Kids ask the tough questions

Grandpa and AndyA little boy asked his grandpa a question. Grandpa smiled and answered the question. The little boy quickly asked another question and grandpa answered it. He immediately followed with another question. This time grandpa looked at his four year old grandson and said, “Matthew, you have a lot of questions, today.”

The little boy looked up at his grandpa and replied, “But Grandpa, I need a lot of answers.”

Kids ask the tough questions. The questions are pure and innocent. They are not couched in political correctness, politeness, or family or social conventions. They come from the child’s observations of us and their environment.

If a four year old asks a question, we give him the information in a way that he can digest and understand. If a fourteen year old asks the same question, again we must give him the information in a way that he can understand. It is the same question requiring the same answer, but the information is modified to the child’s level of understanding. Making that adjustment places a huge responsibility on the parents, on Grandpas and on those who influence our children.

How do children learn?

Children use all their senses to gather information. They see, hear, feel, smell and touch. They process the information which then becomes the foundation for future interactions. A four year old may run from loud noises because he associates the noises with a frightening loud noise as an infant. A fourteen year old turns up the sound so he can feel the vibration and aggravate the neighbors.

Interesting, a child observes how his parents interact. He sees and feels the respect that they have for one another. Years later, that can translate into how the child as an adult, relates to his spouse. The parents may not have even realized that they were teaching without talking.

Who are the teachers?

We are all teachers. We are always on stage. If children learn through their senses, then any interaction with children is a teaching moment. We are teaching without talking. In the book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, the author talks about the doctor who was raising a fuss at the Home Depot store because he had dandelions in his daffodils. A teenager, standing by his dad, didn’t see an old man with a daffodil issue. He saw his family doctor raising a fuss with the sales clerk. He thought that he would never want to be a doctor because based on what he was seeing, doctors are arrogant and disrespectful to other people. The daffy doctor had a significant affect on the young man’s career decision. Hopefully the young man had other teachers in his life that helped him to choose his career based on good credible information. Did the daffy doctor know he was on stage? Yes. But he thought the audience was made up of all daffodil lovers who supported his protestations against dandelions.

Children do ask the tough questions but so do the people around us every day. We can influence people simply by our presence. Children learn from our actions. Like little Mathew, they need a lot of answers but they often don’t know what question to ask. They watch, listen, and experience their environment. As they learn, their curiosity spawns the questions. The old saying, “when the student it ready, the teacher will appear.” We are all teachers to someone. We just don’t know who is the student or when he will be ready to learn. It’s not too complicated. Our actions can affect children attitudinal and social development. We are always on stage.

Adults judge our actions. Our actions can affect our own personal and career development. If we ignore our responsibility for our personal and career development, it only affects us. But if we abdicate our responsibility to our children, then we not only hurt them, but our action has a generational affect. Our children learn from us and will teach the next generation. We are always on stage. We must take responsibility for our performance. There is always an audience. Give your best performance.

The Lifestyle Stream: The River tells many tales.

Lifestyle StreamIf you want to know what the river will look like when it flows by you, go up stream the day before. If you want to know why you are where you are in life, look to the past and the decisions that you made. If you want to know where you will be in the future, look at the decisions that you are making today.

Upstream is the future, downstream is the past, and what is in front of you is yesterdays’ today and tomorrows’ future. You can’t change what was upstream today, but you can change what will be downstream tomorrow. If life is simply the water flowing down the river, what we see is our today. We can’t change what flows before us today but we can change what will flow before us tomorrow. Go upstream.

Everything we have learned, all our experiences, the decisions, the people in our lives to date, make up how we live today. If you had to drink the water in the river, would you want to know what was upstream? Would you want to know if there were any chemicals leaching into the water? Would you want to know if anyone was dumping sewage into the water that you were about to drink? Of course, you would want to know every detail. We depend on our water authority to watch out for the water that we drink. We want them to filter out all the bad elements that will affect our health. Chemicals, bacteria, little animals, etc. (Where do the fish poop?)

But what about how we live each day? Our Lifestyle Stream. Who filter’s out any of the bad influences and experiences that we have in our Lifestyle Stream? Where we are today, how we live, positive, negative or in between, is based on what we have learned and experienced to this day. It’s what was upstream. We must be our own thought purification plant.

If a man doesn’t like his lifestyle, he is the only person who can make the change. Keep in mind that he may need help, I understand, but the individual who is uncomfortable must initiate, invigorate, facilitate and execute the change.

Some things can’t change but most things that effect our lifestyle can change. If you are falling out of a 20th floor window, it is probably too late to make changes other than some serious spirituality. However, if you are jumping off the same building with a parachute, the important change is to pull the ripcord. The thing to remember is that you have to initiate and execute the change.

Upstream Lessons:
1. Know the difference between right and wrong. Always choose right.
2. Be accountable for your actions. Take responsibility.
3. Never quit learning. Be a student. Strive to be a teacher.

In my latest book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, Grandpa always has a story to share. They are all upstream stories. Stories about Grandpa’s lessons and experiences. To Andy, they may be just stories but they will help him when the Lifestyle Stream is in front of him.

Like everyone else …

Like everyone else ...If we were all the same, then there would only be one fingerprint on record. If we were all the same, we would not need photo ID’s. If we were all the same, why bother with DNA samples and testing.

Margaret Mead said, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” We are unique, like everyone else, and that uniqueness allows us to differentiate and distinguish our selves from one another. We distinguish our selves by how we look and how we act. And people make the distinction, they determine who we are and how they will relate to us based on our looks and actions.

