Why do you treat people differently?

This question was prompted when one of my kids responded to a discussion on treating everyone ‘the same’:  “Geez, if we treated our friends like our siblings, we wouldn’t have any friends”!

So why do you ‘adjust’ and treat people differently?  Why is it an exception to see a sibling treated like a best friend?  Why not treat the doctor providing you service the same as you would the person picking up your garbage each week?  Why not treat the person waiting on you at the restaurant the same as you would the policeman that just pulled you over?

Is it normal for you to treat people you don’t know better than those closest to you?  Or do you treat only those close to you with kindness and alienate those outside your circle of friends?

Why not treat each person with kindness and respect regardless of their profession, their station in life, what they’ve done or what they can do for you?  Why not treat each conversation, each relationship or each encounter as if it was the most important thing regardless of the individual?   

Does every individual deserve to be treated with kindness?  People that have made bad decisions or have wronged you, do they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect?

Do you at times seek opportunity to feel ‘better’ than someone else?  Do you feel like you deserve to be treated better than others based on your accomplishments?

People that are self-centered and prideful tend to treat others poorly.  The preoccupation with self blinds one from seeing the importance and value of each individual.  Judgment and prejudice overtakes respect and kindness.  Appreciation and gratitude is overtaken by entitlement and condescension.  Thus missing out on so many opportunities.

People that are kind to others are so because they treat others the way they want to be treated.  A natural by product of this focus is seeking out the needs of others.   Shifting focus from self to others enables one to experience their own value as an individual.  Through such experiences one feels joy and happiness, one of the many benefits of giving of oneself.

Your thoughts?

 
 
With the sad and terrible occurrence in Colorado regarding the shooting at the movie theatre, it brings up so many questions on why this horrific decision was made and who is truly accountable?  Can we hold a parent accountable for the actions of their child?  Does the age of the child truly change the accountability?  Does it depend on the degree of parenting that was provided?  

In society, we look at an 18 year old as an adult and they are held accountable for their decisions and actions. Sometimes, youth younger than 18 are 'tried' as adults.  Any consequences for criminal actions are placed upon them.  

But society has often felt that we need to make exceptions.  In cases where it is perfectly clear on ‘who’ did it and ‘what’ was done, the legal platform no longer tries to convince anyone that the defendant is not guilty of the action… rather they pursuit an approach that the person should not be held accountable for that action for a variety of reasons:  Mental issues, environment, society, family situation, etc…  and that the 'accountability' needs to be shifted away from the defendant.

When parent(s) has/have done all they could to teach their children the laws of the land, how to function in society and how to properly treat other people and supplemented the teaching and educating by their own example they are not accountable for the actions of their child beyond the age of adulthood.  The teaching also needs to be accompanied with some level of corrective actions when poor decisions are made.

However, when a parent(s) does/do not provide the appropriate teaching, example nor corrective actions to inappropriate behavior they are allowing a child to develop habits that will result in negative consequences.  Accountability should be shared.   

Your thoughts?   

 
 
With the sad and terrible occurrence in Colorado regarding the shooting at the movie theatre, it brings up so many questions on why this horrific decision was made and who is truly accountable?  Can we hold a parent accountable for the actions of their child?  Does the age of the child truly change the accountability?  Does it depend on the degree of parenting that was provided? 

In society, we look at an 18 year old as an adult and they are held accountable for their decisions and actions. Sometimes, youth younger than 18 are 'tried' as adults.  Any consequences for criminal actions are placed upon them.  

But society has often felt that we need to make exceptions.  In cases where it is perfectly clear on ‘who’ did it and ‘what’ was done, the legal platform no longer tries to convince anyone that the defendant is not guilty of the action… rather they pursuit an approach that the person should not be held accountable for that action for a variety of reasons:  Mental issues, environment, society, family situation, etc…  and that the 'accountability' needs to be shifted away from the defendant.

When parent(s) has/have done all they could to teach their children the laws of the land, how to function in society and how to properly treat other people and supplemented the teaching and educating by their own example they are not accountable for the actions of their child beyond the age of adulthood.  The teaching also needs to be accompanied with some level of corrective actions when poor decisions are made.

However, when a parent(s) does/do not provide the appropriate teaching, example nor corrective actions to inappropriate behavior they are allowing a child to develop habits that will result in negative consequences.  Accountability should be shared.   

