Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Helping the Poor to use More of Their Potential

I have conducted job readiness training for people on public assistance for many years. When I begin a seminar, I always ask the class to list what their greatest challenges are. The list normally includes the following:

1) no job
2) not enough money
3) not enough education
4) poor childcare
5) inadequate housing
6) no transportation

However, this list does not include the biggest challenge that almost every person on public assistance faces. It is a challenge that rarely occurs to these folks. Their biggest challenge is themselves, the way they think. Their belief system tells them that they are not very smart and they do not deserve success. Successful use of one's potential is for other people, not for them.

However, when the clients begin to think more effectively and use more of their potential, the list shown above starts to get shorter. They begin to use their gifts to solve many of their challenges. Their beliefs, attitudes, and habits begin to improve.

Some of the readers of this blog have heard me say this before, and it is worth repeating. You can "bury" our clients in benefits-triple their TANF ("welfare")check, increase their food stamps, give them childcare assistance. None of this will have any lasting effect on them unless we teach them to THINK SUCCESSFULLY.

Via my blog, I want to share what has worked for me over the years. I have trained and worked with TANF clients from several different localities in the State of Virginia. Using my approach in concert with many dedicated DSS workers, we have helped create many, many successful client stories-individuals going to work and keeping their jobs for longer periods of time ,obtaining their GED, going to college, and developing healthier personal relationships.

Do you agree with me? Can effective thinking help our clients achieve lasting success that will allow them to transition off of public assistance?

1 comment:

Gideon said...

Self-entitlement and dependency is a poison that is destroying culture. Someone sent me this email recently and I thought it relates to your post.

-There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the Prof noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist regime.

In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked:

"Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said that it was no joke.

"You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.

The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again.

You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

Soon they go back to eating the free corn . They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity."

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tax cuts, tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies,
payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.-

I know the above story is more of a political statement but I really think it hits at the core of the problem. The "country of entitlement" moniker that we hear nowadays is a reality. It is proving to be a disservice to lower income Americans. The defeatist attitude can only be broken by helping the poor realize their potential. It is to be cultivated, not suppressed by more and more public assistance.

I think that's where we, as HR, come into play. It is up to us to help our employees, and even people in general, realize their potential. Obviously, people will ultimately make their own decisions based on their free agency. But, if we can guide people to become more self-reliant and understand their self-worth, then we can hopefully help pull people out of the socioeconomic pit that they are struggling to overcome. I don't think all social programs are bad. Most programs are there to help people become successful. I just feel that when people become dependent on them, then those programs have failed those individuals. Just like social security is not intended to be one's retirement account, neither are other social programs supposed to be a barometer of one's success and potential. That's why successful thinking is so important.

In your opinion, which of the following is the most effective way to recognize an employee for a significant accomplishment at work?