Category Archives: Coaching
These days we must work harder than ever to do good, instead of adding to the growing divisiveness in our world.
And we must resolve to own our lives fully rather than be owned by what happens around us, and yes even to us.
I found two thoughts so encouraging and empowering to live a better life than my world is currently offering.
The late Father Henri Nouwen encourages us to ask a series of life altering questions:
Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
And then Dr Bessel van der Kolk says to traumatized people….
The big issue for traumatized people is that they don’t own themselves anymore. Any loud sound, anybody insulting them, hurting them,saying bad things,can hijack them away from themselves. And so what we have learned is that what makes you resilient to trauma is to own yourself fully.
There you go–go out and do good, and own yourself fully.
Just over one month into the New Year….with all the energy and hype well past us, I want to ask you, with some help from Steve Carter of Willow Creek, a big question–
“Are you moving or have you settled in to the familiar rut that has plagued you for months, maybe even years”?
“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave – with both ends kicked out.” Vance Havner
We’ve all had moments where we have ‘settled’……and not because we feel we are in God’s sweet spot for us…. but more because we have become comfortable. We know we are not living inspired lives, or living up to our God given potential.
If you are feeling that way, you are not alone.
The Old Testament recounts the story of the Israelites going on an 11 day journey that lasted 40 years after having left the enslavement of Egypt. By year 40 they arrive at a mountain called Horeb. They are camped out there for a year. It became a place that was safe and comfortable for them. They knew where to find water. They knew where to trade and get food. They knew how to deal with their issues. They created a “comfortable” lifestyle while camped out at the mountain. Life was good at Horeb.
Or was it?
In Deuteronomy 1:6 the Israelites got a ‘word from God’ via their ‘Coach’ Moses.
“ The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
In many ways we are so very similar. If not careful we will find ourselves “managing life” in such a way that keeps us comfortable. We “camp out” on our own “mountains”, and stay too long.
Consider these questions:
Can you name your mountain where you sense you have stayed too long?
Can you name where you have found yourself stuck? There is no growth. It’s just more of the same.
Your mountain feels familiar. It feels comfortable. Even though it may be spiralling you into bad habits or patterns, you try to manage it and control it. It’s not working and it is definitely not exciting.
I refer to this as the “Mountain To Get Over”. These are places and or attitudes where you have stayed too long.
I am indebted to Steve Carter of Willow Creek Church for this list of “mountains’ you and I may need to move on from in 2016–
9 Mountains To Consider:
Mountain of Overstaying. Have you have stayed in your role too long. Is it time to move?
Mountain of Overtime. Are you are working too much? Are you always accessible to your phone?
Mountain of Over-spending.
Are you consistently living outside of your means? Are you over stressed because you have little to no margin? How do you spell relief for your time and money – B U D G E T!
Mountain of Over-commitment. Are you unable to say “NO”? Do you have so many plates spinning that you are unable to offer your very best?
Mountain of Over-eating. Perhaps you have an unhealthy relationship to food and eating. And perhaps in moments of stress and feeling alone and sadness, you turn to food.
Mountain of being Over-revved. Perhaps your RPM’s are out of control and you are amped up and on high alert all the time. Are you driving yourself and the people around you a bit “crazy”? What it’s like being ‘on the other side of your ‘reved-upness’?
Mountain of Over-reacting. Do you have irrational responses to things that don’t meet your expectations? Are people tip toeing around the chaos you create, walking on egg shells, afraid that you might lash out at them?
Mountain of Overwhelm. Are you a person who constantly feels overwhelmed? To be overwhelmed can look like this: Stressed + Lack of Resources (perceived or otherwise) + Feeling pressure+ Not enough time.
Mountain of Left Overs. Are you living off of what God has done in years past but there’s nothing new. You haven’t been connected to Jesus in years. Has your connection to Him gone stale, almost non-existent? Does it feel like you are just going through the motions? Is your most boring hour of the week at church.
