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: 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?


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?

Scroll down to post your thoughts….

The Top 12 Virtues for Teens

“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have [virtue] because we have acted rightly.”–Aristotle

Virtue is one of those words you and I don’t hear very often in the mainstream vocabulary. Virtue is basically conforming one’s life and conduct to moral or ethical principles. Moreover, virtue means moral excellence, uprightness and goodness.[1] Virtuous people are known for their conduct, character, and life of integrity. A virtuous person seeks after the highest moral qualities to live his or her life by. This is also true about “history makers.” Would you like to be a world changer? If so, what does it take to make a big impact in this world? The first step is to acquire virtue.

The Primary Virtue: Love
Overlooking the faults of others and building influence

“When love is our highest priority we foster respect in our relationships and honoring becomes a way of life.”
Cathy D. Polyak, 2ndGrade Teacher – Las Vegas, Nevada

Virtue #2: 
The ultimate character test

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”
Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence,
American Founding Father, and the 3rdPresident of the United States

3rd Virtue
Staying “green” in a polluted world

“Our culture desires intimacy without responsibility and pleasure without commitment.”
Kris Vallotton, Author of the book Purity

The 4th Virtue
Staying on task – while achieving your goals

“Self-discipline is that which truly and essentially raises one man above another.”
Joseph Addison (1672–1719) Politician and Magazine Founder

The 5th Virtue
Money Management
Mastering money so it doesn’t master you

“Wealth may be an excellent thing, for it means power, and it means leisure, it means liberty.”
James Russell Lowell (1819 -1891) – American Poet, Editor and Diplomat

The 6th Virtue
The sign of a satisfied heart

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Virtue #7: 
Standing strong in the midst of fear and doubt

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”
George S. Patton – Four Star General, World War II

The 8th Virtue: 
Refusing to quit – Expecting to win

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Charles H. Spurgeon, famous 19thCentury Baptist Preacher

Virtue # 9: 
Finding self through silence and solitude

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”
Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) – Author, A Raisin in the Sun

The 10th Virtue: 
Navigating successfully through life and social situations

“Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore, get wisdom.”
King Solomon – The Wisest Man of All Time

The 11th Virtue: 
Perceiving and interpreting the immediate future for sound decision-making

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
Yogi Berra – Played for the New York Yankees & Hall of Fame Baseball Player

The 12th Virtue: 
The King of all virtues: self-mastery

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) – Leader of Freedom


Is there another virtue you wish to add and elaborate on?