What we know right now is that at least one, if not two gunmen took fire on another car while driving their own car. Now one young man is dead, one is in critical condition, and one is in a wheelchair for now while he processes in his mind everything that went so wrong so fast.
Our family was beyond excited that same Friday night because our college daughter had come home for an evening to hang out and catch her breath before heading back to school. We laughed around the dinner table for a while…in another part of town, chaos was brewing.
Saturday we woke up somber but still distant from the story. Our kids knew of the students involved in the incident, but not firsthand.
Sunday morning we woke up with a completely different proximity. A mugshot of one of the young men who was a member of the small group that we started four years ago when these students were Freshmen. There were only five in that original group…and now one of those five is wearing prison orange staring empty and scared into a County Detention Center camera.
The emotion centers in our heads began to buffer and spin. How? Why? Who? When?
Over and over again.
Feeling real empathy for the Field’s family of this young man who is now gone, and for the lifetime of lingering pain.
Here is a hard truth that I was forced to reckon…
While I spin my wheels myopically building a kingdom that will ultimately dissolve, an 18-year-old somewhere is ready for my faulty influence, my lackluster enCOURAGEment, my unpolished intercession, my handshake, my slap on the shoulder, and my curiosity about their life.
We also have the opportunity to invest the margin our business provides; marginal time, money, resources, and connections.
Tim Elmore in his book Gen Z Unfiltered relayed that “72 percent of high-school students wanted to start a business and nearly one-third of those ages sixteen to nineteen had already begun volunteering their time.”
There is a real desire among High School students to do something unique, innovative, entrepreneurial, and meaningful.
Your business can be a training ground for that.
Here are three ways (there are plenty more) for you to begin a business mentoring program that would provide students exposure to your influence, and just maybe give them a reason to their still-developing teenage emotion.
First, you can simply begin meeting with a group of students regularly. You may be surprised…but students like to congregate and they love it even better when there is food.
Come up with a basic theme of your time together, get some cheap food, and plan a simple activity.
We began meeting with students four years ago at a local Wendy’s Restaurant with cheap breakfast biscuits. I would play a five-minute video of something motivational and then have a silly activity ready like burning a match from end to end, or a spit-ball competition at the head of a Dave Thomas poster (the founder of Wendy’s).
I would share stories from our life and business and focus on one big takeaway from our time and then drive those five guys to school. That group still meets, now it is on Tuesday nights (because all of the guys can drive) and has grown to 10 to 15 on any given night.
Second, build a simple business mentor program. Create one role in your business that could easily be filled by a student (especially social media management) and create a one-year, revolving program where you bring a student in each year.
During that year, go ahead and map out a calendar for their time and also the time that you and your team will intentionally spend with them so they can learn.
I am proud of a local drone training company here in Bluffton (Crossflight) that has invited a group of four students to come and take part in an internship. One of the young men in our Tuesday night group is a part of it and they have taken the kid gloves off and are empowering these students to learn drone flight while also taking their drone pilot’s license.
If you are a law office, maybe you can connect with other firms in the area for mutual services that a young student can help with.
Investing in students is an active decision that takes active effort, time, and money.
Your failure rate may be high, your confidence level may be low, but the good news is that those don’t matter.
What matters is showing up with intentionality. We all knew that one lady, or guy, that as a student we thought, “what a freak!” Then when we grew into adulthood we realized…” what a sage.”
May you and your business be an intentional light to a student today and maybe we’ll have one less student in the grave, and one less student in a jumpsuit.