Strong Mind

“The mind is a fertile garden. It will grow anything you wish to plant — beautiful flowers or weeds. And so it is with successful, healthy thoughts or with negative ones that will, like weeds, strangle and crowd the others. Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strangle confidence.” — Bruce Lee

Monday, 7:35 a.m.
Boulder, CO

On January 15, 2009 Capt. Chelsey B. “Sully” Sullenberger took off from LaGuardia International Airport on a routine commercial flight from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight lasted less then six minutes and ended with an unpowered, emergency landing into the Hudson River. On board were 150 passengers and 5 crew members. Everyone on board survived.  A National Transportation Safety Board Spokesperson said that it “has to go down [as] the most successful ditching in aviation history.” The cause of the accident was determined to be engine failure due to a collision with a flock of birds.

The crew of Flight 1549 was awarded the Master’s Medal by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The citation reads:

“The reactions of all members of the crew, the split second decision making and the handling of this emergency and evacuation was ‘text book’ and an example to us all. To have safely executed this emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement. It deserves the immediate recognition that has today been given by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.”

THE ONLY PERSONS BEHAVIOR WE CAN CONTROL IS OUR OWN. When it comes to our body, our mind, and our emotions, we have direct control over what we think and how we act. We only have indirect control of our emotions.

Physical movement, what we think, and our emotions are all linked. If we change how we think and move our body, then we change our body chemistry and in turn how we feel.

Changing how we feel is as easy as deciding to stand up straight or smile. Our body doesn’t move without us telling it too. So our mind and what we think play a crucial role in controlling how we act and feel. Most of us do not have a STRONG MIND. We are not accustomed to controlling our thoughts. They often seem to have a mind of their own.

Capt. Sullenberger and the flight crew of 1549 demonstrated remarkable control of their actions during, what must have been, a harrowing experience. Even with over 30 plus years of flying experience and most likely countless simulations of emergency landings, the outcome of Flight 1549 could have been tragically different.

The benefit of discovering how to control our mind and thus our actions and emotions is that we gain a valuable edge in almost any situation. Why? Because most people are not in control of themselves.

Rudyard Kipling wrote:

“IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;…”

So how is it that there are those among us who can pull off a remarkable and heroic emergency landing of a commercial airplane, while there are others who can barely negotiate the check-out line at the local Piggly Wiggly without losing their cool? Is it genetics? Or is there something else at work?

While genetics play a role, they do not play as big a role as one might imagine. It is true that some of us are born with a natural ability to respond calmly under pressure, just as others of us can play an instrument, or are good with numbers, or can run fast. The rest of us though can learn to develop the strength of mind to act just as calmly when face-to-face with a loaded gun.

Must of us will never be responsible for the lives of 154 people and have to land a commercial jet into a river, but we all encounter our own Flight 1549 at one time or another. Whether it is meeting deadlines at work, relating to our family, or navigating the bermuda triangle of our teenagers lives, we are in danger of letting circumstances and our unchecked emotions run our lives.

Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. By controlling what and how we think we can control our life.

Here are three things you can start today to develop a strong mind:

  • Have a pre-shot routine. Have you ever watched a tennis player or a pitcher or a golfer. Every time they get ready to serve or pitch or hit a golf ball, they have a routine they go through. It is not just superstition at work, it is a way for them to settle their mind and emotions and focus on what they need to do.
  • Get back to basics. Review and take action according to your core values. By doing this you gain perspective on things that might otherwise set you off your game. A good way to do this is to write a personal mission statement.
  • Cultivate a garden of healthy thoughts. If you don’t want to think about bananas, change your mind and think about oranges. If you don’t want to think about lack, change your mind and think about prosperity. If you don’t want to think about failure, think about success. If you don’t want to think about hate, think about love.

The challenges, difficulties and opportunities we all face everyday may never be as dramatic as having to land an airplane in the Hudson River, nonetheless developing a strong mind helps us face the ones we do meet with grace and dignity. And who knows, you may just end up as the hero.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Don’t be a SCROOGE!

“Nothing in this world is more flexible and yielding than water.
Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it,
Because they have no way to change it.
So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful.
Everyone knows this, but no one can do it.” — Lao Tzu

Monday, 7:25 a.m.
Boulder, CO

We are all familiar with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the seemingly intractable Ebenezer Scrooge, even if just because of Bill Murray. It is the story of a man who, when shown the trajectory of his life, suddenly sees the world in a new light.

