Your inner potential cannot develop without your willingness and conscious participation (Philip Arnold)

            Everything you do – work, play, relationships, academics – requires investment on your part.  It requires active participation. But what is active participation?  Active participation means engaging in your environment.  For example, with academics it means engaging with the material, asking questions, assimilating the new knowledge into your own perceptions and expanding your perception of the world and challenging and growing your values.  It promotes the synthesis of ideas and concepts to allow for you to continue to grow intellectually.  Active participation means doing rather than having done to you.  It is championing your own educational experiences beyond the classroom and being a self-advocate.  This creates self-motivation leading to empowerment and creating the success you want in your life.  It is taking responsibility for your own state, whatever that may be, and not letting someone else write your story.  Wow, that is a pretty powerful tool, active participation!  How do you embrace active participation in your life?  As you grow from a young child, to teenager and young adult, the role of responsibility shifts as you gain more independence, and with that comes increased responsibility and the commitment by you to yourself to actively engage, to have active participation in your future and the outcomes you want for yourself. 

            How do you create active participation in your life?  Well, it is a joint venture with your parents, educators, life coach, and other members who are helping you reach your potential.  At first we all learn by watching, imitating, and then, based on what we have learned, we go out and explore the environment in which we live.  As a teenager, you question your environment, your values, and perceptions that you hold.  The biggest part of active participation is communication.  Being able to ask questions and have a trusted adult answer the question and follow up with their own question that stretches the limits of the teenager, stretches their thinking and helps them to develop critical thinking skills.  All of this takes time, time to listen.  The idea of the trusted adult to listen with the intent to understand and to help the teenager to develop critical thinking skills and grow their perception. 

Another way to encourage active participation is to write a personal mission statement.  A personal mission statement defines your life purpose, your roles, your priorities, what you stand for, and how you want to live.  That is a lot of information to put into a personal mission statement, but it is the first step in writing goals and actions which are a key part of active participation.  The personal mission statement allows for you, the teenager, to understand your purpose and where you want to go and to actively participate in the plan for your future rather than having other individuals decide what and where you should go.  It allows for a conversation with parents on what direction you want your future to take.  It can help shape your choice of college, trade school, or other path once you finish high school. 

Crafting goals is the important next step following creation of a personal mission statement.  The personal mission statement outlines the big plan, but many small goals need to be achieved to fulfill the personal mission statement.  Each goal needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time constrained.  By having goals that you have constructed you are actively participating in your future and taking responsibility for your future.  Each goal is the first step. Each goal has several actions, the methods, the “how you are going to achieve the goals you have set”.  By writing the actions you have the steps to achieve your goal, fulfill your personal mission statement, and actively drive your future.  All of this creates confidence. 

Confidence is the self assurance that comes from appreciating your own abilities and qualities.  It is realizing that you have the ability to create your future, that you are the active participant, and what you do helps you achieve your goals.  Confidence also comes from learning to ask for help, mentorship, and guidance as you achieve your goals.  Confidence comes from learning from your mistakes.  I often share that a mistake is an amazing learning opportunity.  It teaches resilience and that failure is an option and what you learn from the wrong path is invaluable for the future.  You gain confidence and understanding of your own ability, and being able to understand the reason for failure allows for intellectual growth which supports an increased knowledge base to draw upon in future situations.  As always, accomplishing a goal increases confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.  All of this comes from active participation in your life design and future. 

So active participation is about taking control and being involved in your own personal growth.  It is about communicating to others what your vision of your future is, what your personal mission statement is, and how you are going to accomplish the future you want to be in.  For parents, it is about letting your teenager make choices, to have discussions about the choices and the consequences.  It is listening to your teenagers’ personal mission statement and goals.  For the parent, it is asking questions and encouraging the teenager to engineer the future that they want and to make sure that their success is encouraged and their failures are learning opportunities for growth and development.