Your thoughts?  
 
 
One objective of a parents ‘job’ is to prepare their child for a ‘successful’ life so they can function successfully in society and be a better parent than their parents...

The challenge for a parent is to know when to allow your child to make their own decisions and when is it appropriate to mandate.  It is said that when you teach them correct principles early in life, they will have the right foundation to make their own decisions and they will make good decisions. 

However, if focus is on ‘teaching’ and not allowing them to experience the process of making their own decisions until they are out of the house, will they be prepared to make their own decisions?

On the flip side, if children are allowed to make all their own decisions while they are still too young and are shielded from the true consequences of those decisions and without receiving that ‘firm direction’, will they be ready for the future? 

Those that avoid that ‘firm direction’ appear to try to be more of a friend to their child.  What are the long term impacts of that approach?

Is it important for a child to experience the consequences of bad decisions early in life?  Is learning by other’s experiences adequate?  When is the right age for a child to experience the consequences of their decisions? 

A child to make decisions on things with short term consequences.  How do you know the difference between short and long term consequences?

Your thoughts?

 
 
Is it possible to teach kids to appreciate what they have when others have so much more?

I grew up not having as much as others.  However, back where I grew up, there was not as much polarization within our community.  Whereas, in today’s environment, you have more extremes where there are kids with all the expensive clothes, gadgets, electronics, new cars, etc which places extreme pressure on parents to manage children’s expectations.

So rather than going into debt and buying things you can’t afford, how do you teach your children how to appreciate what they have and to be happy with what they have—even when others may have more… much more?  As an example, we have always had an old car for the kids to drive to high school.  The oldest kid at home gets to drive it as ‘their car’ (currently a 92 Honda Accord).  We do hear, ‘why do we have to drive old klunkers’? 

So, with that in mind, I have been doing research in the family lab on how to teach my children how to appreciate what they have or receive.  The experiment happens at Easter and it’s called the ‘money’ eggs. 

I put a variety of amounts of money in various plastic colored eggs-1 for each family member.  Each year I vary a bit so it’s never the same amounts. There’s 1 with the most (has ranged from $20 to $100ish) and 1 with the least (ranging from $2-$10)  and everything in between.  I place the eggs on the table.  I then give my speech on the fact that they have no money in their hands now and anything they get will be more than what they have now.  And although I could find other things to do with the money, I want them to have it.

Who gets to choose first varies each year as we have tried a variety of ways … Oldest to youngest, youngest to oldest, pick numbers from a hat, etc…

Everyone starts with a good attitude….  And at the end of the choosing of the eggs, someone is always very happy… others are ‘ok’, but invariably, the person that picks the egg with the least amount of money gets upset.  At times, they can’t even control their emotions and get very frustrated.  One time, one of our children, handed me the money back and said they didn’t want it.  One year, I even but the same amount in every egg—everyone was disappointed.

After the choosing, yes, my wife will remind me how this routine seems to detract from the spirit of Easter (and if she was the one with the least amount, she’ll also tells me to never do it again!)

After the many experiences, it becomes clear to me as to the key to lasting happiness:  When we are able to keep our focus on ‘people’ – caring for ourselves, caring about others, seeking out opportunities to help, to compliment, to encourage, to laugh, to enjoy time together we maximize our happiness and it is long lasting.  When we shift our focus to ‘things’ (money, furniture, cars, electronics, clothes, etc) we open ourselves up to limiting our ability to be happy due to the temporary pleasure that seems to evaporate when we see someone with more than us, better than ours, or we get bored with it.

So, should I stop the ‘money egg’ activity?

Your thoughts?
 
 
The family structure is designed to help provide the necessary love, protection, provisions and knowledge for one to develop from childhood into a mature adult.  Communities exist to help families fulfill their responsibilities.  Is it possible for people to develop without depending upon anyone—no family, no community?

In a management course this month I had the privilege of being instructed by Luis Martin, a former college professor from SMU.  He had left the teaching profession and spent a number of years in corporate America teaching values that should be part of management. 

