It doesn’t happen very often but from time to time people seem confused about the role of FSS staff in helping residents move forward. Last year, for example, I heard someone in the audience at a MASSNAHRO conference express sympathy for the “tough” job we all do. I can’t be sure, but the statement seems to be making some assumptions about the program, our relationship with residents, and residents themselves.
The reality is that FSS is more like a waltz. Yes, there are steps, but each partner needs to be ready to adjust when conditions on the floor change. If one or both partners narrow their focus to what their feet are supposed to be doing, the dance becomes stiff and mechanical. On the other hand, moving to the music without regard for the steps creates problems of a different sort.
But if you enjoy people and don’t mind adjusting to changing conditions, the job can be fun. We seem to be always fine-tuning, amending, modifying. And that’s ok, because HUD intentionally designed the Family Self-Sufficiency program to be flexible enough to meet the various needs of families with a variety of situations. We are more like coaches. According to Myles Downey-@mylesdowney, “coaching is the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.”
Facilitated learning: a process of helping people to explore, learn and change. If we resort to directing and advising, we will lose our dance partner.
To get results, we have to put enterprise and initiative in the hands of our residents. We don’t have to seek the most capable residents, either; anybody can improve and learn. We just have to be on our best game. According to Elizabeth Eyre and the Mind Tools Team, high-performance coaching is about helping all people reach their full potential, in any area of their lives.
Given that so much hinges upon our partners, maybe we should take a look at who joins Family Self-Sufficiency.
We made a list of the strengths our residents bring to this dance at out last regional FSS meeting. We found:
- By asking to join FSS, the individual has proven that he or she possesses initiative.
- Careful listening on our part uncovers the fact that many Participants have survived life events that would have taken down most us.
- Our residents often exhibit great inner fortitude. You only need to look at the young parent on her way to work at the factory, standing at a freezing bus stop with her toddler, to realize how much persistence plays a role in their lives.
We can assist in ways that make the “dance” easier for all. The internet has several sites to explore, Life Coach Training is just one place to begin. Because once they join, almost all Participants chose life-changing goals which, when attained, will mark them as the first to do so among their circle of friends and family.