It happened again today. A resident came to enroll in Family Self-Sufficiency and by the way he walked through the door I could see defeat in his stance and frustration in his eyes. It’s a hard thing to support a family of five on less than $25,000 a year. Harder still to realize that the way out involves steps that would seem overwhelming to the most motivated among us.
Sometimes it seems like the best part of operating an FSS program is watching people reach their goals. I’m guessing it’s a little like the coach sitting on the sidelines, watching the scores total up on the board every time a player makes a goal or a basket.
Good coaches, however, look to a wider view. Of course it is great to see a star performer develop his or her skills. And who wouldn’t want to see that same performer grow his or her career to the point where the player stands out in their field? But good coaches try to enhance the learning and development of everyone on their team.
At the BHA’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program, we enroll residents at the rate of one or two a month. Not everyone will become a successful graduate, of course. But maybe that’s OK. Maybe we need expand our definition of success to include several layers of growth.
The most successful coaches look beyond the scoreboard and notice the player who once was too clumsy to be trusted with the ball, or too emotional to be effective on the court. Those are the coaches who, at the end of their career, are as pleased with the everyday student’s accolades as they are to hear their name mentioned by a player who reached stardom.
Rather than add to the frustration and defeat that a resident feels, we’ve learned to adopt a strength-based approach. It helps if we turn their weaknesses into strengths. It’s easy to find the impatient, unrealistic, disorganized side of someone. Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local, NY Times Best-Selling Author & Keynote Speaker, suggest we train ourselves to think of those characteristics as being passionate, positive, or creative.
The result is immediate. Suddenly people who were feeling discouraged straighten up and begin sharing ideas on how they think they could succeed. It’s like the light comes on in their eyes and in their minds.
This is the event we’ve come to appreciate.