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  • Jeff

What Happens in Vegas...

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

What Happened in Vegas, Hopefully Won’t Stay in Vegas

My procrastination paid off this time. After registering late for the conference, I called the SLS hotel- casino-convention center for a room reservation, only to be told all the special rate rooms were taken. I did a search and found a national chain hotel in the historic downtown Vegas district; just a few blocks from the SLS conference center. Even though the hotel’s slogan was not "We’ll leave the light on for you,” I was met with lights from the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel next door.

The next morning as I prepared for the 12 block walk, parking at the SLS was almost as much as my nightly room rate; I stopped by for the normal free breakfast offered by the national chain. To my disappointment, the front desk clerk informed me that they were one of the few hotels in the chain that did not offer breakfast because of the surrounding homeless community that frequently had infiltrated the free amenities in the past and the ‘free breakfast’ had been discontinued. They reminded me of my $39 room and the great value it was for the comfortable, clean, newly remodeled room! I agreed and went on my way.

My adventure took me by a number of wedding chapels, including one that had a drive-thru tunnel of love. I then approached a marquee with the words ‘newly remodeled’ and ‘free wifi’. I had to stop and take in the large sign; the only permanent structure remaining on the vacant lot. Scattered on the lot, more towards the back, were a few tents and make-shift dwellings. As I admired some of the creativity of the make-shirt homes, I almost ran into a fellow pushing his belongings in an ‘At Home’ shopping cart. I offered my pardon for my distracted steps, smiled and nodded, then continued my journey.

I made that walk three more times with thoughts of historic Vegas and the people living in the worn neighborhood and untidy streets. I wondered what brought and kept them here. Did they have a formal education? What happened while they attended school? What had their upbringing and home look and feel like? Had they been bullied? Was their current reality their choice or a result of a disappointment, tragedy, and/or trauma they had experienced?

On my last morning walk to the conference, I came across the young fellow and his ‘At Home’ shopping cart. As I approached, he picked up the corner of his cart, which had a malfunctioning wheel, and moved the cart out of my path on the sidewalk we shared. As I passed, I nodded, said ‘Thank You,’ and offered a ‘Good Morning’ as I continued my stride. What happened next, I shall never forget. He looked up and thanked me for acknowledging him. I smiled bigger and flashed him a peace sign wave as I continued. I now wish I had stopped, but at the time I was a little choked up, embarrassed by the whaling up of tears in my eyes, and not wanting to be late for the keynote speaker. None of that was more important than the interaction I could have had. I’ll regret not stopping the rest of my life.

During the rest of the conference and as I have gotten back to the daily interactions with my students and those around me, I have reflected on that moment and the opportunity I might have had with the young fellow with the ‘At Home’ cart.

There has been more focus and more meaning that navigates my thoughts and actions from the feelings I am experiencing with those around me. I have tried to take the advice of Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” As an educator I have been focused on what I know from the studies, classes and degrees, what works for delivering what I know and have gained, and what feels good from what is presented. I’ve worked on fixing the fossilizing mistakes and maladaptive habits and behaviors of my approach without listening; failing to consider the desires and purposes of the individuals in my classroom. When I have taken the time to identify their strengths, I do not reteach what they already know. This gives way to addressing their weaknesses from what they have missed or do not understand with a loving, forgiving and non-judgmental approach. Utilizing all experiences to address the misinformation they have received and show them that as they can adapt new habits and behaviors. The individual can use The Adaptive Process to achieve the goals and dreams they individually have uncovered and outlined for life.

What does it look like? Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes chaotic, but always with energy to achieve.

Why do we do it? It allows the individual to wake up and take control of their education, path and life.

When do we do it? Everyday, AFTER an engaging and thought-provoking set up. If an individual is engaged, with thoughts and confidence for achievement, they feel relaxed and are having fun; even with challenges.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which can change the world.” My thought of my encounter on the street made me consider; “Am I arming my students with what they need to defend the challenges they will face during their lifetime?” Preparing the individual to seek information and knowledge for themselves is arming them with the abilities to adapt to the ever changing world.

Seven key strategies for a rigorous, high-quality education and training needed to align with the demands of the multifaceted employment opportunity world are: First, align education and training with skill needs of the industry. Second, prepare individuals for post-secondary and apprenticeships. Third, advise and support individual’s education and career goals. Fourth, offer education concurrently with workforce preparation activities and training. Fifth, provide services in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement. Sixth, offer credentials that will assist the individuals’ personal growth and finally, help them enter a specific occupation. Seventh is the most important, direct them to something they love to do.

As we listen to the stories, needs, goals and dreams of other individuals whom we encounter along our journey and share our positive energy by engaging and sharing in their process and growth, we will better focus on the options for our individual pathway. By assisting them in seeking the best opportunities, we uncover the endless possibilities for our own navigation, journey and growth. It is vital we root ourselves and others in The Adaptive Process; focusing on the community needs, building the personal skills needed to assist them in their journey through the life, while we are developing and creating our own.

- Jeff

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