Raising Able (…not Cain)

Raising Able (…not Cain)

empowered-kid-520x346You are not raising kids. You are raising adults. You’re raising a friend and spouse, business partner or employee, your grandchild’s parents and neighbors. There’s a thought. No pressure.

What kind of adult are you raising? Keeping the end in mind could help us redirect our parenting mindset. We can choose to interact with our kids so they become successful, able adults.

Imagine a husband, or a coworker…who is unable:

To fix a problem
Avoid risk
Crumbles under stress
Makes excuses or blames
Is incompetent
Is not responsible, detailed or willing to work through challenge
Overly dramatic and passive aggressive
Sees criticism, suggestions, or denial as personal attacks.
Unable to resolve conflict…
Quits
Cannot adapt or overcome obstacles

Actually, the best way to ensure your kids struggle and fail as an adult, is to keep them from experiencing any of those things as they’re growing up. In our zeal to be good parents, we work hard to shield and rescue our children from anything that is challenging, disappointing, uncomfortable or unhappy.  We protect them from anything that is painful or hurts.

In doing so, we disable them. They are not enabled to succeed.

If you want your children to be successful, then enable them to gain strength in the required traits from the beginning.

Let them know what they are able to do. Let them enjoy doing what’s appropriate and theirs to own. Let them become responsible and make choices, developing their own preferences. Let them resolve issues that belong to them; situations either they find themselves involved or consequences of choices they have made. Weigh in and provide insight, but let them make choices on things that aren’t permanent or life altering. Let them define a strong individual identity.  Let them do what they are able to do.

Let them know they are able to take risks. Encourage them to experiment and stretch a little further than is comfortable and safe. Let them experience “safe fails” under your roof where they can find guidance in thinking through the results and managing the consequences in a way that propels them to learn how to make a better decision and move forward positively. Let them laugh at mistakes and feel the rush of accomplishment.  Let them understand how to adjust and move forward.

Let them know they are able to handle future situations. As you have kept a growth mindset that is a perpetual learning cycle, your child will become capable of managing themselves and just about any situation they may face as an adult. They become confident…

Problem solvers
Risk takers
Strong
Responsible
Competent
Self-defined
Self-determined
Successful…adults. They become achievers, influencers, innovators, game-changers, leaders and shapers of the next generation.

Tough parents raise strong kids.

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Space for Our Spirit

ImageWhen we pursue our best; strive for success, maximize our potential, we almost always obsess on challenging our minds and training our bodies.  We invest in the education and training for our children’s mind and body.   But when it comes to our soul, the spirit of our children, we relegate experiences to religious activity that fit in on special occasion.  It’s not a topic of discussion.  We marginalize spirituality for a million reasons.

But why?

There’s no denying that we are mind, body AND spirit. In fact, the essence of who we are… is spiritual. How can we push the core of who we are to the fringe of what we care about?

What if we peel off religious constructs, recognize the soul within us and our children and discover and connect with the Spirit that is throughout the universe? What if we bring our mind, body and soul into balance intersecting physical health, mental development and spiritual well-being?

Stilling your soul in the presence of the majestic, quieting the mind amidst beauty, savoring the detail of the extraordinary, being swept away surrounded in powerful music, consuming the delectable, becoming absorbed in the sweet spot where your strengths and passion meet or dissolving in the presence of another’s loving touch, nurture your mind, body and soul in transcendence that connects your soul to something beyond yourself; moments of Sabbath. When you hesitate long enough to push everything else aside becoming lost in these moments, you strengthen and define the identity of your core while mystically connecting your soul to it’s place and purpose in the universe.  Genuinely desiring a connection of what’s within, to what’s much greater without nurtures the spirit.

These are moments of transcendence that are invaluable for your brain, body, and spirit. These moments are essential to the well-being of everyone in your family. So, pursuing our best means taking daily and weekly Sabbaths, from minutes during a day, to setting aside space each week that’s good for our soul; removing the clatter surrounding the family, calming the noise in the center of us and reaching for the extraordinary that’s beyond ourselves.  Leading your children in nurturing their spirit, connecting with what’s beyond themselves in simple, quiet, yet extraordinary moments, cares for your whole child.

