Becoming a Professional Mentor for Young Adults

So many Boomers and Gen x-er’s are searching for meaning in their work life. Becoming a professional Mentor for young adults is a great way to do that and also really help this amazing Millennial generation reach their potential. I believe that these young adults have what it takes to change this world for the better in every way. It is our generation who have let them down and then accused them of being self-centered, slackers who sleep and slave away on their superciliously synced smart phones. (I’m in an “s” mood today ☺)

But with all good things there is yang to the yin, the blessing and the curses (B’s and C’s) that one could never have imagined when starting upon this journey. Having Mentored Millennials for over 16 years, I thought I would share my experiences on the B’s and C’s of this work… but first….
Here are some thoughts from one of my newest Mentors In Training, Sean, about what he was seeking.

Hey Ken! I really am looking for a change in my life. Call it turning 50. Call it a mid-life crisis. Call it being fed up with not feeling like I do something worthwhile for human-kind. Hell, call it a person being fed up with their corporate job.
I want to feel like I make a difference. Like I’ve helped someone. Leave a mark … even if it’s only in a small way.
All this being said … I still have four mouths to feed, a mortgage, car payment and three kids to hopefully put through university. And currently I make a good living doing what I do (even if it is from behind a cubicle wall) So making a change is scary. Naturally.
No doubt you are a charismatic, well-spoken, polished individual that seemingly loves what he does and teaches. Can I take some of what you have and make it work for me?

The answer: Yes! The people who have become professional Mentors were able to take what they were taught and make it their own. They do it part-time in the first year after training so they can slowly transition into a successful mentoring practice to either augment their current income or create a full time Mentoring career.

The B’s and C’s of Becoming a Mentor.

Top 5 blessings of being a mentor for young adults:

5. It’s all done on Skype, so your pits and mouth can be stinky and you’ll still seem like you know what you are talking about. (but take pity on your dog’s olfactory receptors)
4. No traffic jams! No travel time to work! Just get your computer on, fire up Skype and Robert’s your father’s brother.
3. Imagine! Millennials sharing their thoughts; completely and totally honestly, thanks to the judgment-free environment you create.
2. You learn the coolest things about what’s happening in the connected world; people; songs; apps. Hey, I heard “Badger, badger, badger, badger” way before my any of my friends did… if they ever did.
1. After being with you as their Mentor for six to eighteen months, they graduate and know how to deal with anything life will throw at them with grace, wisdom and unflinching eyes on the prize.

Top 5 Curses of Being a Mentor for Young Adults:

5. Being on Skype all the time, with no clients to sneeze or pass gas in your general direction, you are more susceptible to the various colds and flus when you do venture out. (Who knew those kids sneezing
on the teacher in class were doing them a favor?)
4. The internet service providers of the world seem to have it out for Skypers. It can be frustrating sometimes… frozen images… missed words occurring most often when you absolutely need to hear every word your client is sharing.
3. Imagine! Millennials sharing their thoughts; completely and totally honestly, thanks to the judgment-free environment you create. (This is a blessing and a curse.)
2. Try explaining Badger to your “grown-up” friends or why (name of funky group) really is cool. (sigh… caught between two generations).
1. After being with you for six to eighteen months, they graduate. You are sort of Mary Poppins for f**ked up kids. You heard them. They listened and then they must leave the Skype-nest. It is a sad time and a happy time.

This is what I live for in every hour that I mentor young adults and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is such an honor to earn their trust and help guide them to their inner greatness. Helping the families go from major daily scream-fests to the truly loving relationships they were meant to have is simply icing on the cake.

So surrender to your special skills of sharing the secrets of success to Millennials and start your sojourn from a snooze-fest existence to inspiring slackers.

Join us!
Learn to Mentor Millennials.

They are our greatest hope.
We need them.
They need you.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

The Mentor’s Workbook – Mentoring Young Adults: Introduction Part 1

Hello. My name is Ken Rabow. I am the Mentor’s Mentor for Troubled Teens, Young Adults and their Families. My goal is to train people who love mentoring young adults and give them the tools to become a Professional Mentor.

What’s the difference? It takes a special person to Mentor Troubled Teens and Young Adults but it takes a system to create a whole life approach to helping young adults and their families truly succeed on all levels: 
Scholastically, Relationally, Emotionally and with a true belief in oneself.

This is what the World Wide Youth Mentoring (WWYM) Inc system does.
This is the system I have created over the past 25 years.