Scrooge lacked perspective and possessed an inflexible mind. He saw the world in terms of zeros and ones, columns and figures. His world lacked color and imagination.

Many parents, like Scrooge, fear flexibility, believing it is a sign of weakness. Yet we are not born inflexible. We are most limber when we are children. The magic of young children is that they explore the world with wonder and imagination. As they grow, if we are not careful, they slowly lose that sense of wonder until all that is left is a slovenly teen who has lost the rapture we once so adored.

Most of us have become comfortable with our inflexible mind. In fact many of us don’t even realize we have one. So how do you know if you suffer from an inflexible mind?

It’s easy. Just ask yourself, “How many times a day do I say…

I hate….
I can’t…
I never…
Or I’ll never…?”

If you can count the times on more than one hand, then you have an inflexible mind.

Here are nine benefits from developing a flexible mind:

  1. You’ll enjoy less conflict with your family, friends and coworkers.
  2. You’ll find you have more peace of mind at home and at work.
  3. You’ll be more at ease in unfamiliar situations.
  4. You’ll never be alone because you can make friends easily.
  5. You’ll always have choices and alternatives.
  6. You’ll gain respect from your peers and people will seek your help because you can solve problems and get results.
  7. You’ll become more creative.
  8. You’ll become known as the “GO TO” guy or girl because you say, “I can,” instead of “I can’t.”
  9. You’ll develop more self-confidence.

All of these benefits are possible because a flexible mind sees every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. A flexible mind is open to exploring the world.

Here are four ways to develop a flexible mind:

  1. Become an Empty Glass
  2. Develop an Internal Compass
  3. Always be prepared for the Fog of War
  4. Discover the miracle of the U-Turn

Empty Glass
If you’ve ever watched young children, then you’ll have noticed that they are always checking things out, trying to figure how this or that works. For some reason as we grow older, many of us lose that sense of wonder about the world. We stop asking questions; we lose our curiosity.

Curiosity redirects our focus away from ourselves and our interests and towards other people and their interests. When we’re curious our intent is to learn. We listen more and asks lots of questions. When we do this we get all sorts of information we can use to improve our relationships with everyone in our life.

Internal Compass
The mark of a flexible mind is a willingness to understand another person. When we do this we build bridges. In order to understand other perspectives without losing our own we need an internal compass.

An internal compass continually points to our Magnetic North Pole. Writing a personal mission statement is one of the simplest ways to set your internal compass. With an internal compass you can follow your curious mind wherever it may take you without losing your way.

Fog of War
The military understands all too well the need for contingency plans, many of them. When combat begins, confusion reigns. This is known as the Fog of War. Amidst all the noise and smoke and chaos it is important to have pre-established alternatives. These back-up plans allow troops to continue with a mission even when communication is cut-off. In almost any situation, it’s a good idea to have two or three viable options. That way you can move in the direction you want to go without spinning your wheels.

U-Turn
There is a turkish proverb that goes something like this..

No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong road, turn around.

Once we’ve committed ourselves to an idea or course of action, we have a strong tendency to stick with it even when it’s not working. We don’t want to look like a fool or look like we’ve changed our mind. The psychological terms are commitment and consistency. Once you’ve committed to a particular course of action you will encounter pressure to behave consistently with that commitment.

In other words, we’d rather keep going the wrong way then to admit we made a mistake. The more you can train yourself to take corrective action when you recognize things aren’t going as planned the better off you’ll be.

Cultivate a Flexible Mind
There are other ways to develop a flexible mind. However, the four presented here are a good place to start. Focus on each one for a day and a half this week. Take notice of how you feel and how other people react to you. I suspect you’ll experience positive results.

Children are like grains of sand, the harder you squeeze the quicker they flow through your fingers. They must be cupped in the palm of an open mind.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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How to Not Live Your Life Like a Candle in the Wind

“The same wind blows on us all. The economic wind. The political wind. The wind of opportunity. The wind of difficulty. The same wind blows on us all.” — Jim Rohn

Monday, 7:05 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Resilience – The ability to recover rapidly from illness, change, or misfortune : BUOYANCY

The mark of a competitor is the ability to stay focused and get back in the game when behind. Some of us have an innate ability to do this. It is in our nature. The rest of us need to train ourselves to be resilient. There are two components to developing resiliency — stress and recovery (or rest).

