Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Pep Talk: "Parenting PEP Talk"

It was a typical weekend morning. I’m at the gym grunting, sweating and watching television. A commercial, “Colorado Dads”, appears on the screen. This program has been around since 2006 and tries to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting.

The commercial, slowly but surely, unveiled three strategies for men to become better fathers and parents; the first was patience. Defined as: “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay” what a wonderful attribute, not only in mentoring kids, but in leading others – home, work and elsewhere, right? But it’s not always easy to exercise patience when observing a child, employee or athlete continue to make repeated mistakes. It’s important to remember patience is a virtue.

The next tip suggested fathers be “proud” of their children. I must admit to struggling sometimes with telling my kids their old man is “proud of them.” Instead, choosing to verbalize, “I admire what you’ve done” thinking “proud”, defined as “highly gratifying to the feelings or self esteem” seems more self-centered than “admire”, defined as, “to regard with wonder, pleasure and approval.”

What’s the best way to show our kids we are proud of them? How about encouraging them, in healthy and productive ways, to continue to chase activities, dreams and goals leading to others’ pride or admiration? There is not a better word in the English language – personal opinion – than “encourage” defined as: “to give hope and confidence to.”

While the huffing and puffing continued, my eyes were glued to the television and my mind to the message, as the commercial implored others and me to exercise patience and be proud. I thought, “The second strategy should be encourage” and waited, in shortness of breath, for the third and final tip. Since the first two had begun with a “P”, I knew the third would also. My mind cried out, “Present” while the screen flashed “Protect.”

The half-minute guessing game about better parenting was a nice respite from the necessary, but monotonous, workout. I was challenged, when it comes to parenting, to exhibit “patience, pride and protection.” I’d like to adjust that to: “patience, encouragement and presence.” You have to be present to be protective, right?

The commercial came and went long before the workout was complete but I left the gym with a startling realization: each week I create a Pep Talk video/blog encouraging others to play like a champion – home, work and elsewhere. But this message is the ultimate encouraging short story, or Pep Talk: When it comes to parenting, P-atience, E-ncouragement and P-resence form the acronym PEP. They should also, always, form the foundation of our dedication to kids, 25% of our population, 100% of our future.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Walk the Talk"

Now that football season is upon us, I can remember a Sunday afternoon last December, the undefeated Indianapolis Colts were defeating the spirited Denver Broncos to win a NFL record-setting 22nd consecutive regular season game. I’m watching the game, reading the newspaper when I get hit between the eyeballs by a story in PARADE magazine.

Written by David Baldacci, it’s a “catching-up-with” piece about our nation’s 41st president George Bush and his wife and former first lady, Barbara. First, after 65 years of marriage, you can tell they still love one another – good for them.

Bush’s legacy as commander-in-chief includes the Persian Golf War. U.S forces booted Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army from Kuwait. Some wonder why America didn’t stay and eliminate Hussein. I love Bush’s response: “We didn’t stay and chase down Hussein because I had given the coalition my word that we’d kick him out of Kuwait and go home. And we did.”

Any time I have the honor of encouraging others with a Pep Talk, we talk about the importance of being a person of your word. There’s an acronym I love to use that encourages others – and me – to live our lives with PRIDE. It stands for being “punctual, respectful, imaginative, dependable and enthusiastic”.

Being a person of your word falls nicely into respectful and dependable. It sure makes relationships more trustful. When we state, “I’m gonna do this or that” and actually do it – when and how we proclaim – good for us.

Folks, that’s not rocket science. It’s a necessary foundation to a successful partnership whether we’re talking at home, work or community. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, bust your butt to meet your obligations in ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

I know it ain’t easy. We’re not perfect plus internal and external pressures will tempt us. Bush admits being tempted to “stay and get that bad guy.” But his word was his bond and America withdrew its troops.

Where might it be time to, despite internal and external pressures, stand firm in being a person of our word? Life seems so darn unpredictable these days: wars, the economy, the immigration debate and other controversial conditions dominate the headlines and effect our lives. It’s a bit crazy right now. Many important segments of life seem beyond our control.

