Understanding Your Purpose
In the Hindu religion, there is a sharp focus on Dharma. Choosing your Dharma is choosing to walk the path set for you by the Supreme Being. If you follow your Dharma, you will no longer be a fish out of water, or a round peg trying to fit in a square hole. When you are doing what you are meant to do, you will then be utilizing your natural skill sets and talents; thus, success will be inevitable. Finding your Dharma is like falling in love. If you’re ready for it to happen, then when it happens, you will just know. And nobody will be able to talk you out of it. If you aren’t sure of what it is you should be doing, just make sure that you are in the ball park. Close is good enough for a start.
One way to find your Dharma is to write a list of what you don’t want in your life. Most people have an easier time identifying what they don’t want than what they do want. It will still take courage to cut these items out of your life, but at least you will have a list to use as a reference when you are deciding on one path over another. The closer you are to your Dharma, the easier and more enjoyable your life path will be.
The best example I can think of to illustrate Dharma is to talk about my dog, Abby. Abby is an English Springer Spaniel or “Springer” for short. Springers are born and bred to hunt and flush out game birds such as grouse and pheasants, which is the prime purpose for me choosing this breed. From her normal behavior, most people would assume that Abby is a happy dog when they meet her. She is a bundle of excitement when she greets every guest, and she is even more excited if she recognizes who you are. She’s an indoor dog who is well cared for, pampered, and loved as much as any dog could hope for. It’s true that our little Abby is generally a happy dog who is in good spirits. However, she wasn’t born and bred to be a family lap dog.
Abby suffers from arthritis, and at home she needs help to get up on to the couch or into her favorite chair. She climbs the stairs with some difficulty and discomfort, but she can do it on her own. In this environment where she is merely content, this is the demeanor of our precious friend. One would never suspect what she is capable of when she is placed in the environment she was born and bred to be in.
When the short two weeks of pheasant season comes around, I’m ready for it. The pheasant area is a two-hour drive south of my home. Consequently, for me to be there for first legal shooting light, I have to get up bright and early. The moment I grab my hunting jacket and my shotgun, Abby perks up and starts to look like a different dog. Suddenly she is able to fly up and down the stairs without any sign of pain, and she has a look of anticipation in her eyes that can only be described as sheer joy. On the drive down to the pheasant area, she calms down. But as soon as we get within ten minutes of our regular area, Abby starts to fuss with anticipation. Even though we only go about three times a season, she recognizes every tree and bush within a fifteen mile radius. By the time we start down the final dirt road, Abby is jumping out of her skin with excitement. The moment I park, I open the door for her, and she bolts out of the vehicle as if she were on fire.
Once I get all of my gear prepared and the clock tells me that it’s time for legal shooting light, we’re off to hunt. My little arthritic dog runs full out, weaving in and out of the bushes without any encouragement for three hours straight. Even in the deepest bush (which Springers are renowned for), Abby will crash through the thistles and leap over the logs and deadfall as if she were four years younger and much fitter than she actually is. When Abby does find a bird or rabbit, she lets out an uncontainable yelp of excitement as she chases after it for me. Each time she finds a bird, she is re-energized and unstoppable.
This is the power of Dharma. Hunting is what Abby was born and bred to do. It is the reason she was placed on this earth. Although she can be relatively happy without hunting, she will never be so happy as when she is hunting.
When you are traveling the path you were meant to travel, the one you were designed for, you will then be at your happiest as well. If I could hunt with Abby all year round, I would. It brings me enormous joy to watch the excitement she experiences during the hunt. Even when we aren’t successful at finding any game, she is still far happier pursuing her purpose than being at home on the couch. She doesn’t lament that she has failed in her attempt; instead, she relishes the fact that she had the opportunity to try.
“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.”
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”
The Responsibility of Talent
One of the reasons I am driven to succeed at my endeavors is that I feel a responsibility to do so.
“Gods gift to us is our talents; our gift to God is using them.”
