Play Dates & Movie Quotes

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Mommy Play Dates

Mommy Play Dates

Let me first recognize that being a parent is hard no matter what. And, that being a single parent (regardless of gender) is really hard.  But, there are some unique struggles and advantages that come with being a single dad. Like play dates.

Kids love “play dates”. Funny, how I never had one of those growing up. I just hung out at a friend’s house until the street lights came on and then had to get my little butt back home. That was my small town life experience. Living in the modern big city world we don’t want our kids out of our sight. For good reason, but it creates extra pressure on us to coordinate time with other families to play. Scheduled play time?!

So, just finding time on any given weeknight or weekend is hard enough between all the extracurricular activities that our kids are scheduled in (especially when you have multiple kids). The other difficulty becomes actually scheduling with the “scheduler”. I have good dad friends and I’m friends with their wives, too. But, I don’t communicate daily with either. It could be somewhat awkward to be texting someone’s wife on a regular basis. Both for me and my buddie’s wife. That’s one. The second thing is guys and gals just communicate differently. I never really noticed before having kids, but watching two or three moms standing around chatting about stuff I could care less about, they might slide in a comment about having an unscheduled Sunday afternoon. A rarity for sure.

And, there it is. The unconscious/conscious need to schedule every minute of the week. And, it was as natural as dandelions in my yard (yeah, I need time to throw out some weed and seed in between making dinner and wiping butts). This is no dig on the moms, just the natural course of how they operate. When I talk to the dads of aforementioned moms they can never commit to anything without checking with the “scheduler” a.k.a. the Mrs. I guess the takeaway here is I need to brush up on the latest reality TV show, latest fashion trend and maybe the latest celebrity gossip because I’m guessing they aren’t going to get caught up on muscle cars, woodworking, football and camping equipment.

It’s not all bad. I’ve just had to “adapt, improvise and overcome.” Darn it, I need some new movie quotes, they aren’t too likely to know that quote from my boy Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. Maybe something from Legally Blonde? Ugh!

Award Winning PlasmaCars Delight

Santa brought awesome wheels down the chimney.  My 3 and 4 year old kids absolutely loved discovering these shiny new PlasmaCars beneath the tree and my 8 year old the joy of skateboarding.  Of course, the joy of riding them around the nearby empty parking lot ranked even higher than unwrapping them and I enjoyed the fact that there were no batteries or crazy tools required (only a rubber mallet and screwdriver).

My kids enjoying the new PlasmaCars

My kids enjoying the new PlasmaCars

This award-winning toy is a hot ticket anytime of the year.  It is equally at home indoors on hard wood floors or outside on paved surfaces.  I don’t have enough room in my house for them to ride, but I’ve seen kids in other houses making laps through rooms.  What I do have is a nice big concrete patio and the kids race each other before dinner on weeknights.

It isn’t the cheapest toy, but compared to the copious electronic devices that keep kids sedentary, it is a bargain.  And, because they are so sturdy (holding over 200lbs) they will last long enough to be featured in a future garage sale.  Speaking of which, keep your eyes open and you might find a gently used one for your favorite preschooler.

The blue PlasmaCar pictured below is a hotlink that will take you directly to Amazon if you’d like to get one for yourself.  Or, keep an eye out for a one-owner looking fa local garage sale near you.

Your Greatest Achievement – Past, Present or Future?

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev's selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev’s selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai

 

Ever been asked about your greatest achievement?  How do you think your age impacted your answer?  Is it behind you or before you?

Documenting and cataloging our achievements helps us keep score. Likely helping us measure against another human’s achievements.  The achievements of mankind are epic and frankly hard to live up to.  I remember thinking about Alexander the Great conquering the known world in his 30’s while I was still in my 20’s.  I guess, that represents the greatest achievement of a modern man.  Hard for every man after him to compare to that achievement.  What would I conquer?  Now, I know the biggest thing my twenty-something self needed to conquer was youthful fears.

I know now, that I’ve already achieved more than Alexander. I made it to my forties.  HA!! It turns out, most of our greatest achievements are personal victories that likely mean very little to the outside world.  Perhaps, with a few more decades worth of birthdays I’ll conquer the remaining fears and cross a few more things off of my bucket list.  Will I look back with envy or continue to look forward?

