Character Creates Opportunity® – A More Effective Question: Thursday, July 27, 2017

“Did you close the sale?”  “Did you pass the test?”  “Did you win the game?” “Did you complete the project?” “Did you make any money on this idea?”

These are all practical and meaningful questions commonly asked in the home, business, and community.

When our children were younger we would at some point over dinner or before bedtime ask them, “What did you learn today?” When they were young, the answers were filled with new observations of the world, facts from school, and insights from friends.  For some reason, asking that to our children now in college and high school gets a glare like we have two heads or something.

However, one of the more thoughtful, caring, and effective questions we can ask ourselves and others is, “What did you learn?”

As we look to continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, reinforcing the importance of individual and shared learning will enable all of us to more effectively continue along a path to reach our full potential.

There is no doubt that the task needs to be completed, money needs to be made, the student needs to pass the test, and winning leads to championships, but it is the learning that builds the foundation for greater impact down the road.

By reprioritizing our discussion to first ask about learning and second ask about the specific result, we accomplish several critical elements to ensure we remain on a productive path to reach our full potential.  Emphasizing learning before accomplishment helps to:

  1. Reinforce personal growth and continual, personal growth is the foundation for building a brighter future for us as individuals and for our family, business, and community.
  2. Lessen the risk of getting arrogant with great accomplishments while bolstering our ability to remain humble…we always have more to learn, no matter how accomplished we have become.
  3. Demonstrate to others we care more about them than the awards on their wall. Ensuring others know that we care far more about them rather than what they have accomplished, we will keep the door open to genuine, healthy, and meaningful relationships.
  4. Encourage others to pursue their dreams rather than live in a box defined by the expectations of others. Moving out from under the expectations of others will enable all of us to take greater responsibility for our choices, more fully realize our strengths and weaknesses, develop clarity around our true purpose, and live a life with fewer regrets in the end.

As we continue to place an emphasis on learning, we will build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to continue to grow, reach our full potential, and be an encouraging voice to those around us.

Transitions: Blending Families

The transition of divorce is hard enough, but with that transition comes another, the transition of blending families.

If you are a child of divorced parents or have experienced a death of a parent, this transition is inevitable in your life. Blending families is hard; it stirs up many emotions and difficulties. It takes time for the transition to become non-existent and become the family’s new normal, but with these tips the transition will be easier for yourself, your family, and your new family.

Moving in together

Making a house a home with a new family is hard. You grew up in separate households so you have different habits and are used to doing things a certain way, but when you blend families you have to compromise. Compromise is key for living with your new stepfamily. You have to understand that this transition is new for them too, and it will take time for them to get accustomed to it just like it will for you. Taking the time to learn their habits and talk openly about any problems that may arise will create a healthy living environment for everyone.

Accepting and liking your new step- parent

Your new step- mom or step- dad will never replace your biological mom or dad, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to know them, like them, and treat them with respect. Your mother or father married this person for a reason, so give them a chance to be a good stepparent to you.

Accepting and liking your new step- siblings

Like the relationship with your step- parent, the more effort you put into your relationship with your new step- siblings the easier it will be to live together and become a family. If you have siblings but your stepsibling is an only child, make sure you and your siblings include them.

Spending holidays together

The saying, “old habits die hard” is true. Your holiday traditions and your stepfamilies holiday traditions will merge together to create new traditions. This change can be hard to accept, especially during the holidays, but welcoming it with a positive attitude and an open mind will ensure the holiday cheer.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t expect your child and new step- child to acclimate to the transition right away.
  • Give your child and new step- child time to adjust to the blended family.
  • If possible, give your child and your new step- child their own rooms at the new house.
  • Listen to your child’s feelings about the transition.

For more help and advice with the transition from elementary school to middle school check out Harvest Time Partner’s Face to Face conversation games.

Harvest Time Partners thanks contributing writer Emily Garber for her insights on life’s transitions.

Character Creates Opportunity® – A Silent Temptation: Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our world is full of temptation.  The temptations of fame, fortune, and friends with benefits are all around us.  In addition, there is a world of temptations to relieve the pain of physical ailments, the emotional trauma of relationship struggles, and the anxiety developed out of today’s hyper-stressed environment to have it all.

Many of these temptations, and the individuals who get overwhelmed by them, are well documented in the media and if we are paying close attention, seen around the kitchen table in our homes.

However, the most damaging temptation is the one we keep to ourselves.  The silent temptation that is the genesis of so much heartache, pain, and personal struggle is the temptation to compare ourselves to others.  In our own silent world of comparing ourselves to others, we lose our own identity.  Over time, we struggle to find direction and we often miss our true purpose and passion to reach our full potential.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, it is important that we address what can be called the greatest temptation we will face, the silent temptation to compare ourselves to others.