I have worked with countless young people who have made great changes for the better in their lives. Changes where they were responsible for the successful outcome. These successes are now part of who they are and how the see themselves and shall help guide them in whatever endeavors they take on in life.

The goal of this Workbook is to help you become such a mentor to young adults.

If you follow this process (in tandem with my book: The Slacker’s Guide To Success) you will find yourself helping young people to find their personal greatness. I cannot think of a nobler task or one that I consider to be more honorable to be part of.

Most systems of “repairing young adults” that I encounter seem to be focused on the symptoms. They use their challenges to define the whole of the person. Statements such as: “I’m ADHD”. Hello, my name is Skeeter and I’m an alcoholic.” “I’m such a (fill in the blank)” ring throughout the land.

To those who spend so much time on their symptoms, I would suggest you think of the following: We amplify what we focus on, in word, thought and action. The more frequently we are defining ourselves by what we lack, the more we allow our inner thoughts to validate our beliefs in our million micro-decisions of the day.

We cannot underestimate the amount of people who are in denial about their personal foibles. I am not suggesting self-delusion as a the road to success. I encourage you to (and by extension the young adults you mentor) to “own” their challenges as well as their strengths, but please do not let these young adults be defined by their challenges.

Let me share with you my belief, my mindset and my intention for mentoring based on my Mentoring of Young Adults since 2001:

Every young person I have ever met has the ability to be successful in every way of their lives. That may seem like a bold statement but the truth is, evolutionarily speaking, if you are alive, then you are doing something right. You must also come from a line of people who were able to thrive. The DNA of success is built into you. It just may present itself in a way that doesn’t fit into a standard mold. What may seem like the opposite of success may simply be indicators to look for a different way, to find your own personal way to succeed.

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is once such way. It works by building up a person’s belief in themselves in quiet daily tasks that help build character. It is in the small daily tasks one does away from public view that we build up our own faith in ourselves and it is these same small tasks that have been taken away from this generation.

Shining shoes? – Velcro!
Tying your shoe laces – More Velcro!
Cutting the lawn? – no more lawns – robot lawn mowers – or paid help.
Washing the dishes? Dishwashers!
Vacuuming – Roomba!
Getting the mail (what’s mail? Oh! That stuff before texting!)
Spelling (duh … spellcheck!)
Multiplication tables (do calculators have those?)
Walking the dog (did kids ever really walk the dog?)
Homework (isn’t that what tutors are for?)

I won’t go on. It’s too depressing. 🙁

What daily tasks will inspire young people to learn self-discipline, build character and belief in oneself?

Since the “old ones” are gone. They need to be replaced with new ones. (Not that new):
1: Self-reflection.
2. Exercise.
3. Creativity
4. Generativity.

I will elaborate on these in chapter one.

Although I say that each person has the potential for success and that I have found my system to be highly effective, it does not mean that I work with every person who comes to interview with me or that they all stay the course and succeed using the World Wide Youth Mentoring system.

When parents seek my help for a troubled teen or young adult, they often find me through one of my articles at Huffington Post, or from our sister website for Mentoring Young Adults.

Once we have determined that this system could be a good fit for a potential client (ages 12 to 28) we then begin the first 8 sessions which will determine if the program truly works for the new client. If you are trained in our system, you will eventually reach my success ration, of those I accept on the sixth session of 95%!

What does this mean for the young adults?

It means that each one has in them the seeds for success and the challenge is to find the proper system for that particular person. Often, when someone I have worked with has risen above their addictions and gone back to school and succeeded well (very often for the first time) I will get referrals from friends. The chance of my particular system being right for that friend at that particular time is 50/50. The determining factor is; is this person ready?

Now, let’s talk about you. What you need to bring to this system and how you can determine when your “client” is ready for your mentoring.

Who knows your child better than their parents? They do. They may not know it or share all of it with them but a parent’s understanding of their child is based on history. More than likely, theirs is about right now and tomorrow. The past is often the same place where broken toys reside. Rich and meaningful at one time, but now it is mainly of use for stubbing toes and tripping us up.

It is in the future and the now that we must begin the Hero’s Journey of Success with our clients.

Stay tuned for part two!

Are you interested in becoming a Professional Mentor for Young Adults? Check out our next opening for 1st Degree Mentorship at Ken Rabow’s Mentors Professional Workshop by clicking here

Mentor’s Workbook – Intro #2 – The Entitlement / Internet Generation?

Are we living in the era of the Entitlement Generation or is this the challenge of being the Internet Generation?