If you want to make 2016 something remarkable, it begins with naming your mountain where you have stayed too long.
Here are some helpful words that God tells the people through Coach Moses.
“Break camp and advance into the hill country…. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land….” Deuteronomy 1:7-8
Football coach Jim Harbaugh offers this advice for ‘breaking camp and advancing’,
‘Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!”
One of my mountains for 2016 is my compulsion to Over Commit. I am discovering that this mountain, is in part, driven by my need to be ‘liked’, to receive the approval of others. I am currently working on this.
So let’s get off the mountain and move out!! Are you with me?
A Maverick Application:
Take a few minutes to go through the list of ‘overs’. Which ones can you name for yourself? Are there any ‘overs’ missing here that you still feel you are stuck at?
What mountain needs your attention right now? What ideas are coming to mind about how you can step into this ‘over’ in your life?
Moses had Aaron and Joshua and a few others to support him. Who are the ‘Aarons and Joshuas’ that you can enlist to support you, as you look to tackle those mountains in 2016?
I find these few days just before and after New Year’s Eve slightly stressful. So much internal self imposed pressure to get my goals nailed down. I actually dread the process.
Don’t get me wrong. Setting goals you want to pursue and attain is a great exercise, but, ‘should’ing’ on yourself to do goals because you SHOULD is killing to one’s psyche. I do enjoy getting a cup of tea, sitting on my couch with my friend called Moleskin and writing away as I did today.
The feeling of ‘should’ing’ was alleviated by enlisting Brian Tracy’s “identify your #1 thing exercise’ exercise. This is something I enjoy. For me it’s always about the journey not just the result. I need to ‘enjoy’ goal setting, or ‘start and stop’ process. I can’t dread it or my creativity shuts down.
So here goes…..
- What’s the #1 thing I could start doing today, that if I did it consistently, would have the most positive impact in my life? (Then do it.)
- What’s the #1 thing I could stop doing right now, that, if I stopped doing would have the greatest positive impact on my life? (Then quit doing it.)
My # 1’s to start doing:
- Minimum 15 minute ‘chair time’ alone with God, reflecting, meditating, journaling, praying.
- Daily check in time with my best friend Rosetta, my wife.
- Be a positive influence on my adult kids and their kids on their terms.
- Keep sharpening my coaching capacity and competence with my mentor coach and joining CAM.
- Coach men to be life givers in their relational and work world’s.
- Keep focused on being an above average encourager and people builder.
- Keep growing margin financially, emotionally, and physically.
- Be ruthless with managing my weight and getting to 192Ibs
My # 1’s to stop doing include:
- Stop complaining and stop speaking critically of others when they aren’t around.
- Stop eating ‘fatty, crappy’ food and avoid starch like the plaque.
- Stop focusing on what I can’t do and focus on what I CAN do in regards to advancing my coaching practice.
And that’s it for now.
I plan to take football coach Jim Harbaugh to heart–to attack each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
God helping me, I will!!
Over the years I have wondered why some people’s growth accelerates while others either plateau or drift into mediocrity. Although there are a good number of things that could be listed, I think one stands out above all–a lack of teachability. In fact, author/pastor Matt Keller wrote a whole book on the subject called The Key to Everything: Unlocking the Secret to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t. I am not sure if this is absolutely true but it does resonate with me.
I am on my way to improving my coaching ability and I attribute that to a couple of things–one is my own hunger and drive to want to be an effective and useful coach, but the other is my growing teachability, especially towards my own mentor coach.
My own coach doesn’t hold back in his feedback. I think I’ve demonstrated over the last couple of years that I want to learn so he gets right in there and isn’t afraid to use phrases like,
“Luch, slow down. One thought at a time.”
“Stop stacking questions.”
“Don’t run away from me.”
“Luch, you need to wallow but eventually you need to swallow because frankly, nobody cares”
“Let me finish before you interrupt me.” (Ouch)
I think over the years teachability has served me well, whether as a competitive runner, a school teacher in training, a pastor/ mentor in the making. In all these roles and more, whenever I have chosen to set aside my ego and not give into my ‘china doll feelings’ I have benefited from the one giving me the correction or instruction.
