So, what does it takes to run a successful Global Consulate?
A successful Global Consulate needs to CREATE an environment, along with a series of events, which can help your members’ comfort levels expand. I use the word CREATE on purpose because to be effective your environment needs to provide:
Don’t you just love memory tools? Or maybe not. Anyway, let’s look briefly at each item, starting with Companionship.
All humans crave companionship. In fact, community and belonging ranks number three on Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs. Even loners like hanging out with other loners. Basically, all kids need friends, even the shy and quiet ones.
However, kids are not born naturally knowing how to make friends, and since we don’t teach “How to make a friend” classes, most kids learn how to make friends by trial and error. Heck, in the first grade, it took me a year at a new school with zero friends before I realized that I could simply go up to someone and say, “I think you are nice. Can we be friends?” I still remember the joy and pride I felt when she began introducing me to others as her, “best friend.”
If you have read our Global Friendship Oath, you may have noticed that a key element in becoming a Deputy-Consul involves learning how to build and maintain friendships. One of our jobs as Consul-Generals is to teach our youngsters what it takes to make and keep friends.
Regularity is our next requirement. Without regular reminders, new skills will not become ingrained. A one-time event may have an impact for a day, but bad habits are hard to break unless you can replace them with good habits. Good habits only form when new actions and/or attitudes are reinforced regularly.
Used properly, our Global Passport can provide the regularity, repetition and follow through so critical to making new skills habitual. The passport is divided into two sections. One section is stamped when kids attend any planned Global Friendship Events. I recommend planning monthly events—it’s often enough to provide regularity, but not so often as overwhelm the planners and coordinators. Don’t worry, this handbook contains an entire section on planning Global Friendship Events designed to inspire your kids without overwhelming you. Meanwhile, the second section of the passport is designed for I CAUGHT YOU Moments, as in “I caught you keeping your Oath,” and these stamps are given whenever we catch members keeping their Global Friendship Oath. Receiving Passport Stamps helps to reinforce what they are learning.
Next comes Engagement, and no I don’t mean marriage. I mean, engaging, joyful, playful, and fun. Kids learn best when they are having fun; when their natural curiosity and inquisitiveness is engaged.
Filling up their Global Passports should not be considered a chore. The passports should be an achievable challenge, a friendly competition, a voyage of discovery, and a chance to learn about the unknown. You know your kids best, and your ability to engage their interest is paramount to their success. So, let them help you to plan what they will do to earn their next Passport Stamp.
And now we come to Accolades. Kids of all ages love accolades, rewards, friendly competition, food, awards, praise, treats, success, and games—even educational ones. In order for your events to keep them coming back for more, you should fill each one with as much of the above as you can afford.
And don’t forget to use their Passports to reward and praise. Use the Caught You Moments to keep the kids thinking about how they can earn more stamps.
Finally, a big part of the Global Passport process includes a reward for filling up their passport with stamps. When kids first take their oath and sign their passports, they also fill in—after negotiating the terms—a Completion of Duty page, to be redeemed once they have filled up their Passport with Stamps.
In addition to their Completion of Duty reward, you might even plan an end of the year awards event, giving special awards for the Deputies who earned the most stamps. You can download sample Award Certificates from our website: globalpassportproject.com. If you think your kids would enjoy it, you can send us a picture of them holding their completed passports, and we will send them a letter of congratulations, as well as post their photo on our blog—be sure to get their parents’ permission if you want us to post any photos. These are just a few suggestions. Basically, use your imagination. Don’t break your bank, but give the kids some fun and a chance to feel proud.
Which leads us to talks. By talks, I mean true give-and-take discussions among Deputy-Consuls, Consul-Generals, and any guest speakers you may invite to your events. Create a real dialogue, where everyone and every thought matters. Include question and answer sessions in every event you plan. Encourage your Deputies to share any conflicts, concerns, emotions, explanations, or misunderstandings. Above all, encourage their curiosity. Sometimes, it is nice to have a few questions ready for a meeting, in order to get the ball rolling, but once the ball is rolling, let it go and see where the discussion leads.
Talking leads to understanding. Understanding leads to friendship. This ability to communicate is so critical, and yet so often ineffectually practiced, that I have included an excerpt from my book, A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life at the end of this handbook in order to provide a few insights as to why communication breakdowns and how to get it flowing again. I hope you find the excerpt worthwhile.
Finally, our most powerful ally—the ability to feel empathy. Human beings are naturally empathetic. However, our ability to feel empathy increases if we are familiar with a situation. In other words, I can feel for you if I have felt like you. The more I know you, the more empathy I might feel for you. I might better understand what you are going through if I have been through it myself.
It is important to remember that empathy is not about agreeing; it’s about understanding. You can absolutely feel empathy for someone even if you disagree with that someone. This form of empathy should be encouraged, taught, recognized, and rewarded.
Kids have a hard time with empathy because everything is so new and unfamiliar. They haven’t “been there, or done that.” This is why actively introducing kids to global customs, beliefs, peoples, and ideas is so important. Moreover, talking about how others might be feeling is critical to stretching the “empathy muscle.” And while you are at it, try getting them to use more descriptive words than sad or happy when they describe emotions. Kids need to learn how to explain all levels of emotions.
I actually like to play a warm up game sometimes. The group sits in a circle and the players take turns naming emotions. Players cannot repeat an emotion that someone else has used. Get them to use, understand, and be able to explain emotions like miserable, ecstatic, fuming, exultant, and befuddled. You know, the emotional terms that we use so rarely that we have to look up their spellings in the dictionary.
So now that we know the learning environment we want to CREATE, let’s learn a few new terms.