I always knew I had talents, and once I was able to identify them and their potential value, I was able to find my path, my Dharma. If I were to ignore my path and my potential, I feel that I would be slapping God in the face.
Ignoring your talents is like blowing a million dollar payout from your parents’ life insurance policy on a weekend in Vegas. This would be a massive disrespect to the memory of your parents and their many years of careful diligence paying into an insurance policy to ensure a better future for you.
Talents are a precious gift that all people have received to varying degrees. Sadly, most people take their gift for granted and never choose to implement and thus enjoy their talents.
What are your talents? Everyone has them, yet not everyone is fully aware of them. We can all elevate ourselves, and the most rewarding way to do so is by discovering and utilizing our talents.
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
For the first time in human history, we live in a global society that provides abundant opportunity for almost everybody. There are difficulties for all, but not so much as to drown out anyone’s ability to pursue the opportunities before them. What a shame it is to have talents that are never realized, yet most of society commits this grave sin under a blanket of excuses.
“The real source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things; it is in the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination, and our own faith in the future. That’s the magic of a free society—everyone can move forward and prosper because wealth comes from within.”
All of us have an urge, sometimes a secret urge to find our Dharma. Many refuse to even look for their Dharma or admit that they have one. Are you one those people who complains about your job or your business? If so, this is probably because you are not in a situation that uses and pushes your talents and potential. Not all of us can become billionaires, but most can become millionaires. I’m using money here as a measuring stick, but this concept applies to your wealth of happiness and contentment. It’s fear that keeps us from admitting our potential and our talents. It is this same fear that presents itself to appear as laziness.
“There is no such thing as lazy people, there is only the uninspired.”
Many couch potatoes are on the couch because they have simply given up. They don’t know where to start and feel there is no point in trying because they won’t win regardless of what they do. The attitude is: “What’s the point in setting myself up for disappointment?”
“Men are made stronger on the realization that the helping hand that they need is at the end of their own right arm.”
Sidney J. Philips
Other people will simply succumb to their fear of failure and come up with any and every excuse in the book as to why they “can’t” do it. These people will rationalize with themselves and others to explain that the size of the stones in their path are simply too large to climb, never admitting they were the ones who threw the stones there in the first place. It’s amazing how people will protect their self-limiting beliefs. If you challenge their beliefs or try to offer solutions to their so-called “problems,” their tendency will be to resist with a mighty force.
If you try to offer examples of those who have already done what these folks wish that they could do, you will likely be resisted by excuses, imaginary obstacles, and rationalization. The skeptics will tell you that the people who “did it” were just in the right time and the right place. It’s common for skeptics to attempt to trivialize success by saying, “They were just lucky.”
Being aware of the fact that these are normal and predictable responses to “the truth” will arm you against the influence of misinformation and self-limiting beliefs. Self-limiting beliefs can be incredibly persuasive and potentially very dangerous to your success. They are like a super- contagious disease, and you must take precautions to avoid being infected by them. When choosing an environment to spend time in, ensure that it is not contaminated by self- doubting, self-limiting influences. Just as you wouldn’t go swimming in shark-infested waters, take heed to ensure the crowd you run with is a positive one.
Although potentially dangerous, I have found that negative people can also be great teachers. You can learn what is correct by hearing and seeing the negative results produced by negative people. Understanding how it is that they achieved those negative results will allow you to see how the results could have easily been positive had the energy used towards the goal been positive. These people are proof that positive or negative energy produces positive or negative results. Another layer of armor you can wear is to realize that when people try to keep your feet on the ground, it’s usually because they don’t want you to surpass them. Not many people are mature enough to offer encouragement to someone who is about to surpass them.
Talents Are Opportunities, Not Entitlements
If you have not already seen the movie Evan Almighty, then I suggest that you do. It’s a great comedy, and there are good lessons to be learned from this film. Morgan Freeman’s God character had this to share:
“If you pray for patience, God doesn’t give you patience; he gives you the opportunity to be patient. If you pray for courage, God won’t give you courage; he will give you the opportunity to be courageous.”