I am the first to admit that being teachable as a way of life is not easy. The older you get it seems the harder it is to receive any kind of feedback from anyone, especially your spouse or kids, or even friends who care about you.
A piece of Jewish wisdom says, “If you accept correction, you will be honoured.” Proverbs 13:18
When someone makes a suggestion to your or a critique of something you’ve done, what’s your response?
Do you resist and ‘ya but’ yourself out of getting the correction? Or do you receive it humbly and say, “Thanks for that. Anything else?”
One way to begin to move into the arena of being teachable is to actually ask people you trust and who you perceive have your best interest at heart to point out anything in your life that may concern them. I know that sounds heavy but if you are serious about character growth, that’s a good place to start.
A couple of years ago I asked each of my adult children to provide me constructive feedback. I started by saying, “Over the years I know I have been ‘large and in charge’ in your lives, and that at times I may have overstepped my self in my overzealousness to be a good dad. Is there anything you remember that I did or said that left any bad effect on you? Please let me know. I am all ears. Really. ”
And you know what, they have each had something to say to me that has been extremely useful and had a positive effect on our relationships into their 30s.
i have to admit that receiving feedback is not always easy. In fact, C. S. Lewis says it well,
“Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.”
A final question…..
When I wrote this, I was on the eve of leaving for our annual family vacation.
While getting ready my wife asked me, “So, are you going to be working while we’re in Southampton or are you going to be able to rest?” She went on to add, “You won’t have any coach appointments next week, will you? I hope not.”
Actually, I did have a couple of things I had planned to respond to while away. Yet, after reflecting on her question, I called those people and rescheduled.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to totally disconnect from work-mode. Mind you, when I do finally disconnect, I love it. However, it takes me awhile.
The ancient Greeks had a saying that I remember when I am resisting rest…
“You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”
We all need time away from work to relax and recover.
The late Tim Hansel wrote in his classic “When I Relax I Feel Guilty,”
“When work becomes a person’s all consuming interest, even if the work is good and necessary, it is idolatry.”
Strong words, but words worth taking to heart.
How can we keep our work from becoming a form of idolatry in our lives?
I suspect that as part of our Mavericks’ community, you are not a slouch! I also suspect that while you work hard, you also know that you are to “rest” – really rest. You know that honouring the Sabbath is to be part of who you are as a leader. You desire that to be the case, and yet, if you are like many I know, this may feel far from reality.
Here are a few thoughts to help inspire you to give yourself permission to do some deliberate leisure – to find some rest!.
The word ‘leisure’, from its Latin roots is ‘licere’ – which means ‘to be permitted’. If we are ever going to install leisure into the hard drives of our lives, we must give ourselves permission to do so.
For me, it includes taking care of myself in what I call my RPMS…
I have 3 practices that help me ensure my RPMS is in a solid place:
- Divert daily
- Withdraw weekly
- Abandon annually
Everyone achieves relaxation and leisure in different ways. What relaxes me might give you a tension headache and visa versa!
For me it involves regular downtimes—releasing the bent bow – putting limits on my work schedule and getting away for regular weekends.
Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not, it’s informative to look at the Hebrew idea of Sabbath. The way the Hebrews understood the concept of ‘Sabbath’ was that the Creator had built into our physical makeup a need—even a requirement—for a day each week for rest, play, reflection, worship, and change of pace.
Taking care of your body is as much a spiritual discipline as is prayer, singing and Bible study. God wants you to rest. Rest your body and, in the process, recharge your mind, spirit and relationships.
The Apostle Paul says:
“God helping you, take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering” Romans 12:1 (MSG).
When you take care of your body, you worship God. It’s never too late to begin this important journey in your life.
