Monday, February 25, 2008

I Love Good Quotes

I spent last Thursday at Southwest Middle School in Albert Lea, Minnesota. After my assembly, I ate lunch in the cafeteria with a group of seventh grade girls. When they finished lunch, they ran off to band practice. All of a sudden, a few of them came running back and asked me if I would come and listen to their band practice. I agreed and off we went. I thought I'll try it since I've never done that before.

Talk about chaos! The first few minutes as they all practiced, it sounded like nothing I've ever heard. Then, the director, Mister Dawson, called them to order and I enjoyed watching the concentration on all of their faces as they focused on the songs they were working on.

From there, I went to Brenda Morris' seventh grade health class to spend two hours of follow-up discussion and doing a couple of experiential exercises from my assembly. She had dozens of quotes posted all over her room, and I asked two students to please write them down for me. Here are some of my favorites:

"Make an effort, not an excuse."

"You teacher's goal is simple: to help you reach yours."

"Your 'I Will' is more important than your I.Q."

"Be yourself. You're the only one who can do it right."

"Attitude is the mind's paintbrush. It can color any situation."

"Stand up for what is right even if you're standing alone."

"Let the choices you make today be choices you can live with tomorrow."

"What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular."

"Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters."

"Be yourself: an original is always worth more than a copy."

"Courage is doing right when everyone around you is doing wrong."

"Character: it's how you live life when nobody's looking."


1. Making every decision carefully
2. Thinking everything through responsibly
3. Exercising your freedom to choose
4. Deciding what is right and doing it."

I've attached a page of my favorites here. Please click on the image to make it larger; then, print it and put it on your bulletin board to refer to as needed. I do:

Please feel free to add your favorite quotes in the Comments Section. Include the author if you know who said it. I look forward to reading them.



Thursday, February 14, 2008

DQ Girl

I started speaking to young people way back in 1975 when Martha Brown, a nursing school instructor at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital's now-defunct school of nursing, asked me to speak to her nursing students about living with a spinal cord injury. I spent three years going to that school once every three weeks to impart my wisdom about life in a wheelchair.

When I think about it now, I wonder what I thought I was doing being just twenty years old, and having only been disabled for four years! What did I know? How was I an expert? All I know is, it launched my speaking career.

That disability awareness presentation has evolved into a self-esteem presentation that challenges every one of my audience members to reach their potential and to recognize just what their capabilities are — no matter how old they are. We all have capabilities we don’t even know are there. We just have to find them!

Sometimes finding our strengths are easy, and other times we go through our whole life and never find them.

Everywhere I go, unbelievable things happen. Here is one of those stories.

One summer evening several years ago, I was in a Dairy Queen with a friend and his two boys getting a treat after one of the boy’s little league baseball game. We were waiting to receive our order when a young lady behind the counter handed me a receipt with a note on the back that read:

I’m getting help.
It’s working too. THANKS,
I think you saved my life.

Then she wrote her name and the high school she attended. I looked up in amazement and she was standing behind the counter, smiling and shaking her head up and down! I couldn’t ask her what it was that made her feel that way because she was very busy, the restaurant was packed, and at just that time our ice cream came and my friends were leaving the counter to go eat. I shared the note’s contents outside the restaurant with my friend and have wondered about her ever since that night.

I did three presentations the day I visited her large suburban high school. In the first program there were approximately 150 kids. In the second, there were maybe 300 students. After lunch, I came back to the auditorium to find a 500 seat room overflowing with about 700 young people, many of whom had heard me once or even twice already that day. The aisles were full, the stage had steps all along the front and they were full; people lined the walls. The Fire Marshall would not have approved!

The school had more than 2,000 students so they let the teachers choose if they wanted to attend my program or not. The kids heard my program, went to their next class and asked their teacher if they could go hear me again. Word started spreading and before I knew it, the place was overflowing. It often happens that way; I have to prove myself in every school to a new group of young people.

This young lady was in one or more of those programs. Each program was different. I don’t know what it was I said she picked up on but it hit her in a way that made her write, “ … I think you saved my life.” Parents, teachers and all other adults don’t always know what young people hear, or for that matter, when they are even listening! That is why we need to think about the consequences of what we say and do. The things we say to our children are very important. They may not tell you it’s important, but it is.

We need to listen to them too. We as adults, as parents, as teachers need to validate their feelings. She needed to understand the problem wasn’t the issue; the issue was how to deal with the problem. I tell them it isn’t a matter of degree. It is a matter of doing the right thing.

