3 TIMES TO INDIA, 3 GREATEST LESSONS LEARNED AS AN ADULT LEADER - HILL

This was my third trip to India.  I went first as a team leader, then an expedition leader and my role this trip was mostly logistics and my experience in the previous roles.  Honestly I could not handle much else considering the events over the past year, so I would like to say that I feel privileged to be a support to such kind, caring and gentle leaders as the Lunts; when in reality,…they were MY support.  With a really full heart I want to thank them for the phone calls, text messages, flowers, and constant words of love I felt from them.  Thank you Troy and Amy. 

We have had many discussions as leaders as to what YMAD is.  I feel personally that YMAD is a leadership-training program with character-building opportunities. I am a changed woman because of its philosophies and practices and working through the program.   If you are considering becoming an adult leader, here are my insights from 3 years of experience of how to mentally prepare!

3 TIPS from 3 years of service to mentally prepare to become an adult leader in the YMAD family:

1.     Let personal connections happen naturally.  I really don’t feel it is my obligation to connect with everyone in the group immediately nor do I.  I had a few teens approach me over the years feeling overwhelmed with feeling excluded or the pressure to reach out to everyone.  My response is now,  “Just find at least one person to connect with!” My first expedition, I reached out to everyone and tried to connect on a deep level and it was exhausting and a bit fruitless.   I now enjoy the dynamics of a group and gravitate to those where our souls connect and it feels natural and beautiful.

2.     Honor everyone’s individual motivations for participating in YMAD.  I strongly feel that everyone’s motivation for participating in YMAD or going to India was individual and acceptable.  Each time I participated, my motivation was different.  I heard team members get upset because they hear that other participants are going because it is their first time out of the country, just for the social experience, or to put it on their resume and that they felt that these are all unacceptable reasons to participate.  I disagree with that.  I personally feel in allowing each individual to select the reason for participating is honored and valid.  My motivation changed from year to year and that did not discount the authenticity of my experience.   If you decide to go as an adult leader, then please allow everyone’s motivation to be different than your own.

3.     Be a loving grandma or grandpa instead of a strict parent! YMAD has outlined best practices and procedures for teens and leaders, but also allows for individual personalities and leadership styles to surface.  We ask A LOT of our teens and of our adult leaders!!  It is a well-thought out program!  As an adult leader, we want to be an example and lead in that way, but you can’t do everything perfectly nor do I feel you should expect that of your teens.  My advice would be to lead with love and not with the rules.  To not get frustrated with the teens when they aren’t doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, but to thank them for what they are actively trying to do.  To put an arm around or offer words of kindness them instead of a look of disappointment.  If you decide to accept the challenge of being an adult leader, then be that loving kind adult these teens need and not one fixated on rules and the obeying of them!

Lastly I want to say just how much I loved this last expedition.  Our group was dynamic and ever changing.  Our teens were inspirational and awesome.  They worked hard and had a lot of fun too.  I enjoyed myself and was caught up in the beautiful experiences that made our journey open up like a beautiful lotus flower.

XOXOXO

Hugs and Loves,

Hilary