Don’t Be Silly

Bad Advice Some Times

Don't Be Silly

There is a quote by Adlai Stevenson that is rattling inside my head today. It has leadership implications both at home and at work. Here are the words of Adlai Stevenson.

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

Leadership In The Home

One of the things that is the most important to us as men is that our wives and children respect us. I think for many men respect comes before love in order of importance to the male psyche. But, I won’t debate that here today. Instead, I want to talk about something that in many ways may run counter to the notion of respect.

The opposite of respect is, of course, disrespect. And as dads, we cannot tolerate that from our children. But consider for a moment the importance of being silly with your children. Did you catch that? I said that it is important to be silly with your children. Why is that important?

Many times our kids see us as the great enforcers of rules and the “sucker of all that is fun out of life.” They could never have known us when we were wearing togas to toga parties in college. They never saw us perform some goofy skit in the Fall Fun Fest our sophomore year. In their eyes, we are the one who goes to work every day and comes home too tired to play.

So, what do we do?

So, what do we do? The truth is that I don’t know how to program silliness into your fatherhood repertoire. It is hard to plan these sorts of things. But be spontaneous. The next time you need to pick up all of the dirty clothes from your child’s room, do it together and make a silly contest out of seeing how many dirty socks, shorts, and shirts you can stuff in your pants. And then waddle to the laundry room with the dirty clothes sticking out of your pockets and waistband and dump them in the washing machine. OK, that isn’t the greatest idea in the world, but I was being spontaneous!

And there is a practical side to all of this.

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Leadership Lessons from Tidying Up

"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing"

Leadership Lessons from Tidying Up-2

Like many of you, I am still trying to work out some of the finer details from the goal setting that is so much a part of this time of year.  One of the goals that I have set for myself this year is to be more organized (less cluttered) in my own personal life. I have also set a goal of redeeming some of the lost time that I spend in my car while commuting to and from the office.  One of the ways that I am dealing with both of these goals is to listen to an audio book on tidying while I drive. Please don’t shame me, but I am listening to an audio book in the car is a first for me.

The book that I have selected is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant. She takes tidying to a whole new level.  She claims that if you properly simplify and organize your home just once, and you do it according to her “KonMari Method”, you’ll never have to do it again. Her method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results according to her book. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed back into their old cluttered lifestyle once they graduate from her class and the in-home process. Further, she claims to have a 3-month waiting list to have her consult with you in your home or office.

I love many things about Japanese culture. I value the simplicity of design and the almost stark or Spartan look to the interiors of many Japanese homes. For me, it is almost like walking into a hotel room. I am relaxed and energized by the uncluttered look and feel to a hotel room. Aside from a bed, a work surface, a TV and a coffee maker, most hotels lack many of the things that we feel we must have in our homes. Apparently, for me, that is not the case. In fact, I am usually extremely productive in a hotel room when it comes to creative activities and planning.

Why is that so?

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A Mother’s Love Affects the Brain

Mother - Brain

No wait!  That isn’t a setup line for a punchline. A recent study shows that nurturing a child early in life may help him or her develop a larger hippocampus, the region of the brain that is important for learning, memory and stress responses.

Brain images have now revealed that a mother’s love physically affects the volume of her child’s hippocampus. In the study, children of nurturing mothers had hippocampal volumes 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing. And research has suggested a link between a larger hippocampus and better memory.

One of the study authors had this to say; “We can now say with confidence that the psychosocial environment has a material impact on the way the human brain develops.” Dr. Joan Luby, the study’s lead researcher and a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO said, “It puts a very strong wind behind the sail of the idea that early nurturing of children positively affects their development.”

What Did the Researchers Do?

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EI Outside the Workplace

EI Outside the Workplace

I spent a great deal of time earlier in the week extolling the virtues of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. And I still believe there is a significant need for and benefit from increasing our EI/EQ and using that increased knowledge and wisdom in the workplace.

But, let me attempt to make a compelling case, and in fact a greater case, for emotional intelligence outside the office and in the home.

Consider the Emotionally Intelligent Husband

The emotionally intelligent husband is a step above the husband who is not aware of his emotional intelligence nor has he raised his emotional intelligence. What defines an emotionally intelligent husband is one who has figured out a secret to marriage that other husbands haven’t yet. That little secret, although it is actually pretty elementary, can actually be pretty difficult to develop because it requires him to become more aware of his wife and her needs. And this is contrary to human nature and a pop culture that says that it is all about me.

Like many husbands, the emotionally intelligent husband has learned to respect and honor his wife. But here is where the EI husband separates himself from the others.

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Livin’ for the moment . . .

Living for the moment

I’m just livin’ for the moment . . .

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?

One of the definitions that I found for this phrase is as follows:

“To live or act without worrying about the future.”

So, I could say that I am living for the moment[.] – Period. Full stop.

To live in the moment, or to live in the now, means being conscious, aware and in the present with all of your senses. It means not dwelling on the past, nor being anxious or worrying about the future.

When we concentrate our attention on the present we focus on the task at hand. We give our full attention to what we are doing and we let go of outcomes.

Seizing each moment in life allows us to prolong its value and make it more meaningful. Rather than seeking quantity of time, when we live in the moment we enjoy and savor every minute. We don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

I am fully onboard with the sentiment expressed in these thoughts. As long as we don’t overdo them with psychobabble that no one really understands. In fact, I can embrace the sentiment. Living in the moment allows me to focus on what is before me. My wife, my children, my grandchildren. The thrust of this is to put away the distractions and focus on what is present and not what has happened or may happen.