It is in the future and the present that one must be re-introduced to one’s children. They are new people at every stage of development yet we still see them on the potty.

How do we learn to see them anew and more importantly; how does the Internet Generation learn to see themselves through new eyes?

The ideal way is through a Professional Mentor who sees them for who they are now and who they could become, free of judgment and free of external limitations. That is the key to Mentoring Teens and Young Adults towards success.

To find that successful future, we must first look at what makes inhabitants of the Internet (a land I call WebFredonia) different. People born before 1980 are not born of the land of the Internet. We are first or second generation WebFredonian immigrants. Those born of the Internet world are wired differently.

We should begin by asking ourselves: “Are they really different?” Didn’t every generation talk about how much better they were to their elders then the present generation (it’s funny how much better we behaved as kids through the foggy haze of memory) and is it not a time-honored complaint?

It is the eternal complaint about each generation. Having said that, there are reasons why the Internet Generations (IG) are truly different than most of those that preceded them. I say most because the Internet Generation has some common links with the generations that fought in the two “great wars” as well as a few very big differences.

Those two great generations saw their entire world change in the span of a few short years. All the things they knew for certain, all the truths they took as being the way of the world were changed forever and you really couldn’t keep ‘em down on the farm after that.

Like those two generations, today’s generation of teens and young adults experience world-shaking changes on a regular basis in everything they know: how they consume their music, from physical cd’s to proprietary mp3’s on their computer to the cloud; How they communicate; from home phones, to cell phones, to emails, to texting, to face-booking; how the world works – constant advances in computing guarantee that many “indispensable” jobs of middle and upper middle management will soon be gone alongside the rapidly disappearing industrial and transportation jobs.

Children today are virtually accosted by people gaining instant world-wide fame for the bizarre to the infamous. How can they ever compete with these one-second stars in making their mark?

Reality television’s ravenous appetite for championing people who crave their 24 episodes of world fame at any cost seems never-ending.

When every voice is modified and every picture photo-shopped to create perfection how can the Internet Generations compete? What should they aspire to?

Perfectionism is causing many kids to not bother trying.

If every desire is catered to by every means, what benefit is there to “striking out on your own”?

Better to act entitled than to try for small personal successes… and there you have it. The IG mindset.

Then there is the Internet knowledge base. The Internet Generation has these wide swaths of knowledge without depth, for the most part. This makes their ability to take one choice, when there are so many possibilities, almost impossible

So what is the future to look forward to?

The future is not in the vertical thought process, nor the linear assembly line, it is in the lateral thinking of the age of ideas.

The future belongs to this generation and it is through ideas based on their personal goals and beliefs, nourished by a daily routine of personal development that this will become the greatest generation ever.

I believe this to be true because I see it happening in the young adults I mentor. People who come to me stuck. Unable to succeed, who, with a few simple steps towards self-actualization, towards “piercing the target” to start at anything and just experience the unfolding of craft.. they take to it like a duck to water and soar.

Now we must look at the raw deal parents in this generation have been given and how to give them back their rightful place as the shapers of this great generation: Stay tuned for part 3!

Are you interested in becoming a Professional Mentor for Young Adults? Check out our next opening for 1st Degree Mentorship at Ken Rabow’s Mentors Professional Workshop by clicking here

Are Millennials Are Greatest Hope or Our Biggest Problem?

These days I am being asked by the “C’s” in organizations to give workshops on how to bring Millennials into big business and I really enjoy the experience of sharing that knowledge. The most frequent question I get is:

“Is it worth trying to “fix” our Millennial “problem” or should we just skip the “pain-in-the-ass generation” and wait for the next one coming up? (They seem easier to deal with)”.

Before I answer that question, let me tell you how I know what I know about Millennials:
I spend over 1,000 hours a year one-on-one life coaching young adults, who have given up talking to Boomers about why they are having problems because they feel they are never truly heard.

I help these Millennials find their personal power and get them to excel in whatever field they set their hearts to. What I discover is that once they are no longer focused on the label foisted upon them and start to build up simple small successes… they have greatness within them.

I have no doubt that they will be leaders in their fields one day soon and change a great deal of how business is done. Also, as of 2015, Millennials have overtaken Boomers as the biggest demographic ever!