I hope to achieve a lot more things, but my some of my goals seem more modest.  No less easy for me, but more simple.  What energy can I put forth that will positively impact my little corner of the world every day?  And, if God sees fit to let me walk this earth another 40+ years I’m sure I’ll continue to ponder this question of past, present and future achievements.  I faithfully believe in an after-life.  No, I won’t be back to relive my life as a bug, tree or eagle (though, wings would be cool).  Hopefully, on my 90th birthday, I’ll still see the potential for greatness ahead.

Amazon

Do Leaders Need Followers? Maybe!

So, what does it take to be a leader? Can you count the number of times that question has been asked and answered? While many answers exist, this short TED video by Derek Sivers (@sivers) from 2010, offers compelling evidence of leadership.

Dynamite Entertainment's The Lone Ranger #4 co...

Dynamite Entertainment’s The Lone Ranger #4 cover. Art by John Cassaday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaders need followers.  Sure, you can be a lone wolf – a la The Lone Ranger. However, The Lone Ranger’s impact was limited because he lacked followers to carry his vision far and wide. Contrast that with the young man in Derek’s TED presentation.

The first guy to dance inspired another, which then inspired another and the flood gates opened wide from there.  Now, one could argue that getting people to dance at an outdoor concert is like shooting fish in a barrel.  But, what compelled them to run over and dance with this guy and his followers? Dancing in place would have allowed them quicker access to their stuff. Obviously, people like to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

I don’t intend to diminish the ability of any one individual to impact the world. Sometimes, the sacrifice of a single individual will inspire a movement.  But, unless someone communicates that sacrifice the purpose may be lost. Inspiring others to act will exponentially impact the world with every new follower. The Lone Ranger’s mission could not be fulfilled with followers (aside from his side-kick Tonto). His vigilante approach demanded that he live outside societal norms.  Therefore, followers may have meant that he was less capable of fulfilling his mission.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to determine the type of leader you want to become.  Do you have a single mission that will be accomplished within your lifetime? Or, will you start something bigger by attracting followers to carry on your vision.

I thought my single mission was to simply raise my children to be good productive citizens. While that satisfies the basic needs, my mission is more complicated than that. I know I cannot guarantee any specific outcomes, but I feel compelled to continue the progress of past generations.  Perhaps, I can inspire my kids to leadership by emulating those traits and helping them find their passion and their followers.

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4 Critical Leadership Traits

Image via www.rottentomatos.com

The not-so-common sense leadership traits of aspiration, planning, inspiration and execution are nicely articulated in this Inc. article, 4 Traits of Great Leaders, written by Matthew Swyers (@trademarkco).   His example of John F. Kennedy rallying a nation to reach for the moon is an easily recognizable accomplishment from the 20th century. Ultimately, he is not saying anything new here, but merely pointing out that an advanced degree in physics isn’t necessary to become a great leader. And, generating ideas does not make you a leader. Great leaders create a plan to achieve their dreams and inspire others around them to help them execute the plan.

I used to believe in the lone wolf strategy of leadership. You might have one or two sidekicks that helped you achieve your goals, but ultimately it was the individual that made things happen. I call this the “Lone Ranger” approach to leadership. As I matured, I realized that the Lone Ranger only impacts his small corner of the planet.  However great he might be, he is limited by his time and geography.

Today I know that to truly change the world in a meaningful way you need to inspire others to follow your plan. You need to be an evangelist and cheerleader. Just because someone bestows a title upon you, does not mean that you will inspire anyone. A title doesn’t inspire people. It might intimidate some people to move when you are present; but, will they still be passionate to carry on once you leave.

Most everyone aspires to be something more and sometimes that makes us simply envious of others. While, other times it inspires us to think we too can do it if we follow their plan. There is a whole industry of people out there trying to sell you their plan for success. Frankly, following a plan may teach you their method of success, but unless you tinker with it and make it your own plan you will not learn how to inspire others. Own your inspiration, own your plan and most importantly inspire others to execute it with you. Learn, revise and execute your plan again if you must. Learning is key, doing is critical!