“Loving things and using people only leads to misery… Loving people and using things is the way it ought to be!”   These lyrics he shared from George Burns is a great summary to his presentation.  His goal was to try and ‘pull from within’ each of us the often buried seed of wisdom about ‘individuals’ and the value of individuals.  Each person, including oneself, is very important to the ‘whole’.  And that life is about relationships and you shouldn’t ‘use’ people, but love ‘people and use things’…

He shared one of his greatest lectures where he came in without notes or slides.  He took off his shoe and then went into a dissertation of how many people were involved in creating this incredible shoe and without all those many people that were part of making this shoe, he would have to go barefoot.  Since his shoe was leather it started with the folks that had the ranch that raised the cow, the people involved in buying the cow and shipping to the people that slaughtered the cow, that made the leather, that shipped the raw materials, the factory workers that made the shoe, those that transported the shoe to the distribution centers, and then to the retail stores, and those that stocked it on the shelf.. etc..

Some people may tell you they don’t ‘need’ anyone but what they are really doing is closing people off—they basically don’t express their gratitude for what others do for them.  They are choosing to be ‘self-centered’ without an appreciation for others.  Sometimes driven by thoughts that everyone is out to get them. 

When you stop and realize that everything you touch, there are many people that were involved in getting that product or service or benefit to you.  So, what is our role in humanity and how are we contributing?

If not careful, we can get caught up in the mechanics of life, measuring and comparing.  This can lead us to not treating people like individuals or appreciating them for who they are.  A quote from Einstein that Luis shared was ‘Not everything that can be counted is worth counting, and not everything worth counting can be counted.’ 

We all have limitations and weaknesses that can be helped or strengthened as we combine with others.  Their strengths can help our weaknesses and our strengths can often help their weaknesses.  A team of individuals working together helps strengthens each other…  hence the wisdom of the family and our dependency on others.  We need people to fix things for us, to prepare things for us to use, to eat, etc.  The family can be the greatest center for learning and developing-that was the intent.  And just because someone isn't part of a traditional family, doens't mean they can't be part of some other 'family'.

But there is still the choice we have to make to take the time to appreciate and express gratitude for the benefits from those who have been placed before us to help us.  When we think that we can go it alone or try to hold back our contributions or our need for assistance we only limit our ability to enjoy life.  The assistance and dependency will always exist—its just whether we choose to ignore the contributions of others.  We should ‘joy’ in the experiences along our journey-though they may appear as hardships or trials, we should keep our focus on the big picture where our development requires challenges and difficulties to grow.  And as we are open and continue to seek out the needs of others, we in turn help ourselves.

Your thoughts?

 
 
When rubber bands are stretched to their maximum they reach their highest peaks and greatest distances.  Similar to a bow and arrow where the bow is taken back to its farthest point will yield the greatest flight for the arrow.  However, when they are stretched too far they break or are sent drastically off target.  Does this logic apply to us?  Can people, who are so complex, be compared to a rubber band or a bow which appears to be so simplistic? 

There was a time when people were placed on a device and then stretched to the point that limbs came out of sockets.  This torcher took people to a breaking point but what benefit, if any, was gained from going through it? (I’m not aware of this happening in modern families-but I know it has been discussed from time to time by parents raising teenagers).

When we shift from physical to mental stretching for people, the stretching we are referring to is more of a ‘push’ beyond mental boundaries.  Those boundaries get set through a variety of experiences where we try and avoid pain or maximize fun or joy.   For example, the barrier of ‘reading to the kids’ when we are tired and just need to ‘relax’, or working long hours when we have responsibilities of parenting, or needing to make decisions between soccer practices, games, golfing or necessary work around the house. 

Another aspect is our approach to life, when we choose to avoid being positive and optimistic because we are tired of disappointment.  So we establish barriers that prevent us from ‘getting our hopes up’.  This can lead us to describing ourselves as a ‘realist’ as a pleasant way of really allowing ourselves to be a true pessimist.

So with all the challenges of life, the difficulties with time constraints, the human frailties of health and needing a proper amount of sleep and food, how do you allow yourself to ‘stretch’ to the ‘max’, reach your peaks, and yet not break?

Think of that rubber band that may have a ‘flaw’.  Ever so slight of a ‘tear’ will lead to a rip when pulled too far and if the stretching continues, it will break right at the point of the ‘flaw’.

We must know where our own ‘flaws’ or weaknesses are and not be afraid to deal with them.  We cannot do it all:  Be active in Church, the president of the PTA, coach of our kids teams, work 60 hours a week, exercise an hour a day, play golf on the weekend, go fishing as often as we want, participant in a variety of charities, be a scoutmaster, focus on your spouse, your children, help your neighbors, keep up with the news, reply to all your twitter friends, daily updates to facebook, household chores, and on and on and on.