To learn how and why we should mentor Millennials in the workforce, let’s look at an unusual source:

Finding the right people that we seek in the new paradigm:

In an article entitled: “Why doesn’t anybody copy Apple?” Asymco’s Haroce Dediu said the following:

“It’s complex, it’s subtle, it defies explanation but it’s not magic. It’s a process that requires a degree of faith and fortitude. It’s collecting but ignoring data and trusting judgment when data tells you to move in a different direction. It’s a lot of willful rejection of conventional wisdom. It’s asymmetric approaches to competition. It’s art as much as science. And most of all, it’s a lot of mind-numbing polishing while trusting that only by doing great work is survival even possible.”

That is also the definition of the Millennials that we meet.

Here are some questions every business should ask themselves today: 

1) In a changing world, where desktop computing and marketing will be meeting the same fate as the Pogo stick, Fax machines, and Blackberrys, how can your company evolve while embracing Millennials, the first generation who experience life through social media on handhelds. A new generation who really want to impact their work environment in a profound way but require a whole new way to mentor them.

2) When do you have to shift to a new mindset before this generation becomes the new demographic of change makers in the next seven years?

3) What means can you employ to stay relevant when all of what is perceived of as the client landscape is changing faster than a rabbit at a fox convention.

Here are three simple things you can do to embrace, empower and mentor Millennials:

1) Open, honest and direct communication: Millennials in the workforce want to know how the tasks they are undertaking will make a difference in the overall goals of the place they emotionally invest in. The more clarity they have on an ongoing basis, the easier it will be for them to embrace the reason your company is/will be great.

2) Lead by inspiration: A key incentive for Millennials is happiness; down the list is financial gain. Help them be in an inspiring and enthusiastic work environment and make sure that the work is based on tasks and goals not a time-clock.

3) Opportunities for growth: Millennials want to grow as professionals and as people. Creating opportunities to learn and evolve are vital to attracting, retaining and engaging Millennials. Mentoring programs can help the entire culture grow your business and industry by letting the unconventional meet a new business landscape.

There you have it.

A beginning for a new way to look at one of the greatest generations since the great war. Embrace them! Dialogue with them and whenever possible, avoid commanding them… this is not <em>that </em>generation. This is the generation of asymmetry.
Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out more on this site.

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Click here

Class 01 – Mentoring the Mentor for Young Adults

This is the first class (after the weekend intensive) of Mentors Professional Workshop – learning to mentor teens, young adults and their families.

And what do you think I would want to start with on the grand journey?

You!

You must lead by example. That example is not “look at me! I’m doing the same crap you are!!”. No, we lead by living it but not preaching about it. Just understanding from our own challenges how to appreciate our client’s challenges.

As mentors, our duty is to grow as human beings. To take on our own personal and creative challenges and live by the guidelines we are setting for our clients.

To that end, we must add the following things in our lives.
I have spoken before about the times I would do Reiki, Therapeutic Touch and other healing modalities to people when I lived in Montreal.

Two things become clear that will help those who wish to Mentor Young Adults towards success in all aspects of their lives.

1) No outside force heals a person. It is the person’s choices and belief system that allows for the healing.

2) You can only truly grow when you add three things into your daily routine:

Something Reflective; Something Creative and Something Physical

  1. Reflective
    Meditation etc.,
    Prayer
    Success Recap

  2. Creative (performance)
    coding drawing writing
    i.e. Making something
    Using your canvas

  3. Physical (walking)
    Muscle based exercise – Weights; Tai Chi; resistance training; etc.,

    Here are some more things I recommend that you incorporate into your life to prepare you to become a truly great life coach for young adults:

  4. Meditation exercises (live with Ken ☺)
    General 10 min Visualization
    Grounding
    Sleep/Wake routine
    Thankfulness routine

  5. Take your own Mentor classes when you can.
    Ask your fellow MIT’s to switch 30 min sessions – 1 with you as Mentor (real work) – next with you as Mentee.Do real work. First time do GCS – then start a daily routine the following week – share how this goes at your next class. Write down questions.

  6. Also, keep notes to ask Ken

  7. Volunteer Interim Mentee – someone you will work on in your second month of mentor classes.

Choosing a VIM.
Using the VIM form to sign.
Remember: You need your police report for mentoring outside of fellow MIT’s

A Mentor is: Calm, relaxed, prepared, confident and always looking for Gold in his clients.

How to Parent Millennials with Mental Health Issues – Understanding and Communication

Mental health issues are a constant challenge in young adults today. Learning to parent Millennials with Mental Health issues without support can be daunting. The good news is that Millennials do really well working with a life coach to deal with mental health challenges alongside medical professionals. This may be due to the fact that life coaching is action-based vs. talk-therapy. Most Millennials are the kings and queens of shining on boomers and gen-x-ers who are hired to use talk therapy to help them with their problems. To quote one of my clients: “I’m tired of talking to people who tell me they know what I’m going through because they read about it in a book”.

