Tag Archives: Initiative

A Field Of Waving Hands

by Richard

Where did all that enthusiasm go, dudes? Where did it go?

For those of who aren’t following this bit of blog religiously, a little update is in order. As part of the growing up and getting out initiative, I’ve gone out and gotten a new job outside the home.

I’m currently a Title I Tutor at a local elementary school. I’ve previously talked about what a great school it is, full of dedicated teachers who are giving these lucky kids a fantastic education.

What really struck me this last week, though, was the kids themselves. For the most part, whenever a teacher asks a question she’s answered by a forest of upraised hands, most of them waggling back and forth like a hyperactive dog’s tail after he’s just discovered coffee-dog biscuits.

Seriously, dudes, these kids really, really, really want the teacher to call on them. Heck, even kids who don’t know the answer to the question are raising their hands, sincerely hoping they will miraculously find the answer once the teacher calls their name.

Is it that these little dudes and dudettes want the teacher to validate them? Because, to the young, the teachers and other authority figures are important, nearly as important as pleasing those same figures?

Or is it that the kids want to be seen as smart? After all, this is an elementary school, well before those times when being seen as the smartest kid in the room is a detriment. Do they actually want to be seen as knowing the answers? Do they care?

I’m not sure. All I do know is that they do want to be called on. They do want to answer the question. No matter what the question was.

There’s certainly no shortage of persistence in those rooms. If the teacher calls on one kid, the hands go down slowly and reluctantly, simply biding their time until the next question is asked and the hand can shoot up once more. And the kid who just answered the last question? Her hand is back up there with all the rest.

That, dudes, is enthusiasm, no matter the reason behind it. It’s a familiar lament, but if we could only bottle that enthusiasm and sell it to the old and the tired. Anyone older than 17, in other words.

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Positively Not Going To Be Negative

by Richard

I don’t know where she got this idea, but my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Working, thinks that I, of all people, am a negative person. That is, she thinks I always come down, not on the glass-half-empty side, but on the who-st0le-my-glass-and-polluted-half-of-it-now-I’ve-got-to-thr0w-it-all-out side. Or something like that.

I swear I have no idea why she thinks this. Oh, all right. Maybe it’s from the previous couple of decades we’ve known each other and all the times I’ve focused on the negative. Still, I noticed myself noticing that negative stuff and decided about seven years ago (right after my heart attack, oddly enough) that I was going to be a more positive dude.

Not that I’ve been successful 100 percent of the time, but I’m getting better.

Which brings me to this: I got a marketing e-mail from Sherri Riley, founder and Chief Partnership Strategist of GLUE, Inc. and creator of the Exponential Living program (www.exponentialliving.com) – a ground-breaking initiative that helps individuals create balance among life’s key areas in ways that promote a higher standard of excellence (to quote from her e-mail). Normally I wouldn’t bother you dudes with this, but she was talking about how to remain positive and she had some pretty good points. So I thought I’d share.

1.  Reflect on Positive Past Events — Not a bad idea. When we focus on things that we have already experienced in a positive fashion, we’re more likely to look for those kinds of things in the future. As you think about positive things, you train your brain to more easily spot the positive.

2.  Have a Giving Heart and Spirit — This pretty much speaks for itself, but I’ll go ahead and butt in anyway. Doing the right thing, helping out the helpless. . . That sort of positive action will make us feel good about ourselves and more likely to do something positive again. Remind me to tell you about an amazing action performed by my brother-in-law, the Flying Dutchman.

3.  Happy is a Choice; Contentment and Joy are Lifestyles — She is 100 percent right here, dudes. Seriously. We can’t choose what happens to us in life, but we certainly can choose how we react to it. If we react with panic and fear, our lives will be full of negativity. If we react with calm and thoughtfulness, we can have a positive life. Happiness can be up to you.

4.  Tap Your Inner Courage — Not really sure what she’s going on about here in relation to positivity, but it’s still good advice. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said people should do one thing every day that scares them. She wanted folks to break out of their comfort zone and learn to dare, to find strength in overcoming your fears. That’s good advice for just about anything.

I’m going to skip the fifth one because that’s basically just her going on about her own particular program that she’s pushing. I figure I’ve given her enough publicity for the day.

Although, considering how thoughtful and full of insight I found her e-mail blast, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss her whole exponential living thing. Still, I think I’ll leave that up to you dudes.

See? That was positive. Sort of. Well, at least it wasn’t completely negative. I’m getting better.

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

by Richard

Today (well, today as I write this, but yesterday as you read this) is a rather huge day. Richard E. Jones turns 70 on this day. Wait, you’re saying, but you don’t look a day over 30. (Since I’m guessing what you’re saying, I’m also guessing you think I’m devilishly handsome and very young looking.) That’s true. But, the deal is, my name isn’t original.

I’m the fourth in a line of Richard E. Joneses. It’s my dad, known to most folks as Dickey, who’s reached the big 7-0. Really, I can’t believe it. The man is amazing.

He’s still working, still traveling, still using his “vast storehouse of general knowledge” (and his vast storehouse of specific experience and expertise) to educate others from Florida to Texas to California and country after country over the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. When I was growing up, 70 was old, one foot in the grave and one foot on a bag’s worth of loose marbles. Every year, every day, my dad helps to put the lie to that myth.

He’s a lucky man, really. He’s got a wife who loves him, children who not only still call him on their own initiative, but actually look forward to talking to him, friends and colleagues who like and respect him, a job he loves, and a place he loves even more. I feel like a public relations shill here, saying something he paid me to say, but it’s all true. The man is smart as all get out, the only person I know who can beat me at general-knowledge trivia (though I’m waiting for dementia to really kick in and then I’m going to challenge him to a game of Trivial Pursuit), and more kind and generous than we deserve.

Basically he’s who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve already patterned a lot of my life after him, whether he or I knew it or not. Despite the fact that he was a busy doctor building up his practice and reputation, my dad was either at most of my sports games or coaching me at those same sports. I think we know where I stand on the subject of coaching the young dudes. He always made sure that he did what was right, no matter if someone was watching. He not only encouraged me to hold contrary opinions to his, but he helped me sharpen my debating skills while learning to defend my point of view.

Arguing as a family sport. Who knew?

Not to say that he was a perfect dad when I was growing up. Oh, no. I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve got locked inside my brain, emotional scars too horrible to bring to the light of day, from him letting his freak flag fly when I was a young dude. (What can I say? He was a hippie and proud of it.)

I’ll not go into it now, but, oh, when he’s enfeebled and brain-ially infirm, oh, the stories I’m going to tell.

But that day’s not here now. Or yet. Right now, he’s still a smiling, vibrant patriarch, who loves nothing more than a good sunset, a good meal of Thai food, a good bottle of wine, some good conversation and a nice episode of Jeopardy. Well, what did you expect? He is 70, after all.

Happy birthday, Dad!

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