Or, I could say that I am living for the moment [. . . ] – Ellipsis. To show an unfinished thought.

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Spring Break Ideas for Dad

Spring Break Ideas for Dad

According to recent magazine article, a Swiss company will take the ashes of a dead relative and turn them into a synthetic diamond that you can wear for less than $10,000. That is a little creepy.  But that’s one way to be remembered, I suppose.

I know many of us can’t take off all week and be with our children.  But Spring Break is upon us and this is a great week to make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.  And you can do it without the “break” in Spring Break be the breaking of the bank!  In fact, some of the ideas won’t cost you a dime!

Spring Break week ends on Friday the 13th here in Humble, TX. So, here are 13 memory-making things to do with your kids this week:

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Correction Time

correct this

One of the many fun duties I have in my current position is what is called a “CAR Champion”. The acronym stands for Corrective Action Report or Corrective Action Request, depending on your company. What it basically means, is a process or product did not create the desired or required result and something needs fixed. I’m the person who creates the report with evidence of the failure, the requirement that failed to be met and assigns names to the report that become responsible for actions to be taken. Let’s just say, it is a job duty that can make someone not the most popular person in the building. Even though I may be largely an evidence gatherer and assignment messenger, it’s still my name they see in the email from our system saying (in their interpretation) “you messed up now fix it.”

Any established quality system is going to have a corrective and preventive action program. A corrective action is; taking action on a nonconformity that has already happened. A preventive action is; taking action on something that has the potential of resulting in a nonconformity. It is common in my experience that supervisors and managers are not exactly “thrilled to bits” at receiving communication saying they are responsible for either action, as it is only seen as a failure. The aspect that most of them miss, is that taking decisive ownership of a corrective or preventive action request can result in positive improvements in their departments, provide a multitude of leadership opportunities throughout the process, promote team building moments and development opportunities that can identify other leaders in their company.

I have held this type of position in my last two career stops. It’s a position that requires

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Teach Gratitude to a Preschooler in Four Simple Steps


In all things give thanks… The five year old just celebrated her birthday. She received a predictably mountainous and diverse pile of presents from family and friends, and we had a princess party with Rapunzel wigs, manicures, make up, and an assortment of little princess activities. As any parent might, we made a big deal out of her day. Yet as her daddy, I asked myself before the party and after: what lessons are my little girl learning from this showering of attention and gifts, and are those lessons the right ones?

There are obvious lessons: I am special. I am loved. I am blessed. I am liked. My life is appreciated.

There are subtle lessons: Some people brought me nicer gifts than others. Some people seem to be having a better time than others. Some people seem to be sad (or angry) that I am the one receiving all the attention. Some people wish they had my toys.

And there are some lessons that are insidious: I didn’t get as many presents as my older sister got at her birthday. I think the present I got my friend for her birthday party is better than the one she got me. The party I went to last month was much more fun than my party. I don’t have as many friends as some of my other friends do.

You get the idea – all of these are non-specific and all of them apply. I am amazed as a still-rookie Daddy that these lessons are taught and learned at such a tender age. Yet it is my responsibility to lead my family through them: contentment, envy, fairness, jealousy, joy… but our focus for today is gratitude. As you develop a plan for teaching your kids to be grateful, consider these things:

1. You can’t teach what you don’t know.

Before you can teach anything to anyone – and especially your kids – you’re going to need to understand what it is you are teaching them. The word “gratitude” come from the same latin root word from which we derive the word “grace”. Although grace and gratitude don’t share precisely the same meaning, they are two sides to the same coin. Indeed, one could make a strong case that the proper response to grace is gratitude.

So, start like this: make a list of the graces you experience in your own life. Life itself is a good place to start, and while you are at it, think of other people who have led you, and taught you, and corrected you. And maybe even consider how people who have been less than gracious to you have shaped you in ways that have somehow or another worked out well. You can continue from there. Perhaps (and hopefully!) your children themselves are high on this list. Make certain that you consider how the people in your life figure into the grace/gratitude spectrum. This could as easily be called “counting your blessings”, but your list will have greater meaning to you and your kids if you write it down.

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Train up a child…

I’m the father of three little kids, and we’re just starting school for them. I’ve wondered a bunch lately about the things that they will learn this year, and where they will be successful, where they will struggle, and how I can lead my family through both ends of that spectrum. I’ve wondered how well they will be reading and writing, what sort of social experiences they will have… you get the idea if you are a parent.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the things that my children need to learn: an understanding of football, baiting a fish hook, how (and more importantly, when) to throw a punch, how to safely handle a pocket knife (for my oldest, at least), for a few examples.

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The Convictions of Man

kinopoisk.ruI have wondered for some time this one penetrating question; What happened to the convictions of man?

I’m sure the period of time in which we find ourselves probably has many of us asking the same question. Let’s consider a few quotes from Saving Private Ryan. Private Jackson says to Captain Miller: “Sir… I have an opinion on this matter.” To which Captain Miller replies: “Well, by all means, share it with the squad.”

Ok squad, to be a man we have to find where that definition comes from. Knowing that God did NOT give us the definition but instead explicitly gave us examples of what it is to be a man of God. Clearly, there are two types of men; a worldly man, and a man who reveres God. We must understand what a man looks like under God’s leadership.

It is important to know that: Responsibility = response + ability.

The Convictions of Man - 2Men have a natural tendency to avoid social responsibility,

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