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Develop your inner ‘GRIT’

“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t.” 

― Angela Duckworth

More and more, grit is being highlighted as an essential trait for achieving long-term success. But what is it? Grit is a skill, developed over time, that helps us deal with the things we find difficult. Instead of running away or hiding from challenges, it teaches us to consistently face them head-on. That doesn’t mean to say it’s easy but the good news is that developing your grit is something you can get better at.

How to develop your ‘grit’

  • Just like a muscle, grit needs to be exercised. Practice, and persevering in that practice, will help develop it. Part of this boils down to never giving up as well as setting habits and then sticking to them
  • At times, we will all fail, but failure is not a permanent state. When you come up against challenges it’s important to try and think of the bigger picture and understand that your situation can change. In that same vein, it’s ok to feel hurt or frustrated; grit comes into the picture when you push through that pain or discomfort to reach your goal. 
  • Mistakes, and setbacks, are part of the learning journey. In fact, they’re actually necessary. Don’t become overwhelmed with negative feelings when you don’t succeed, try again.
  • Why not start developing grit by pursuing something you enjoy and are passionate about? For example, if you’re good at a sport, the key to developing grit is to do everything you can to get better at that sport and when you come up against challenges, don’t give up. This will help you develop grit for things that aren’t as enjoyable or easy.
  • Our brains are incredible; they are malleable and can grow and change. Some believe that because of this, talent and intelligence can be developed through our efforts. This means that our growth track is not set, we can change it. We need to believe that we have the ability to accomplish difficult things!
  • The people around us can build us up or tear us down. When challenges come, as they inevitably will, an encouraging friend, parent, teacher or mentor can make all the difference.

“Yes, but the main thing is that greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.”

― Angela Duckworth

Want to learn about grit form the world’s leading expert in the subject? Watch academic and psychologist, Angela Duckworth’s, Ted Talks on her understanding of grit. You won’t regret it.

Embracing online learning, a part of our ‘new normal’

By now, we’ve all had to adapt to the new rhythms of a digital world, including following a version of online learning. Although e-learning has been around for some time, its use has been greatly accelerated as we’ve been forced into our homes and onto our digital devices. Moving forward, most educational institutions will probably adopt a hybrid model that merges online and in-person learning. As everyone’s learning journey is different — for example, some people prefer learning in groups, while others concentrate far better when they are alone — is it important to master how to learn well in both settings.

How can you best adapt to online learning?

There are a few practical tips that can instantly morph your online learning journey into a more effective and enjoyable one.

  • It can require more effort to fully immerse yourself into an online lesson. To stay focused, minimise the number of distractions around you. 
  • E-learning offers the opportunity to learn at your own pace. Try to review lesson content before and after class to ensure you grasp what is being taught. Some studies have suggested that making the digital content ‘live’ in a physical form — literally by putting pen to paper — can help reinforce deep learning. But you will have to figure out what works best for you.
  • Give your eyes a break and take time away from your digital device. Even better, jump around to help get rid of that restless energy!
  • Treat your online lesson with the same respect you would for an in-person lesson: get dressed, find an undistracted spot, and arrive on time.
  • When there are physical learning sessions with face-to-face contact, make the most of it. Feed off of each other’s energy, collaborate and focus on accomplishing learning goals that are easier to achieve in person.

In-person learning won’t completely disappear, however, the onset of digital learning means it is now entrenched into our ‘new normal’. Even so, e-learning does give us an opportunity to think creatively as well as reconsider how best we can learn and grow. One of the keys to succeeding in the future is to understand your learning goals and then best match them to a learning setting. How will you adapt, and take advantage of, this new world reality?

We are excited to announce the TLT program is now available anywhere in the world through our newly established online platform. Young leaders can now sign up for and sign in to our sessions from anywhere and everywhere to start their leadership development journeys with us. Interested?

Benefits of doing a Gap year

Are there any alternative to diving straight into university after school? What are my options? Is there any benefit gained in taking a gap year? These are just a few of the questions many young people face when finishing high school or university.

But as bright as their futures all are, the reality is that many young people feel like they just aren’t prepared enough for the big world out there once they leave school. In fact, more and more students between the ages of 17-24 are realising that they’ve got gaps in their game and they’re looking to GAP YEAR programs as a solution.

A simple Google search of the benefits of doing a gap year would produce results that anyone serious about their future should pay attention to. These benefits can be both statistically and experientially proven.

But the question remains, why should any young person take a gap year?

Research tells us that there are 2 major reasons why people take a gap year when they leave school:

1) Students feel burned out from 12 years of formal education.

2) They want to learn about themselves.

