From speech at MOT SA’s AGM 27.7.20 and MOT Latvia’s Enthusiasts Gathering 19.8.20.
I have been asked to talk about: Why did I start MOT? What purpose does MOT serve now in the current climate, globally? How I see MOT and MOT’s values in the world today?
All people have to sides: One robust side – and one vulnerable side.
I am 50/50: 50 percent robust and 50 percent vulnerable. Sometimes I can decide that my robust side shall be bigger and then I need to have a strong focus. Sometimes I wish that my robust side, that was given to me by nature, should have been bigger. However, I know that if so, I would not have started MOT. The 50/50 in me is the secret behind the MOT philosophy and the MOT programmes, The 50/50 has been an important factor when developing MOT in a way that makes the MOT values and programmes suit all people and all people recognize them. I believe very strongly that every one of us is a product of our surroundings, our circumstances, and our childhood. I believe very strongly that every one of us can decide our own future independent of our childhood and surroundings. It is up to each and everyone of us!
To most people I think their vulnerable side is bigger than the robust side. So, why is my robust side so big? There are two reasons: People around me – and myself. Since I was a little boy, people around me have seen me in a positive way. And, I have built up my inner robustness through passion, positive thinking, dreams, goals, and role models. The power of role models as icons in our minds is huge.
All my life, I have been inspired by role models, heroes, and top athletes. All my life, I have had more passion for building and creating, rather than attempting to fix what is already destroyed. In 1991, I worked as a customs officer. I was part of a national team that should find the best way to prevent problems. This was an important experience when I, in 1994, started the work with developing what we today know as MOT. The question I asked myself then was how can we create a proactive concept using inspirational role models and heroes.
Very early, I developed a short comprehensive plan with the following top five points:
- Focus on values, awareness, and attitude change
- Inspire youth to make their own choices, respect each other’s choices and care about each other
- Inspire to build a culture with awareness and courage – to live, to care and to say no
- Teach young people “to live”
- Deliver the message in a “cool” way
But, I guess the real reason why I started MOT is from almost 43 years back in time and a powerful and emotional experience I had in 1977, as a 12 year old boy, when a prisoner spent Christmas Eve in my home and with my family. It was so sad to hear him tell about how he had wasted his talent. However, the saddest was when he told how he felt like a fool at school.
- He met with a lot of rejection, and a feeling of not being good enough and a feeling of failure
- He met with a lot of exclusive environments, and a feeling of not fitting in, and lack of positive belonging
He told stories that make me realize that I had won the teacher and parent lottery. He made me think that maybe it would be better not to have a dad at all, than to have a dad who is a very bad role model.
Since then I have been curious, looking for answers and doing research. I began asking myself and others many questions:
- Why do some people destroy their lives?
- Why do some people destroy other people’s lives?
- Why do some people destroy society?
I did a lot of thinking and I reflected, and I observed. I wrote school assignments about growing up, crime and how to build a better society and the challenges youth are facing.
Through Meetings with prisoners and reading articles in newspapers, magazines and books I found answers such as: alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, crime, violence, a culture where people are turned into losers in society and a culture where people drift apart and become isolated.
From more than 40 years of observations, experience, talking with experts and reading a lot of different research about violence, massacres etcetera, all over the world, I found that people who take the wrong paths in life, and who have ruined their own and other people’s lives and maybe ended up in criminal or extremist environments, often have the same characteristics in common as the prisoner who spent Christmas Eve in my home in 1977.
Research says that important buffers against drug and alcohol abuse, crime and violence are:
- To develop the individual’s ability of reflection and to make good and conscious choices and to set goals.
- To train young people in positive thinking rather than hostile.
- Good schools, environments. and cultures where those at high risk are connected to positive group mechanisms.
- The school staff should have a uniform philosophy: Let all the youth been seen in a positive way and not being too liberal.
MOT helps achieving all of this!
MOT helps with creating schools and local communities where all feel like winners.
MOT is a protective factor that reduces external risk factors and the chances of activating the ‘society destructor’. MOT works with the causes of the causes. This is about strengthening the youth’s robustness. Robustness prevents crime and it protects against potential social problems.
Robustness is more than just an individual trait or ability. Robustness is also a relation. When we interact with other people our robustness is either strengthened or weakened. Our feeling of safety, courage, self-esteem, sense of mastery and sense of belonging is strengthened when robust cultures and relations are created. Robustness helps youth to live, to care and to say no. Robustness strengthens young people’s ability to deal with defeat and difficult situations. Robustness strengthens young people’s ability to deal with resistance and crisis.
Youth need tools enabling them to deal with life and resistance. We need schools and local communities that work as arenas for mastery. When young people experience mastery and environments with a positive connection, they have less need for getting the world’s attention by acts of destroying lives and society.
MOT strengthens youth’s robustness and gives them tools!
When youth are made more robust, they more easily include others and become the one – and maybe the first – to act when something unacceptable is happening. Such cultures, that are stimulating and inclusive, prevent social society problems including crime and extremist violence.
The MOT programmes, MOT’s values and the MOT logo are universal and timeless. MOT is different from everything else!
MOT changes youth’s lives!
MOT believes that youth can strengthen themselves. The MOT programmes with the MOT sessions that are presented by great MOT coaches in the classroom can be viewed as a guidance on how to do it yourself. However, the effort is put in by the youth in-between the MOT sessions. It is our experience that youth love to strengthen themselves, when given the values, tools, guidance, and opportunity. What we do know, is that youth use MOT in their own way, and feel ownership and joy. MOT is a different way of learning. The youth shape themselves. They implement MOT’s message within themselves. This ensures that MOTs values are sustainable on a long-term basis, both for the youth of today, when they become parents, and for the entire society.
MOT’s Comprehensive system was first and foremost developed to prevent social problems in people’s lives and in society.
We know that MOT today prevents exclusion, frequent bullying, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, crime, and mental problems. However, we have experienced that there are many additional impacts too:
By using MOT in the right way countries will prevent several social problems, but automatically they will also promote awareness, courage, sense of mastery, hope, dreams, goals, learning orientation and self-esteem. And they will do a great job with the UN’s sustainability social goals:
- Promote good health and quality of life.
- Promote lifelong learning opportunities.
- Promote inclusive, responsible and well-functioning schools and colleges.
- Promote peaceful, safe, resilient and safe communities.
I believe that one of the future’s most important keys to a safer world is to strengthen youth’s robustness, awareness, and courage to live, care and say no. We must create a common understanding among leaders and the people of this world as to how important this is.
Robust youth believe in their own abilities. Robust youth make conscious choices. Robust youth dare to be themselves. Robust youth do not have a need to be validated by destroying people and society.
I believe that MOT, in the future, will be in the driver’s seat for creating a common world-wide understanding about the importance of creating robust youth.
The world needs robust youth! Robust youth is the key to a safer world!