Your talents are opportunities, not entitlements. If you have ever watched American Idol, or any of the other Idol competitions, you surely would remember at least one contestant who felt that he/she was entitled to win. These people would strut around with an arrogant air, just waiting to be rewarded for their talent. What they didn’t understand is that talent alone is just not enough. You need to have many more tools in the tool pouch.
If you are waiting around for someone to swoop into your life to give you that “big break” by recognizing your talents, then you are likely going to be waiting for a long time. If you feel that talent alone entitles you to a life of showcasing your talents, then again, you will be disappointed. It’s true that some people, like the beautiful Pamela Anderson, are just “discovered,” but for every Pam Anderson, there are a thousand others who had to claw and scrape their way to the top. Even in Pam’s case, being discovered was only the opportunity. Pamela had to do the work to make the most of the opportunity and to be successful. Many people would have blown the chance that Pam was given, or they would not have had the courage to jump on the opportunity.
Your talent is a doorway to a goal, not a winning lottery ticket that guarantees your goal. You can be disempowered by letting others decide whether or not to value your talents, or you can be empowered by taking your future into your own hands.
Somewhere out there, the next Mozart, Jimmy Hendrix, Einstein, or Stephen Hawking is riding the bus to the widget factory while scores of others with far less talent are living the life of a superstar. Many people have succeeded at ventures where others with far more talent have failed. Talent is just not enough. You must take action to implement your talents, or they will just waste away in the cellar of your soul.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
What are your talents? If you know what they are, then— what are you waiting for? If you are waiting for courage, you will find it by continuing to educate yourself through books or courses. The more you grow, the more confident you will feel. Instead of waiting for courage, you can just go on faith that things will work out, and jump NOW. The courage and confidence will come later. Just act, take a deep breath, and jump!
Success, overcoming fear, and effectively achieving goals are all learnable skill sets. All of the keys that are shared in this book are learnable.
If I was plopped into the middle of a McDonald’s kitchen and told to start cooking burgers and fries, I’d be totally lost. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do, but only because I haven’t put in the time to develop the required skill set. I’m sure that there are not many people out there who don’t have the confidence to be a competent back line cook at McDonald’s, yet few have the confidence to acquire the skill sets required for great personal success. This is what I know to be true: Both skill sets are equally attainable.
The self-limiting belief of “I’m not qualified” will dictate the type of pursuit you will have the confidence to chase. You have to understand that your resume can only show what you have done; it cannot show your potential. The resume is only a reflection of the past, and although the past is a good predictor of the future, you have the ability to grow at any moment you choose. No resume can illustrate your growth potential.
What if your resume only shows all of the wrong paths you have ever walked? How is this going to demonstrate the fact that a different path which compliments your skill sets would allow you to soar above the crowd? Resumes simply cannot show your true potential. It is improbable you will ever achieve more than you believe you are capable of achieving. You can lie to yourself and call yourself a “realist,” but, really, you’re just a pessimist. The chances are that you are dragging down others around you with your negative view of your own life.
The skills you don’t yet have today can be acquired for tomorrow. Acquiring a new skill is nothing more than a small challenge to overcome. Any puzzle that is placed in front of you can be solved.
A very dear friend of mine once bought a beat up, worn out Jeep CJ5. The thing didn’t even have tires on it, was full of rust, and was missing many parts. Michael was able to get this junker for $350.00 with the intention of parking it in his garage and rebuilding it from the ground up.
Now it must be understood here that Mike was neither a mechanic nor an auto body technician. In fact, Mike had absolutely no idea at all of how to rebuild an engine or refinish a vehicle’s surface. The only thing Mike knew for certain was that whatever the challenge, he could figure out a solution.
The easy part was to disassemble and label every nut, bolt, wire, and screw from the vehicle. The old Jeep was stripped to the frame, the body was removed, and the engine was pulled.
