Monthly Archives: September 2014

I’m Not Ingoring You, You’re Just Not That Important

I’ve created a new category called “simplesteps.”  I’d challenge you to add these quick, easy-to-read,  1-step practices to your repertoire and watch how much it influences and impacts the world around you.

simple step #2:   My eyes are up here!

You’re in a crowded room.  An acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while makes their way towards you.  Smiles are exchanged as pleasant “How are YOU’s” are extended.  The person talking to you seems generally excited to fill you in on everything you’ve missed since you last saw them.  During the exchange, however, your eyes shift from looking at that person to looking over their shoulder to see who else is in the room.  Because, what if there’s a conversation to be had that might be more interesting, right? In one fell swoop, you’ve turned into that girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party.

Don’t be a statistis.

One of the quickest ways to hurt a person is to give off the impression that there are other things you’d rather be doing than giving them your attention. When you talk to someone, look them in the eye and treat them like they’re the most important person on the planet. It goes a long way towards becoming a person of influence and helping others feel like they matter. You may never realize the ripples that two minutes of your full attention will have on your community and the people around you.

TL;DR – Treat everyone you come in contact with like they matter more than anyone else in the room.

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6 Ways to Winning Your Children’s Complete Trust

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“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. ‘Oh, no,’ I said, ‘Disneyland burned down.’ He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.” – Jack Handey

My children trust me. While the quote above is funny, it’s a prime example of what not to do as a responsible parent. It matters to me that when I say “don’t move,” they freeze instantly… not because it’s absolutely hilarious when they’re running mid-stride, but because it might save their lives one day when some car comes careening through a parking lot. It matters to me that my kids don’t have to be anxious or wonder if I’ll be on time when I tell them I’ll pick them up from school. Most importantly, it matters that when I discipline them they understand it’s because I love them more than life itself. My children are responsive to me because they trust me.

If you’re new to the whole parenting game, here are 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts – Six simple things I do to win my children’s complete trust. Some are easy, some are difficult, but all are important!

red x

Things NOT to do:

1. Never make promises that you don’t intend to keep. Keeping promises are a matter of life and death to a child’s soul. Don’t ever assume they’re mature enough to understand why you had to change your mind. They may learn to adjust to the disappointment, but their ability to take you at your word will erode quickly. I know life happens and we will all eventually fail, but don’t let it be because you couldn’t be bothered or because convenience demanded it.

2. Never let them see you ignore wrong-doing. If you have multiple children, never ever let them see you allow injustice in your home. Parents, if little Suzy ever hits you or breaks something that doesn’t belong to her out of frustration, every sibling in the house is watching to see what happens next. If you choose to let it go unaddressed, those watching may have difficulties learning to expect you to defend them if they ever feel threatened or wronged.

3. Never speak negatively of the other parent. I can’t stress this one enough. For all intents and purposes, parents, you are your children’s foundation – their rock. Even if you are single, unless your ex is abusive or unhealthy to be around, don’t let the young ones hear you speak ill of their other parent. It may reflect more poorly on you than you realize. From a young age, your children are engineered to see you as one governing force rather than two separate people. Any weakness you expose in your mate could easily become a mark against parenthood in general.

green check

Things TO Do:

1. Apologize when you are wrong. Whenever I realize that I’ve been wrong, I confess it to them. Every. Single. Time. Treat them like an adult in that regard. It doesn’t weaken their opinion of you. It reinforces the understanding that you are self-correcting and a safe person to be around. Most of the time they won’t appear to even care that you made a mistake, but they’ll take note that you’re honest with them and that they matter enough to address it.

2. Listen to them, even if what they’re saying is trivial: This quote says it all, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” – Catherine M. Wallace

3. Most importantly, create boundaries and train your children to live within them. The fastest way to lose a child’s trust is to not establish your expectations and show them that you do it because you love them. Being indifferent to your kids’ behavior tends to communicate that you are indifferent to their safety. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that children long to be corrected and given boundaries. It inevitably gives them a sense of stability and freedom and they will learn to love instruction. Most of the time, children push boundaries not because they want more than they have, but because they need to know your reaction will be one that governs and protects rather than one that turns them over to lawlessness.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Have you learned any techniques that could help others that are reading? Have you ever broken your children’s trust? How did it happen?

