, kicking up dirt and grass as they tumbled upon the ground. As soon as he got off the ground I knew something had happened to him on the inside; there was a monumental change in his stride as he strutted back to the huddle. I discerned his fear had lifted as he had gained a new level of confidence as a gridiron man. He had crossed over the line of demarcation; from operating in fear to playing the game with confidence. When he got back into the huddle, his team members celebrated with him as they smacked his helmet with their hands, a sign of acceptance into an elite fraternity of gridiron men. I also noticed, in the plays that followed, he was not intimidated anymore. For him tackling was not a bad thing after all. He had tasted the experience of a tackle and liked it; therefore, crossing his personal line of demarcation, thus, distinguishing himself from his fear of tackling others by himself. My son had broken through fear, and went on to have many more successful prep football seasons as an all around, first string player.

How have you broken through the line of fear in your life?

Raising Healthy Kids: Tell Them “Who” They Are Before Someone Else Does

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6 NIV

My wife and I were privileged to raise three wonderful children; two daughters and a son. As a matter of fact, when I look back at those formative years, I simply sum them up as my “Golden Years” of parenting. My wife and I created wonderful memories, and had a great time interacting with them through all vital phases of their development. One of the things I am very proud of as a father was being able to reveal my kids identity before anyone else injected a false identity upon them. What I mean is, my wife and I were able to discern their gifts, talents and passions early on in life, and parented them with their own personal flow in mind. What I mean is, instead of injecting our own personal ambitions upon them, which wasn’t easy since I wanted my son to play baseball (Baseball was not a “fit” for him but football sure made up for it), we took note of what was threaded within each one, and went with what they had.

My younger daughter’s gifts were extremely evident early on. By these giftings I understood her better; who she was becoming, and where she was going in life. Here’s a good example on how much I knew her, and the gifts she possessed within herself. One day my daughter while studying at a Southern California university called me and said, “Daddy, I took a strengths based test and….” Before she could get another word out… I gently cut in, “Is it Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test?” She exclaimed, “How did you know?” I told her, “I once taught the subject in one of my leadership classes, so I’m very familiar with the assessement.” In my leadership class, I had my students take an online test. We then spent a few weeks analyzing Gallup’s 34 Strengths Themes (A well researched and refined list of innate gifts).” I then took a leap of faith and made the following request, “I bet I can guess your top five gifts.” She said, “No way!” Over the phone, one by one, I named all five of her gifts. Astonished, she asked, “Oh my God, how did you know?” I quickly responded, “You’re my daughter. I’ve seen you grow up in my house for the past 20 years. Of course I know what’s in you.” She was beside herself!

Gallup’s Strengths Themes assessment revealed her top five gifts, which are strongly oriented toward the “people” realm. She uses them quite effectively. Here’s her sample:

1. Positivity – This person has an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

2. Activator – They can make things happen by turning thoughts into action.

3. WOO (Winning Others Over) – They love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction by “breaking the ice” and making a connection.

4. Communication – This person finds it easy to put their thoughts into words; good conversationalists and presenters.

5. Empathy – They can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in their lives or situation.

Innate gifts are those unique qualities attributed to one person, which are threaded within each person while he or she were being formed in their mother’s womb. My daughter is gifted with natural people, communication and leadership gifts. When she was a child I would often tell her, “You’re going to be the first female, Hispanic President of the United States.” I said this to denote her natural ability with people. Why? She was very popular as a child and in High School; so popular that she was elected to student government all four years. In her senior year, she was elected Student Body President of a large High School, and left an indelible imprint upon her advisor and the school. As a matter of fact a few years after her departure from High School, I visited her school to present a community project I was working on. I happend to land in the principal’s office (funny how things are cyclical), which happened to be her student government advisor at that time. As we reminisced of my daughter’s days as Student Body President, I noticed her student body group picture on his wall. After making a reference to the picture the principal voiced his heart-felt sincerity stating, “They were the best student council group I was privileged to oversee. I miss that group.”

Do you want to build confidence in your child? If so, tell them “who they are” before someone else does. 

What gifts are you discerning in your kids? Once you understand their cluster of “gifts and talents”, how are you grooming them for success?

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