Don Shomette

People are the Prize

Two Critical Words in Helping Kids be Successful

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Let’s imagine for a moment that during a conversation, a kid reveals that they have a dream of becoming a famous actress.

This is how I would respond.

I would rip out a clean sheet of paper, slide it in front of them and tell them to sign it. When they ask why they’re signing it, I’d explain that when they become world famous I’m going to sell their autograph on eBay and makes lots of money. Purely selfish reasons…


For a few seconds I would simply enjoy that beam of happiness.

Then, I’d get to work.

I would slide another piece of paper in front of her and have her write two words on the very top in large, bold letters.


I’d explain why I chose those two words. That success is dependent on two critical elements which are 1) change and 2) sacrifice and that for our little exercise, we’re going to rename them until & unless. In other words, until you’re willing to change and unless you’re ready to sacrifice, your dream will remain a dream.

Near the top of the same piece of paper, I’d have her write this sentence.

I won’t be a famous actress UNTIL (change)

With the kid’s help, we would identify all the ‘untils’ or changes that need to happen in order to become a famous actress and I would have her list them underneath the same sentence.

For example, I won’t be a famous actress until…

…I graduate high school
…I attend drama school or college
…I get an agent

These are only a few examples and obviously some are short term and others long term. List them all and remember nothing is too impossible. In the end, you’ll know what to pitch and what to keep.

Then, we’d do the same thing with the sentence for unless.

I won’t be a famous actress UNLESS (sacrifice)…

…I put the time into really practice being an actress
…I increase my ability to remember lines by practicing
…I risk the embarrassment of failure by trying out for different parts

I would then identify in each category the priorities that must be done first in order to be successful and that’s it. All that’s left now is to feel good about yourself because with your help, a young person is on the road to success and that much closer to accomplishing their dreams.

One last point.

Most mentoring fails because the mentor tries to shape the mentoree to be just like themselves instead of helping the other person to become the best version of themselves. I’m not a fan of Hollywood or actors or actresses. In a world full of possible heroes, they’re simply not mine. To be an actor would never be a dream of mine, but that doesn’t matter. Please don’t squash a person’s dreams because it’s not your dream or is a dream that you don’t find valuable. To do so is a far greater disservice to the young person than doing nothing.

Most dreams don’t fail because of a lack of skills, they fail because of a lack of application. Your job is not to decide what they do, just to help them apply themselves to be successful.

Author: Don Shomette

Don Shomette is a trainer, speaker, consultant, and owner of People are the Prize, a violence prevention company that helps people to prevent and survive a school attack. He has spent a lifetime working with police officers and principals and is consistently evaluated by those who attend his trainings as one of the best instructors ever. Don challenges, entertains, and helps school personnel to think of preventing violence in a new and positive way.

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