I have found therapists do amazing, successful work with many young adults but for Millennials that do not seem to resonate with therapy, life coaching can be life-changing.

So, my client and I start to work. We establish what their goals are, the challenges to those goals and the first signposts of success. We start a daily routine and after a few weeks, it begins to work and for the first time in a long time, they start to have micro-successes and start to believe in themselves based on successful actions they have made happen.

What about the parents?

This mentoring system is all about having a safe place to self-reflect free from the regular circle of friends and family for two hours a week, as well as working on the tasks the client has chosen on their own. What do the parents do to make sense of what is going in their child’s lives and join in the work of moving forward?

Let’s backtrack. When someone asks me to mentor a young adult dealing with mental health issues, it is often after the proverbial poop has hit the fan and there has been a major episode that required professional care. This can be traumatic for the entire family and often leads the parents feeling lost as to what to say; what not to say; how to act; and how to give their child space when the parents are so fearful of things going south again.

This is why I have begun a series of online workshops to help parents learn new ways to help their children dealing with mental health. These are the outlines notes of those workshops. Our first topic is communication and understanding.

Understanding a Millennial Dealing with Mental Health Issues

A great line that a parent said to me recently about her frustrations with her daughter who had recently been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. She said that her husband had said: “Your problem is you try to make her be like you!”. I told this mom, that I would put it differently: When you see someone you love suffering and you know that if they could only do “x” they wouldn’t be suffering and you know that you would definitely do “x” because that is what you do in your life, when poop hits the fan for you, you are simply seeing the one you love through your own personal lens.

That doesn’t mean you are trying to make her be you. You are simply trying to resolve things from your personal lens. Parents are often trying to solve their children’s issues from their own personal lense.

In my client’s situation, the roller-coaster of emotions she had been feeling for the past few years kept growing and growing taking over all the things the she used to do to feel great about herself until she couldn’t do them anymore. The mom had to learn the her daughter needed to now understand how the bi-polar issues had affected her and rebuild an inner trust in herself so that she could find her own personal greatness again. Possibly becoming something even better and more profound for having owned and risen above these emotional/chemical challenges.

This gave her mom a new lens to look through.

Communicating with a Millennial Dealing with Mental Health Issues

I always say, if you want to get something… give it. Want to be loved? Love unconditionally. Want to be appreciated? Give earnest praise.
Want to be heard? Learn to listen. Really listen.

What is real listening? It requires biting your tongue. Not jumping in when your child shares how they perceive life, their problems, their solutions. Don’t be an inquisitor. Don’t be an ostrich. Be a talk show host.

Johnny Carson was amazing at letting people feel at ease (when he wished to) and getting them to open up and share. It didn’t have to be meaningful; it just had to be communication.

Be there to let your child teach you about them. How they see the world. How they cope. Be truly interested in the process without figuring it out for them.

This begins the start of a new relationship.

You may have noticed we haven’t talked about “fixing them”. That isn’t our job. That is them and for the medical professionals to do and if you get the right ones, they are an amazing group of people, who often are under-appreciated. The psych nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, all those who help people with mental health issues should have their own day of being recognized and celebrated each and every year.

Our job is to champion these Millennials on their new path towards a good life. Trust that it is possible. Find a life coach or mentor who will understand them and help guide them while helping you learn to be a part of the team.

It really does take a village.

Share your challenges.
Support other families dealing with these issues.

That, to me, is communal love and can be the first step in healing and growing together.

Anxiety is the Mental Health Disorder of Millennials

Anxiety is at epidemic proportions these days in teens and twenty-somethings. It stops countless people from living full lives. Often, the symptoms are misread or minimized, so that many young adults that I mentor come to me trapped by their anxieties but not knowing how to deal with them.

Now for the good news: There are ways to rise above anxiety permanently.

I work with Millennials in their teens and twenties coming to me with issues such as: failure to launch, low self-esteem, pot addiction, video game addiction, school failures and even Asperger’s Syndrome. 90% of them suffer from Anxiety and most of the time it is that under-current that propels all their other issues.

Anxiety is a major impediment these days. We can think about the reasons of why this is happening in such great numbers or we can just start helping young adults suffering from anxiety right now using the following four vanquishers.

The Four Anxiety Vanquishers:
Breathing; Negative Self-Speak; Dorothy Syndrome; Visualization

Breathing:
Remember Marvin Martian?