If you need permission, look to our Saviour Jesus. He knew about the rhythms of rest and work. He invites us, as He did His disciples, to come away with Him and rest. In essence He was saying,
“If you don’t come apart, you will come apart”.
“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:30-31 (MSG)
In his book, “Are You Fully Charged?”, author Tom Rath calls the constant use of our smartphone technology a ‘digital pacifier’. No doubt these ‘tools’ are useful when used appropriately but they have become a source of constant distraction.
To me they are usually an indication that someone isn’t living a purposeful life. It can sometimes appear that one’s purpose is to answer their phone or other device. I have fallen into this trap and this book and research has kicked me out of the stupor of being pacified by my device.
In fact, a 2015 study titled “The iPhone Effect”, shows how the mere presence of smartphone can ruin a conversation. (from the book)
I would add it not only ruins a conversation but can also be the source of ruining any relationship, even a marriage, or child parent relationship.
An experiment with 200 participants revealed that simply placing a mobile device on the table resulted in detrimental conversations. While the device was present, the quality of the conversation was rated as less than fulfilling when compared with conversations that took place in the absence of mobile devices.
People reported having higher levels of empathetic concern when phones were not visible.
If you want to know more about this, purchase Rath’s Are You Fully Charged?
As well, you can explore further this ‘hot topic’ by exploring the research called The iPhone Effect.
The one thing I have decided to do as a result of reading Rath’s book and this research is to leave my phone in my car when I go to a meeting, and to remove my phone from any group interactions I have with clients, family or one to one relationships.
I want to be sure that the person or persons in front of me know that I ‘see’ them and that they matter to me more than any device, even if it’s a ‘smart device’.
-Caring, Change, Communication, Connection, Conflict, Creativity and Commitment.
Then I read another list of C’s from Pastor Rick Warren, that included a spiritual emphasis as well as psychological.
In June my wife and I celebrate 39 years of marriage. A wedding anniversary wakes us up to the past and also helps us to reflect on what we’re becoming as a couple.
In my marriage and marriage coaching I have discovered the importance of encouraging couples to daily take their daily dose of the 6 “Vitamin C’s” for a healthy and thriving marriage. I take these every day.
Wake up your marriage through communication.
Every day make time to talk with each other not to each other.
“It’s impossible to overemphasize the immense needs that humans have to be really listened to, taken seriously, and understood.” Paul Tournier
Wake up your marriage through consideration.
St Paul advises us to “Show your love by being helpful to each other.”
Consideration energizes a marriage. Consideration means paying attention to what your partner says, being thoughtful and showing common courtesies.
Wake up your marriage through compromise.
St Paul wrote, ‘Love does not demand its own way.”
Consider these facts of life:
1) You will have conflict in your marriage.
2) There are some issues you will never agree on.
3) Compromise is the evidence of real love.
Wake up your marriage through courtship.
Be each other’s best friends. It’s easy to leave your spouse, but it’s really hard to leave your best friend, so work hard at being best friends for the rest of your life. Date frequently.
Wake up your marriage through commitment.
Commitment says you are all in. Commitment says you will work through the problems and not seek solace from anyone else. God spoke concerning the vows of marriage through the prophet Malachi 2:16 “Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your mate.”
Wake up your marriage through an ongoing encounter with Jesus Christ.
I believe the most powerful C is a relationship with Christ as a couple.
As you make Christ the centre of your life together you will have the ability to accomplish the other five. It’s your individual relationship with Jesus that will give you the power and wisdom to practice the other Cs.
I have discovered after 39 years of marriage to the same woman that the grass is not greener on the other side, the grass is greenest where you water it.
So to wake up your marriage, start watering it.
Grateful to the insight of Amy Morin for this strong list of attitudes and actions to get rid of if we are tipo be mentally tough and effective at life and work.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
~by Amy Morin, LCSW
MEntally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.
1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
They accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
They don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
They don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.
Years ago in a book called Happiness is a Choice, I discovered the distinction between ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’. Because I write from a Christian point of view, this brief summary of the distinction is designed to help anyone but particularly Christians, those who claim to possess the Spirit of God.