Parents:  Nurture the spirit as much as the mind and body.

 

Anything You Can Do, Can I Do Better?

We’ve all seen “those parents”.  The ones dragging their kids to practice, screaming at their kids from the sidelines, berating them on the way to the car after a poor performance, then complaining to all who will listen that if the coach would do his job and pay more attention to their child, they’d be as good as…..

The behavior stems from a fundamental belief that all children are created equal, born with the same raw materials and with a blank page of interests, and that with just a decision and work, any child can become a superstar.

If we just push more, scream louder….blame…reward with affection and withdraw in disgust when they fail…punish harsher…Image

Are you, “that parent”?  

Do you believe that all children are born as equals? If given the same field, would it be level for each child to achieve the same success if they invest the same effort? Apparently, according to a CBS Sunday Morning survey, 23 percent of us believe we have genetic differences that will determine if one will be more successful at becoming an elite athlete, a complex thinker, a gifted musician… Sixty-one percent believe the sole determinant of achieving greatness is practice and only 14 percent believe the outcome is a combination of our natural strengths and the effort we invest in developing them.  

Raising our children under the belief that they can do whatever they put their mind to is right and also terribly wrong. It’s true that we can do whatever it is we put our mind to doing.  

I can sing. I can decide that I want to record a song and get it on the radio.  I could get in line with others that audition for American Idol.  Every one of them believes they can sing to superstardom too.   I can practice day in and day out. BUT, there’s no amount of practice I could ever do that’ll give me the X factor that will catapult me to rock star status just like the many we’ve laughed heartily at during the season openers of America’s Got Talent.   The same is true with ballet. I’m a 5’11”, large-boned German woman. Guess what? I can put on a tu-tu and dance. I can.  I took ballet in college thinking it would help me become graceful.  To think that if I just practice hard enough, I can become Prima Ballerina for New York City Ballet… Sorry.  Maybe a comedian…

Malcom Gladwell, in his book, Outliers, says that achievement is talent plus preparation, lots of preparation, 10,000 hours on average to master something, to be exact.  He noted that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation does.  In, The Sports Gene, David Epstein, has found that talented people, practiced more.  What separated the best of the best was how long and intently they worked to master their interest.  BUT, He found that the elite have natural abilities and aptitudes helped them use that time more effectively and efficiently.  Their degree of mastery, given the same amount of time, was far greater than someone of lessor natural talent.  

So, there is something to be said for finding aptitudes, natural strengths, innate physical attributes and developing them.  It’s a better return on investment of effort.   And clearly, it takes intense, long-term development to maximize the potential.  Applying those natural abilities to a passionate quest is where the greatest success will be discovered.  

Imagine if 61 percent of us believed that our children have been created with a unique, personal blend of strengths and talents and added 23 percent that embrace, “practice means perfect”, with the 14 percent that already know that finding the combination of both, what could the next generation achieve?

Parents:  Discover your child’s individual natural aptitudes, strengths, and abilities and fuel the development of them in what they love to do.

 

Can You Change Your Child’s Future by What You Do in the Next 40 Days?

Image

It’s the beginning of Lent. I’m not Catholic, but I like turning the focus

inward; to sacrifice, giving up a bad habit or putting something positive

into practice that will connect and strengthen my spiritual core. Since I

believe that your children and mine were created specifically for a

unique purpose, using the 40 days of Lent to put 40 practices, principles

and mindsets into place that make the most of who our children have

been created to be, seems to fit the spiritual intention of the season.

Print the list.  Write each thought on a card or Post-It.  Work down the list over the next 40 days giving one some thought each day:

1. Love the child you have. Never give or withdraw affection as

reward or punishment for performance.