You might say that we are always on stage. Whether it is a perfect stranger, our children or friends and acquaintances, they all have an opinion on our performance. It is best to give your best performance.

Some people prefer to distinguish them selves by their looks. They change or enhance their looks to make a statement. They may decide to wear make up or a special shirt and jacket. They may choose to alter their body. Having surgical procedures like liposuction and injectable fillers or just moving, removing or adding parts.

We see a prevalence of tattoos and facial/body jewelry today. It is perfect for a specific environment but can give an undesirable response in another environment. It’s like wearing a bikini to church. Right look, wrong place. The jewelry can be removed but tattoos are forever.

Some people distinguish themselves by their actions. Our actions represent a 24/7 performance. We are always on stage. From snoring at night to snoring during your boss’s presentation, it is the same performance but two different theaters. One performance gets a nudge while the other performance gets you fired.

The action may be the same but the presentation varies. The mood of the day, the emotional state at the moment, will affect the response to your performance. Greeting the kids when you come home may be a little different if you just ran over Johnny’s bike and got a flat tire.

Did you ever hear a young person say that some day I want to be a soldier or a doctor, or a fireman or ‘just like you, dad’ ? They may never have met a soldier, a doctor or a fireman but they see what they do. Those professionals can have a generational affect on peoples lives. And what about parents? What a great compliment to a dad or mom when their children emulate them. That is a generational response from how the parents relate to each other, to the people around them, and most important, to their children. Mom and Dad, you are always on stage. The little eyes see much more that the little ears can hear.

It’s important to remember that we are always on stage and that we want to give our best performance. There is always an audience out there. The actor prepares and practices for every performance. We don’t have that luxury. We get the script and walk on stage. That means we must be ready to perform 24/7.

In the new book, “Grandpa And Andy … a grandfather’s handbook” Grandpa explains to little Andy about being respectful, looking his best, and making Grandpa proud. He says, “Andy, you and I are always on stage.”

Next: America is the place where equality permits us to strive to be unequal.

Under the Circumstances

Under the CircumstancesHow often do we get a chance to read stories of unsuccessful people? Not often. Not too many authors take up the challenge. There is little value to the story other than reading about someone else’s problems with an unhappy ending. Stories written about failure, that we find interesting focus on overcoming failures on the way to success. They have a happy ending.

The most successful people are the people who failed the most, learned from their failures and never quit. They don’t wallow in their circumstances. We listen and may identify with where they have been but we are excited about where they end up. It’s not where you grow up … it’s where you end up that counts. You can’t change where you grow up … but you determine where you end up.

Everyone has circumstances and some people don’t mind telling you all about them.
Circumstances are the descriptions of our past and present. They can’t be changed but they do have value. Circumstances can be used as excuses or reasons. They are excuses to continue on our current path or reasons to choose a new direction. We make the decision.

But you don’t understand my circumstances. My teachers were not very smart. Or did you choose not to study your lessons. But the teachers didn’t tell me to study. But why did you think you were going to school? Because my mom told me I had to go to school. People with out vision live in the past. They know their circumstances.

But you don’t understand my circumstances. I do understand your circumstances. We gave you a free education. We gave you schools, teachers, books, transportation, and meals and you decided not to take advantage of these gifts. I do understand your past. But there is a lesson that you can learn from your circumstances. You can change. Make your circumstances the reason to grow, to focus, to dream and to achieve great things.

There are many stories of people who never had a formal education and still achieved success. They went back to school, learned a trade or developed a skill. They started a business. They raised a family. They taught others that they can achieve their dreams. Success starts with a decision. Success starts by shedding the cloak, the weight, of your circumstances.

It’s not where you grow up…it’s where you end up that counts. You can’t change where you grow up…but you determine where you end up.

In my new book, Grandpa And Andy…a grandfather’s handbook, Grandpa tells Andy that it’s OK to be bad at something so long as you keep learning from your circumstances. You can’t get good at something until you try it once. That’s Grandpa’s logic. He says that circumstances are stories of the past. Write your own story about your future. It will be the roadmap to success.

Grandpa sits down with his pup at his side

Grandpa and AndyWhen Grandpa sits back, with his pup at his side
He remembers the days, and many to choose
When dreams of the future were many and distant
When the dream could be changed with a blink of an eye
When things could be better with hard work and pride

Dreams of success, of family, friends and the future
Often measured in numbers by others
But only experienced by the dreamer
By the comfort one feels deep within
When he opens his eyes and his pup at his side

He remembers the dash, from then until now
The good times, the tough times, and even the sad
Because each time, is only a moment
We declare good or bad
But the next moment is ours to do what we choose
We live it regardless, win, draw or loose.

Coming soon: Grandpa and Andy … a grandfathers’ handbook

Remember when you held him close?

Grandpa and AndyGrandpa remembers the moments when he picked him up, held him high, and let him drop into his arms. He was tiny and scared. But, by the third time, he was laughing and wanted to do it again. Grandpa would keep him safe.

Grandpa remembers holding his hand when they went for walks in the garden. He remembers reaching for the wobbling handles on the bike as he learned to ride. Grandpa remembers that first hand shake, such a little hand but a big smile. He was growing up.

Grandpa remembers that strong handshake, a grown mans grip, when they looked eye to eye. Grandpa hasn’t been able to pick him up in years. But Grandpa’s spirits are picked up everyday as he remembers the little guy that he used to hug, hold high, then hug again. These are puffed up moments.

Coming soon: Grandpa and Andy … a grandfathers’ handbook.