Walk Out or Stand Up?

Depositphotos photography ID: 115252164 Copyright: icrogen

The news headlines were all about the national walk out yesterday. Students in schools cross the nation walked out of school in protest of the latest mass school shooting, urging politicians and other responsible adults to do something about the epidemic of school shootings. Judging by my Facebook feed, most adults supported and even applauded them in expressing their concern to the adults in their world.

It is our responsibility to protect our children. We need to take this seriously and do all that we can to protect them from this very modern danger. It is a modern danger by the way. Never before 1966 was there an indiscriminate mass shooting of students on a school campus in the history of the United States, and indiscriminate mass school shootings have ramped up each decade since then, shooting into the double digits in the 1980’s and beyond. (See A Brief History of Indiscriminate School Shootings in the US.)

As if this trend isn’t disturbing enough, we can see another trend in the age of the perpetrators. From the 1980’s on, the perpetrators have been predominantly teenagers and young twenty somethings. The perpetrators have been as young as middle school age, and they are almost all boys and young men. What is going on with our boys and young men is a question we need to ask and answer. (See The Lost Boys with Guns.)

Meanwhile, I add my voice to the chorus of adults applauding our youth around the country for walking out in a show of unified protest and demand for the adults to make changes that will protect them from future attacks from indiscriminate mass shootings, but it isn’t enough.

Granted, protests are a last resort for people who don’t have the power, or, perhaps, feel they don’t have the power, to effect change directly. It’s an attempt to prick the conscience of the people who do have the power to effect the change that is needed. At least that is the perception.

Go ahead and protest. It raises social consciousness. It demonstrates a necessary urgency. It forces the issue top of mind and demands that we take the issue seriously. But it isn’t enough. Young people have much more power than they might think, but it will take much more effort, sustained effort, and we, as adults, need to help them in every way we can. Their lives may depend on it!

What am I talking about?

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Potential Colored Glasses

IKWF StateStosh Walsh knocked this one out the park in his blog on leadership and marriage, and I think he is on to something. I am now looking to wear “potential colored glasses” all the time!

Actually, I discovered them myself, after many years of fathering and coaching my sons.

Truthfully, I only discovered them after trial and error with my older sons and learned to apply them with my 3rd and 4th sons. I believe I actually helped them to be very successful in their wrestling careers in which they attained a large portion of their potential. (And they are still attaining it.) I discovered “potential covered glasses” coaching, but that is where I left them.

What I did not fully see, and what Stosh has uncovered in his post, is that there is a way to view people and relate to people – especially people who we love and care about – all the time that will bring out the best in them. These glass are not limited to coaching; the principle can be applied to anyone over whom we may have influence: co-workers, employees, kids that we coach, girls scouts and boy scouts, anyone with whom we may some influence in our lives, even friends and neighbors.

Another way to put it is “seeing the best in people”, but I think it is more than that. It is affirming, encouraging, and sometimes challenging, people to live up to potential.

There is a difference between having unrealistic expectations and seeing the potential in others. Unrealistic expectations can be a burden. I am no psychologist, but I imagine that unrealistic expectations have more to do with how I want someone to be than what or who a person actually is. Potential is also not wishful thinking. Potential is grounded in reality.

At the same time, a person who practices seeing potential, focusing on encouragement and building others up, bring out the best in other person. I know this because I have seen it work.

When my 20 year old was a 74 pound 8th grader dreaming of a career in professional baseball, I knew better, but I did not have the heart to discourage him. Instead, I encouraged him in wrestling, where he really had potential and size did not matter.

As an 89 pound freshman, I thought he should hone his wrestling skills with off season competition, but he tried out and made the freshman baseball team. Dreams die hard, and I was not going to be the killer of his dreams, however unlikely. His coach told me he had the best arm and glove in the outfield, but he mostly “rode the pine” because the coach wanted the bigger guys in the lineup who could really drive the ball. Maybe my son had the potential to be a great baseball player, but the coach did not see the potential. My son got discouraged.

I saw a different potential in wrestling and encouraged him in that direction. He had to learn for himself that maybe he was just too small to be the baseball player he wanted to be. With new-found inspiration to focus on wrestling, and with the right doses of encouragement, he qualified for the State tournament as an underweight sophomore (even at the lowest weight class). As a Junior he soared to the State finals in a very competitive weight class crowded with talent, where he came up just short of a State championship! I did not even imagine that his potential could take him to those heights, but I saw potential, encouraged it, and he became a believer in his own potential.

During these growing up years for me (as a parent), I learned kids grow strong with the gentle water of encouragement. Unfortunately, I learned through my errors, that a different approach can have negative results. I am convinced that, if we spend more time affirming and encouraging, and less time criticizing and pointing out faults, that we will have better relationships and better results from our leading, whether we are leading sons and daughters or spouses, employees, little leaguers and whoever might be following our lead.

Sports psychologists talk about the importance of visualization. People teach athletes the technique of visualizing successful performance. In the world of wrestling, which is a sport that is part of the fabric of my life and family, visualization would be used to imagine executing a perfect move, picturing a winning match against a tough opponent, from shot to counter shot, through every move and counter move to the final tick on the clock and getting an arm raised in victory. The ability to visualize success is important to establishing confidence and achieving success.

If visualization of success for one’s self can help you with confidence and actual success, it can work for instilling confidence in others and helping others to achieve success. Maybe even more so! When someone has confidence in me, I am inspired to perform well, if for no other reason than to live up to that confidence.

Stosh focuses on marriage and spouses. I wish that I read his article years ago. It is funny how I have learned so much about being a leader to my kids (again after much trial and error), while I feel that I remain a relative novice being a good husband and leader for my wife. Stosh reminds us that we are all leaders, even if we are leaders to no one other than our spouses and children. In reality, we are all influencers of many more people, beginning with family, and extending to friends, neighbors and others in our daily lives. Our homes are the places to try on the potential colored glasses and get used to wearing them, but those glasses can be worn wherever we go, wherever we mix with people on a regular basis. Imagine a world in which potential colored glasses where the fashionable things to wear!