SPRING HILL - Tracy Echols of the Hernando Youth Initiative was more concerned about the passion and determination of the young people seated around her Friday morning at Career Central in Spring Hill than about youth unemployment rates reaching World War II levels.
"This world and society has encroached on you and said, 'There are no jobs. You will not find a job.' Baloney," she said. "There are thousands of jobs. Employers are looking for people that will show up and do good work."
Echols, who is part of the initiative's Workforce Transition Team, spoke to a group of 18- to 25-year-olds at the center to help the young adults prepare for the workplace.
Another upcoming workshop is scheduled for Friday according to the center, which will cover topics such as self-awareness, career exploration, goal-setting, communication skills, customer service, resume creation, interviewing skills, professional dress and grooming, how to make and manage money and steps to success.
Eight young people signed up for last Friday's workshop, and went through several supportive exercises like writing a long list of goals, narrowing that list down to those most important and action plans of how to achieve them.
Among the attendees included music entrepreneur Jose Marrero, who wants to establish a record label, and complete his college degrees in music engineering and criminal justice.
"I've been to shows where I've been in front of 5,000 people," Marrero said. "My goals for the next six months? I just came out with a mix-tape, and we're having a mix-tape release party. I just shot a music video in Atlanta. I have my own record label, but I want to make it official."
Marrero said his motivations transcend himself or the desire for fame, which was similar to short and long-term goals expressed by other attendees, like Ben Hurtado.
"My goals are more of giving back to people I love. Right now my family is going through a difficult situation, and right now my passion is to help them out," Hurtado said, adding one day he would like to become a journalist.
Dawn Easter, of Career Central, said having specific career goals and a clear vision of how to achieve them is something employers look for. The more specific those goals are to a company's needs, the better, she said.
"When we're looking for work, we need something very specific," Easter said. "What is very irritating for employers is to go in there and say, 'I'll do anything, just give me a job.' You will be dismissed immediately. Your job is to say, 'I want to work for your company, because I have this, this and this.'"
Echols stressed the importance of passion over position in the workforce, and resurrected the words of John Maxwell, who said the courage to fulfill one's vision and position comes from passion, not the other way around.
Anything worth having is worth working for, Echols said, and anything that comes at the compromise of one's integrity for quick personal or organizational gain, is not.
That can lead to more work and wasted energy in the long run, especially when the mind falls into cyclical dwellings of what "cannot" be done, or what "is not" attainable, she said.
"Limiting beliefs are what keep people stuck doing what they are doing, and not achieving your goal," said Echols. "If you're working toward your goals you'll find happiness and contentment."
That's a different kind of "work" than a J.O.B., or a "just over broke" job, she said.
Rather, it's a purpose, or the answer to a person's "why."
Having aspirations and goals, in combination with a healthy discipline, is critical to putting thought into action, particularly when the human mind functions on an interrelationship between tasks and objectives, she said.
And sometimes one's efforts to remove negative influences or actions in life working against their goals are well-intentioned, but might also work against the person due to negative thought processes, she said.
"Reprogram yourself. Remove the impeding belief, and replace it with, 'Yes, I can achieve this,'" Echols said. "If you think, 'I will never eat a pound of chocolate again,' well, the subconscious mind doesn't understand negatives. So what's it hearing? 'I will eat a pound of chocolate.'"
If a person's goal is to work out three days a week, for example, rather than be self-critical for failing to meet that expectation, that person is better off resetting a "smart goal" that is more attainable, such as exercising two days a week. This, Echols said, is a more effective and reinforcing way to achieve the initial expectation or goal.
"Don't be afraid to close your eyes and visualize your goal: what am I wearing? What does it look like? How long does it take to get there?" Easter said. "That line between fact and fiction is blurred, and you can begin to work toward making that vision real."
The next and final workshop will be held Friday at Career Central, 7361 Forest Oaks Blvd., in Spring Hill. Email your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat, or call Easter at (352) 200-3034.
Those interested will receive a response with an agenda and instructions to mail a $10 registration fee for processing.