This activity stresses the importance of having balance and alignment in the three pillars of sense of self, lifestyle, and habits. FYG’s entire course is designed for students to explore and reflect upon the sense of self pillar in the areas of strengths, self-awareness, values, talents, interests, skills, and purpose. Throughout the entire FYG course, students explore the lifestyle pillar looking through the lens of multiple adult mentors’ careers and the lives they are living, presenting students with the opportunity to learn, grow, and define his/her own desired lifestyles. In the third pillar, habits, students are challenged to reflect upon recent and past experiences and the related consequences and opportunities. Instead of focusing on traditional career exploration, FYG embeds these three pillars continuously throughout the entire course so students have the opportunity to grow in their learning, self-discovery, and purpose.
The braided rope activity will show students that it is important to continually focus on all three pillars (self, lifestyles, and habits) to build resilience and grow deeper into his/her purpose. The activity is also designed to emphasize how having the three pillars in balance will make it easier for students to get through the “grind” day after day. Finally the braided rope activity allows students to visualize when one or more of these three pillars are lacking, unrealistic, or weak, it impacts the remaining pillars, weakening the overall value of a person’s journey and destination. This activity is set up for you as the teacher to guide students through this visual using hands-on experience and thought provoking discussion questions embedded throughout.
- Ask for three volunteers to come to the front of the class. Tape one sign to each student (Self, Lifestyle, and Habits).
- Hand each student a five foot long rope. The students stand at one end of their rope, while you stand at the opposite end, holding all three ropes together.
- You will then verbally instruct the coordinated pattern of movement needed between the three students holding the ropes to begin the braiding process. Make sure that the students are braiding the rope tightly and evenly.
- While the three student volunteers continue the pattern with the ropes, ask your students to discuss with a partner the following prompts:
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘self’?
What about ‘lifestyle’? Or ‘habits’?
How do you think these three concepts are connected?
Note: The goal of the discussion is to guide students to the idea of how their sense of self and their actions can have an impact on their opportunities. Specifically, these three pillars can either strengthen or weaken those opportunities depending on whether or not all three are aligned. Ensure students are thinking of the connection between these three instead of considering each in isolation, as it is likely the students may not dive too deeply into this conversation and will be unsure of what these pillars truly mean.
- Once the braiding process is finished ask another student volunteer to come up to the front of the class and try to break the rope with his/her hands. While this student is attempting to do this, talk to the entire class about the power behind a braided rope. Discuss the strength, consistency, resilience, etc. of a braided rope when all three strands are aligned and in balance. Ask them to think about what these three elements of their lives are like when in sync, as well as when they are not in sync or out of balance.
How will this impact one’s journey in life?
How will a person who is aligned respond to pitfalls vs. someone who is not aligned?
How will they handle adversity or tragedy?
Open up to a class discussion on what some of these highs and lows can be in a person’s life that could impact one’s journey and destination.
- Next, talk to the entire class about what happens to a braided rope when one strand unravels; for example, the rope loses its shape, is weakened, or can even be broken. This same metaphor goes with one’s sense of self, lifestyles, and habits. If one pillar is lacking, unrealistic, or weak, it will impact the remaining two pillars, overall weakening the value of a person’s journey and destination.
- Have one of the individuals start to loosen their tension, and have the class volunteer who was trying to break the braid attempt to break it once more. This will demonstrate how when one of the pillars of your life weakens, all the pillars fall apart. Be sure to highlight to the class that all three strands (pillars) are dependent on one another.
- Have students access this worksheet to complete the following activity. Now that students have gone through the braided rope activity, the next step is to have students put the “Big 3” into context of their own lives. In the worksheet, students are asked to think about what a developed sense of self, realistic lifestyle goals, and positive habits might look like, feel like, and sound like. This may be a difficult activity and students need to understand there are no right or wrong answers. Working on this activity in small groups will aim to generate a dialogue that can support a classroom discussion.