That is what most people starting to ramp up in anxiety look like (minus the ray-gun). AKA: Shallow breathing. The new apple watch has it right. Take time in each day to do deep, diaphragmatic breaths, a minimum of three good, deep ones and up to five minutes of it each day (if you can stand it). The shallow breathing tells your mind/body that you are in distress. Your body goes into action and pumps you full of natural chemicals that guaranty the fight-or-flight feeling. That translates into anxiety for those who have been living that pattern. The first step… the deep relaxed breaths. (Think of puppy sighs).

Positive Self-Speak
The voice that you hear in your head is a sort of loop that can be helpful or ramp up your anxiety. Train your inner-voice to be helpful. If it says something like “you’re going to end up in the hospital” when it is not the case. Argue with it. Point out how you usually survive your anxiety attacks without the need to escalate. Find a phrase… eg: “Your are going to be fine” or “You can make it through” etc.,

Dorothy Syndrome (There’s no place like home).

I have noticed that a lot of the young adults I mentor have a specific barrier as they leave home where anxiety kicks in. It could be 10 blocks, it could be at a certain landmark or major intersection. Oddly enough, they often aren’t aware of this geographical boundary. Check to see if you have one. If you do… drive to somewhere in the comfort zone of your boundary and slowly, day-by-day push up to, then past that boundary. Over time, you can soften and then eliminate it.

Visualization

So many people find that it is almost impossible to stop their mind from thinking every moment of the day. This can lead to trouble sleeping but is often I cause of anxiety issues in the young adults I work with through Skype. What I recommend is to find a five minute visualization exercise that speaks to you. Try it every day. Slowly build up the time; five minutes, ten.. fifteen.

There will be days when you need to go back to the minimum and their will be days that if you can stop your mind’s chatter for three seconds that this is a good session. Be kind to yourself and notice when you have these three seconds of silence.

A good Mentor for young adults uses all these techniques to help start the path of helping people get in control of their bodies and minds. It is not a quick change but it can become a lasting one. Be kind to yourself, find a good mentor and share your concerns with people who will actively listen.

You are not alone.

Interested in mentoring millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

If you or someone you know is at risk please contact your nearest Crisis Centre or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

Schizophrenia is not a four letter word.

Meet Drake. At 15, He felt unsafe around his friends when he was at home. Afraid he might show his “quirks” and they would judge him or maybe say mean things about him. Alone at home a lot, he started to imagine “another me” to keep him company.

No one knew.

At school he was sociable. But the “other me” started talking to him more and more. Distracting him constantly and making him do things. Turn on and off the lights 5 times. Check the locks. Again. Again. Again.

At 16, the voice became meaner. Never stopping. Telling him that people were going to break in every night. The locks didn’t make a difference. Less sleep. More coffee. Less sleep. More coffee.

OK. Changing the subject. When I used to play in Jazz clubs (back in the day), there was smoke all around us. I was not a fan of the smoke. What I didn’t know was; it was the reason I started getting horrible sinusitis. The pain was unbearable and constant. It went past physical pain, partly because of its non-stop, unceasing duration but also from the lack of sleep. The combination of sleep deprivation and long-term pain does something to a person that is hard to explain without experiencing it.

I remember looking at my bedroom wall and really considering that smashing my head against that wall over and over might be a really good way to minimize the pain. I didn’t do it but it seemed like a true option at the time.

You know, I never realized until this moment, as I am writing this, that doing that might have killed me. This may sound weird but until this moment, I never considered how it would have affected me. That’s the thing about being in the middle of pain, we see options… often bad options but we don’t see anything beyond trying to stop the pain.

That’s what I am told by my clients, who have suffered that pain of mental illness, is what they feel like when they are in the midst of their pains. They may not be hitting their head against a wall; it may be drugs, risky behaviors, avoiding the world or even attempting something that could also end in permanent injury or even death… all they care about, at that moment, is ending the constant pain.

To the people who care about them, once this young person chooses “the other way”, all the people around them see is the consequences. “Didn’t you know that if you did “X” you would end up “Y””. It is understandable for those around you to feel this because the process of suffering is so often done in the dark. The sufferers try to protect those around them and some feel that by minimizing it, it may go away.

So blame is a dead-end street.

How do we go on from here?

Back to Drake:

At 17, the voice was a constant torment. It would say terrible things about the people around him and make him wonder about what people were thinking about him. His only salvation was knowing that someone on the TV really cared about him (or so he imagined).

