Friday, May 13, 2011

My 'Yellow Brick Road'

Few thoughts that trigged in me while reading Dr. Myra White's book 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road' - A Harvard Psychologist's Guide to Becoming a Superstar:


I was part of a Non-Profit (around 6 ½ years) in the last decade. We ran a 90 day program in classroom, starting with 'Life Skills' module and then domain skills (Arithmetic, Basics of Computer, Retail, BPO, Automobile etc.). The 'Life Skills' program (first 10 days) is worth mentioning as it followed the same pattern as Dr. White has outlined in her book.


The Program is designed to answer the four key questions,

1.       Who am I?

2.       Where do I come from?

3.       What are my goals? (We believed in multiple goals)

4.       How do I achieve them?


At the end of 10 days, these youth were very clear about their 'Purpose' in life and reportedly felt 'in control'. This was also a testimony of our 'facilitation skills' as we had a challenge of 'Drop outs' in the program. This was a 'Free' course and we were not sure if they would come back again the next day for the classes. Yes, we did not charge any money from these beneficiaries, we found corporate or govt. sponsors for the program, later moved to 'Pay-it-Forward' model. The graduates of the program started to pay for the subsequent batches from their salaries. A commitment to help their fellow youngsters! We were surprised at the evolution of this program. We did not design this to be this way! Neither we forced them into such a model.

These four questions, held the key for success of the participants of this program. Those who kept their 'journals' handy and made copious notes (some students even preserved these notes & exercises that we gave in class - well after 3 or 4 years of their graduation!). We had designed games, activities to help them realize the importance of these four questions. As these were young adults (some of them primarily dropped out of school education system because they were 'Told to do' certain things and they never understood 'why' they were supposed to). We did not want to 'Tell them' what they should 'do'. However, they 'understood' the message.


In these 'First 10 days', around 70% of the students turn around and 'focus' on what they should be doing with their lives. The rest, feel the momentum and join them well before the end of the program. We always enjoyed around 90% employment rate and we followed them for many years after they graduated to ensure that this is 'Sustainable' change.


Taking sessions for these young adults and training facilitators to 'make this happen' were the beautiful moments in my life!

That was my 'Yellow brick road' and I can say proudly that in this process, I could help many walk the same!



Bhaskar Natarajan, ACC


Siva G said...

Bhaskar, I would like to know more about the Life Skills program.

Sounds very interesting.


Krishna said...

Bhasker ji,when we can meet in Hyd Sir.


Anonymous said...

Special is the way we care
Special is the way we share
Special are the memories we store
Of happy times we have shared before.

Dear Bhaskar - I completely agree with this concept. Growth cannot happen in any relation, task unless he/she sacrifices.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bhaskar - Certainly these are deep questions, need deliberation with self. it would be interesting to ponder on them with right questions that will keep us on track. Would be interested in knowing more about this.