Now, most of us are very good at stressing ourselves out. Unfortunately it is usually negative stress. What we are not so good at is getting enough rest. We are not good at letting our bodies recover. Most of us are afraid that if we don’t keep pushing forward we’ll get behind. And if we get behind then we will never be able to catch up. What typically happens, though, when we keep pushing is that our body reaches a point where it screams, “ENOUGH,” and blows out our candle.

How many of you have had a lot going on at home and work and other pressures, and finally one day exhausted you lay down for a nap and wake up hours later wondering what day it is, where you are and how long you’v been asleep? Or how about pushing through on a stressful deadline, only to go on vacation and immediately “catch” a nasty cold that keeps you in bed the whole time?

This is our bodies way of telling us that it needs a break, that we have pushed it too far. If we won’t give it the rest it needs, our body will eventually force us to take it. I remember how every now and then my dad’s back would go out and he’d have to spend the weekend in bed. That was his bodies way of telling him it needed a break.

So rest is critical to our ability to remain resilient. I think it was Vince Lombardi who said…

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

If we don’t get adequate rest and allow our bodies time to recover, even the Mean Joe Greene’s among us will eventually succumb.

Now the opposite is true too. Getting too much rest renders us incapable of rapidly recovering from illness, change and misfortune. We become unsure of our own ability to handle the challenges we face. Consequently we withdraw even more and further diminish our chances to recover from life’s blowing of the wind.

So we must learn to balance positive stress and rest in order to become more resilient. What’s interesting, is our bodies are already designed for this cycle of stress and recovery. The simplest and most common example is the Circadian Rhythm or our natural need to sleep. Some of us need more sleep and some less, yet we all have a part of the day when we are awake and another part when we are asleep. Our world is full cycles of growth and recovery. So it is natural for us to cycle between periods of stress and periods rest or recovery.

Jim Loehr, author of The New Toughness Training For Sport, has identified four stages of stress, from low to high, that are a function of time: a) Under training or not enough stress means we are actually moving backwards; b) Maintenance Training or maintenance stress keeps us at our current level but does not help us grow; c) Toughness Training or adaptive stress makes us uncomfortable and helps us grow and become more resilient; and d) Overtraining or excessive stress is painful and does more damage than good.

Stress That Toughens

High D) Overtraining (excessive stress) = Pain
C) Toughness Training (adaptive stress) = Discomfort
B) Maintenance Training (maintenance stress) = No Pain
Low A) Under training (not enough stress) = Pain

Time

To become more resilient we must learn to…

Cycle between periods of adaptive stress and periods of rest.

To do this we must positively stress ourselves, with vigorous exercise, to the point of physical, and often mental, discomfort and then give our bodies time to rest and recover. The more often we do this the better we get at it. The end result is that we can handle more stress and recover more quickly.

This works for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have never exercised a day in your life or if you are a professional athlete, we can all learn to cycle positive stress with rest and recovery. When we do we grow tougher and more resilient.

When we do, we can recover rapidly from the winds of illness, change and misfortune. In the immortal words of Elton John, we will no longer live…

“Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to turn to
When the rain sets in.”

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Don’t Let Your Teen Wake Up As Rip Van Winkle

“Ah, poor man, Rip Van Winkle was his name, but it’s twenty years since he went away from home…” Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

Monday, 7:15 a.m.
Boulder, CO

The story of Rip Van Winkle is about a guy who falls asleep and wakes up twenty years later to find all of his friends have either died or moved away. When it comes to our bodies many of us have lived Rip Van Winkle like lives. We’ve recently awakened, in our forties, wondering where our teenage figure has gone.

As teens our bodies felt rugged and indestructible. Thinking back to when I was in high school, I can only remember a few classmates who were overweight. Most of us looked fit and were regularly active. We played sports and spent our free time outside. In addition, I only knew of one person who had diabetes; he was the younger brother of a friend of mine. Today it seems the opposite is true.

Some recent statistics say that the number of obese teens has doubled in the last 30 years to almost 16%. And less then a third get the recommended daily or weekly amount of activity. They are also at a much greater risk for developing diabetes. Todays kids are already at a big disadvantage when it comes to their health compared to when most of us were teens. So it is extra important to start kids off with good habits.

I recently read that our bodies, in a biological sense, are designed for us to bear children and then care for them until they are old enough to take care of themselves. This is a roughly a 35 to 40 year time span. After 40 years of age we are essentially useless, in a biological sense.