Can’t and won’t. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. It seems that we prefer to use can’t.
“I just can’t get along with my wife.”
“My husband and I can’t communicate.”
“I can’t discipline the kids like I should.”
“I just can’t give up the affair I’m having.”
“I can’t stop overeating.”
“I can’t find the time to pray.”
“I can’t quit gossiping.”
No, any Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously will have to confess the word really should be won’t. Why? Because we have been given the power, the ability to overcome. Literally!
One of the best books you can read on overcoming depression is a splendid work by two psychiatrists, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier. The volume is appropriately entitled Happiness is a Choice, “As psychiatrists we cringe whenever [Christian] patients use the word can’t…Any good psychiatrist knows that ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’ve tried’ are merely excuses. We use language that expresses the reality of the situation. So we have our patients change their can’t words to won’ts…if an individual changes all his can’ts to won’ts, he stops avoiding the truth, quits deceiving himself, and starts living in reality.”
“I just won’t get along with my wife.”
“My husband and I won’t communicate.”
“I won’t discipline the kids like I should.”
“I just won’t give up the affair I’m having.”
“I won’t stop overeating.”
“I won’t find the time to pray.”
“I won’t quit gossiping.”
Those without Christ have every right and reason to use can’t, because they really can’t! They are victims, trapped and bound like slaves in a fierce and endless struggle. Without Christ and His power, they lack what it takes to change permanently. They don’t because they can’t! It’s a fact…a valid excuse.
But people like us? Hey, let’s face it, we don’t because we won’t…we disobey because we want to, not because we have to…because we choose to, not because we’re forced to. The sooner we are willing to own up realistically to our responsibility and stop playing the blame game at pity parities for ourselves, the more we’ll learn and change and the less we’ll burn.
Editor’s note–this article first appeared in Early to Rise. http://www.earlytorise.com/the-lost-secret-of-leadership/
You are a leader. You’re a leader in your home, at work, in your community, and most important of all, the leader of your own life.
But are you the best leader you can be?
There are many attributes to great leadership. I believe the most important one by far is the lost art of ‘modeling’. It’s a lost art because so many of the good models have disappeared.
Author and prolific TED talker, Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, and his most recent, Leaders Eat Last, says the following about ‘modeling’ without ever using the word, but illustrating it lavishly.
Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown.
They rush toward danger.
They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future.
Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours.
And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.
And when we feel sure they will keep us safe, we will march behind them and work tirelessly, to see their visions come to life, and proudly call ourselves their followers.
Have you ever had a leader like that?
I think it’s time to raise the battle cry and call out to a new generation of men and women to strive to be models of exemplary conduct.
The problem in our industries and communities is that many supervisors and leaders are not living out the very things they are asking others to do. There is no congruence between what the boss says and what they do. This causes untold pain in a work atmosphere. It does the same in a home.
We can do better.
If you were blessed to grow up in an environment of encouragement, start counting your blessings. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of you began life under less than ideal circumstances. Perhaps broken homes, absentee parents, crumbling ethical world, all of these and more, factor into the making of a human being, for better or worse. You didn’t have leaders—parents, teachers, employers—like Sinek describes. You didn’t have a ‘model’ to trace your life on.
So if this was your lot, how do you go about changing? You can sit around and do what my coach calls ‘wallow’ about your lot in life, but eventually you have to ‘swallow’, because nobody really cares. Really. Sad to say, but unless you care enough about your situation to improve it, it’s going to be a miserable life.
But if you want to move on, one of the best places to start moving is to find a model.
The late Albert Bandura who pioneered social learning theory in the 60s and 70s said,
“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” – Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977
In case you rushed through that last paragraph, read it again slowly, especially this sentence, “Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for actions.” Wow. ETR readers, there is hope if you lacked good modeling.
This seems to concur with Albert Schweitzer’s adage, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing”.
Perhaps an overstatement but not too far from the truth.