It is a matter of learning a problem-solving process. Young people already have a process in order, but many times they don’t realize what they are capable of doing. We as adults, as parents, as teachers, need to help guide them, to be an integral part of their lives. You are very important to your children. They may not tell you how important you are, but deep down — they know, because “Kids are COOL!”

Note: A version of this originally appeared in a monthly newspaper entitled Family Times. It was a periodical for parents in the Twin Cities. I wrote a column for them in the mid-nineties entitled Kids are COOL!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here's Another Myth To Think About

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know my last post discussed the myths about school shooters. Today, I want to address another very important issue, one I've addressed earlier. And, that is the myths surrounding boys. As I stated in my December 29th post, young people need to feel connected to at least one adult.

I quoted Michael Resnick, PhD, the assistant director at the University of Minnesota's Adolescent Health Program when he stated,
"Young people need to be connected to at least one caring, competent adult. The good news is, it doesn't necessarily have to be their mom or dad. But, it is essential for young people to feel a connection to a responsible adult."

Much has been written about the "lost boys" of today, and it should be! Millions of boys are in trouble and need help. Mentoring programs like The Rising Son are helping boys become men. The myth I want to address is we are losing the battle. That simply isn't true! I'm sure you'll agree with me after reading this article from entitled The Myth About Boys.

The article originally appeared in the August 6th edition of TIME magazine. David Von Drehle writes an excellent piece about the good and the bad news of the situation. It's well worth your read. Two quotes shouted out to me from Margaret Anderson, a pediatric nurse in Nashville, a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt University and the staff nurse at a camp for boys called Falling Creek Camp in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

As Von Drehle writes, Anderson told him, "Whether it's urban kids who can't go outside because it's too dangerous or the over-scheduled, over-parented kids at the other end of the spectrum — I'm worried that boys have lost the chance to play and to explore," Our society takes a dim view of idle time and casts a skeptical eye on free play — play driven by a boy's curiosity rather than
the league schedule or the folks at Nintendo. But listen to Anderson as she lists the virtues of letting boys run themselves occasionally.

"When no one's looming over them, they begin making choices of their own," she says. "They discover consequences and learn to take responsibility for themselves and their emotions. They start learning self-discipline, self-confidence, team building. If we don't let kids work through their own problems, we get a generation of whiners."

I believe that's why mentoring is so important to boys. When boys get stuck or simply need someone to talk to, they can talk to a mentor. Are you someone a young boy, or girl, can talk to? If you are, GREAT! How so? If not, why?

I'd like to know your answers. Please feel free to leave your comments. Thanks.



Friday, February 8, 2008

10 Myths About School Shootings

It's happened again. Another school shooting has taken three more lives. This one appears to be a little different than most in that it was a young woman wielding the gun. The details will start spilling out over the next few days; and I'm guessing at least some of these 10 Myths will pop up and prove to us one more time how little we know about the people who commit these horrific crimes.

Bill Dedman, an investigative reporter for MSNBC, published a great article on October 10, 2007 entitled 10 Myths About School Shootings. I encourage you to check it out. You can read it by clicking here.

He goes into detail about each one of these myths which are compiled by from a 2002 study by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education. Here's the list:

Myth No. 1. “He didn’t fit the profile.”
Myth No. 2. “He just snapped.”
Myth No. 3. “No one knew.”
Myth No. 4. “He hadn’t threatened anyone.”
Myth No. 5. “He was a loner.”
Myth No. 6. “He was crazy.”
Myth No. 7. “If only we’d had a SWAT team or metal detectors.”
Myth No. 8. “He’d never touched a gun.”
Myth No. 9. “We did everything we could to help him.”
Myth No. 10. “School violence is rampant.”

Friday, February 1, 2008

Generational Differences

I have many friends in the speaking business and I learn a great deal from each one of them. On December 29th, I introduced you to Earl Hipp and his work helping men help boys transform to manhood in my Fatherlessness post.

Today, I want to introduce you to another friend, Eric Chester, who published the very successful Teen Power book series. I was fortunate to have written chapters in three of those books. You can learn more about the books I'm in by clicking here. The books are out of print now, but if you're interested, I still have copies available. You can order them from my website.

Eric is focusing his energies these days on helping corporations strategize on how to employ the new generation of workers he refers to as Generation Why. Generation X followed the Baby Boomers; and now, Generation Y, or, to use the term Eric coined, Generation Why, gives us a dramatic look at the differences between the generations. In the chart below, he shows us how the paradigm is shifting.

I encourage you to click on the image to enlarge it, and see how he identifies the differences in the generations:

Once again, as Karl Fisch says, "Shifts happen."