Reaching your potential is a ‘unique’ experience.  It needs to be something you understand.  It cannot be compared to the person sitting next to you.  Don’t get caught up in the ‘rat race’ thinking life is about beating the person next to you in the race—your ruler to measure up is your own potential and not someone else’s.

The wisdom in life comes from prioritizing among the many good decisions you can make.  To make those good decisions, you must establish your own logic on what is most important.  And as you mature that list of priorities, you will learn, either through your own experiences or those of others, that success won't come when you try to compensate the failure of item #1 by exceling in #10, #11, #12 on the list.  

Your list of priorities needs to evolve over time.  For example, when you are a teenager, priorities seem to circle around yourself and your friends.  As you mature, you seem to focus more outwardly.  As an example, for those that are religious, faith is top of the list.  For those married, it means spouse is at the top of the list.  For those with children, family is at the top of the list.  Those things at the top of the list should be complimenting each other and not conflicting. 

When conflicting priorities exist, it is as the ‘flaw’ in the rubber band and will cause a break when stretched.  For example, the life of the bachelor tends to be focused around friends, buddies and hanging out.  When you get married, you need to make adjustments.  If you don’t your flaw turns to a rip and will be breaking every weekend when you announce the ‘need’ to go out with your buddies and leave your spouse at home.

So, know your priorities and make decisions around your priorities.  When you find you are feeling stretched beyond your capacity, or unhappy, or feeling the lack of accomplishment or joy in your life-evaluate your decision making process and your priorities.   See if your decisions have been aligning with your priorities.  If they are and you are still not feeling the benefits of life, re-evaluate your priorities.   Stretch

Your thoughts?

 
 
How do you teach your children that it is better to give than receive?

First off, do you believe that?  If you don’t you won’t be able to teach your children as the best way to teach them is by example.  However, if you are a parent, you are spending most of your life, resources and waking hours giving of yourself to your children.  So how do you prepare them for giving of themself when they are older? 

I remember hearing that phrase right when I was about to be disappointed because I wasn’t going to get what I had asked for or wanted.  But teaching this lesson is so much more than just not giving to your children what they are asking for—it’s about having them experience the act of giving.  They need to experience making someone feel better as a direct result of their own effort.  A visible reality that will impact their life and help them appreciate what they have.

My parents did an excellent job of taking me on service projects, taking me to help clean up the church, taking meals to families, visiting people in the hospital, mowing widow’s lawns, donating money and many other things.  In fact, we even experienced times when we were in need when my father was in the hospital.  During that time we were recipients of many people’s giving.  It does humble you and I remember that those experiences seemed ‘harder’ to receive from others than to give of yourself.

There is always someone in need, and sometimes, it is someone we know but we are unaware because they are too embarrassed to reach out and we may not be as observant as we should. Giving should be more than just a passive act of sliding money into an envelope-you need to also participate in actually delivering the need.  We need to be more focused on 'seeking' out those in need.

I think back on my favorite movie (saw it again last night) ‘The Christmas Carol’ where George C. Scott plays Ebenezer Scrooge.  When he finally comes to his senses and realizes the spirit of Christmas, he provides the Cratchet family with a huge turkey, he becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim, he donates money to the poor and my favorite, is he goes to his nephews home and participates with family that he had ignored for so many years.   All specific acts that were done out of kindness and the spirit of giving and those acts continued for the rest of his life!

 
 
So which is better when it comes to raising kids?  Establishing high expectations with their grades and then experiencing disappointment when they blow a test?  Or lowering the bar and then when they blow a test or a grade you smile and say ‘no big deal’?  Which is the better approach?  Curious as to your thoughts...  Here are my thoughts that have evolved over the years through my own experiences and observations:

First, I need to lay some groundwork...  ‘Fear’ can be an inhibitor to progress or improvement:  The fear of failure, the fear of consequences of a failure, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of ridicule, the fear of loss of friends, the fear of the unknown...  if you allow yourself to be overcome with fear, then you will avoid opportunities to learn and develop.

Learning requires the absence of fear.  It requires that you open yourself up, listen, make inquiries, validate through lab exercises or tests, willingness to circle back and understand what you missed and assimilate new information.  Wisdom then is taking those learning’s, knowledge and information and applying them in meaningful and positive manner as you move on to the next experience of life.

