Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to my youth work I’ve made some clangers! Hopefully by reproducing them here, it may give you a bit of a laugh and help you to avoid doing the same thing.
Mistake #7: Thinking I know Best
Now I need to be honest here. Telling you about this mistake is difficult because there are so many examples to chose from that can illustrate the point. Perhaps the time when I took a short cut on an orienteering exercise and ended up climbing fences, steep hills and crossing streams instead of the simple cross-country path? Or perhaps when I made an important decision regarding volunteers that contradicted the instructions of my manager (and got us all into trouble)? Or even when I decided to play a particularly rough game with the youth group despite protests from the volunteer team and we had more injuries than the Battle of Hastings? There are many more, but you get the idea.
I am sometimes so blindly confident in my (suspect) abilities that I think I know better than everyone else around me. Take music for example. I remember as an annoying 19-year-old, telling a co-worker that I didn’t listen to ‘pop’ music as it was cheesy. I proudly stated that I listened to cool bands… like Oasis. OK, you can stop laughing now… Please?!
It may just be my own character traits and no-one else suffers with this same problem, however I suspect some other youth workers may find this familiar too, or have been in this position. It can be too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we, as youth workers or educators, know best. After all we’ve been doing it a while, or have had extensive training, or are far more able to make sensible judgements than the young people we work with right? Right?! Well, no. Maybe not!
I’d love to tell all about how this is a mistake that I have now learnt to overcome. However the sad truth is it’s a mistake that I make again and again. The moment I start to believe that I’m doing OK, is the moment when I start believing that I know best again! I constantly have to remind myself to stop, listen to others, and make informed decisions. In fact, as the old saying goes; the more I learn, the less I realise I know.
So what about you?
Have YOU ever thought or assumed you know better than others? What happened? Is this something you struggle with or do you have the opposite problem? Share with us in the comments!