Drake was still keeping all this to himself but it was getting harder and harder to do so. The pain kept getting worse until the idea of getting high to run away from all of this sounded like a good idea and it worked! At least for the first few times, then… the damn broke. The weed made it impossible to hide how he was feeling. Ashamed, fed up and unable to bear the voice he decided to jump of a bridge into two feet of water.

Drake woke up in the hospital and spent the next year between medical care and mental health facilities.

When we met, a year after his discharge, he was able to get around in a wheelchair. He was sober and ready to work. One of the first things he said to me was he hoped that he would never walk again, as he seemed to be a better person now. He was on meds that were working. I pointed out to him that what made him different now was that he didn’t have to hide from Schizophrenia. He could seek out help and we could work on getting back into finding his personal greatness. It wasn’t the “not walking”.

It has been two years now that we have working together. Drake is back at university and getting high 80’s in the courses he likes. He has stated: “I should be doing that make me happy not crap that make me feel complacent” and so we work on courses and past-times he loves and not done to please others. He helps so many friends and even people he chances upon in is daily journeys. He does wheelchair basketball, guitar, has chosen his vocation in life and I know he will excel at it. His new girlfriend and him communicate brilliantly and are there for each other.

Sometimes though, he says: “I am overwhelmed by becoming the new me“. That’s OK too. But none of this was possible until he embraced what he was suffering with and could seek help from others who would not see him as a label but as an amazing person, ready to contribute to our society, in need of guidance.

If you are someone going through this… know that there is help out there.
If you are a parent suffering in seeing your child go through this… know that once things are stabilized, your child can still find greatness in their lives and that their challenge can help them be more of a help to others in life.

If you are someone who wants to Mentor young adults with mental health issues… know that by studying a Mentoring course, specializing in young adults and mental health, you can change lives with one or two years of part-time training.

Let’s change the world!

Interested in mentoring millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

If you or someone you know is at risk please contact your nearest Crisis Centre or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email cablogteam@huffingtonpost.com

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Mentoring Young Adults – Ken’s Mentoring Moments for the day

Hello fellow Mentors! Mentoring young adults means having to look at our own selves and learn for our Mentoring Moments.

Today’s Mentoring Moment: A happy pinball and a sore thumb.

Those of you who know me, know that I am a bit of a pinball fanatic. I say “a bit” because I know people who have added an extra garage to display a bajillion pinball machines.
I am happy with 7. If I wish to get another, I have to sell one.

Pinball is like life. You take your best shot at something (the plunger) and it may start well or it may start badly. The physics of the ball, the obstacles it encounters can all be dealt with by a stream of copiousness of “Being in the moment”. Sometimes it goes right down the crapper anyways. Maybe you learn something, maybe it was just a bad ball but you keep on.

None of that has anything to do with today’s mentoring moment, I just wanted to share that with you 🙂

Mentoring Moment of the day. I recently bought the sweetest pinball with one of the ugliest looking backglasses (the thing the lights up at the back of machine with the scores on it) called World Poker Tour. Turns out, you can buy new artwork from the place in the Netherlands. There are tasteful images, Playboy quality images, and Hustler quality images. We went for tasteful (I’m old fashioned that way).

My new artwork arrives and it looks awesome! I take out the backglass and the plastic pieces that hold the offending image won’t budge. I email the Netherlands and ask how do you install it? The reply “yew take oot the plastics and yew poot in da picture!”. Not very helpful. I call my local truly obsessed pinball buddy (something like 40 pinballs and counting). He tells me I can get new parts in town (90 minutes away). I call the place and they tell me the plastics should just slide right off but sometimes people but two sides tape in there and it can get sticky.

Here comes the mentoring moment. Undaunted and knowing I can buy new plastics, I bring my trusty exactoknife to the task and it starts to give way! I slice this way. I slice that way and I am getting excited that this little backglass that has daunted me and forced me to continue to behold it’s crappiness would soon be no more. Then it happened. The voice in my head said “you are not being careful and you might get caught”. Pshaw! I said! Ugly backlass must be destroyed!! Of course, four seconds later, I slashed the crap out my thumb. (sigh).

All I could say was, Yes.. voice in my head. I shall listen to you the next time even if I am about to get something that had beguiled me for a while.

I spend so much time mentoring young adults to first teach the voice in their heads to stop being evil, fearful voice and become a helping coach. It is another level to know when the voice is helping. A third level when the voice is inspiring. Don’t let crappy backglasses stop you from learning to listen to that voice. (One thumb up).