With the Jeep fully pulled apart, the next step was for Mike to decide on the order in which he would solve each of the challenges he had just created for himself. Using logic and common sense, Mike learned one skill at a time, and he bought all of the required tools to do the job. The only applicable skill that pre-existed for this project was Mike’s scant experience as a welder almost twenty years prior.
The end result was that of a fully rebuilt machine. There were mistakes that had to be re-done, and it wasn’t the fanciest paint job. But overall, that Jeep looked fantastic.
What does your Jeep look like? Perhaps your Jeep is the piano that’s sitting in the corner of your living room. Maybe you’re the person who’s been thinking about learning to play for years, but just never got around to it. Maybe your Jeep is a surf board or perhaps a parachute. What is the goal you have been procrastinating about because it would require skills which you don’t yet have? If you keep making excuses, the only possible result is future regrets.
It’s a fine line between attitude and perspective. Have you ever heard the expression,
“Your attitude, not your aptitude will determine your altitude”?
Using the “maze/balloon” metaphor, you can see how your altitude increases your perspective. So from this angle, the two are interwoven.
Have you ever been told that you had a “bad attitude”? I find it odd when I hear people say this as it doesn’t explain what a “bad attitude” actually is. Basically, a negative attitude will sink you, and a positive attitude will allow you to fly. So if you hear someone saying that you have a bad attitude, chances are that you are being perceived as negative.
Perspective is the position you are in when you look at a situation (point of view). Attitude is the CHOICE of positive or negative energy that you use when you assess a situation. Here is an example:
Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack saw that the well was dry, and chose to throw an angry fit. He was yelling at the well, yelling at his bucket, and finally he shouted down the hill at the fool that sent them up this darn hill in the first place. (Though the “fool” couldn’t hear Jack from way down in the town). After all the hollering, Jack plopped his grumpy butt on the ground and proceeded to mutter his frustration, with only his bucket to listen.
Jill tried to calm him and reassure him that this was a minor deal, but Jack just got angry at Jill for not joining him in his rant. Jill decided it was no use trying to talk to Jack, so she just left him on the hill to fester in his frustration. Jill knew she couldn’t go home with an empty bucket, so she marched down the hill and up another hill that had another well. It too was dry so she just shrugged her shoulders and said aloud, “There’s not much that I can do about a dry well, and throwing a fit like Jack did won’t improve the situation, so I’ll just have to keep looking, and check the next well.”
With a click of her heels, she decided to happily enjoy the unexpected challenge of filling her bucket with water. She skipped down the hill to try again. On Jill’s third ascent of her third hill to check her third well, she found success. Jill couldn’t help but to feel pride in the fact that she didn’t give up, and that her perseverance rewarded her with a bucket of water that she could carry home with pride. Jill also felt just a little sad for Jack because she wished that he hadn’t given up so easily. He too could have known the feeling of pride that she was now enjoying.
When she got home, she told her parents of the effort required, and her parents were proud of her tenacity and positive attitude. Poor Jack didn’t have a very warm reception when he returned home with his empty pail. Jack let himself down, and he let down his entire family, who was counting on the water to drink with their dinner. Jack’s “bad attitude” meant that the family would go thirsty that day.
Let us boil this down:
- A positive attitude fuels perseverance.
- Perseverance fuels success.
- Success gives you pride in yourself and a positive social status.
- A negative attitude is fuel for giving up.
- Giving up fuels failure.
- Failure that is due to giving up makes you ashamed of yourself and results in regret. (Don’t mix this up with failure after doing your best! There is no shame in failing if you did your best).
A positive attitude is a key element in achieving any goal. Without it, you’re swimming upstream. When people tend to adopt a negative attitude, they also tend to blame others for their problems. If you blame others for your problems, then you are playing the “victim” role. As long as you choose to be a victim, you can never choose to be a winner.
