The drive to help people often comes from having walked a similar path and having overcome challenges. It is that authenticity is what sets those apart from the professionals who may have read books and observed actions and behaviours but never actually lived them. Knowing the depths of despair, truly understanding what it feels like to not know what to do or where to go, to appreciate the strength it takes to get back up for the 1,00,000th is something that only those who have been there and done that can attest to. And when seeking support from someone, to know that when they say they ‘get it’, they really mean it is so important. Authenticity adds depth and a level of trust that can outweigh formal qualifications. Authenticity encompasses a genuine belief, and that is so important to achieve results.
Authenticity is something I recognised immediately when I met with Chris from Savvy Motivation. Here is a young man who has experienced challenges in life and actively sought help. He chose to question the validity of the ‘one answer fits all treatments’ and was proactive in designing his own unique scaffolding to build his strengths; not only survive, but to thrive. In his eyes you can see a calm reassurance that he knows that he has within himself an understanding that will enable him to face anything life throws at him. And the best part of all this, his willingness to share and believe in others.
Being dyslexic made life tough for Chris when he was younger. Experiencing the typical things kids with a ‘difference’ go through: social isolation, bullying, anxiety, all which left him with very low self esteem. For Chris, life involved battling depression and coping with anxiety, until one day he sought ways in which he could build his mental toughness. He enlisted the guidance of a trusted individual who had trained in military special forces, and who had the understanding of how important mental toughness is. Chris was taught methods of how to strengthen his mental toughness which in turn taught him how best to tackle his challenges. Chris explains that:
“Mental Toughness is where you can flick a switch in your head and enter a state of mind that just keeps driving you forward until you complete your goal. It’s like you keep going when your tank is on empty.”
For teenagers today, (well, all of us really), there is a strong need for resilience. Resilience to the constant barrage of challenges life throws, in particular for teens pressures from social media, bullying, early onset of sexualisation, body image issues and exposure to some pretty dark stuff. Resilience has become a basic survival skill. Mindfulness is a key-term these days that really is a similar mindset to mental toughness but unfortunately can be perceived as a ‘feminine’ thing, and can be a pretty hard sell to a teen who is struggling. ‘Mental toughness’ focus is not about fighting, but on being resilient or tough enough to face challenges and to handle confronting situations rationally rather than reactively.
For many parents these days there few options that might appeal to a young ‘troubled’ teenage boy. Savvy Motivation offers an alternative to seeing a professional (whom could be perceived as disengaging and/or threatening). Chris has an open, honest approach and has the ‘cred’ to connect with young people. Knowing that trust is the key to connection, he draws on his knowledge of body language, linguistics and gaming - yes computer gaming: a common connection point for teen boys, to establish a rapport. By implementing physical and mind freeing activities like hiking, Chris can offer opportunities to allow teenagers to open up and talk about stuff they are unwilling to talk to parents about. Being a parent himself, he understands the importance for teenagers to have someone they can talk to. Chris does not offer professional therapy as such, but can be that space before the ‘seriousness’ kicks in. No parent wants to wait until professional help is needed, but often they have little options before that.
Taking a negative and turning it into a positive is a core value of Savvy Motivation. With positive psychology techniques, careful choice of wording and an outlook that sees opportunities and challenges rather than ‘problems’, Chris offers what could be for some young people, an option that gives them space to connect with themselves again, and build mental strength to look at life in a more positive way. It is a want for all parents for their kids to be strong and resilient, and to be able to go forth with confidence and compassion, but there are times when these are lessons we can not offer ourselves. It is nice to know that there are ‘alternatives’, as Chris describes himself as, for parents with troubled teens.
To find out more about Chris, Savvy Motivation and his Hills Hikers group, click on the links below:
Savvy Motivation Hills Hikers