Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Set Your Intention

Every now and again my post will consist of nothing more than a quote.  Specifically, a quote that has the ability to transform the way you go about your business of living.  I think this one may serve that purpose:

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”  - Lao Tzu

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Right Word

The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  -Mark Twain

Some days I hear words that just plain make me wince and hurt my ears.  And I make my living in a school. This makes me sad.

So, I am compelled to offer this to the blogosphere. 

The next time you find yourself on the verge of scolding a student, bite your tongue.  Filter yourself for just a second or two.  Three would be even better.

Before ordering a student what not to do, take a deep cleansing breath.  In fact, take two.  Three would be perfect.  Then, let the student politely know what she/he can do.

Prior to punishing students for not following a rule which they should most likely already know, press the pause button.  Instead, try looking them in the eyes with compassion, and smile.  One or two pats on the back might be just the thing.  Three would do the trick, for sure.  Then give them a do-over and brainstorm a better, more appropriate choice together.

Do you ever hear words that make your ears hurt?  What do you do when that happens?

Words really do make a difference.  The right word at the right moment has the potential to make all the difference in the world.  Tread lightly with your words.  It will be sweet music to everyone's ears.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life Lessons

It is the first day of Spring.  This makes me happy.  That means a new season of baseball is nearly here.  This really makes me happy.  I can't help but harken back to my Little League baseball days.  My first baseball coach was Mr. Gingrich.  I was eight years old.  At the time, it was just a game to me… something fun to do.  Little did I know that I’d be writing about it decades later.  Nor did I think that those times would be so influential to me.  But they were.  I feel lucky to have had Mr. Gingrich as my Coach.

Here are some of the things he said to our team and the lessons I learned from him:

Keep your chin up.
That is what he would say after I struck out or made an error. I learned that there is no value in self-pity or feeling sorry for myself. Instead, think about what I can do next time to make the outcome better. Then move on and forget about it. How often do we have a ‘woe is me’ attitude or stew over a set back?

Let’s hear some chatter out there!
He would holler this out to us when we were in the field. He wanted us to support one another. It kept my head in the game and focused on the action. Let’s face it, when you are eight years old and standing in the outfield it is easy to watch the bees buzz about the clover or watch the clouds pass overhead. Mr. Gingrich wanted us to cheer and encourage our teammates. I learned that I could count on others and they could count on me for positive feedback. Too often, it seems, we can be critical of others when there is no need.

We’ll get ‘em next time.
That is what Mr. Gingrich would say when we lost.  No only if’s.  No blaming or finger-pointing.  No sulking.  No punishments.  Instead, just learn from your performance and try to improve the next time out.

Hustle up out there.
He wanted us to run onto the field, off the field, and on the base paths. No walking or dogging it. Anyone who did would find themselves sitting on the bench or in the dugout. The lesson I learned was to put forth a worthy effort and perform to my ability. There was a right way to play the game and he set the expectations for us to follow. Hustle.

Who shaped you into what you are today? Did anyone leave an indelible mark on you? What lessons have you learned which you carry within yourself today?

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Creativity

This next bundle of books in my Books to Inspire link are all about CREATIVITY. 

My KidLit choice is Ish by Peter Reynolds.  In the story, a vase of flowers is not 'perfectly' drawn, so an older sibling belittles the drawing.  The picture is discarded, a crumpled ball on the floor.  Later, we discover his younger sister cherishes the drawing and expresses to her crestfallen brother that it looks vase-ish.  And thus goes the story of Ish.  You need to read this book because it is a seed-planter.  You'll find yourself watering the creative efforts of others, being a spark of support, and offering the gentle nudge of encouragement.

The professional selection is Creativity:  Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  For me, this is the quintessential book on the Creative Process.  The author's list of people interviewed in this book is impressive:  scientist Jonas Salk, author Madeleine L'Engle, mathematician Margaret Butler, physicist Freeman Dyson, and many more.   All these people altered their Domain/Field.  In some cases, they even created a whole new one.  This book makes me want to be an even better counselor.  Maybe it will do the same for you.

My personal pick is Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.  Simply put, it is a fun book. Mr. Grossman certainly has no problems tapping his creative reservoir. 

Have you read any books with a creative bent?  If so, I'd like to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Being Mindful

That's my son in the photo.  Look at those footprints.  One after the other.  Step. Step. Step.  Each one is with determined focus and careful intention.  He has not yet learned about hurry.  No way, not him.  I hope he never does.  Each stride leaves an imprint of exploration, discovery, and wonder. 

Step. Step. Step. 

As for me?  Well, I am a different story.  Sometimes I catch myself rushing through the hallways here at school.  You know how it is, places to be and people to see.  In such a hurry I am not mindful. Nor am I fully present.  That is definitely not purposeful.  After all, how good of a counselor can I be if I am not completely focused on and fully engaged with whomever I am meeting.

During these moments I make a deliberate effort to slow down.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.


Go easy.

Doing those simple things makes a significant difference.  I feel better– my body is no longer tense and my mind is uncluttered.  Thus, I am in a better place to help those who need me.

When you find yourself shaken like a Snow Globe what do you do to settle yourself?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Upon Further Review

My last post was about change.  Upon reflection, what I really meant was growth.  I think.  You see, change for the sake of change is just as unhealthy and tail-chasing as staying-put. So, when I talk about the process of change I suppose what I really mean is the process of growth producing experiences that gain traction, take hold, and evolve 'you' to the next level or the next plateau.  Then the manifestation starts anew.

Whatever we call it --Change or Growth-- it still demands loads of hard work and focused effort.  Day in.  Day out.  Over and over.

This is a topic that I have a great deal of interest in and hope to blog more about in the future.  In the meantime, what do you think?  I am interested in hearing your ideas.