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46 Money Saving Tips For Startups

Good tips for bootstrapping your new business venture via Breaking Free 46 Ways to Start a Business with No Money.  Thanks to Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) for both the reminders and new ideas for starting a new venture with little to no money.  We know from the Kauffan Foundation that most entrepreneurs start with their own resources and/or borrow from family and friends when starting a new biz.

New businesses need services and Brian offers tips on the best bang-for-the-buck.

  1. Don’t hire employees
  2. Don’t pay rent
  3. Get free legal advice
  4. Get 250 free business cards
  5. Build a free website

Those are a few on his comprehensive list.  What tips would you add?

 

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The Purpose of Santa

January 3, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly, one ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about this Santa subject a lot.  I wrote this about the Psychology Today post (The Case for Keeping Santa) and also commented on this post by  Ted Torreson’s (@ted_torreson) via his blog Faith in Motion.  Bottom-line, like most issues, there are shades of interpretation.

One of the greatest gifts (and burdens) from our Creator is free will.  A burden because the choice is left to each of us whether to follow the teachings of Jesus or not.  It seems the purpose for this gift may have been to ensure that humans came to God out of choice.  Choosing freely makes the choice more genuine.  Have you ever felt pressured to say something nice when someone is fishing for compliments?  “Don’t I look great in this outfit?”

I believe this also encourages us to think (a lot) about everything from what apple color is best for maximum taste satisfaction to the purpose for human existence.  Over the last 200,000 years we learned, shared and collaborated with humans across the globe, which brings us to this unique place in time.  While we are no smarter than the first humans, we are more knowledgeable.  In order for us to go beyond survival we learned to thrive by finding ways to simplify our needs so we can concentrate on higher function desires, which led us from tribes to civilizations.

The basis for our western society stem from some shared beliefs.  Whether Believer or not, Judeo-Christian moral and spiritual beliefs form the basis of our society, just as do Roman and English Common Laws.  But, that is written history.  Before humans began to write and before they painted on rocks, they shared around camp fires.  We tell stories about historical and fictional people to help us make sense of the world, as well as to pass on critical information to our descendants.  From myths, to parables to oral and written histories; humans tell stories through word or image that they hope will be the glue that binds a community together.

The Christmas stories we love to hear, tell, watch and sing ensure that our progeny cherish our values.  Humans seek out ever more creative stories to spark curiosity about the morals being conveyed.  Did you ever have an uncle that told the same story every Thanksgiving?  Did you start tuning out after awhile or begin to mock him?  However, if that uncle was instead telling new stories each year that while different involved the same characters you might be more prone to listen…especially, if he had some oratory skill.   This creative license allows humans to continue refining our stories while sharing the same values each time.

I think the stories about Santa Claus fulfill that same purpose.  While the story shouldn’t be a substitute for the Christmas story of an immaculate birth, it can nevertheless provide a vehicle to share important facets of the Good News.  The life of Jesus provides a model life for Christians to follow.  While no one is praying at the altar of Santa (well, besides Macy’s), the story gives us a shared cultural reference to promote giving, joy, family and faith.  The farther we travel down the evolutionary road the farther from fact stories becomes until they are almost all fictional.  However, hopefully we retain the morals and values that we cherished.

Humans evolved into great story tellers.  Think about those Lascaux cave paintings in France compared to National Geographic TV.  Same fascination with wildlife, but richer image.  I think while the Santa stories moved away from the historical basis the best parts remained.  Merry Christmas!

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7 Fundamental Truths For Kids

Though not a comprehensive list, these 7 truths represent the foundation of my Leadership-dad philosophy.  I strive to model these behaviors, as well as reinforce them through stories and lessons.

curiousCURIOSITY

Curiosity fuels an interesting life.  The day you stop being curious, you simply stop being useful.  Don’t just ask why, figure out how.  As Dr. Bruce Perry, MD, PhD (@bdperry) posits, curiosity leads to experimentation, which leads to mastery and finally confidence.

 

 

 

Problem Solvers = Entrepreneurs.

Image via Indrasis Blog

OPTIMISM

You are going to fail.  Seek out new experiences like they are gifts on Christmas morning.  In time you will fail less and win more, but without the failures you won’t know how to appreciate the wins.