Our early to mid-twenties is when we reach our highest level of physiological functioning. After that time our bodies, naturally deteriorate. At about 40 years-of-age the deterioration process speeds up. The process of deterioration is fairly consistent regardless of our level of fitness at any age. Therefore, the higher our level of fitness, at any age, the longer we can optimally function for our age.

Someone who gets vigorous exercise three days a week will, on average, be able to maintain optimal physiological function, for their age, for 40 years longer than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle.

In other words, a sedentary person will drop below 55% of optimal physiological function at approximately age 35, while a highly active person will drop below that level at around 75 years-of-age.

A key ingredient to optimal physiological function is nutrition. If we vigorously exercise and want our bodies to respond and recover optimally, then we must feed our bodies the right foods. Most of us do not eat as well as we should, nor do our children. And lets not kid ourselves folks, we live in a…

JUNK FOOD NATION.

And our children, are paying a heavy toll for it. One-in-three will drop below 55% of optimal physiological function by age 35 if not sooner, if something doesn’t change.

For them to discover how to change, WE MUST CHANGE.

Many of us have been living Rip Van Winkle lives, and are just now waking up to our declining bodies. WE need to take better care of ourselves and teach our children to do the same.

When we clog up our body with processed foods, chemicals and additives, it becomes sluggish and unresponsive. To give our body the best chance to keep us on our toes we must feed it properly.

Here are a few simple ideas I have found useful. Again I am not an expert in this area. However, I have done a lot of research for my personal awareness; so what I say here is my own personal bias. But in my experience this has served me well.

  • One of the most important things is to keep our bodies properly hydrated with good clean water. (Funny how that keeps coming up.)
  • Stick to the outer circle of the supermarket. By this I mean focus on whole foods. The more whole foods you eat compared to more processed foods the better. Especially when those foods are whole vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fruits.
  • Minimize the amount of processed food you eat. Avoiding the aisles in the super market as much possible will help with this.
  • Eat mostly vegetables. Leafy greens should be eaten every day. A recent discovery of mine is green smoothies. They are an easy and delicious way to get your leafy greens, and fruit.
  • Don’t eat wheat. And I’m not talking just about bread. Try to avoid or eliminate all wheat from your diet. This is a radical suggestion for most people, but from everything I’ve read it is an important one.
  • As much as possible buy organic. It’s important to know where you food is coming from.
  • Eliminate most if not all added sugar from your diet.
  • Read labels. The more ingredients something has, the less you want to eat it. In fact, no ingredients is best.
  • Finally, make small changes to your diet over time. Don’t try to change everything all at once. That is a sure fire recipe for failure. Remove one thing from you diet at time, something like soda, and replace it with another, such as lemon in water or a favorite herbal tea–unsweetened of course.

Proper nutrition could be the most challenging aspect of taking care of our body. Most people are afraid to dream of vibrant health because they are afraid it might cost them something. What it will cost is bad habits, a poor diet, and often a muffin-top waistline.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

Before embarking on any change in diet you should consult with a qualified professional to see if you are healthy enough to do so.

 

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Oh, To Be LIKED. If Only I Were Fit and STRONG?

“In any case, it’s good that you’ve learned that everything in life has its price.” — The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Monday, 7:05 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Pick up any high school physics book and you will find these equations:

Power = Work / Time
Force = Mass X Acceleration
Velocity = Distance / Time (In a given direction)

A bulldozer is more powerful than a man. A sprinter is more forceful than a walker. A bullet has more velocity than a baseball.

With a strong body we can do more work in less time, which makes us more POWERFUL. With a strong body we can sprint instead of walk, which makes us more FORCEFUL. With a strong body we can cover more ground in less time, which gives us greater VELOCITY.

In short a STRONG body helps us do more.

Besides being able to do more, there are other compelling reasons to have a strong, healthy body. One that hits close to home is how much we get paid. Studies have shown that people who are better looking get paid more than their counterparts who are not as good-looking. People who are overweight get paid less than those who are at a normal weight. Even people who are taller get paid more than shorter people. It stands to reason, then, that having a strong, healthy looking body can provide the same advantage.

This phenomenon is known as the Halo Effect or Liking.

According to Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., author of the national bestseller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,

A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. And the evidence is now clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic.

Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgements without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.”

