Thursday, November 20, 2014

A wonderful meal deserves conversation to match.

Thanksgiving finds me pondering, what am I really grateful for? In addition to good health and meaningful work and relationships, I find that I am more and more aware of how important it is to recognize, with appreciation, the challenges that come my way.

In my work with children I am fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with them about what matters— their hurts, successes, disappointments, challenges, sadness, happiness, and more. We hear so much today about how innovation is by necessity, inextricably linked with failure. Innovation is terrifying and we must teach children how to bounce back from failure. That is a challenge for every parent.

We give children the tailwinds they need to grow and develop to their full capacity when we help children take on challenges and help them learn how to bounce back from failure. Tailwinds are the ideas and ideals we impart to children and this is the lens they will look out from into the world. Headwinds will come for sure, but what is important is how they will respond.

Their response will be learned from role models, first and foremost their parents and then through the stories they meet, with characters meeting challenges in ways we can learn from. We could give children a laundry list of how to deal with challenge, but a story, with characters a child cares about, will enter through the doorway of their heart and give them new awareness.

Stories that offer characters struggling to overcome a challenge, where their response marks them as special, are my favorite kinds of stories. Children become involved in the stories they read by caring about a character and caring what happens to them. Their empathy is the most important ingredient in finding their “home run” books.

Children love holidays and a family celebration is the perfect moment to imbue a holiday with significance and meaning. Speaking of the blessings of challenges and our responses will certainly yield much to think and talk about. A wonderful meal deserves conversation to match.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address The most important three-minute speech ever delivered.

President Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

It might sound irreverent to refer to the Gettysburg Address as a blurb or a clip but they all have something in common; they use a minimum of words to express an idea.  Expose your children to this extraordinary piece of writing, which captures important ideas in the fewest and clearest words possible.  Ask them, "Which sound bites, blurbs or clips from today will be read 150 years from now?”  "Will any of them even be remembered?"

A sound bite can be deep and reflective, although that is not always the case. Too many sound bites of today say little and offer less to think about.

Lincoln dismissed his speech as something “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” What Lincoln said was noted and remembered. Some say, the battle itself was less important than the speech.