June 2016


Happy Father’s Day in the USAI gratefully acknowledge everyone who is a father or who acts as a role model/mentor for someone else. The influence of a strong, positive role model is a priceless gift in a young child’s life.

I was originally planning to take this week off from writing the blog, to give me time to celebrate my birthday on the 23rd and prepare for a trip to Oregon with my wonderful husband Rick for a Parker family reunion over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. The last time my brother’s family and I were all together was about 10 years ago for my Mom’s memorial celebration and I am very much looking forward to spending time with my brother and sister-in-law and my many nieces, nephews and great nieces and great nephews!

But since today is Father’s Day, I decided to re-post my 2015 tribute to fathers everywhere and share with my many new readers the important life lessons that my own wonderful father taught me.

 “Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got.  Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” – Maya Angelou

This quote from the late, great writer and poet, Maya Angelou, perfectly describes the way my Dad lived his life.  Although his years on earth were far too short, he lived each of them with maximum gusto and I am quite sure he had no regrets when he died suddenly at age 57, right at the beginning of my senior year of High School.

My Mom was my source of unconditional love, whatever minor discipline I needed, and the usual “always wear clean underwear for the ambulance” practical advice. My Dad was my Playmate, Teacher, Walking Thesaurus/Dictionary/Encyclopedia, and my #1 Role Model.  I don’t remember him talking to me directly about rules to live by. Instead, he just lived his life on his own terms and I learned how I wanted to live mine by observing how he did it.

Here are the key guidelines for abundant living that I got from observing the happiness and fulfillment my Dad derived from living by them himself:

  • Be happy – Other than the day President Kennedy was assassinated, when I saw  him cry for the first time, Dad was invariably optimistic, cheerful and humorous. He loved to laugh at and tell jokes (especially bad puns), watched all the 60s comedy TV shows with me, and could find the hidden humor or irony in any problem. From him, I decided that hanging out with happy, positive people is the only way to go!  While I got my inclination to worry from my mother, I got my sense of humor from my father.  Guess which trait has helped me more in life?
  • Be curious – My Dad was the most insatiable life-long learner I’ve ever known. He never passed a used bookstore without buying something.  He left behind boxes of notebooks and reading materials on everything from Elizabethan poetry to paranormal science.  It’s too bad he didn’t live into the Internet Age because he would have spent hours Googling everything.  He taught me how great it could be to know a little bit about a lot of things (which led a High School English teacher to dub me a “Renaissance Woman”). Dad never pontificated about his own views, but sought to learn from others’ opinions. His attitude set me up for career success because coaching requires more listening than talking, being curious instead of judgmental, and having a wide variety of resources at my fingertips to support my clients’ needs.
  • Be creative – My Dad was one of the most creative problem-solvers I’ve ever known. He was an amateur inventor who came up with what he believed was a breakthrough system for teaching reading that was better than phonics. Unfortunately, he died before he got to finish it. He taught me to stretch my imagination and ingenuity with his creative inventions, like a teeter-totter I could play on all by myself, consisting of a long board balanced on an old oil drum and weighted on the other side with bricks that were equal to my weight. (This was in the days before “helicopter parenting” and Cal OSHA, you understand.)
  • Be of service – By Dad’s example, I learned that while life can be enjoyable when we meet our own needs, it can be truly fulfilling only when we help others meet theirs.   He voluntarily gave up a lucrative professorship at the University of California to teach at a community college where he felt he made a bigger difference teaching remedial English to working adults striving to improve their lives. Dad took a personal interest in Mrs. Edwards, an elderly woman in his night school class who wanted to improve her English. One day he hitched a trailer to our station wagon and filled it with boxes of hand me down clothes and a used refrigerator. Then my parents, Mrs. Edwards and I drove from Orange County,CA to Tecate, Mexico to give her extended family these precious gifts.  I was just eight, but I still remember what their dirt-floored, one-room adobe home smelled like and all the flies buzzing about. I am certain those strangers never forgot my Dad’s generosity.

Looking back, our relationship reminds me a lot of the bond between Atticus Finch and his young daughter, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Like Atticus, my Dad was older when I was born, so we didn’t do much physical play together; our father-daughter bond was more spiritual and mental. And luckily for me, like Atticus, my father demonstrated by his daily life exactly how to be self-confident and stand up for one’s principles, while remaining respectful of the different abilities, lifestyles and opinions of others.

