Willie Spears

Life Management Skills

June 5, 2019

Three young men who grew up in the streets of Newark, New Jersey faced life’s temptations, pitfalls, even jail. But one day these three young men made a pact. They promised each other they would all become doctors, and stick it out together through the long, difficult journey to attaining the American dream. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt are not only friends to this day, but they are all doctors.

During the last year of college one of the future doctors needed to wear a tie for a presentation, the only problem was he didn’t know how to tie a tie. After years of perseverance, dedication and studying, he was knocking at the door of becoming a doctor. He had all these skills and had accomplished so much, but he could not tie a tie. Do you know why he couldn’t tie a tie? No one taught him.

There are so many skills we take for granted and unfortunately no one is teaching these skills.

Author Dr. Ruby Payne is an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and overcoming the hurdles of poverty. She has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals, from educators and school administrators to community, church and business leaders.

She believes students in school today must learn, understand, and use formal register on a daily basis. Formal register is one of the five registers of language identified by Dutch linguist Martin Joos. Dr. Ruby Payne discusses the importance of this research in her workshops. Popular culture, however, does not reinforce the use of formal register. Music, movies, television programs, e-mail, chat rooms, etc. are inundated with casual register. Conversation time with adults who do speak formal register has also diminished. She has determined three classes in society that use three different ways of communicating. We are not teaching out young people how to speak correctly.

I have worked with young people for many years. I started teaching Sunday School at the age of eight and worked with young people in ministry as a teenager. I worked at the Boys Club when I was 13 years old and what I've noticed is most young people do not have life management skills.

While coaching at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida I spent time with alum Trent Richardson who won two national championships while playing football at the University of Alabama. He told me a coach taught him how to order a steak at a restaurant.

After learning this I decided to start teaching my students and players basic life management skills.

Every Thursday we teach these skills to our players. How to tie a tie, order a steak, shake hands and dress for formal events.

We teach the S.O.F.T. E. N. technique:


Open posture

Forward Lean


Eye Contact


We encourage them to smile and stand with an open posture while leaning forward. Once they reach out and shake the other individuals hand this will cover the T for touch. Of course, we want them to have eye contact and nod their head as a form of nonverbal communication.

This acronym will help people not appear socially awkward. A friend of mine was helping a grown man get ready for a job interview. This 40-year-old did not know what to wear, how to fix his hair, or how to approach the job interview. She contacted a local minister and gave this young man a crash course in life management skills in an effort to try and help him get the job.

Who will teach us?

If I were invited to the White House for a formal dinner, I would need a crash course on how to dress, how to sit at the table, which fork to eat with and how to communicate with the guest.

Our young people live in a different world. The way they communicate and the way they live their daily life does not match the societal norms.

My daughter wears jeans with holes in them…on purpose. Who will teach our young people?

It must be the man in the mirror. He is responsible.

Willie Spears is a teacher, coach, author, minister and motivational speaker. He has been awarded teacher and coach of the year. He speaks to thousands each year through his business The Willie Spears Experience. Willie may be reached at www.williespears.com.

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