TL; DR – Be consistent, be just, be gentle, be humble, listen to them and always give your child safe boundaries to roam free in. Doing these things will establish a foundation of trust that won’t be easily shaken.


Confession: I don’t treat my kids fairly

I’m not kidding! From a young age, I’ve taught my children to not expect equal treatment at any given moment. I would intentionally go out of my way to get a small gift for one and not the other when I would come home at the end of the day. It might be the boy this time… or it might be the girl. It was an exercise I would practice in order to avoid unhealthy behavior in the future. I suppose I could have just shown them this image and avoided the potential scars just in case my plan backfired:

fair

The result? My children have learned to rejoice when good things happen to the other ones. It’s given me the freedom as a parent to plan a trip with my son for his birthday without my other children wondering things like, “Does daddy love me as much?” I get to take my daughter rollerskating this weekend without my son sulking in the corner. They know that I love them all equally and are able to lean into that truth without insecurity. They’ll never receive a gift or privilege and have to assume, “He only gave me this because he HAD to be fair.” Also, guess what happens the one time you literally aren’t ABLE to be fair. My children are content in my love and I couldn’t be prouder.

TL;DR – Don’t let your children associate LOVE with FAIRNESS. Love will be cheapened and fairness will eventually fail.


Judge Me By Size?

Remember back when it was cool to judge? I’m talkin’ 1950’s Leave it to Beaver judging! Back when you were unequivocally justified in shunning someone simply because they adorned a checked plaid patterned suit instead of a solid black or charcoal? (This really happened in the show. Thank you, Netflix.) Those were the good ole days… but they’re in the past for a reason. There are some of us, apparently, who are determined to see it make a comeback. Unfortunately for you, embracing this urge to judge is a surefire way to quickly escalate yourself to the Beav’s DAD status… which brings us to our first lesson:

simple step #1:   Quit having ill-informed opinions.

Judge-Me-By-My-Size-Do-You

I’m defining “judging” as “making an irresponsible assumption about the quality of one’s character.” Understand that everyone judges.  EVERYONE.  The goal is to recognize that we do it and to make a concerted effort not to.  It’s the ones who choose to persist in their judgement that are elevated to lame status which I think we can universally agree is a bad thing.   (Unless your name is Joseph Wapner.  He was always fair and highly informational …he gets a pass)

judge

Here are some examples of poor judgements:

Oh, he’s a person of faith?  The quality of his intellect must be deficient.

Oh, she doesn’t believe in God?  The quality of her ability to love must be deficient.

Oh, he’s Asian?  The quality of his ability to drive is suspect. (well… I… I’m gonna let that one slide.)

Oh this person is riddled with tattoos?  They need to grow up and get a job.  (good luck, having the tattoos and all)

Oh, she spends all of her extra income on make up and fashion?  The quality of her humility must be lacking.

Oh, this person isn’t like ME?  He is incapable of being a decent human being and probably has no feelings at all.

We should not weigh in on the quality on one’s character after having witnessed NONE-percent of who they are and how they live.  This is disingenuous because each of us has the very same fear… the fear of being misunderstood.  When you judge, you immediately cut off any pathway to understanding anyone around you. You make a statement that says, “I have already peaked and cannot be helped in any way by him or her.” You stiffen your posture in life and are incapable of evolving into a better person.

TL;DR –  Don’t be too quick to weigh in on someone’s character without watching their lives… you run the risk of irresponsibly hurting others and overestimating your own propriety.


Creating Something out of Nothing

“Oh, when I was a kid… how magic it seemed!
Oh, please let me sleep, it’s Christmas time.”
– Eddie Vedder

We’re all practicing magicians… every once in a while, we pull a David Copperfield completely by accident.  The ripples are nearly eternal and most of the time we have no idea that we’re etching something into history. Can you imagine how much greater we’d become if we’d realize we could harness and control that power?  If we’d become intentional about it? “You’re a WIZARD, Harry!”