Despite how many billions of people inhabit the earth, there is none like you or me.  Whether we believe in the scientific rationale, a faith in an all-mighty God, or both, there is no denying the fact that we are uniquely created.  There are no two people in this world that are the same.

It is not just physical differences, but also our experiences and how we see the world as a result of those experiences that makes us unique.  There is no value in making a judgment of better or worse about these experiences and points of view.  There is tremendous value in acknowledging and valuing our own individual differences and the differences of those around us.

When we give in to the silent temptation of comparing ourselves to others, we begin to diminish the strength of our uniqueness.

  • When we silently judge our self-worth based on a relative scale of those around us, we diminish the strength of our uniqueness.
  • When we silently rate our home-life based on what we see in the homes of others, we diminish the strength our unique family environment.
  • When we silently assess our career based on others, we diminish the strength our unique learning journey.

Our greatest risk in this world is that we fall short of our potential.  Becoming overwhelmed with the temptation to compare ourselves to others is the gateway to a life that falls short of our potential.

When we give in to the silent temptation to compare ourselves to others, we chase a moving target as opposed to remaining fixed on reaching our own unique potential.  We would be much more effective in setting a bar high based on our own individual goals and then working hard to achieve our full potential.

As we continue to exercise the discipline to “be me and not you,” we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to reach our full potential.

Transitions: Divorce

Tolstoy once said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

No divorce is the same, and no child experiences their parent’s divorce in the same way. In the United States, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. (Source)

The transition of a divorce may be one of the most impactful transitions. Here are some tips to manage it for yourself and your child.

Taking care of yourself (Source)

The difficulties of divorce and living your life without the person you once depended on can cause a rush of emotions and may come on when you least expect them. It is important to feel and accept those emotions, whatever they may be, but it is also important to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Research shows that those who are kind and compassionate to themselves have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.

Even though communication with your soon to be ex or ex may be the last thing you want to do, it is important to do so to ensure a smooth and healthy transition. Write down points that you want to talk about so your emotions don’t take over and speak for you when you are trying to have a successful conversation with your ex.

When children are involved 

Ending a marriage causes a wave of emotions, especially when you have children together. If you are worried about your child during you and your ex’s divorce, it is important to know that most children of divorced parents adjust to their parent’s divorce within two years, whereas children whose parents remain in their high conflict relationship, instead of getting a divorce experience more problems. (Source)

Your life and your kid’s life will drastically change during and after the divorce. In order to make this transition smoother for the entire family, encourage honest and open conversations and discuss the new transitions together such as moving houses, the custody agreement, and make sure your kids know you and your ex will always support and love them. Even though you and your ex may not get along, always encourage and support the relationship between your ex and your child.

For the kids

Change is hard, especially drastic and emotional change. When your parents get a divorce you feel like your family is broken; but it’s not. Your parents still love you, and you were not the reason for them breaking up.

Being a child of divorced parents can put a lot of pressure on you. You may feel like you have to choose between one parent or the other, like you can’t talk about them to each other, or like you can’t be with them at the same time. But this shouldn’t be the case; it is important to maintain a close relationship with each parent.

For more help and advice with the transition from elementary school to middle school check out Harvest Time Partner’s Face to Face conversation games.

Harvest Time Partners thanks contributing writer Emily Garber for her insights on life’s transitions.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Stay: Thursday, July 13, 2017

As we continue on our journey of building and strengthening our character, an important point to remember is that there is no finish line. 

I often use the enclosed graphic in speaking with people to highlight three realities along our journey: (1) There is no finish line with regards to our impact on the relationships around us.  Even in death, the legacy of our relationships lives on in the lives of those left behind (2) All important relationships endure some significant ups and downs and (3) When we choose to guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by principles like honesty, compassion, and sacrifice, we strengthen our character and our relationships. When we fail to guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by those same principles, we weaken our character and our relationships.

It is not uncommon in these discussions that the topic of personal sustainability comes up.  How can we sustain our efforts along this journey when we are told (a) there is no finish line (in essence, what is our pace for a race that has no finish line?) (b) there are some significant high points combined with some pretty significant low points, and (c) we need to take responsibility for the relationship even though it “takes two to tango.”

Below are three suggestions that I often offer to provide some support and encouragement to keep moving forward and I hope they are uplifting to you as well.

