The Best Method to Teaching Our Boys to Be Leaders
I’m only 8 ½ years in, adding yet another little boy to our family in the next coming months, so it’s becoming more important than ever that I understand the best method to teaching our boys leadership. The family isn’t filled with great male role models, often listing convicts, ex-convicts, current dealers, pedophiles, and womanizers as examples and relatives. I look at my husband and wonder, is it really only their father left? They say it takes a village, but what if most of the village is corrupt? How does a parent make any efforts to make a difference in the lives of her sons, when she is not a man herself?
The leaders in our community have the ability to impact our youth, especially our boys. I was blessed to be connected with a surplus of business owners, professionals, activist, ministry leaders, and motivational speakers. These are the people that can teach our boys the importance of impacting more than just themselves. They have the ability and knowledge to influence our young men to walk down a path of success for future generations, by passing down the lessons learned and the keys to persevering through society’s and ultimately life’s adversities.
Although, I‘m extremely hopeful about the future of my sons personally, it still important to me that we all understand the best methods to teach our boys to be leaders.
Be careful Who Influences Them
It’s natural for us to want our young boy’s uncles, cousins, coaches, barbers, & friends to influence and impact their lives. We, ourselves, probably have had these individuals in our lives, so the idea that our children will one day learn from them should be ideal in most cases. However, I’ve found that it’s not always healthy having certain people in your boy’s ear, no matter what your relationship has been.
I found myself asking a relative to spend more time with my children, because quite frankly in my family, my boys have limited options for positive male role models. It wasn’t until after the conversation, that I realized, is it really the best thing for my kids to be around this person? What have they done, or what are they currently doing that states to me, this person is a great role model for my sons?
We often think to ourselves, here is a man, a relative, we’re family, so perhaps this person can help transform my sons into men. But that isn’t always the case. Our children are important enough for us to take more time in discerning who is even qualified to influence them. I don’t mind being picky about who my boys learn from, even if it means going outside of your immediate circle for progress. I want my boys to be positive leaders in their communities, ambitious and successful in their goals and desires, but most importantly honest men with undeniable integrity. So if my son’s uncles, cousins, coaches, barbers, & friends don’t possess these qualities, then why would I want them to waste precious time influencing my seeds?
Surround Them with Authentic Entrepreneurs & Activists
Now let’s say that like me, you have a network of people who are hard-working, honest entrepreneurs and activist making a difference to impact others in a positive way. I believe that it’s imperative that our children spend time learning and understanding these individuals. It’s no surprise that the more time our children spend with real business owners and activist, the more they learn about themselves and the world/community around them. Community leaders have the ability to educate our children on such skills as recognizing opportunities for change, goal setting, and learning from failure.
I was sitting in a local barbershop a couple of years ago, looking at the men in the community and listening to the conversations around us. The barbers, the men who have the minds of our children literally in their hands daily, were talking mostly about pop culture gossip and trash. In front of our children, there were no conversations on growth, change, transformation, or leadership. There were only talks of sports stats, which celebrity vixens had a better body, and what rappers dropped new projects. Outside of being inspired to buy a hot pair of new sneakers that just came out, I asked my sons and my husband what they learned from being in that barbershop for an hour. The answer disappointed the heck out of me. I realized then, that I had to be more vigilant in the type of men that have around my boys.
Recently, I took my boys to another barber shop. The young, yet dedicated entrepreneurial owner talked about wanting to educate young people on business ownership and community activism. There were no loud boisterous inappropriate conversations that were riddled with offensive, sexist, and racist commentary. My sons were there to get a haircut but walked away learning a little something about the importance of leadership.
I’m not advocating one location over any other, but in comparison, where would you want your children to be, as a parent?
Stop Living Vicariously Through Their Lives
Our boys aren’t here, in life, so that we can focus on buying them the sneakers we couldn’t afford to buy as kids. I don’t like the idea of trying to steer my children down some road to being the kid I wish I could’ve been when I was their age. I wasn’t mature enough back then to understand who I was or the potential I already possessed. Since I’m older and I know better, it’s important that we teach our boys to be better than our former selves, exceed our past expectations, and live a life with purpose… even now.
I hate when the men in our lives ask my boys about getting girlfriends or buying the latest pair of Jordan sneakers, video games, etc. What about education? The idea that they should inquire about school, grades, ambitions, extracurricular activities and the things that my sons should care about, seems to escape them. What you cared about at 8 years old is irrelevant, if it doesn’t steer our future generations to a positive future.
I suggest steering the conversation in a more positive direction and attempt to become more purposeful in our relationships with our boys. I remember those individuals from childhood who put a book in my hand, those who urged me to learn and grow, more than those that asked if I was dating or if I knew some new dance move in the music videos. You can’t fake true leadership, even to a child. It’s time we stop trying to be the cool mom, dad, aunt, or uncle and start being the positive and influential person in their lives.
Always Keep It 100
Let’s be honest, we’ve all failed at something. Why is this something that we keep from our children? Our children have the right to be privy to our shortcomings, in order to learn the mistakes, they should avoid down the road. It’s also important for our boys to learn that in the face of failure, we can get back up and try again. Failure isn’t something to be embarrassed about, and through our failures, our children learn resolution and tenacity.
I believe that being honest at all times, or like my oldest son and I say, “Keeping it all the way 100”, you earn the trust of others through vulnerability and transparency. However, you also teach by being authentic that even you can fall, but you teach that getting up and trying again is the best part of gaining success in life. Be a leader, not a fake. True leaders show diligence, despite past failure.
Leadership Qualities and Skills
- Courage-The mindset that enables a person to face difficulty. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the willingness to do something in spite of fear.
- Visionary-The ability to see the bigger picture in a situation or organization, and dream of possibilities that would be more beneficial. A visionary is one who imagines possibilities.
- Change Agent-The ability to not only move people and things in a new direction but also to accept, handle and thrive in the midst of change. A change agent is one who can create a sense of urgency for a new direction, and guide a group down the path of that new direction.
- Decisive-Having the willingness and ability to make a decision, judgment call or resolution. Leaders would often rather make the wrong decision than no decision at all.
- Perseverance-The ability to remain steady in a course of action; having tenacity and endurance despite hardship or discouragement.
- Risk Taking-The courage to begin a course of action or make a decision even though failure is a possibility. Risk takers realize that no one succeeds at every turn, and sometimes more can be learned from failure than success.
- Creativity-The ability to use originality, innovation and imagination to solve problems or dream dreams. A creative leader thinks “outside the box.”
- Confidence-The steady belief or trust in yourself and your abilities. The opposite of confidence is low self-esteem or feeling worthless.
- Self-Discipline-The ability to control your actions and order your behavior appropriately.
- Honesty-Having truthfulness and integrity in your actions and dealings with others.
- A Sense of Humor-The ability to see the lighter side of a situation or circumstance. The key to having a sense of humor is having the ability to not take yourself too seriously. Leaders can laugh at themselves.
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Footage and pictures were taken at Brand New Wave Barber & Natural Hair Shop, with Barber and Independent Recording Artist J. Bizz.
A special thank you to Brand New Wave Barber & Natural Hair Shop for the discounted services for the family. Be sure to check them out and tell them that GaptoothDiva sent you.
921 Hull St. Ste: #2
Richmond, VA 23224
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Bizz (owner): @Jbizzofva
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Joe (owner): @JoeThaPro009