One area we do control is our selves and the importance of accountability. Be a person of your word. Remember that saying, “A good name is better than great riches?” It’s the truth.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Trust is Key"

Are you a horse lover? I can remember childhood days in suburban Kansas City, Missouri. Our family, actually my older sister, had a Shetland pony, Tonka, which was kept at a stable not too far from our modest middle-class home. I can remember, many times, watching her stubbornly refuse to gallop away from the barn but, WHOA, once she turned in the corral and saw home, that little horse did its best Secretariat impression. However, right before the gate leading back to the barn, she would slam on the breaks and, often, throw her rider, usually an unsuspecting friend. I thought it was funny at the time but it also made me, still am today, a tad nervous around horses.

Those were the thoughts running through my head as I sat on a bale of hay, beer in hand and, as the emcee, listened to an expert in equine therapy, I had just introduced, speak at a fundraising event for Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, It’s a fabulous nonprofit organization with a mission encouraging neglected kids and horses to heal each other.

Equine therapy is a growing platform to help abused kids overcome obstacles, learn better life skills and become students, not victims, of their experiences. For the kids, interacting, caring and feeding horses - intuitive animals that sense an abused kid’s fragile psyche – are excellent therapeutic tools in restoring hope for their futures.

One of the expert’s statements hit me with the force of a stallions’ kick: “Think about it. A kid’s trust in adults is shaken by abuse and then they’re asked to go visit another adult, a therapist, and talk about it. There are serious trust issues to overcome,” Phil Tedeschi shared. “Not so with horses. Through working with these incredibly intuitive animals kids can take the initial, and critical, steps toward trusting again.”

What he said was a vivid reminder of the important of trust, defined as: “a firm belief in the reliability of a person.” There is nothing more important to our success in life than being able to trust others and vice versa, being a person of trust. When trust departs a relationship its like a torpedo hitting the side of a ship, there’s a big hole and lots of damage. That’s why it’s so important to live a life that honors, nurtures and adds value to the communities we serve. Think of it as making big deposits in the trust bank

Make it your mission to be trustworthy. It’s not easy. Life tempts us to violate the trust of our intimate relationships – home, work and elsewhere. Do not surrender to the temptations. Trust that the fallout, from being untrustworthy, will be more painful, in a multitude of ways, than any kick received from the most rebellious horse you could find in any stable.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "It Ought to be Possible"

In a 1999 survey of public address scholars, Martin Luther King’s infamous “I have a Dream” speech was ranked the top speech of the 20th century. It was, and remains, a stirring speech. In part for its use of what’s called anaphora, which is repeatedly using a phrase like “I have a dream” to introduce and connect related themes.

Less documented, two months before King’s 1963 message, was President John Kennedy’s call for change in America. In what has become known as Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address, our nation’s 35th president basically chewed America’s butt for its racial climate saying, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one are threatened.”

Only 44-years-old when taking office – youngest president in our nation’s history – Kennedy used anaphora often in his message. Repeatedly stating “it ought to be possible” to introduce and connect his thoughts about the importance of racial justice in our land.

Almost half a century later, I’d like to utilize anaphora to introduce and connect related things that I hope can help you play like a champion – home, work and elsewhere.

· It out to be possible that despite the unexpected and unwanted twists and turns life often throws our way, we can vow to become students, not victims of our experiences. The only thing constant in life is change, right? So would it also be true those who effectively deal with change are going to be successful? Learn and grow from experiences.

· It ought to be possible to realize when going through challenging times, we’re not alone. Many have health, relationship or financial challenges, reach out to other like-minded individuals and connect with them. We can draw encouragement, wisdom and strength from others on similar journeys.

· It ought to be possible that despite life’s unpredictability, if we become students, not victims and connect with others of like mind we can encourage one another to keep moving forward; to keep putting fear and self-doubt aside and allowing wonderment to win. Too often we allow the past to hijack our future. As Shakespeare once said, “Doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

· It ought to be possible to accomplish this terrific trio in ways that honor us, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve – home, work and elsewhere.

Simple, not easy, strategies for life; easy to state, to endorse, the challenge is LIVING in a way demonstrating belief in these four philosophies. It’s my hope and prayer within each of us – you and me – our souls emphatically say: “Thy will be done.”
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