If you have a purpose or dream or mission in life, it goes without saying that you will not get anywhere without a ‘role model’, someone who has gone ahead of you.
Can we agree that ‘models’ have gone missing and that you are willing to rise up to the challenge of becoming one of ‘those’ for someone, and also committing to finding a model of someone you can follow to improve your life radically?
Another word for ‘model’ is ‘pattern’. Have you noticed that when someone sews up clothes, they use a ‘pattern’? Why? Because using a pattern shortens the process. It saves time. It prevents mistakes. It makes the task look easier. There are some amazing things that happen in your life when you choose the right pattern or model.
I would suggest that one of the best ways to achieve your goals is to find a model whose already achieved what you want– financially, spiritually, and relationally. Find someone who is where you want to be and then set about figuring out how they got there. That is the quickest way to learn. Study. Go on active search mode.
Have you noticed how babies learn most things? They learn by copying. I go work in my garden, and water my plants, and without me providing any instruction, pretty soon, my grandson is walking along, stumbling with his little pail of water, to water my tomato plants. Does he drip water? Does he miss the plant by a country mile? Yes, but who cares, he’s getting the right idea.
If it’s true that we learn the most by copying and modeling, then the challenge is choosing your models.
If you were blessed to have someone who had great habits and was success oriented in your life, then you probably grew up to be a high achiever. On the other hand, if you saw negative behavior modeled you may have innocently become a negative, fault finding person.
As a child you didn’t know what was right or wrong. You just had these people in your life, and in many cases, they said, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”
If you grew up as I did watching people ‘explode’ with their anger, you may have grown up with a temper. This happened to me. All through my young adult years and into the early part of my marriage, I struggled with managing my outbursts of anger. It took some coaching to discover that I had come by this innocently. What was encouraging was that just as I learned this by copying, I could relearn new patterns. I am a work in progress but surrounding myself with healthy models of anger expression has fueled my desire to manage and express my anger in constructive ways.
If you grew up being shamed and being a fault finder, it shouldn’t surprise you that you walk around in your daily life shaming the people you love the most and work with. There is hope. Find a new model.
How do we find a model? There’s two ways: The indirect method; and direct method.
The indirect is through the plethora of self help resources available to us today in all kinds of ways—audio programs, books, and reading biographies of people who overcame their ‘issues’ to achieve greatness. For example, as I move on in life one of my goals is to become a more teachable and coachable person. I suffer from having ‘china doll feelings. ‘ At the sound of the slightest criticism I used to get my back up and I would ultimately be the loser. My own coach has helped me overcome my fear of feedback by having me read the book Thanks for the Feedback, as well as exploring some of the reasons why I get my back up. I am growing.
There’s also the direct method of having a specific person in your life. I have had a few of these in my life. First as a teacher, then as a pastor, and now as a life and leadership coach. I am always looking for healthy models in areas I am aspiring to be great in.
One of the greatest benefits of having models is that they inspire us to crash through self imposed limitations. For years it was known that no human being could break the 4 minute mile running record. But in 1954, Roger Bannister broke that barrier, and right after him 1000s of people started to break it. That’s what a model can do for you. Help you crash through self imposed barriers.
You and I need models. Who are your models today? Who are the people who inspire you? Who could you get close enough to, to learn from?
Don’t let your ego get in the way of transforming your life. A lack of humility and over-exaggerated sense of self importance is the only reason to not make others our models.
When my kids were young, I was obsessed with being the best dad I could be. I am still obsessed with this value although now they are in their 30s, and my hope is that they will make being great role models their ambition, and that they will never stop seeking out models that will inspire them to achieve greatness in the areas of life that matter to them.
I memorized the following poem 30 plus years ago. It still resonates with me today. It’s a daily reminder that your attitudes and actions set an example for everyone around us.
Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you
and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who’s dreaming
of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the little fellow’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little fellow
who believes you’re always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who’s waiting
to grow up to be just like you.
– Author Unknown