Personal excellence

Personal excellence and youth work

Personal excellence

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential: these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

The very best youth workers I have ever met share an extremely rare focus. These Ultimate Youth Workers want to be the best. The don’t want to just coast through they want to blaze a trail. They never accept the status quo. They never rest on their laurels. They believe there is more to be done… and they do it. These youth workers see life as needing to be lived to the fullest. It is what drives them to excellence!

Seeking to live and work by the mantra of excellence is not bad as many have tried to sell over the past decade. The view that close enough is good enough has hurt our sector. From training to employment and through to the work we do with young people we must do it with professional excellence. Beyond our professional excellence however we need to have personal excellence. We must want to win, succeed and reach our full potential. Because if we can’t do this, we have no right to ask it of our young people.

Do you want to win? In your career, personal life, for your client? Do you want to succeed? In your studies, your cases, your personal goals? Do you want to reach your full potential? The world is littered by people who gave up when things got tough. Who decided to coast instead of put in a little blood, sweat and tears. Who did a half assed job because that was easier. If you want to be an Ultimate Youth Worker you need to seek after your own personal excellence. An Ultimate Youth Workers goal is always to be better tomorrow than they are today.

What do you do to encourage personal excellence?

Personal excellence

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Mental health

Mental health… Do you understand?

Mental health is the leading health issue of our time!

Mental health

Mental health is…

It is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the western world. One in four of our young people will have a diagnosed mental health issue by the age of 25. Many of the leading mental health diagnoses are most prevalent in adolescence. Most of all mental health is an issue of which youth workers must have a rock solid understanding. Unfortunately, most youth work education gives a youth worker a passing knowledge at best… and this is dangerous.

[Tweet “At Ultimate Youth Worker we believe that all youth workers should have a first responder understanding of mental health.”] At Ultimate Youth Worker we believe that all youth workers should have a first responder understanding of mental health. In the same way that paramedics have enough understanding of medicine to save your life and get you to hospital, we believe youth workers should have enough understanding about mental health to assess, triage and refer to mental health clinicians. We need more training. We need more education. We need more understanding.

Most young people are thankful for our empathy and care… but know how limited our knowledge of their issues are. Over the month of October we will be devoting time to help you understand more about mental health. October is mental health month and as a treat each week we will focus on one mental health issue and give you more depth than any course you have ever attended. We want you to be the best you could possibly be, and to do that we want you to have the best resources possible.

Organisations such as BeyondBlue and Headspace have fantastic resources aimed at young people and their families. They give a cursory understanding of the issues and provide a comforting nudge in the direction of support. As a tool for youth worker knowledge however they are limited. As youth workers we are often in a position to first identify mental health issues in young people and as such we need to have a better grasp of the issues. We must gain more than a mental health first aid certificate if we are to truly support our young people to recover their mental health.

Knowledge is power. It is also responsibility.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Youth work and excellence.

One of the values of Ultimate Youth Worker is ‘excellence in all we do’. We expect that if people are paying for our services they deserve nothing but the most exceptional service. As I have been teaching the last year or so I have come across a scary value that has crept into our sector. Close enough is good enough. It is in students and service providers. We have started to give half assed service.
 
There are many reasons for this. Our funding agreements tell us to do less with more people. Our clients are more complex and we don’t have any more time. Our education of youth workers has focussed so much on competency and not on relationship. All in all it has led to a focus on just getting through. To our clients though this shows up as a lack of care, support and service. Most of all a complete lack of understanding of their circumstance.
 
If we are to be seen as professional and to be effective we must rid ourselves of half assed service. No more six week interventions. No more close enough is good enough. We must focus on the needs of our clients. We must seek to provide excellence in all we do! Look at the values of your organisation… Are you really acting in the best interests of your clients? Is it excellence you seek?

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Is the professionalisation of our sector destroying the very foundation of youth work?