It’s important for me to be clear here. Saying that you “choose to be a victim” doesn’t mean that you choose to be victimized. When something horrible happens to you, I’m not saying that it’s your fault or that you have brought it on yourself. What I am saying is that you have a choice of how to deal with the fact that something nasty has just happened. A positive attitude allows you to be a problem solver because, instead of focusing on everything that’s wrong, it allows you to focus on everything that is right, and on the possibilities. A negative attitude will always blind you to the possibilities that are right under your nose. Quotes on Attitude
- “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
- “Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”
- “Attitude is more than just being positive. It’s a way of looking at life, ours and everybody’s. It is said to be Everything because it is Everything. It defines who we are and what we become!”
- “You miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take.”
What Do You Really Truly Want?
The answer to this simple question will provide you with a focus. It’s an extremely scary thing to answer, because once you admit your dreams to yourself, you then have to decide: Do I have the guts to move toward my goal or not?
To answer the question “What do I really want?” first remove the pressure. I suggest imagining that you have found Aladdin’s lamp, and the genie has offered you three life goals. All that you have to do is to choose the three in order of preference. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I knew that I couldn’t fail?” You should also ask, “What would I do if I didn’t need the money?” Answering these questions doesn’t have to be scary. Once you have the tools for overcoming the fears of both success and failure, you will then have the courage to try in the face of failure. Courage is just as rewarding as Aladdin’s lamp. With courage, all you need to do is identify your needs, wants, and desires, then go for it! Forget all of the “what ifs” of failure. What others have done before you, so can you.
Some people are blessed with a certainty of direction. These people know what they want to do with their lives, and they just go for it without distraction. Most of us, however, are less sure of the direction we wish to take, and therefore we bounce around from path to path hoping to stumble across the right path for us (Dharma). I was thirty-three years old before I found a direction that was right for me, though it was clear to some of my closest friends many years prior which path I should explore. Once I finally found my path, I flew down it with blatant enthusiasm and never looked back.
“Find the environment where you thrive. We would probably never have heard of Tiger Woods if there were no golf courses.”
You may not know what you want yet, but the lessons in this book will help you find the courage to admit your goals to yourself and the wisdom to allow your dreams to manifest. When you find your passion, there is little that can stop you from following it. Here is an example:
Troy, a very good friend of mine, knew that he wanted to be a pilot since he was a kid. Once he was out of high school, there wasn’t any struggle or confusion in deciding his next step. He simply applied for his student loan, applied for flight school, and off he went! His goal was clear, so the steps he had to take to achieve his goal were equally clear.
After two years of very difficult courses, Troy graduated flight school and landed himself a job flying sky divers so that he could build his flight hours. The job barely paid anything, but he needed to build his hours or he wouldn’t have a flight career. Eight hundred low-paid hours later, Troy started climbing the flight ladder by getting better and better flying jobs with the ultimate goal of being an airline pilot. Not once do I remember Troy complaining about the low pay or the long hours. He was grateful for the opportunity to fly, and he kept his eyes on the prize.
“Obstacles are the troubling things that you see when you lose sight of your goals.”
Being a commercial airline pilot is one of the most competitive jobs on earth. Most people who want the job never have the guts to even try for it. To fly one of the “big birds” is like making it onto a professional sports team. It means that you are the cream of the crop—the top dog in your field. By having a clear goal, and through sheer determination, Troy finally made it to the big show. Today he is an Air Canada captain.
The purpose of this true story is to illustrate how important it is to know what you want. If Troy hadn’t been totally certain of his goal, he never would have achieved it. It’s impossible to commit years of your life to achieving a difficult goal unless there is not a “Plan B.” Once you know what you want, you have to find the courage to imagine how it would feel once you actually have it.
Why Do You Want What You Want?
The short answer is “for pleasure and happiness.” All endeavors are to achieve gratification of some kind. Whether it is power, pleasure, money, or status, every endeavor is inspired by the want of gratification. Even charity can be self-serving since you receive the status and gratification associated with giving.