The truth is that students often finish school realising that their schooling years didn’t adequately equip them with the life skills and soft skills necessary to deal with the rigours of life. It is for this precise reason that some of the worlds leading universities and colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Yale actually encourage potential students to first take a gap year before going to their universities.

Why? Because their research indicates that students who first took a gap year were even more prepared to tackle the academic challenges at college and were more impassioned to study their chosen course. In fact, according to a major survey taken by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson – gap year researchers and authors – most students surveyed said they felt more focussed, enthusiastic and prepared for college after taking a gap year.

This suggests that a structured gap year program like Victory Gap Year can play a major role in shaping them as an individual.

Let’s look at 6 of the major advantages of taking a Gap Year:

1) Develop new life skills

Taking a structured gap year will help young people develop new life skills. These skills will give them something that they can draw from in their professional life as well as personal life. A skill such as learning how to read the room or being able to speak in public can greatly benefit most professionals and give them an edge in their careers.

2) Become independent

A gap year will help young people to learn independence. For the most part, they’ve spent pretty much their whole life living with their parents and/or authority figures. The independence they learn from taking a gap year is something a lot of students don’t learn until later in life, often to their detriment. Learning independence and being responsible will serve them well throughout their entire life.

3) Meet new people

Taking a gap year will help them make new friends. Gap years often give young people a chance to make long-lasting friendships based on a variety of different reasons – whether that be interests, passions, shared experiences. These friendships are not only great due to their social aspect, but they can also become powerful business contacts in the future, therefore, the power of friendships should never be underestimated.

4) Discover their purpose

Taking a gap year can help young people develop a greater sense of purpose. Not only are they exposed to various activities and tasks, but taking a gap year can help them find what they’re passionate about, which could lead them to discover and step into a life of purpose and destiny.

5) Experience personal growth

Taking a gap year will lead students to being more mature when they begin university. Gap years provide students with opportunities to interact with others, take on more responsibilities and become more independent. After gap year students begin their tertiary education, they will be better prepared to deal with the challenges of life.

6) Gain a new perspective

Taking a structured gap year programme will challenge students to leave their comfort zones. Students will be engaged in something entirely new in a totally different environment. Living in an unfamiliar town and doing new activities and tasks will broaden the student’s horizons. Spending a whole year doing something special will help the student gain new perspective on life, academics and relationships.

All gap year programs offer ‘adventure’ and ‘volunteerism’. As do we. But where VICTORY GAP YEAR is different – we also have a strong track record of success at setting people up for a life of purpose and significance. There are gaps in young people’s lives that we will help fill in order for them to realise their full potential and purpose.

Life skills driving change in young people

Words: Slindile Xhakaza

Education should be made relevant to the lives and aspirations of the children it aims to teach. This is especially true for the South African youth. The reality for many young people in South Africa is that they may come from extremely different backgrounds and lifestyles but challenges are not exclusive to one group. Young people at some point in their lives experience a shift and change in behaviour as they familiarise themselves with the changes that are happening in their physical being as well as mental being. They are often at impressionable phases in their lives and this is when they experience a lot of change as well as become easily influenced, positively and negatively. They are also dealing with different stresses from the pulls of family, friends and school, each holding its own expectation for them to meet. It can be very challenging and can be overwhelming.

Given an opportunity to go back to high school, I would apply a lot of my teachings to young people to my younger self, namely – Not having to try so hard to be liked, I don’t think I struggled as much as other young people do, but I put so much pressure on myself to be likeable and given an opportunity I would relieve myself from that pressure. Fast forward to 2020 as an experienced Facilitator and Youth Mentor with over 8 years of experience of mentorship, I have been marveled at the high intensity of life for young people and what they are exposed to now compared to my days in High School. This has led to me an absolute conviction for the need for Leadership development and LO as practical subjects at school. I recognise how important LO is and a great opportunity it provides youth workers to equip young people to manage and handle the pressures they feel, the LO subject is highly beneficial, not as an assessment based subject but a life training subject that provides tools to manage life pressures now but also empowering with skills for their future and it being relevant to each grade. I do believe it is currently highly underused. There are so many opportunities to shape and change the mindsets of young people, to discover themselves and their unique potential.

We often think we often tell young people that they are great and that is good enough but I have found that young people crave mentorship, someone to just tell them about life, to genuinely care for their well-being and to also give them practical tools to handle pressure. If we can remove the assessment pressure to the subject we can create an opportunity for authentic connections between teachers and students but also an opportunity for young people to be taught about life and be ready to take on life in high school and beyond in the practical sense.

Today, education is touted as the single most important tool to transform the poorest countries in the developing world into prosperous economies — but the need is not just for schooling but for education that is appropriate to the challenges young people face in the 21st century. Again, our socioeconomic backgrounds in the country are so different but no one person is exempted from life challenges and that is why LO is relevant at all students and not for some, developing the leader in every young person and using the lessons to assist learners discover themselves and their potential.