This morning I took my two older children to school.  I let one out, but placed my hand on the chest of the older one.  “No, you stay here, son.”  My daughter smiled as she walked away, knowing what was about to happen. We left and headed to the Blue Plate Café, a diner that my son had never visited before.  What happened next was magic, but the prestige won’t happen for another 20 years.  In a move that cost nearly $17, a moment was created that would cause my son to hold onto a memory that will remain with him forever.  One day, he’ll look back and remember how special he felt on his 12th birthday… how he got singled out, how he’d visited a restaurant with his dad and sat on stools at the bar, how he mattered…  He’ll remember going directly to Books-A-Million afterwards and reading books while all his other friends were sitting at desks in school. One day, when he’s in his 20’s or 30’s, he’ll find himself in a situation needing to know that he matters to someone.  In that moment, he’ll remember his youth and he’ll remember how magical it was for him.  *cue disappearing Keyser Söze limp*

In preparation for an upcoming series that I’m titling, “How Not to Be Lame”, understand that you don’t have to be a dad, you don’t have to have a husband or a girlfriend, you don’t have to have kids, or even close acquaintances to be able to perform simple acts that will ripple for decades! If we’re being honest, all of us cross paths regularly with people who don’t “matter” all that much to us. As cold as it looks written out, it’s the truth.  Go to these people and do something extraordinary.  Do something that will let them know that in that moment, they matter and that they’re doing absolutely nothing to warrant the attention.  Buy lunch for that co-worker that has a hard time making friends because he’s unintentionally obnoxious… leave a thank you card or gift card with kind words for your bartender who’s got kids at home waiting for mommy or daddy to return… give things to people who have absolutely no way of paying you back – ESPECIALLY when you feel the need to hold tightly to everything you own. Some people are so threatened by you that they go out of their way to make your day worse.  Without being patronizing, show them some genuine kindness.  Who KNOWS the details of their backstory?  In most cases, you’ll never be around for the payoff… but the magic… OH, the magic that will occur.  You have the potential to create an anchor point in time… to create a moment that gives people the strength to take one. more. step.

Someone you know needs to feel connected today and it won’t cost you a penny.  You have the opportunity to pull off something extraordinary… to keep the magic going, create something out of nothing, and become a positive influence in the lives of those that cross your path. The satisfaction is rarely immediate, but the return is incalculable.

 

TL;DR – Be intentional about making folks feel like they matter because the payoff is so much greater than the investment.


Too Long; Didn’t Read

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – William Shakespeare

                                                                         -Brad Bain

 

My buddy shared this proverb with me one time indicating that coherent, intelligent thoughts are best articulated with as few words as possible.  The quickest way to lose my attention is for there to be a (…see more) link at the end of a full page of text. While some ideas take a little longer to flesh out than others, it will always be a priority of mine to be as brief as possible when sharing them.  For those who just can’t be bothered, I’m including a TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) statement at the end of each of my entries – Tweet-sized articles, if you will!

Personal application:  If you notice people drifting off every time you speak to them, it might behoove you to start beginning your conversations with TL;DL statements. Otherwise, you run the risk of “Oh, I’m sorry… Can’t respond. Too long, didn’t listen.”

TL;DR:  My entries will be brief.


In the beginning… nobody cares.


Every new blog always starts with a WELCOME post that lets virtually ZERO readers know of your intentions to regularly update your web-log with new content on a regular basis.  For the sake of brevity, consider this one of THOSE posts.   I’m hoping that through the course of time, at least one of my Fancy Thoughts will stick with someone to make them better at what they do.  At the end of the day, we’re all looking to do the same thing, right?  To succeed at whatever it is we set our hearts on.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post and my very first (well …second) BLOG entry:  How Not To Be Lame.

Thank you to none-percent of the population who are currently reading this.

-Tom


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