To understand why you want is to understand if you should want the things that you are trying to acquire. Not all pursuits of pleasure are going to benefit you. An extreme example of this is drug use. A crack addict will do or say just about anything to get his next chemical pleasure fix. The continued pursuit of this pleasure will inevitably result in the lethal demise of the crack addict. On the outside looking in, it’s easy to see that the addict should stop. But of course the addict doesn’t have our same perspective, so he is not always able to see that he should stop or see how to stop.
If you are pursuing something that won’t improve your life either directly or indirectly, then maybe you should consider a different pursuit. Is the pleasure you are seeking going to elevate your life or just fill your garage with meaningless toys? Not that it is a crime to indulge in a few toys, but the chances are the toys won’t give you the pleasure you are seeking.
Often, the pursuit of expensive toys is motivated by the want of status or the temporary gratification associated with a major purchase. If the toys are purchased as a mechanism for creating positive memories with your family and friends, then you have made a good purchase. If the motivation is other than the intention of using the toy to create positive memories with your family and friends, then you have not made a good purchase. Even if you can afford to buy the toys with cash and you won’t be financially burdened by the purchase, the object is still an empty thing on which you have just wasted your money.
Let me explain this a little more. If a pursuit is intended to result in pleasure and happiness, then any result other than pleasure and happiness is a failure of that pursuit. Here’s an example: if you have purchased a new motorcycle, and the only function of this motorcycle is to look nice in your garage, then it has failed to provide you with a sense of satisfaction, pleasure, and happiness. This motorcycle is then clearly a poor purchase as it has not provided the payback that was intended. If you ride this motorcycle with friends and family—or even on your own, and thus derive satisfaction and enjoyment as a result—then this is a good purchase.
Sticking with the motorcycle example, if you constantly buy toy after toy and are always envious of those who have what you don’t, then you will never be satisfied by any amount of toys. In this case, the urge to purchase is a problem that needs to be understood and addressed. Once the underlying urge is understood, there will no longer be an insatiable urge to purchase toys.
An attitude of gratitude should always be observed in regards to the material things we have. If you feel gratitude for what you have, then you will feel satisfied. If you do not feel gratitude, then you will always want more and you will never be satisfied.
Do you have pursuits that are for the benefit of others and not just yourself? The highest and most fulfilling pursuits are those for the benefit of others.
Enjoyment and amusement are often sought to provide a substitute for happiness. True happiness comes from within, from loving yourself and your life. Chasing amusement through material items, liquor, pornography, movies, or TV is just a substitute for happiness. Thus, the saying: “Money can’t buy happiness.” Money can only buy the substitutes for happiness and the distractions from pain.
If we were to put 1/100th of the effort into being truly happy that we put into amusement, then there would not be nearly as many anti-depressants being prescribed. True happiness comes from being the best human you can be—not from being the human with the most toys. Being the best human you can be means learning how to not be angry with others or yourself. It means never gossiping, always doing your best in every situation, and always being a better person today than you were yesterday.
Most of all, being happy means accepting and loving yourself for who you are. Nothing you can put on your credit card will make you feel that way.
Having the items you want only adds to your life if you are grateful for them. This is why it is important to understand the “why” of what we want. My wish for this book is to do more than just fill up your garage with cool toys. I wish to provide you with the understanding of how to enjoy those toys. When you are choosing what you want, remember the reasons why you want. If the “what” doesn’t reflect the intended “why,” then you should reconsider your goals. What is the point of achieving anything if it doesn’t add happiness to your life?
Major drug haul; ALERT seizes $3 million in drugs and cash
Post submitted by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)
Three million dollars’ worth of drugs and cash was seized from two Calgary homes, including what is believed to be the province’s largest seizure of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
On April 27, 2021 ALERT Calgary’s organized crime and gang team concluded a short-term investigation with a record drug haul. ALERT seized enough methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and GHB to equal an estimated 100,000 doses.
The GHB seizure of 113.5 litres is believed to be the largest seizure of its kind in Alberta.