The Halo Effect can work in the opposite direction too. If we look weak, people will believe we are weak.

The Halo Effect is amplified by our self-image. If we feel we are weak then our friends, co-workers and even strangers will perceive us as weak, and vice versa. In other words…

When we look good, we feel good.
And when we feel good, we do good.

If you don’t believe me, then try it for yourself. The next time you are feeling down, instead of letting the feeling take over, get off the couch, clean yourself up and put on your best outfit, then see how you feel. You CAN’T help from feeling better about yourself — more confident, more everything.

So if putting on your best outfit helps you to feel invincible, imagine how a strong body will make you feel. Why, you’ll feel more confident; you’ll feel like you can take on the world. When we feel this way and act this way, other people sense our energy and believe it, too. You may not be able to do much about your height or your looks, but you can always build a stronger body.

If flexibility is the foundation for building a flexible, strong, resourceful and resilient body, then strength is the framing.

Here are THREE ideas to keep in mind when developing a strong body:

Flexibility is fundamental to strength. The more limber our muscles, the more work we can do. All things being equal the individual who is more flexible will be stronger. So it is extremely important to keep working on your flexibility.

Closely related to flexibility is Range of Motion. Having adequate strength throughout your Range of Motion will help you to do more work. Unfortunately, most of us have inadequate Range of Motion. It is more important to be able to lift less weight throughout our entire Range of Motion than it is to move more weight through a reduced range of motion. If you suspect you have reduced Range of Motion it is important to seek professional advice to determine the cause.

Balance is the third cornerstone of strength. Many people workout so that their bodies look strong and muscular but in reality they’re weak. Why are they weak? They spend all of their time focusing on looking good rather than being strong. They focus on the muscles every one can see and neglect the ones no one cares about. They build bulging biceps and a chiseled chest and washboard abs. They ignore their lower back and legs. As a result they are imbalanced, and imbalance, when it comes to the body, is weakness.

Our bodies muscles come in pairs. They must be developed in pairs so as to not become imbalanced. If you work the chest you must work the back. If you work your biceps you must work  your triceps. Strength in one and weakness in the other invites problems.

To become more Powerful we must increase the amount of work we can do or decrease the time we do it in. To become more Forceful we must increase our mass or ability to go faster. To increase our Velocity we must be able to cover more ground in less time. For things to change, we must change; and all change has its price. To take the next step towards building your flexible, STRONG, responsive and resilient body Click Here.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

Before embarking on any physical fitness training program you should consult with a qualified professional to see if you are fit enough to do so.

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Flexibility — The Foundation for Success

“Far better it is to dare glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, 7:37 a.m.
Boulder, CO

With 206 bones, 640 muscles and over 45 miles of nerves, the human body is an amazing apparatus. We take approximately 23,000 breaths a day. Our heart beats 100,000 times in one day. This all happens without us thinking about it.

This is why, on our quest to improve ourselves and our lives, we begin with the body. Without our body we would accomplish little. It is the vehicle of our hopes and dreams. We can treat it like a Gremlin or like a Ferrari. The choice is ours. Either way, both will perform better when well maintained and cared for. By simply taking a few added measures each day, we can extend our life and our enjoyment.

In the Discovery documentary Planet Earth, Sigourney Weaver narrates, “Earth is the lucky planet.” In many ways we are the lucky species. We can make conscious choices. We can choose how to live. That may be an unwanted burden for some. For others it is the greatest gift of all.

You may be wondering why a teen mentor is offering advice on how to care for your body?

It’s a good question. If all I did was offer advice and tips on how to raise your teen, at best, I’d only be giving you half of what you need to help your teen succeed. There must be a foundation on which to build.

A healthy body is that foundation.

Building the foundation for a strong, responsive and resilient body begins with flexibility. Without flexibility we cannot access our full strength; without flexibility we cannot respond as quickly as we might; without flexibility our body succumbs to the ravages and stress of living.

A flexible body is fundamental to our success.

We don’t need the flexibility of a olympic gymnast or yogi master. We do need to be flexible enough so as not to ache when we wake in the morning; we do need enough flexibility to not creak when we stand up. Our bodies are designed for movement — linearly, laterally, vertically. Our modern lifestyle, of mostly sitting, has rendered many of us human statues.

At a minimum, our body should be flexible enough not to limit our daily activities.

