I have been listening to a number of people recently who have had a very difficult start in life. One who had been in social care throughout her teens had been moved over 50 times during those years, between children’s homes, foster care and so on. Another who had been in care for longer had been moved over 70 times. When asked how they got through, in every case I have heard, there was one adult who had connected with the young person at some point in their journey and who had kept in touch. That one relationship with an interested adult became the anchor by which a troubled young person managed at last to get to some kind of safe harbour and a more stable life.
The evidence I have heard further suggests that it is hard to formalise this arrangement: assigning an adult to a young person isn’t the same as the process I just described. There needs to be real interest and real connection, and it needs to stand the test of time, regardless of what scrapes the young person gets themselves into along the way. A simply transactional ‘relationship’, on the other hand, is read as such by the young person (“they never see me as a whole person”; “I’m just some kind of a tick box exercise”).
That does of course give those of us who are parents some kind of basic template to work from as well: whatever else we do, we at least need to always be there, interested and available for our children, whatever they may do or go through. Otherwise, where will our children find an anchor by which to winch themselves into safe harbour, on the day when they are ready? “Unless you change, I will have nothing more to do with you” doesn’t sound like a very good strategy in this context. (The world’s most famous (very) short story, the Parable of the Prodigal Son tells it best.)
All of which has illuminated for me a key aspect of why we are building the hoozyu project. Yes, we can equip young people with fabulous information about themselves and their motivations and so on; and we can tell them who they most resemble in the world of work. What we have built is actually a framework to create and foster connection between adults and young people.
So many of the stories – amazing stories – we hear back are those where an adult has sat down with a young person to talk through their hoozyu results. The outcomes – radically changed behaviours, renewed motivation, whatever (in one case it was a young person starting to take their medication to control their Tourette’s Syndrome because they now had a reason to ‘be a better me’; in another it was two teenage brothers who stopped online gaming and started revising because they both now had a vision of what they could be doing with their lives) – come about not simply because they now have some better information about themselves. Rather it is because they have been affirmed in what that information is saying about them, and the possibilities that it opens up, by someone who has, themselves, already successfully transitioned to the adult world; and who has demonstrated connection and interest by giving them that most precious of gifts, time and attention.
(If you are interested in using hoozyu yourself with a young person, and want to be better prepared, we strongly encourage you to a) go through hoozyu yourself first hoozyu.com and then b) do the hoozyu Foundations Programme on Siminars. This will equip you with a good understanding of what hoozyu data is – and isn’t – telling you.)