Recently I was speaking to a group of high school and middle school students about the stories of life they TELL one another. My message was intended to inspire them to seriously think about the stories they Teach, Encourage, Listen to, and Love at this point in their life. The stories they TELL today may sculpt who they become.
The great artist Michelangelo was once asked to explain how he created such amazing, perfect sculptures. His response was quite telling. Michelangelo spoke about the perfect statue already being inside the marble, all he did was get rid of the excess marble. All he did was keep sculpting away until the perfection was on display for others to enjoy. Look at Michelangelo’s The Pieta. He sculpted this in 1499 at the age of 24. He merely removed the excess marble!
I shared this story about Michelangelo with the youth. I wanted them to know there was also a perfect expression deep within them. Every one of them have a perfect gift and talent to contribute and share with others. They may not realize it right now, or maybe they have some ideas, but the purpose of childhood and schooling – and living life – is to keep sculpting to reveal the gifts and talents within. Just keep sculpting!
We talked about how some of them may already be thinking about the story of their life, or at least something beneficial for their future. If there is a great story they want to TELL later in life, start sculpting that story now. At this point in their life, there is more marble to remove, and the mistakes are less costly. There is time to try different things without harm, just keep sculpting.
I wanted to inspire them to imagine what could happen later in their life if starting today, and again tomorrow, they challenged themselves to keep sculpting their gifts and talents. What if every day, they would think about who is TELLing them to keep sculpting for their good?
A young man, junior in high school, came up afterwards and shared how he was just going through the motions every day at school. He was only thinking about graduating so he could move on and play college football. “Now I realize I have more to TELL myself and others who are my teammates. I need to think about how I can TELL stuff so others can become better at football. I also have a lot to learn, or should I say sculpt.” I was so inspired by this young man, as well as the other teens in the room!
Please keep him and all the younger people in your prayers, that they have at least one person in life who TELLs them unconditionally. We all need that someone who will Teach us, Encourage us, Listen to us, and Love us…. unconditionally.
The youth today need to see and hear from adults who are actively sculpting life. As you interact with a younger person, consider what you might say or do to help this individual sculpt a future and reveal the unique gifts and talents within.
Ask yourself… How might I…
Teach this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?
Encourage this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?
Listen for this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?
Love this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?
Today and tomorrow, and beyond…. #TELLforGood
About the author of this post: Denise Forrest, Ph.D.
Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students. She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.