Here are five things I recommend doing on a daily or weekly basis:

ONE, drink plenty of water. Our bodies are 60 to 70 percent water. Without it we’d shrivel up and die. It is recommended that we drink at least eight 8 ounce cups of water a day. Some recommendations are 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight. That means a 160 pound male should drink ten 8 ounce cups of water every day. If you live in a dry climate and/or are regularly active, drink more.

Proper hydration is key to flexibility.

TWO, regular movement. Sitting kills flexibility.  So stand up, stretch and move throughout the day. I’ve read that as often as every twenty minutes we should stand up and move. If that is not possible, find ways to stretch or activate your muscles while sitting. In addition, walk or take the stairs when out and about. Avoiding elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks and parking further away from the store or the office will all help.

Regular movement is critical to staying limber.

THREE, find positive ways to relieve stress. We hold emotional and mental stress in our muscles.  If we can relieve this stress positively, then we can diffuse the stress and our muscles will relax. Talking about our fears and worries helps, as does meditating, exercise and favorite hobbies or pastimes. Stress-Free muscles are more flexible.

Relieve stress positively for relaxed muscles.

FOUR, take up an activity you like. Play tennis or golf, or go for long walks. Anything that keeps you active on a regular basis will do. Yoga is great. It includes actively stretching muscles and improving balance. Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you enjoy it and that it gets you moving.

Stay Active.

FIVE, incorporate basic stretching into your daily or weekly routine. Daily is best. To create a life-long habit, force yourself to stretch everyday. Once a week is not enough. Once a week is not a priority. You will find yourself doing something else. Remember, stretching doesn’t need to be long or involved. Five to ten minutes works great. Pick a dozen stretches and exercises that focus on flexibility and do them on different days.

Stretch regularly.

This is the first step in taking control of your body, your mind, your emotions and your life. In doing so you teach your teen how to do the same. If you don’t do this, then it becomes easier not to do the other stuff.

Start exactly where you are, not where you’d like to be. Set a goal to stretch three days a week. This goal is for positive reinforcement; it is reasonable and attainable. It is something to do now — today — that will move you toward your dreams.

For ideas on stretches and exercises Click Here.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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13 Steps to a More Balanced Life

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent” — Calvin Coolidge

Monday, 8:30 a.m.
Boulder, CO

At the age of 17 a young man ran away from home. He ran from Boston to Philadelphia. He illegally ran away from a printing apprenticeship and an abusive relationship with his older brother. He ran towards becoming an American Statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the Unites States.

Before signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 as an elected member of the Second Continental Congress, this American icon was a successful businessman, inventor and public figure. He started the first subscription library, the first fire department and he earned international recognition for his work with electricity.

Benjamin Franklin is a true rags to riches story. He arrived in Philadelphia with only enough money to buy two rolls and went on to become one of the most important figures of his time. How did he do this?

Benjamin Franklin was committed to improving himself. At age 20 he identified 13 virtues he felt he needed to improve upon — Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity and Humility. He carried a small notebook with seven columns, one for each day of the week, and 13 rows, one for each virtue.  At the end of each day he would put a dot next to a virtue he had failed to meet.

He would focus on one virtue per week. After 13 weeks and 13 virtues he would repeat the process. By the end of one year he had worked on each virtue four times for a total of four weeks. Benjamin Franklin wrote of his efforts,

“Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”

We are born with perfect potential. We are not, however, born as finished products. If we want to improve our lives and teach our children how to improve their lives, then we must be like Benjamin Franklin. We must endeavour to reveal our true selves.

It is rumored that when asked about his most famous statue, David, Michelangelo replied that he simply removed the unneeded marble to reveal what was already there. When born, we are like that block of marble, with the potential for great beauty already inside.

If we care to, our goal as a person is to release our potential. If we care to, our responsibility as a parent is to help our children learn how to release theirs.

Over the next few weeks, I will outline some tools, “virtues” if you will, that you can use to release your potential. My aim, is that each week you will apply one of these tools to your own life and, in doing so, pass them onto your teen for him or her to use.

This is a life long journey. It is a process not a destination. No matter what age, we can start to chip away at the marble. Maybe you were not shown as a child how to do this. That’s OK. Or Maybe you just forgot how to use the tools. That’s OK too. It doesn’t matter where you are, how old you are or who you think you are, you can take any two year, any three year, any five year period and change your life dramatically for the better. You can start chipping away at the marble today and five years from know your whole life will have improved.

