Sep 172014
Broken Lightbulb Snail

Broken Lightbulb Snail (Photo credit: K.G.Hawes)


“I never did anything by accident, not did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”

 — Thomas Edison

I’m not sure I’m 100% “sold” on the idea “everything happens for a reason.”  It’s my nature to question things.  Still, it’s not easy to ignore the evidence: our response to a problem can energize and inspire us as we grow into new ways to live.

As a person who has worked in the “change industry” for a very long time, I believe there are lots of benefits to using ordinary events and environments as real life learning labs.   In my experience a “problem” usually contains parts of an answer.  A problem often offers doorways to new behaviors and habits that will lead us to function at  higher levels.

For example, lots of people complain about not getting to the gym.  Maybe we’re focusing on the wrong problem.  What if, instead of strengthening the excuse muscle, you decide to do some “lifting” out in the garden?  Or putting on some miles with your dog?  Is the “problem” getting to the gym?  Or finding ways to move your body?

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What if you’re struggling to get household chores done?  Involving a partner and  the kids benefits all of you, doesn’t it?  First of all, communication and negotiation skills get a workout.  Teamwork and compromise.  If you can let go of micro-management (not one of MY strong things) the work gets done and everyone in the family gets to make a meaningful contribution.

What would happen if we decided to look at problems simply as information?  Perhaps discomfort is simply a way to get our attention about the need to make a change.  Neither problem-solving nor self-improvement come by accident.  Both take work.

Experiments and small steps may lead you in unexpected and wonderful directions.

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Mar 122014
English: A Little League baseball player squar...

A Little League baseball player squares to bunt.      (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  •  “You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than anyone else.”  ~ Albert Einstein
  • “You are remembered for the rules you break.” ~ Gen. Douglas MacArthur
  • “You can’t break the rules until you know how to play the game.” ~ Rickie Lee Jones


Have you ever noticed that some kids really like a detailed and specific set of rules while others respond better to general guidelines?  How are “rules” approached in your home?

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 A Few Thoughts on Rules  March 12, 2014  Posted by at 6:33 am Comments Off on A Few Thoughts on Rules
Sep 012013




Learning by Doing

Photo credit: BrianCSmith


I’ve been thinking about a mother who told me that her parents did “not approve of” her approach to her elementary school-aged son’s “less than stellar” grades. As the conversation unfolded I remember she shared a number of important thoughts.  She was proud of her child.  According to Mom, the young “offender” was:

– kind and compassionate
– a bundle of energy
– very curious and interested in learning
– socially motivated, with great people skills to match
– fairly disinterested in grades

While the “prevailing wisdom” — both from her in-laws and several elementary school teachers — was that this “live wire” should be grounded from sports, outdoor breaks and extra-curricular activities until his marks improved, this Mom disagreed.

“I know people think that I’m  far too easy on him, that he’s lazy, and that I’m making excuses that enable poor school performance.  I just can’t figure out how to turn teachers’ comments into a currency that’s meaningful for him.  And, I still think, if you’re trying to raise a life-long-learner, education needs to be its own reward. Am I wrong?”

Perspective is an interesting thing.  Is this kiddo reflecting his Mom’s values?  Clearly she did not consider test scores or grades the holy grail of learning.  She worried that turning the whole grade “thing” into a battle of wills would have a detrimental effect on her child’s considerable curiosity and desire to learn.

“Maybe I’m wrong but I think that punishing him because he learns differently will do a lot more harm than being a ‘C’ student ever could,” she said.

In an era that sees parents challenging students’ grades on behalf of their kids this is an unusual attitude. A child appears to be performing below potential and receives grades that reflect that reality.  Isn’t that as it should be?

Or do you think  she’s being short-sighted?  Limiting her child’s future opportunities by not demanding high scores?  Or is she choosing her battles wisely and  accepting her child “as is,” regardless of the opinions of others?