Meanwhile, the amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills seized ranks amongst ALERT Calgary’s biggest busts.
“The totality of what was seized is staggering, and represents a high degree of community harm. Behind so many doses are crimes committed to feed that addiction; be it property crimes, thefts, frauds, and robberies, and all feeding into social disorder,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO.
In total, ALERT seized roughly $3 million worth of drugs and cash:
- 113.5 litres of GHB;
- 22.3 kilograms of methamphetamine;
- 18,000 fentanyl pills;
- 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl;
- 4.1 kilograms of cocaine; and
- $386,220 cash.
GHB is colourless and odourless, and is commonly referred to as the “date-rape drug” but is usually abused as a club drug. In July 2013 Edmonton Police Service seized 106 litres of GHB, which at the time, was believed to be Alberta’s largest seizure.
ALERT’s investigation is ongoing and additional charges are being contemplated. To date, 14 drug-related charges have been laid against three suspects:
- Ashley Stanway, 30-year old from Calgary;
- Rayann Blackmore, 22-year old from Calgary; and
- Harmandeep Tiwana, 28-year old from Calgary.
ALERT began its investigation just a month prior after receiving information about suspected drug trafficking activity in the Calgary region.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.
Volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area (BBBS) is a local branch and accredited member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada Federation, established in 1994 to provide the youngest members of our city with access to life changing mentorship relationships.
Children and youth may experience childhood adversity through a number of individual or compounding societal barriers, such as family violence, mental health struggles, poverty, substance abuse or identity challenges. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area caters to these young Calgarians by connecting them with volunteer mentors who can form “strong one-to-one relationships with their mentees that express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities.”
A foundational element of the organization is reflected in the creation of intentional matches, meaning mentors are not simply assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis. BBBS takes a number of variables into account when assigning a mentor to a waiting child, including shared experience, likes and dislikes, proximity, and more. Working hard to ensure compatibility prior to assigning matches is a great way to increase the likelihood of a successful, beneficial relationship between mentor and mentee.
“We really want to see these matches succeed,” says Jennifer Booth, Manager of Communications and Stakeholder Relations at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, “if we weren’t as intentional and selective as we are, we wouldn’t see the success in these relationships that we do.”
The minimum time commitment when signing on to be a mentor with the organization is one year. According to Booth, many of the matches that originate in the BBBS program carry on well past the one-year mark as organic, mutually beneficial relationships beyond the parameters of the organization.
In the Community Mentorship program, relationships are built through shared activities and time spent together. “Bigs” can take their “Littles” to the zoo or the park, they can do a hike together, cook or bake, shoot hoops at the court, or even just sit down together to relax and talk. Over the course of a year, the relationship develops a level of trust and confidence that the child or youth mentee can benefit from significantly
“For children who have one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs),” says Booth, “working with a caring mentor can really enhance their social and emotional competencies.” Emotional competencies include things like social awareness, self-awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. These are developmental benchmarks that may have been negatively impacted by different ACEs in the child’s life, and stand to benefit from an intentional, healthy relationship with a mentor at BBBS.
In addition to their standard community and school mentorship programs, BBBS introduced the PRISM program in 2018. Standing for Pride, Respect, Identity, Safety, Mentoring, PRISM connects mentors with young individuals from the LGBTQ2S+ community. These relationships are built on a shared understanding of the unique adversities faced by members of the same community, and strive to support young people in the celebration of their own, unique identities.
Currently, there are between 250 and 300 children and youth at Big Brother Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, who may wait up to three years for a pairing. This is a result of gaps in volunteer positions, as well as the organization’s commitment to intentional matches. “We’re really hoping to achieve a sustainable momentum,” says Booth. While the organization is always seeking an increase in mentors in general, currently, they are specifically short in numbers for male-identifying volunteers, she says.
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area and how to apply as a volunteer, visit https://bbbscalgary.ca. To learn more about the PRISM program, visit https://bbbscalgary.ca/prism/
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
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