2. Magnify internals, diminish externals.

3. Maximize natural talents and strengths.

4. Fuel passion. Expose kids to as wide a range of interests as possible.

5. Secure their internal compass. Respect their mind and heart.

6. Emphasize process over outcome.

7. Redefine success as maximizing individual potential.

8. Evaluate objectively, not emotionally.

9. Don’t overestimate talent, underestimate character

10. There’s no “fail”: teach to learn, adjust, move forward.

11. Quitting is not an option, especially when it’s hard.

12. Encourage risk-taking.

13. Always find positives.

14. Expect excellence, not perfection.

15. Don’t rescue. Let them experience consequences.

16. Encourage 1% improvements daily.

17. Expect 100% of the best they can give.

18. Operate from a center of inner excellence .

19. Ask: What’s the wise choice?

20. Clarify Me vs. We. When do I do what’s right for the family or team

over myself?

21. Demand respect of others.

22. Understand winning and losing.

23. Own responsibility for responses in any circumstance.

24. Fulfill every commitment.

25. Honor your word.

26. Allow zero excuses or blame.

27. Choose challenge over ease.

28. Surround yourself with others going the same direction to the same

destination.

29. Have fun and laugh.

30. Coach a child to figure out solutions to their problems.

31. Don’t indulge in permissiveness.

32. Encourage them to adapt and overcome.

33. Provide what they need to chase their dreams.

34. Contribute the best to the world.

35. Control the Controllable.

36. Look for life lessons. Coach not punish.

37. Explain “why”.

38. Hold high standards and expectations.

39. Believe that hard work pays off.

40. You are the only parent they will have. No one can replace you.

Raising an Olympian: Why Allowing Our Kids to Fall, Makes Them Stronger.

Last year, I played PE teacher. I hadn’t taught in a classroom since before I had my own kids and wasn’t expecting the cultural shift that had since taken hold of both parents and school administrators. I walked into the gym in September expecting to provide fun fitness experiences and information that would be life-lasting. By October, I knew I had a literal fight on my hands. I had been called into the principal’s office consistently to redirect my plans. I couldn’t infer a child needed to improve their fitness since that would make them feel bad about themselves. As the weather chilled, I could no longer take them outside where they might get cold. I couldn’t use the fields in the morning since it would make their shoes wet. I couldn’t use the climbing rope since they might fall. I couldn’t use the trails because they might trip and fall on unpaved surfaces. I couldn’t insist that a child run, as they MIGHT have an underlying medical condition that MIGHT cause a problem. If a child’s face flushed or they breathed heavily, I was encouraged to have them sit out. I was called into question for children not being given A’s on their report card. It was offensive to suggest Pop Tarts and Lunchables should be replaced with healthier choices. It gave me a window into the environment being created for many kids today. Adults want to give kids a great life and do what’s best for them. They’ve created a calm, safe, easy, happy and….

… incredibly debilitating life for kids.

If I could have at least one do-over in parenting, it would be to have been a much more hard-core mom. In my quest to be the most loving mom, the one who provided as best I could, the one who would protect the hard blows, rescue, soften, make easier, I missed an opportunities to make them tougher. I could’ve strengthened my kids more, not only to handle elite levels of competition, but to thrive in real-hard-core-life.

Sports pyschologists have done research, but it doesn’t take a doctorate to figure out that one “IT” factor of successful people is their mental toughness.

So, do we just get mean? Nasty? Abusive? Is that what it means to be a tough parent?

Come on…. common sense, good judgement and balance…

It means that from the time our kids are toddlers, we need to become “velvet bricks”. It means to love them enough to let them experience the positive and negative consequences of the choices they make and the discomfort of new experiences. We need to allow them to take risks and feel the anxiety; stretch to feel pressure. It means working through challenges, obstacles and difficult things while handling distractions and interference. It means allowing them to feel the pain of falls, the frustration of setbacks, the anger of shortfalls, struggle of work and wrestling to figure solutions. It starts as they wobble across the room during their first steps and picking them up to go a little farther and progresses until they take their leap into adulthood as you smile encouringly. It’s only then, they gain the self-assurance and elation of their accomplishments.