In short, Prof. Harbison Parker was my #1 Role Model for how to “love life, engage in it and give it all you’ve got.” And I feel extremely blessed to be his daughter.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog will be taking the next TWO Sundays off.  A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday, July 10.  In the meantime, I wish my readers in the USA a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

 

 

“Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.” – James Mann

Last week’s blog (“Light Their Fire” #235) garnered more response than almost any other.   Many of my readers told me they forwarded it to other individuals and groups. It contained a powerful message about the difference that teachers – and really ALL of us – can make in the life of someone else, just by seeing through their current lackluster or upsetting behavior and seeing the greatness that lies within each of us – the special gift, as one teacher put it, that we each open at different times in our lives.

I’m sure you, too, can name at least one person who was instrumental in helping you to discover your special passion and talent through their belief in you. Often, that person was a teacher.  This is the perfect time of year to thank a teacher for their service.  Older children spend more waking hours at school than they do with their parents, and their teachers have a tremendous influence on them.

In addition to teaching their subjects, teachers are called upon to help their students learn to reason, form intelligent opinions, respect others’ opinions that differ from theirs, and learn that their words and actions have an impact on others — for good and for bad. And teachers are expected to do it all with infinite patience, grace and energy!  They absolutely deserve all the appreciation, support and acknowledgment we can shower upon them.

It’s sometimes quite challenging to see the greatness in one who is misbehaving, acting out, pouting, crying, blaming others, or refusing to do what they know they should do.  These behaviors aren’t limited to the young, of course. At times, we ALL say and do things we wish we hadn’t.

This week, I witnessed an adult behaving very badly. As I entered the grocery store, a disheveled-looking woman riding an adult scooter was exiting the checkout line empty-handed. I could tell by her unkempt appearance that she was probably living in less than ideal conditions. The woman was extremely angry, shouting at the clerk that she was going to call the head of the grocery chain and report him.  There were children present and she yelled a number of profanities you would not have wanted your children to hear, believe me.

As I passed by her, I was tempted to frown at her and judge her for being rude to someone who was undoubtedly just doing their job, plus being so crude and uncaring about the impact she was having on everyone around her.  But with the last blog clear in my mind, I reminded myself that I needed to focus on seeing her “greatness” instead of her behavior. I honestly couldn’t see it at that moment, but I did at least do my best not to judge her. Instead, I sent up a silent prayer on her behalf, asking God to richly bless her with love, health and prosperity.

As I left the store moments later, I passed a clerk talking to a woman who was wearing some type of name badge.  She was calmly explaining to the clerk that the angry woman was “self-medicating” because she couldn’t afford her meds. Suddenly, I saw the truth and felt such compassion for her and relief that I didn’t let myself judge her.  The signs were all there that she had some sort of mental or emotional issue and was doing the best she could with what she had in her life at the moment.  Whatever frustrated her,  she lacked the tools to cope with and so acted out.  It was a dramatic reminder that we can’t know what is REALLY going on in someone else’s life and that we must not judge them if we want to help them.

Later that day, my spirits were lifted during a coaching session with a client who is an elementary school teacher.  She said the last blog made a big impression on her about teachers having a life-changing influence on their students by recognizing and nurturing their gifts. That awareness caused her to handle a tough classroom situation differently than she otherwise might have.

In a class designed for students learning English as a second language, one boy had been acting out all year, refusing to do his assignments and disrupting the class so the other students had trouble concentrating.  On this day, when he complained that he didn’t understand the assignment, she decided to try a new approach.

While the other students were absorbed with their assignments, she sat down next to him.  “I wanted to be at his level, not towering over him like an authority figure,” she explained. “I spoke to him quietly and calmly and he began to calm down, too. I told him we would work on the question sheet together.  I didn’t give him the answers, but I guided him and he began to understand it.”

Soon, he had finished almost the entire assignment in one period, which was not the norm.  With just one question left, he began to get ready to leave.  But she encouraged him with, “We still have four minutes. Why don’t you see if you can finish it?  I know you can do it!” 

And he did. “He was beaming,” she told me. “He practically danced up to my desk to put it in the in-basket for one of the first times this year.  He proved to himself that he IS smart, and he was so proud.”

My prediction is that years from now, that boy will still remember how his teacher saw his greatness and believed in him.  That seemingly ordinary day may well mark the moment when he began to open his own special gift.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session. 

“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson

I had an extraordinary experience this past week, attending the annual “Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” at my alma mater, Newport Harbor High School. (Go, Sailors!)