Stay Humble:  We really do reap what we sow as defined in the Law of the Harvest.  This is a very well-worn, principled path to achievement.  Although life is not always fair, more times than not, if we set a goal, make a plan to achieve that goal, work hard over time on delivering on the plan, we will reap a harvest and accomplish the goal.  We need to be careful not to let the momentum of our success build our pride as we will have a tendency to miss warning signs of pending challenges and our decision making will start to rely on our own track record and fail to take the counsel of others.  If we do not stay humble, the transparency that is our new reality has a tendency to crush our pride in very public and painful ways.  Stay humble.

Stay Hungry:  One of the biggest threats to building and strengthening our character and our relationships is when we get complacent and comfortable.  When we deny the reality that our journey will be filled with ups and downs, we get comfortable and complacent in so-called “good times.”  We fail to spend energy learning and growing in our relationships.  When our bellies are full, the bills are paid, and the sun is shining, we still need to hunger after raising the bar on ourselves and our relationships by delivering on the basics: serving more than taking, understanding more than judging, and listening more than talking.  Stay hungry.

Stay in the Ring:  No one is perfect and we all fall short from time to time.  It is important that we do not quit the fight when we make mistakes.   We should stay in the ring and keep fighting the good fight.  There is no more important game in town than building and strengthening our character and our relationships to have a positive impact along our journey.  Don’t choose to become a spectator, no matter how many times we fall short.  Stay in the ring.

As we stay humble, stay hungry, and stay in the ring, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to strengthen our relationships and have a greater impact in our homes, our businesses, and our communities.

Transitions: Moving to a New Home

A common transition that not many parents nor kids are prepared for is the transition of moving. Moving to a new city or state is a challenge for both the parents and kids. Often times people only sympathize with the children who are “forced” to move to a new school, find new friends, and join a new sports team or club, but the parents also have to find new friends and adapt to a new community.

If your family needs to move because of a new job, marriage, or whatever else it may be, follow these steps to make your families transition easier.

Kids’ Tips

Moving while you’re in elementary, middle, or high school can seem like the end of the world, but follow these tips and it will make the transition smoother.

Introduce yourself to the person you sit next to in class

First impressions are extremely important in life, but especially when meeting new people that you will see everyday. If you don’t introduce yourself, your peers may think you are rude or think that you don’t like them. Avoid this assumption by introducing yourself. This will make you and your peer more comfortable, and a simple “hello, my name is” could turn into a friendship.

Try out for a sports team

Leaving your sports team that you have played with for years is tough; you have to adapt to a new coach and players, but you loved the sport in your hometown so you will love it in your new town too. Just like at home, your teammates will become your family and you will feel like you are fitting in.

Try out for the school play

Getting involved in your school’s theatre program will make your new school seem smaller. If your niche at home was theatre, your niche at your new home will be theatre too. Before you know it you will be taking part in post performance celebrations and making friends.

Knock on your neighbor’s door

Neighborhood friends are the best of friends. You all hang out in a big group at the park or in someone’s lawn, and you are able to hang out whenever you want because you don’t have to worry about your parents driving you. Knock on your neighbor’s door and introduce yourself to make the most out of living next to kids your age.

Go to events and gatherings that you’re invited to

Being the new kid in town is awkward; everyone knows who you are because you’re the new kid, but you know none of them. There will always be the person who invites you into their friend group and when they are all hanging out together. It feels comfortable to say no, but you are already out of your comfort zone by living in a new place, and the only way you will make friends is if you hang out with your peers outside of school.

Parent’s tips:

Even though you are worried about your child’s transition, it is important to focus on your own transition too and feel at home.

Get to know your child’s friend’s parents

Befriending the parents of your child’s friends is a great way to meet friends for yourself. When your child has their friend over at your house, you can invite their parents over too. It will also be useful to coordinate rides.

Meet your neighbors

Neighbors are great to not only befriend, but they are helpful in times of need too. For example, if you are out of town and need your flowers watered, if you forgot to bring your garbage to the curb, or let your dog out, they are always there to lend a friendly hand.

Volunteer at your child’s school

By volunteering at your child’s school you are able to stay up to date with events that are happening in the best way- by helping planning them. You can also meet their teachers and see where they spend most of their day.

Invite your co-workers over for a house warming party

There are co-workers that you only want to be work friends with, but invite those who you could see yourself becoming better friends with over for a house warming dinner party. This will give you the chance to get to know them in a more personal and casual setting.

Join a gym

Finding people who share a common interest as you is easy to find at the gym. Join a Pilates or yoga class, or a tennis or swim team to mix socially while getting your exercise.

For more help and advice with the transition from elementary school to middle school check out Harvest Time Partner’s Face to Face conversation games.

Harvest Time Partners thanks contributing writer Emily Garber for her insights on life’s transitions.