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Wisdom in Youth Work is Untapped Potential


Wisdom in youth work is not conveniently or routinely shared. The field of youth work lacks sufficient infrastructure to learn and grow from each other. This delays the collective wisdom of us all, and ultimately limits our success.

Wisdom in youth work can sometimes be difficult to quantify, but we all know a wise youth worker when we see them. These are people that have calm about them and seem to not be shaken when life presents them obstacles.

There is much to learn from people who have been in the trenches, stood the test of time, and have come out stronger. It is a shame not to tap into wisdom in youth work and learn how others handle adversity and dilemmas.

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    What individuals with wisdom understand:

    Emotional control: They understand and manage emotions well in difficult situations. Experienced people stay calm and make rational decisions. They place value on understanding their reactions because they know the consequences of them.

    Knowledge: They have learned so much about human behavior in their pursuit to support young people. They understand that learning is a solution to many of life’s challenges and the opportunity to try new ideas is welcomed.

    Problem-solving: They get past hurdles with an optimistic sense of a positive resolution. Experienced youth workers welcome failure and view it as bringing them one step closer to success.

    Relationships: They understand that relationships are everything in life. They know the value of good interactions with their teammates, collaborators, and the young people themselves. Experienced youth workers know how to sustain positive relationships.

    Humility: They know that despite all they understand there is so much more they don’t know. Wise people don’t need constant recognition. They have a willingness to share praise in others’ successes and let them receive credit.

    Untapped value of wisdom in youth work

    I have had the good fortune to meet so many wise youth workers. I always love to pick their brains and understand how their life experiences have shaped them. I want to learn from them, and they never disappoint me.

    Providing access to those with wisdom in youth work will help youth workers and the field as a whole. Collectively and within organizations, there should be more mentoring opportunities and teaching moments.

    To let wisdom in youth work go unshared is a disservice to our young people. That’s why YIPA created The Passionate Youth Worker Podcast. On the show, I interview individuals from around the globe who have learned valuable wisdom about themselves and their work.

    Their wisdom is priceless when it comes to learning about ourselves. I encourage you to learn from others and check out an episode of the podcast today. Youth work is complicated, but the wisdom of others helps you grow into it.

    As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Let’s learn how much we don’t know.

    About the author

    Paul Meunier is the executive director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker.  Join us!

    To ask Paul a question or share your feedback about this blog, email

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