Thoughts on professionalisation

Over the last couple of days I have been re-listening to some of my favourite podcasts from c2ypodcast.  Two in particular grabbed my attention as the guests spoke about the failure of the professionalisation movement in light of youth work core principles. We have stated a number of times on this blog that the professionalisation debate is lacking and unhelpful at best. We believe that qualifications and metrics don’t make a professional… it takes passion, calling and a whole lot of work.
ProfessionalisationFirst up was Professor Dana Fusco who in discussing her amazing work “Advancing Youth Work: Current Trends, Critical Questions” spoke of the threat that certification of youth workers holds for youth work. The research for other professions appears to show that certification and professionalisation of other professions has not led to the recognition which we as youth workers are seeking. Dana’s discussion led me to think that the striving to become more professional in the human services sector has led to a watering down of youth work principles and practice wisdom.

The second conversation was with an elder statesman in the field of youth work, Dr. Gerry Fewster. Gerry spoke of how insidious and easy it is for us to fall into the trap of practicing just like other human services professions such as psychology or social work in a world which waters down our practice as youth workers. That our uniqueness and ability to work with young people in a fluid way is compromised by blindly following into the mire of professionalisation.

Neither of these professionals believe that youth workers should be less than highly professional. What they do argue is that by limiting the scope and practice of youth workers through managerialism and metrics whilst seeking to gain a better reputation is ludicrous.

Lets be more professional every day, but let us never give up that which makes us unique.

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UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Ultimate youth workers will always try one more time.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Thomas A. Edison 

It is a fact in the daily work of a youth worker that there is disappointments and setbacks. We are regularly lied to, see the worst in people and we get limited if any support to do it. It is in these times that it is really easy to give up. To focus on the negatives. To move on to the next young person.

The hard thing is to push on through. To try, try, try again. It is in the hard times when we show our young people that no matter what is going on we will stand by them that we often see the greatest successes.


Remember when all seems lost try just one more time. 

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UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Bring a pen and paper!!!

A short one today! Over the last couple of weeks I have been working with a number of student youth workers helping them with their field placements. One of the most frustrating things tat I have seen in these new recruits to the sector is something which has become more prevalent over the last decade. They don’t take notes!!!

It is really hard to take notes when you don’t have a pen and something to write on. Some say they can do it on their phone or Ipad, but the reality is that there is no substitute for pen and paper.

When I was a new member of the working class a mentor of mine said to me that I should take pen and paper into every meeting I ever have. Write everything down he told me. Your memory is not as good as you think it is he said. He was right!

The one piece of advice I give my students and many of those that we supervise is take a pen and paper every where. Write everything down. You never know what you will need to remember!

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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Ultimate Youth Worker

The Habit of Youth Work: Excellence in all we do.

Youth work is a difficult profession. It requires the patience of a saint, the wisdom of Aristotle and the stamina of a thoroughbred. In the craziness of all we do sometimes excellence is traded for efficiency. How many of us have been asked to cut corners to meet our funding targets or have been required to work with more clients to meet deadlines??? Often when our efficiency increases our effectiveness suffers.
 
Ultimate youth worker’s recognise that efficiency is not the be all and end all. We seek to find the best opportunities to meet the needs of our clients time and time again… and for the most part these opportunities are different for each client. The idea of best practice meaning one single fixed form of doing something is foreign to the youth worker. However, being there through thick and thin, when others leave and our young people see no hope that is the mark of an Ultimate Youth Worker.
 
Reflective practice is a skill that takes practice
 

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit“.  Aristotle

 
 
The best youth workers I know are those who spend their time repeatedly doing the work of a youth worker. They run groups, case manage, play games, build relationships, advocate and plan programs to name but a few tasks. They do this over and over again until it seems like second nature and then they do it some more. When they are asked to do something outside their purview they become canny outlaws and work for the best of their client without dropping effectiveness. 
 
In his ground breaking book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to become truly successful at a task. This means that the average full time youth worker would need to work for just over five years to become successful, or upwards of ten years for a part timer. If we as a field expect excellence of our youth work colleagues we must first understand that it takes time and energy (at least five years) to learn how to do the job. If the anecdotal evidence is anything to go by then the average of a two year career expectancy for youth workers leaves them startlingly short. We need to invest more time in new youth workers in the first five years of their career to help them achieve excellence.

UltimateYouthWorker

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe and son Ezra.

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