I would love for all my children to realize how great and wonderful they are—and that if they put their mind to it, and put forth the effort, they can improve most aspects of their life.  I say most, because they will not be able to add inches to their height nor other physical improvements—but they can improve and increase their talents, knowledge, mental abilities, spirituality, etc.  The key is to be willing to sacrifice who they are now for who they can become.  I want each of them to have the confidence to try new things-regardless of how good they are-that they will experience and continue to develop the learning process in their life.

So, with that groundwork established, I do like setting high expectations.  Not all my children have the same talents and abilities, however, they can still get that ‘A’ if they want to but it may take more work or a different approach due to their uniqueness.  So I want to set the expectation for them to push to climb the mountain-to drive themselves to do all they can do-to go beyond what they thought was possible-because when they push themselves to those points, they get to find out what they are really made of—but as for me, I will be the parent, that will be there to compliment, to encourage, to cheer and to step aside and give them the center stage when they succeed. 

And when they blow the test, or fall down, or miss the shot at the buzzer, or forget their lines, or sing the wrong note, or hit the wrong key, or fail the test, or get a B, or get a ticket in a construction zone, or get a ticket for not slowing down and moving over when a police car is on the side of the road, or get in an accident, or have a bad day—I will be there to give them a hug and try my best to be patient and keep my head focused on them and keep the ‘event’ in proper perspective.   

Life is good! 
 
 
First, let’s define a slump as understood by society:  The word ‘slump’ is a negative expression and generally is associated with a person’s current string of failures. 

For example, if you are a fisherman, it’s when you don’t catch a fish more than 1 outing in a row!  To a baseball player, it’s when you don’t get a hit for a long time-maybe 4 games in a row.  To a wide receiver, it’s when you drop 3 balls in a row.  For a Coach it’s when you lose more games than you did last year.  For a young man, it’s when you get turned down by girls more than 3 times in a row.  For a young lady, it’s when you have a bad hair day 2 times in a week-You get the picture.  So basically, when you get in a slump, ‘you’ start doubting who you are and you lose self-confidence!

So, to maintain self-confidence you need to remember that who you are and how you think about yourself is something that should not be dependent upon the outcomes of the events in which you participate.  Although there are plenty of people out there that will try to make you think that the outcome is ‘you’.

I love this quote by Yogi Berra:  "Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting." 

This is a perfect example of Yogi separating himself from some classification that would label him as currently ‘bad’—even though it’s assumed that a slump is only for a period of time and the person eventually climbs out of the slump.  Yogi wasn’t going to allow him to think of himself as ‘bad’—he “just ain’t hitting!”

All of us have periods of times in our lives when we “just ain’t hitting”.  During those times, we need to keep working, keep swinging, and keep moving forward on our day’s journey.  Don’t park along the side of the road and allow our self-concept (how we think of our self) to change or start doubting who we are just because “we ain’t hitting”—we open ourselves up to misperceptions and this can lead us to despair. 

So to avoid the ‘slump’ you remember that the real ‘you’ is being demonstrated by the fact that you keep swinging-and you don’t change your self-concept because you “just ain’t hitting”.   The decisions or actions (heck of a curve ball) will influence an outcome (the loss of a game) but it is different than ‘you’ the person.  The real ‘you’ is demonstrated by the level of participation (keep swinging) and dedication that you make to an effort.  Try your best, work hard, help others, seek out those in need and you will find happiness and joy.

And as that day ends, you take the learning’s from the day and apply them to the next day to help you to work harder, work smarter, be more perceptive, be kinder, laugh more, be more observant, etc. 

This is the beauty of life!  There are always opportunities on your journey to improve and increase your confidence.  What’s interesting is the more you focus on helping out others along the way, you will have greater insights into your life and start to see the real ‘you’.  Acts of kindness, helping others, working hard and sharing your ice cream all help you feel better about yourself!

Note:  And just before your next ‘at bat’, there will always be those people sitting on the side of the road of your current day’s journey, making observations (not helping-just criticizing) that remind you that you haven’t got a hit in 4 games and will attempt to classify you as one that is in a slump—your response:  “I just ain’t hitting” (Thanks Yogi!!) and just keep moving forward on your journey!  Smiling-because you know you are going to just keep swinging!

The best is yet to come!