More importantly you will have modeled for your children how to get the most out of all of they’ve got. So pick up the chisel and lets begin.

We will focus on twelve specific areas. I’ve modeled these twelve areas after James E. Loehr, Ed.D. and his ground breaking books, The New Toughness Training For Sports and Toughness Training For Life.

BALANCE Flexibility Strength Responsiveness Resiliency
Body Flexible Body Strong Body Responsive Body Resilient Body
Mind Flexible Mind Strong Mind Responsive Mind Resilient Mind
Emotions Flexible Emotions Emotional Strength Responsive Emotions Emotional Resiliency

Our goal is to improve our balance — in our bodies, our minds, our emotions and ultimately our lives. We can do this by developing flexibility, strength, responsiveness and resiliency in our body, mind, and emotions. Once balanced, we can grow and expand our horizons.

Imagine the wheel of a bicycle. In this wheel are spokes. If one spoke is broken or bent or is not there then the wheel is not true. It wobbles. When going slowly the wobble is manageable. When the speed increases, the wobble becomes more and more noticeable until it becomes impossible to control the bike.

Each spoke of the wheel represents a part of our lives. If spokes are broken or bent or not there, then we can only handle a certain amount of speed, or stress, or challenge in our life. If, we try to pick up the pace, to do more, to try more, it becomes harder and harder to maintain control. Before we can go faster, we must first balance our life. We must first true our wheel.

Each week for the next twelve weeks we will focus on one spoke. We will start with our body, since without it we can do very little. Then we will move to our mind and finally our emotions. On week thirteen we will see how we did. Then, like Benjamin Franklin, we will repeat the process.

One year from now we will have cycled through these twelve areas four times. Please join me for this journey of self-revelation and personal discovery. See you next week.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Because Communication Isn’t Optional

“Everything I attract is what I am, and what I am speaks so loudly I can not hear what you say, and what you are speaks so loudly I can not hear what you say.” — J. Earl Shoaff

Monday, 8:32 a.m.
Boulder, CO

We must communicate with our teens and our teens must communicate with the world. How we relate and talk with our teens significantly impacts how they interact with the world.  Why is this important? Those who can effectively communicate, get into good schools, get better jobs, and get a better price on a house. Those who can’t, don’t.

Since communication isn’t optional, it pays to be good at it.

At a basic level, effective communication is letting people know what you want or need in a way that they’ll understand.  Taken a step further it is the ability to persuade other people to help you get or find what you want. It is not the bait-and-switch of snake-oil salesman. It is a genuine attempt to understand others and to be understood ourselves.

So how can we become better communicators and… help our teens get better too?

Here are five keys to Effective Communication. Modeling them for our teen(s) will make them better communicators.

1) Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote “Seek First to Understand.” Another popular phrase is Active Listening. In other words, pay attention to the other person when she speaks, then ask questions to be sure you understand what she’s saying. You’ve probably heard this a dozen times, and yet it’s so fundamental to effective communication it bears repeating. As someone once said, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”

Effective communicators are first and foremost good listeners.

2) According to some studies over 90% of all interpersonal communication is non-verbal. If that is true, then much of what we say has little to do with what we’re actually saying. Our posture, facial expressions, tone of voice or our general demeanor can say something completely different from the words we speak. Pay attention to these things and you will hear a lot more than what is being said.

Effective communicators don’t listen to just the words, they “read between the lines”. They observe and feel what the other person “isn’t” saying. And when it’s their turn to speak, they are keenly aware of what they’re “not” saying.

3) Watch a Presidential debate or a segment on 60 Minutes, and you’ll notice that the person being questioned doesn’t always answer the questions. They both have a message they are trying to, for the lack of better word, sell.

Effective communicators have key messages that they keep coming back to over and over again. Despite where the other person might try to lead them with questions or comments, good communicators keep returning to their key messages.

4) A cornerstone of most types of counseling is a keen focus on the needs of the client. When the client and counselor are together, the counselor, as best he can, suspends his own needs in lieu of the clients.

Effective communicators forget about themselves. They focus entirely on the other person.

5) One of the first lessons a salesperson is taught is, “Find common ground.” We like people who are like us. When we first meet someone, we feel more comfortable if we learn that they went to the same school or know a mutual friend or have the same hobby.

Effective communicators are always looking for common ground.

