Few months ago, while I was in the middle of a conversation with a close friend in his office [who is a Professor in a College, near Bangalore], my friend suddenly got up and said ‘I am now going to introduce you to my final year MBA students in the class. The objective for you is to motivate them to achieve success in their lives. You have 45 minutes’! An impromptu session! Whoa! My mind whirled and I said, ‘Give me few minutes. Let me think this through and see what I can do’.
Few minutes later, I was game and knew what I should do. I requested my friend to print out an exercise [one of the Life Planning tools that I use in my group workshops with youth and few individual clients] and distribute to all the 60 students in the class.
After a wonderful introduction to his students, my friend left the class stating that he will be back in the next 45 minutes! Phew!
Over the next 45 minutes, we had amazing conversations and insights on Life, Money, Dreams, Fears, Concerns, Goals and Action Plans. I learnt as much as the students learnt about themselves and others. And many students were able to visualize their dreams, prioritize their goals and develop action plans to achieve their personal and financial goals.
I am sure many of you will now be wondering, how is this possible? I mean, how can we really inspire the youth to live their dreams? That too, in 45 minutes! No way!
What is the mantra? According to Holly G Kindel, Advisor, Mosaic Financial Partners, U.S., “Ask clients simple questions: How can I help you? And then shut up and listen”!
During my session I encouraged the students to talk about Life and Money, what it means to them, their experiences and finally do the Money Quotient’s Life Planning Tool Exercise ‘ Wheel of Life’ in pairs and share their experience with their partners. I was intently listening to them. The highlight of the session was the volunteers among students who opted to share their feelings and experiences to the entire class, by answering the following:
- What did they feel about the exercise, what are the 3 most positive aspects [in terms of satisfaction rankings] in their lives, why and what makes them proud about it.
- What are the two areas of their lives that they will like to improve in the next few years, why, and what are the action steps that they have thought about to achieve incremental or higher satisfaction in those specific areas of their lives.
The breakthrough from this session was the students overcoming their fears and concerns, focusing on what they want out of their lives and how they plan to get there. I am sure you would have observed that many students who study in Tier 2 or Tier 3 towns/villages have phenomenal aspirations, hunger for learning, look for directions in their lives but unable to express it due to lack of self-confidence and the language barrier. I still re-call vividly the last volunteer student who raised her hand with hesitation to share her experiences. Time was ticking.. We waited to hear her voice..I could see the eagerness in her to share, but she just couldn’t.. I looked at her and said, ‘Please be comfortable and speak in whatever language you may want to.. It is not necessary that you have to speak in English. We want to listen to you’.
After a pause, she spoke in Kannada and within no time she switched to fluent English and spoke about her dreams, fears, concerns, goals and action plans! What I liked about her was the clarity with which she spoke in terms of identifying her priorities in life and how she plans to achieve [through series of steps] her single minded goal of becoming a professor in the next 3 years!
I could feel the powerful energy in the classroom and huge motivation to succeed in their lives. That was the Aha moment! If Financial Life Planning can help the youth to identify, prioritize their goals and gently nudge them to live their dreams, we have done the greatest service to our profession, youth and our nation. Of course, I am not advocating that one session will transform the lives of youth but a continuous engagement by empowering and energizing the youth through various channels of communication will help them to achieve their personal and financial goals. Because I believe, India’s future firmly lies with the young men and women . What do you think?
This article was published by COFP India’s FP Pulse Anniversary Edition.