 

 

 

Positive Attitude = Positive Influence

thrive

thriving lone tree in the rocks

Resilience

Life is hard.  The older you get the harder it gets.  When you are a kid, you can’t wait to be an adult so no one tells you what to do.  Unfortunately, those rule making teachers and parents don’t go away, they just turn into police, politicians and spouses.

As Catherine McCarthy, PhD. posits in her blog post How Can You Thrive? The difference between success and failure is attitude.

Attitude = Prosperity

Courageous

Courageously Tackle the Lego Fire Walk?

BE COURAGEOUS

Don’t be stubborn or fool hardy, but never compromise your core values.  Few things in life warrant risking your life, everything else is negotiable.  That doesn’t mean you just roll over either.  The art of negotiation is that the other person walks away feeling they won, too.  Don’t fight to win, fight for what’s right.

 


Courage = Strength

Fairness

Fairness

FAIRNESS

Life may seem unfair at times, but focus on those things within your immediate control (e.g. your treatment of others). Follow a higher sense of fairness.  Treat others with equal or greater respect than you treat yourself.  And, remember that all people are created equal.  Never treat another less than you and never allow others to treat you less than them.

 

Fairness = Equality

Image via faithforsinners.com

FAITH

Faith in God, faith in yourself, and faith in love.  These three things pulled me through most of my life.  Many would ask me about my confident positive attitude and this would be my answer.  I know that God has my back, that I can do anything and that I my loved ones are my safety net. These beliefs never let me down.  My biggest failures occurred when I didn’t trust in all three.

Faith = Confidence

wealth

wealth

WEALTH

You may not ever discover your purpose.  You will not know all the people you influence.  If you seek meaningful work that allows you to contribute to something noble, then you will fulfill my dreams for you.  More importantly count your blessings because faith in God will take care of your needs.  You can concentrate on creating abundance within your family and others.  Wealth does not mean financial gain, as much as it means financial well-being providing you the means to follow your passions.

Wealth = Quality of Life

These guiding principles helped to shape me and I believe they will help to positively shape my kids, too.

Please tell me what you think.  What did I forget?  Do you disagree? Agree? What are the most important things you teach your kids?

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Kick Santa To The Curb?

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read The Case for Keeping Santa by Lynne Griffin (@Lynne_Griffin).  She discusses the positive values promoted by the stories surrounding Santa Claus.  For example:

Joy

Create some joyful childhood memories.

Generosity

“Santa’s biggest legacy is his desire to give without receiving.”

Wonder

“How does he get around the world in one night? Do reindeer really fly? Learning to question and make sense of the unbelievable is an important skill for a child. Just thinking about this Christmas tale encourages critical thinking and reasoning skills. Join your child on the quest to understand.”

Faith

“Santa is your child’s first experience believing in something he cannot see. Believing in Santa is a beginning step toward teaching your child about faith. Spirituality is based on learning to trust in a higher power, in God.”

Hope

This lesson keeps us all going.  Utilizing this story bolsters a child’s desire for better days to come.  Of course, as Lynne points out, it can be equally dangerous if not tempered.

She also gives some tips for answering the inevitable questions that will come as children mature.  “Don’t lie just to keep the myth alive.”

I recently participated in a discussion with others about what and when to tell a child about Santa and the Christian position on Christmas.  Ted Torreson authored the post Why I Won’t Be Teaching My Children About Santa Claus.  As a pastor, he makes the case that perhaps we do our children a disservice by not telling them about the reason for the season and the real story of St. Nicolas.

As parents, we want to teach our kids about faith, love and life.  But, we also want them to maintain vivid imaginations and grow up with the values we cherish.  The many positive characteristics of Santa seem worth perpetuating.  Especially, that of the cheerful giver!

The End of Brick and Mortar Universities?

MIT

Tamar Lewin of the NY Times writes about the expansion of MIT’s OpenCourseWare offerings and soon you’ll also be able to prove your mastery with a certificate.  This trend will be a game changer.

I think people will always desire to learn together face-to-face, but not all.  Traditional physical campus space will eventually shrink or convert to other uses as more and more students choose free learning opportunities.

MIT OCW Intro Video