Friday, January 12, 2018

Spend MLKing, Jr. Weekend as a Learner

Over the next few days the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday will be celebrated with marches, breakfast speeches, and thousands of service projects. All good.

However, I want to encourage people to spend two to three hours reading and reflecting. Start by looking at this ESRI story map showing the "Life and Words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.".  While we've made much progress since the 1960s, there is still a huge mountain to climb to reach a point where "all children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character."

Why is this important? Here's an article I saw a few years ago,  titled, 'Want To Be A Leader? ‘Learn To Be Alone With Your Thoughts’ in which says William Deresiewicz, "Speaking to a plebe class at West Point, said that without solitude, it’s hard to arrive at thoughts that are your own, and hard to develop the moral compass and moral courage necessary to act on those thoughts."

In another article, I read about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. This article outlines Chapter 2 in the book "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell,which "puts forth the premise that to be an expert in your field requires a devotion to one’s craft for at least 10,000 hours."

I've spent more than 10,000 hours since 1975 leading a tutor/mentor program and much of that time has been spent in solitude, learning and reflection. That's where the ideas I share in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC come from. I use graphics like this one to illustrate how creating programs and services that consistently help kids overcome poverty and rise through school and into jobs and careers is a process of learning and constant experimentation. It's one that requires constant investments of talent and time, which means a constant flow of dollars.

I include a map showing poverty areas in Chicago as a reminder that resources and support needs to reach k-12 youth and families in every high poverty area, not just through a few well-known programs.

As I come across great thinking I point to it in articles like this, and archive links in the Tutor/Mentor Connection library so others can find and learn from the same ideas I'm learning from.

Most of what I'm thinking about relates to influencing the flow of resources to non-school tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods. Most of these ideas can be adopted to the same problem in other social sectors. If we can influence the flow of resources and keep talent in programs longer, we increase the organizational knowledge and the ability of each organization to constantly improve their impact on kids and the volunteers who become part of these programs.

I use concept maps to show sections of my web library and to visualize long-term strategies that need to be adopted in every city, and by leaders of every sector.  Here's a map that business should visit, showing reasons to invest in helping mentor-rich programs grow in cities where they do business or where employees live.

See my complete set of concept maps here.

Thus, while you honor the memory of Dr. King, Jr., spend time learning where and how you can help make  his vision come true. 

Make this a weekly, year-round habit, not a once-a-year day of service.

I'm sure others are spending their own time thinking about this and may have their own master plans and strategies. I hope we can connect on FacebookLinked InTwitter or the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.

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