Parents: Tough parents raise strong kids.

Toughness strengthens character, attitude and thinking needed to maximize potential.

Make it normal for kids to take appropriate risks and face challenges, work and figure out solutions to problems, resolve consequences, and make improvements.

Diminish externals and strengthen internals: don’t allow kids to blame or make excuses, but own responsibility for their effort and responses.

Focus on building the child, not the “star”, on the process, not outcome and responding objectively not emotionally as they develop.

Encourage with positive guidance. Help your child learn how to analyze situations and performance, determine how to improve, adjust, and move forward.

Acknowledge when it’s hard, but encourage them to overcome: “I know it hurts”, “I see that it’s hard.” “When that happens, yes, it’s frustrating..” “Yes, you’re sad”
“… but let’s move on and figure out how to make things better.”

When your kids face the hard things in life, to have equipt them with strong character, attitude and thinking helps them not just survive, but thrive in maximizing their potential.

Raising an Olympian? The Smart Guide to Parenting Any Kid to an Elite Level

ImageThe Games of the XXII Olympiad are approaching.  I overheard a daughter ask her father, while watching national level athletes, if she could ever go to the Olympics.  As families watch the Olympics, that question will be asked in countless living rooms.  My daughter watched the summer games and pointed at the screen when she was 4 years old and said, “I’m going to do that someday, Mommy”.  It happens.  As some of those kids show passion and natural talent, parents may find themselves actually having future Olympians or other elite level athletes.  In other cases, parents put their child on the fast track to success hoping to manufacture one.  So, what’s the smart way to raise a child to an elite level of anything?  No matter what, you want to handle your child well so they can become all they dream of becoming.

< P = Z x C5 x E

1.  Perspective:  Begin with the end in mind.

  • Have clarity.  Be intentional.  Make decisions with the big picture in front of you.
  • Decide to raise a champion:  one who is capable and prepared to achieve much, not just a single goal, but continuously achieve whatever they decide to accomplish.
  • Dream big.  Start within your child; their center. Explore and fuel your child’s interests.  Identify and strengthen their natural talents, surround them with what they need, encourage them to see how far they can go.  Maximize their potential.
  • Life is bigger than any one goal.  While working towards making dreams reality, life happens.  It will go on whether the goal is achieved or not.  Be invested in the long-haul.  

2.  Plan:  Enjoy the ride.

  • Love your child.  The one you have.  Guard your relationship, their heart and soul over any aspiration anyone has for them.
  • Focus on developing the whole person.  It will serve them well to develop the mind, heart, and body of a champion.  Don’t overestimate talent and underestimate character in determining success.
  • Balance:  Allow your kids to explore, to risk, to try.  Let them be challenged, struggle, fail.  Don’t make it easy and don’t rescue them every time.  Have high standards and expectations.  Be neither too demanding, nor too permissive.  Reward the effort to learn, adjust, move forward.  Embrace the process not only the destination.
  • Expect surprises.  It’s best to do things well; to help your child lay a wide, firm foundation that will not only support specific goals, but will serve them in pursuing wide range of achievement.  Don’t rush the process, but pace through each course of development.    Wrenches, twists, and road blocks may cause the best laid plans to be redesigned and new goals set, but if the foundation is in place, the movement will continue forward. 

This begins a 6 part series of posts that will help you be a guardian over the right physical, mental and spiritual foundation being built into your child so that they can become the best they can be.  It’s what has to be in place for a child to move into elite levels of athletics or anything at a distinguished level.

I’ll be sharing my knowledge and experience as well as expertise from teachers, child development experts, sports psychologists, D1 university and club coaches and trainers to give you a simple, boiled down and practical grid of what’s important, both physically and mentally/spiritually to put into place during the elementary, middle school, and high school years to ensure success both in achieving great things, but also in life.

With rising champions in our house, we’re excited to watch the next winter Games in Sochi.  It’ll be on 24/7 in our house.  Looking forward to Rio 2016.  Go Team USA!