Life Skills and development is important because it engages young people at their level and it provides them with unique opportunities to speak freely without being judged and we, as facilitators, teachers take the responsibility of being mentors, an aid and guide to help them navigate those challenges and even help them discover what they can be in the future based on their personal interest.

Life Skills for the South African youth is a necessity. Young people crave safe spaces to speak about their challenges, an opportunity to come up with solutions and someone who can offer insight into life. I hope in the future people begin to take the role of leadership development and life skill as an essential subject in schools, for its ability to facilitate the transformation of minds and the inspiring of young minds to dream beyond their environments and see beyond their challenges.

At TLT, we find this both an honour and a privilege to be able to be part of facilitating change in the many South African Schools and impacting so many lives. We find those spaces are not just beneficial for our students but for us as well. It gives us access to their brilliance and we get to encourage them to dream big and to pursue their goals. We get to be in a room with our future and it is an exciting experience for, one we will never take for granted.

21st-century leaders will be birthed from blended learning

Words: Megan Rich

As principals, educators, parents, and guardians, we’re all asking ourselves, ‘How do we best prepare learners to succeed in this complex and fast-changing world?’

Although our present global challenges have forced our hands, limiting traditional classroom time through country-wide school closures, it is pushing us into a new and exciting era of blended learning. With schools under considerable pressure to achieve curriculum objectives in shrinking classroom time, this model’s strength lies in its inherent ability to deliver content in a flexible way. Through a combination of online and in-class learning, blended learning can assist schools with content delivery and give learners the opportunity to develop a range of 21st-century skills, and to become holistic individuals.

Life Skills, such as critical thinking, empathy, communication, collaboration and creativity, form part of a range of 21st-century skills that help build the foundations of understanding personal identity and potential as well as develop social skills. Through TLT’s Life Orientation lessons, workshops and mentorship programmes, we have helped schools deliver engaging leadership content. Now, we’re excited to delve into the world of e-learning and offer Life Orientation sessions to schools and individual learners. We want to help inspire and equip learners with the 21st-century skills vital to navigating a rapidly-changing world.

Our online Life Orientation sessions, led by a team of specialists, are engaging, thought-provoking and encourage participation. Here’s why our TLT sessions prove effective amongst young learners: 

  • Young people are visually stimulated. Our content is delivered digitally, through video, animations and ‘facetime’, to help learners grasp the content in exciting ways.
  • These sessions aren’t simply about teaching or lecturing but encourage conversation and questions to develop critical life skills, such as leadership abilities.
  • The current challenges have forced our children into isolation; learners miss their friends. Online classes that encourage two-way participation help to carve out an online community of young people of the same age.
  • As learners from different schools and communities learn digitally together, there is a potential to repair societal bridges and build lifelong friendships.
  • These sessions don’t replace the school setting but instead offer students the opportunity to educate themselves in a different way, which also encourages time management.

Interested in signing up your learners/ child for online learning sessions to best prepare them to become a 21st-century leader? 

Help young people manage stress and pressure

Words: Megan Rich

The simple truth is, no one knows what the future holds. What we can plan for is building personal resilience to manage stress, a trait that goes hand-in-hand with a constantly-changing world.

Simply put, resilience is grit; it’s our ability to cope with adversity. Some attributes that contribute to a person’s resilience are being flexible and able to adapt and make new plans, being able to communicate and connect with others, being able to take care of yourself and others, both emotionally and physically, and being able to find purpose. A good dose of humour helps too.

For our young people, a logical place to start reducing stress is to reduce additional pressure. They’re already feeling out-of-sorts. Their classroom has changed from a clearly-defined schoolroom to the grey spaces of our homes, where rest and work overlap; they miss their friends, sport and after-school activities and they see and feel the pressure their families are under. 

The Department of Education, along with schools, is working behind the scenes to come up with a contingency plan that will assist our young people to both complete and understand their schoolwork. Yes, you can help them by suggesting extra online learning activities but it doesn’t all fall on you — you don’t need to press them to work through their schoolwork as fast as possible.

We are at the beginning stages of a new era of learning and as time goes by, we will all master, together, how best to support our teenage children. Lean into support groups and between the uncertainty, try to enjoy family time. As an organisation who is active in the education space, we will also communicate any messages from Government and incorporate them into our programmes to support blended learning.

To understand how to best support parents during this challenging time, we have put together an online survey. Through your answers, we are hoping to better understand your struggles and concerns and then offer help and solutions.

To further support young people navigate through this changing world, our online Life Orientation sessions, led by a team of specialists, are engaging, thought-provoking and help build resilience. They also encourage participation and are a social space for young people to connect.

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