The next time you talk with your teen keep these keys in mind, BECAUSE COMMUNICATION ISN’T OPTIONAL.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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How to Judge Your Teen in 1, 2… No 3 Steps!

“… errors of intuitive thought are often difficult to prevent. Biases cannot always be avoided…” — Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Monday, 8:17 a.m.
Boulder, CO

How often have you been told not to be judgmental? I know I’ve urged parents not to judge. Interestingly, it is virtually impossible not to judge. My coffee’s too hot; that guy’s driving too fast. Why can’t they get my order right?

Judgments flash through our minds before we even know what’s happening. It’s not because we’re lazy; it’s because our brain receives thousands of pieces of information every moment, and sorts it just as fast. Our minds draw conclusions before we even know what’s happening. This is how we can withdraw our hand from a hot stove without thinking.

The same thing happens when you receive a call from the principals office. Your brain starts associating as soon as you hear, “This is principal so and so.” You can’t stop yourself. We all do it.

Making a judgement is simply…

forming a general conclusion or having
an opinion or making an evaluation.

The First Step, then, is to accept that we are judgmental.

It’s not easy. We like to believe we are not, but most us are. Once you’ve accepted it, you’re ready for Step Two.

This is perhaps the hardest step because it goes against our very nature – to take the path of least resistance, to be LAZY.  We must activate our reasoning skills. We must override our tendency to act immediately. It is critical to pause and consider the information.

Ask yourself,

“Is my judgement of the situation reasonable?
Or am I basing my opinion on past events?”

In Step Two, we must question our intuitive conclusions, our instinctual judgements, our biases. Before responding, verifying whether or not our intuition is accurate is important. Lack of awareness gets most of us into trouble, at this point. Instead, we respond on instinct, which is fine if you’re about to hit a tree or be attacked by a lion. It’s not so great if you immediately start yelling at your teen, without having all the information.

Step Two, then, is awareness of our judgements.

Once we become aware of our judgements, we can then decide how to respond or not.

In Step Three the goal is to…

Respond Authentically.

If angry, be angry.  If disappointed, be disappointed.  If relieved, be relieved.  If happy, be happy.  These are different from being judgmental.  Yelling, ”How could you be so stupid… irresponsible… lazy… etc?” is being judgmental.  Saying, “I am so angry right now I can hardly think straight.” is not.

Aristotle said it well:

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

Step Three, then, is to respond without the judgement.

I am not saying don’t make judgements.  We all do.  We make them all the time.  What I am saying is that when you respond to the news that your teen totaled your car…

Be furious! Be shocked! BE AWARE!

 

 

 

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Parenting — An Act of Valor

“… people forget that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.” — Victor Farnkl

Monday, 9:05 a.m.
Boulder, CO

In 2009 a mom died rescuing her young son from a ragging river.  She is survived by her son, a daughter and her husband.  A mother of two, a wife and a friend, she made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and rescue her son.

Last weekend my wife and I saw the recently released movie Act of Valor. Without giving away the ending (I hope), one of the Navy Seals made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.  He selflessly gave his life for the lives of the men with him, for his country and for his family back home.

Fortunately most parents do not have to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect their children and their family.  Even so being a parent is, in my opinion, an Act of Valor.

Valor simply means…

COURAGE, BRAVERY.

Facing the uncertainty everyday brings when raising children, especially teenage children, takes courage and bravery.  Many of the risks and dangers teens face today were unheard of when most of us were teenagers.  The most our parents faced was maybe drinking or smoking pot or perhaps a teen pregnancy.

Today those dangers are just the tip of the iceberg!

When I speak with you, parents, I am continuously amazed at your strength and resiliency. Day in and day out you show up for your kids and do your best, with little to no acknowledgement.  You sacrifice other pursuits, other dreams, other rewards in order to provide for and protect your family.

You act and do your best in spite of your fear.

That’s what courage is. That’s what an Act of Valor is…

Taking action in spite of our fear.

It is easy to find valor when someone takes action in the line of duty. It is easy to recognize courage when someone stands up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s not as easy to see courage in the mom or dad who shows up everyday. It’s not so easy to recognize valor in your neighbor unless you see it in yourself.

So, tonight, and every night, before turning in, I encourage each of you to look in the mirror and congratulate yourself for your Act of Valor today.  Being a parent can be grueling and thankless.  If you don’t acknowledge yourself and your efforts, WHO WILL? Make this a habit.

Victor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:

“… people forget that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.”

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

 

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