 

 

Tails of the Herd: The Day I Realized I was following the Asses in Front of Me

Unknown-1I remember waking up one day and feeling pretty much like Simba hanging on that limb for dear life, hoping to survive the stampede of the wildebeast herd.  Simba was out romping as children do, when the herd rushed around him and swept him up.  He starting running, remember the scene?, desperately trying to keep up, not to be run over or stomped to death.  God knows where he would’ve ended up if he just kept running.  He knew he had to either keep up or get out of the crush or it wouldn’t end well.  That was a smart move.

There was that moment for me.  I grew up, romping happily.  I followed the rules.  Did what I was told.  Listened to the “big” important people around me.  I washed behind my ears, got good grades, came home 15 minutes before curfew.  I went to college, got a job, a house, kids…

and then I began repeating the circle of life and guiding my children to do exactly the same.

Until I looked up and realized I was following the tail of the one ahead of me and I asked myself why I had my head up somebody elses…rumpus.

It all started when I had no idea where I was in life or how I got there.  I had just been blindly following those before me and expecting to end up in the land of everyone’s adolescent dreams when we slowed at the end.

It doesn’t work that way.  You end up where the stampede carries you, unless you find that limb and climb out of the fray until the masses rush by.  By that point, though, you’re so lost and far from home, it’ll take an act of god to find your way back or start over.  I wished I had seen it coming and never gotten swept up in the herd.

Their destination became my destination. I chased after whatever the leader of the herd was chasing and so on back to where I was.  Their course, mine.  It wasn’t planned and wasn’t all bad.  It was just a life of default.

So, I made a conscious decision to get out.

This meant I had to figure out where I was and where I wanted to go instead.

It seemed like most everybody was racing ahead to something great.  They were rushing towards “success”.  I think that’s what we thought we were doing.

Fame and fortune.  Prizes and reward.  Glitter and tinsel.

Power.  Control over life, people, circumstances.

Applause.  Attention.  Approval.

The path of least resistance.  Aka:  comfort, leisure and ease.

Whatever.

It didn’t seem like the means mattered quite so much as long as it ended in “success”.

The issue was that I wasn’t arriving anywhere close to where I expected.  It didn’t seem others around me were arriving there either.  I knew I was off course and I was rapidly ushering my kids to end up in the same place.

That’s when it became clear that I wanted to go someplace different and take my kids with me.  I still wanted to be “successful”.  I just wanted to define what that meant.  I wanted clarity.

After a lot of thinking, looking at the others still running and where they were ending up, studying those who were actually achieving big things, getting advanced education in giftedness, and analyzing some more, I set a new course.

The clarity changed everything.  It changed how I saw each day, filtered decisions, how I guided and encouraged my children, and even how I viewed myself, them, our endeavors and futures.  It freed us.

The funny thing is, that in breaking away from the masses, gaining clarity on where we now intended to go (and how we’d get there), we’ve been carried further than we ever expected.  The view has been MUCH better too.

Here’s a topic of convo for the table or car (of course you have to begin having convo’s with your significant/kids about all kinds of topics so it’s not bizarro that you’re suddenly having a thoughtful conversation with them).  Think of all the common destinations people have and any words that define what success is to them or others.  If you want, put the words on individual scraps of paper or cards.  Then play “Would You Rather”  Put two cards together and ask:  Would you rather have xx or yy?  Maybe it’ll sound like, “Would you rather be rich or famous?”  Then leave the “winner” and replace the “loser” card with a new word. “Would you rather be famous or have total control and freedom over your life?”  Play again and again until there’s a final card that trumps all the others.  There winds up being good discussion about the pros and cons of each.

Our winner became:  maximizing our individual potential.  < P

It was the beginning of discovering the formula.  We discovered the product:  < P = Z ⋄ C5 ⋄ E

We’ve elaborated a little on that since:  maximizing our potential in a way that brings valuable contribution to everyone around us.

Where you are heading and why?

Determine your destination.