The purpose of this annual ceremony is to honor past graduates and faculty members of the renowned secondary school (founded in 1930) who have found outstanding success in their own lives and made a big difference in the lives of others.  A few of the honorees were deceased or incapacitated, and were represented by family members who spoke for and about them.

All of them are amazing citizens, leaders and teachers who have made a profound and lasting impact in a variety of fields.  The graduate honorees included two respected actors (Stuart Cooper and Ted McGinley), Greg Laurie, pastor and founder of one of the largest Christian churches in the USA, David Thompson, a respected California Court of Appeals Judge, Dr. Sandi Smith, a lauded Communications Professor at Michigan State, Marshall Duffield, inventor of the beloved little “Duffy” electric boats that now number 14,000 and counting, and Dr. Mahlon DeLong, a noted scientist whose work has bettered the lives of thousands of people suffering from neurological diseases. The latter couldn’t be with us that night because he was giving a lecture at the Harvard Medical School!

The theme that was consistently repeated by all of these accomplished, humble and witty honorees was this: Most were lucky to be called “mediocre” during their high school years.   None of them imagined they were destined for greatness.  The spark that took hold inside of them and enabled them to excel was lit when one of their teachers focused attention on them and expressed belief in them, even when they didn’t yet believe in themselves.

This stayed with me as I finished my coaching week, listening to a number of my clients complain about their family members, team members and friends not behaving the way they wanted them to – in other words, “under-performing” according to their standards.

What if, I wondered, instead of focusing on their shortcomings, my clients focused on their potential for greatness, just as the wise faculty members had focused on these honorees’ potential, even when the honorees themselves were behaving in less than stellar ways and had no clue as to the spark of greatness that lay within them?

One of my clients lamented in a text that “[My teammate] will take zero coaching/help/suggestions from me.” Meaning, I guess, that her teammate wouldn’t do what SHE wanted her to do in the way SHE wanted it done.  My client said she felt exhausted and overwhelmed with the responsibility for her growing team, and just wanted them to step up and “be Leaders.”  But her message suggested that she wasn’t really viewing them as “Leaders” who could be trusted to lead, but more like “staff” who needed to be supervised and told what to do.

Contrast her approach of trying to push someone to be their BEST with the way the late Robert Wentz, a noted actor and Newport Harbor High’s revered longtime drama teacher, chose to gently inspire someone in whom he recognized potential greatness.  Popular TV and movie actor Ted McGinley (Class of ‘76), shared how Mr. Wentz craftily lured him into taking his first taste of acting.

Mr. Wentz had asked him to try out many times, but being a “jock,” Ted thought that acting in school plays would make him a laughingstock with his teammates, and adamantly refused.  So one day, just before English class, Mr. Wentz pulled Ted aside and told him, “Here’s what we’re going to do.  I am going to pretend to bate you and disrespect you. You are going to pretend to get angry. We’re going to have a heated argument in front of the class. Then you are going to storm out of the room.  Make it real. Ok, let’s go.”

Not having a clue what it was all about, but wanting to please the teacher he loved and respected, Ted did as instructed.  A convincing mock fight ensued and Ted gave it his all to make it “real.” Finally, he stormed out of the room and waited outside. Through the door, he heard Mr. Wentz tell the stunned class to write an essay about what they had just witnessed.  “And I didn’t have to write one! I was hooked on acting from that moment,” Ted laughed.

That small incident changed the course of Ted’s life and gave millions of viewers (including me) of hit TV shows like Happy Days, Married with Children, The West Wing, and Mad Men, as well as many movies, the pleasure of watching him do what he loves for a living.

Who do YOU know who is not performing up to their capability?  Who has untapped potential for greatness that YOU can see?

What are you doing about it? Are you nagging them, criticizing them and letting them know they are falling short of YOUR expectations? Or are you encouraging them with, “I see greatness in you.  I believe in you!”

Psychological studies have proven time and again that people usually live up to or down to our expectations of them.  We have to EXPECT THE BEST if we want them to be able to bring out the best in themselves.

One graduate honoree shared a memorable quote from a favorite teacher: “Everyone on earth has a gift. They just open their gifts at different times.” 

Be patient. Hang in there with them as they struggle to find their footing. Help them pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have a defeat. Cheer them on when they have a small victory.  Allow them to build a fire from within and share their special gift with the world whenever they are ready. Then stand back and prepare to be amazed!

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.