Mentoring Young Adults Past the Stigma of Mental Health

I mentor young adults labeled and stigmatized with every Mental Health issue you can imagine. They all have two things in common when I meet with them: Each one of these Millennials has greatness hiding within them and they all feel imprisoned by their labels.

Mental Health Labels and the Outside World.
If I said to you “Hi! My name is Ken Rabow and 20 years ago, I couldn’t get into a subway without wanting to freak out and smash the doors open from anxiety if we stopped for more than 5 seconds. I also made a plane taxi back so that I could get the hell out (way before 9/11). (BTW, the anxiety was eventually conquered) what would you think?

Would you have said: “Hey! I wonder if he is a good teacher?” or “You think he’s any good as a Jazz Drummer?” or… “I’ll bet he’ll make a great life coach for teens one day!” … I don’t think so.

The world wants things to make sense. We feed each other in small bytes of “facts” so that they may be consumed and we can move onto judging the next item in our path.

I am not affected by your good opinion of me. Even less so by how you judge my challenges. It doesn’t matter if you are my Doctor, my Priest, or my Parent, I will not be defined by my lacks, imbalances or labels.

So who stops me?

The Harshest Judge of your Mental Health… is you.
No one is as hard or cruel on my clients suffering from Mental Health issues as they are on themselves. I am honored that they trust me enough to let me in to witness their suffering. I see what they go through and I get it unfiltered.

What I hear them say about themselves, spoken or unspoken are things like: “It’s my fault I have x”. “I’m so stupid” and others too painful to repeat.

I listen. I say back what I am hearing and then I tell them… if the person in your head was your parent, they would be arrested. No one should have such a cruel voice taunting them. Let’s find a new way to work with “the voice”. That voice in your head really wants to help you. They think that by saying awful things to you, they will keep you safe.

First: give that voice a name: Evil Coach, Angry Dad, Malevolent Mom, X, and then you have to talk to them. Tell them “Thanks for trying to help me. What you did kept me from trying things before but now I need you to become a supportive (albeit cautious) Coach/Dad/Mom/X”.

Find a phrase you believe in: “I am not my label” or make up your own.
Read inspirational books: Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, anything by Wayne Dyer.

Slowly transform that voice into: Inspirational coach, Loving Dad, Nurturing Mom or anything else that lets you try and be ok with falling on your ass from time to time and growing from it.

Remember: It doesn’t matter what someone calls you, or judges you as, or labels you, all that matters is knowing yourself. Choose to try to understand your strengths, your weaknesses and recognize when you are at the bottom of the well. There are times when anyone with any sort of sensitivity ends up there.

It is the worst place to be. There seems to be no way out. It seems that everything always brings you back here. Hope is abandoned. Tears replace anger or sullenness and life seems like a shit sandwich served on day-old bread.

Remember this… the bottom of the well is just that: The bottom. It is the place you get to when a series of events, physical, emotional, time-based, chemical-physical and perchance spiritual combine to bring you to the lowest of the low. When you are out of that place, remember that even the well is just a temporary state, which occurs only when all the crappiest humors align.

Coming out of the well, can be the start of seeing life anew. You will have to remind yourself that the well is just what happens when all the crap aligns and it can be temporary. You must do all the things that you can to strengthen yourself, physically, emotionally, chemically (legal meds, holistic supplements or orthomolecular therapy as well as meditation) and time-wise. Learn to be kind to yourself and look for whatever is good… and find a Mentor who is not hung up on labels.

A Word to Families of Someone with a Mental Health Label.

Just because a family member has a Mental Health problem, doesn’t mean that they “did it to themselves” or are “acting like that to spite you” or that you need to save them. Nor is it the end of their possibilities in life.

As they get better it doesn’t mean that they aren’t the “other” thing anymore either. We are all so many different things and some of the most inspiring people I’ve met struggle daily with Mental Health issues. Those people are some of the most courageous people I have known. Not just the courage to change the world but also to take one step forward when they have been living in a well for so long.

See the hero. Ask them what you can do to help.

If we all start to see the potential in each other… the stigma will be replaced with an ancient tribal rite… faith. Faith in the unfolding of life through mentoring each other to be our best and to accept us at our worst.

Become the Mentor… for yourself and for our tribe… the world.

Are you interested in becoming a Professional Mentor for Young Adults? Check out our next opening for 1st Degree Mentorship at Ken Rabow’s Mentors Professional Workshop by clicking here