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Vol. 3 No. 10, October 2011 Copyright 2011 by Wolf
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IN THIS ISSUE
1. EXCITING CPE NEWS
ELECTRONIC SELF-STUDY COURSES
2. NUTRITION NEWS YOU CAN USE
3. HOW TO SAVE UP TO 16% ON CPEs
4. PLANT THE RIGHT SEEDS
Recently one of my coachees lamented about the serious challenges he was having with one of his sons. I shared this story and it seemed to put things in perspective for him. Maybe it will do the same for you.
On December 17, 1975 my wife Marcela, aka Superwoman gave birth to our second child, a perfect, beautiful baby girl. At that joyous moment I never could have imagined the challenges that lay ahead. Although we had another daughter, this one, the one we named Nicole, would ultimately be responsible for 85% of the gray hair on my head. Why? Because Nicole has absolutely no idea what "NO" means. In fact, any time you say "no" to Nicole she replies: "Dad, I obviously have not given you enough information!"
In addition, she has always "pushed the envelope," a phrase I borrowed from Air Force pilots, who use it to describe what they do when they push their planes almost beyond their maximum speed. Undoubtedly, if Nicole were a plane she'd be flying at Mach 4.
As far back as my wife and I can remember, once Nicole had decided to do something, nothing would dissuade her. That posed a unique challenge for me, because I was raised by two stereotypical German parents who wanted their only son to be perfect. That meant that they would always set extremely high standards, which I'm grateful for. It also meant that if I did not measure up to their standards, they would frequently denigrate and humiliate me. And if I did not obey or broke their rules they would not hesitate to resort to physical punishment.
Hence, my special challenge. Research tells us that most of us raise our children the way we were raised, parenting like our parents, perpetuating the cycle of doing to our offspring the things we despised as children. On that chilly winter day, however, I had vowed to "break the cycle." I wanted my daughters to keep reaching higher and higher and I wanted them to succeed. And I wanted to accomplish that without diminishing their self-esteem and self-respect. I also wanted my daughters to internalize that they could do virtually anything they wanted to do, provided they wanted to do it badly enough. Most importantly, I wanted them to know that even if they did not measure up to my standards, they were still "okay."
Nicole's stubbornness, however posed an extra special challenge, especially since it usually applied to things we did not want her to do. Even my parents' old "stand by" - spanking, did not work. Indeed it often made things worse. Nicole became even more resolute which caused me to feel bad. After all, I had promised myself to break the cycle.
So we let the pendulum swing too far the other way. (At least that's what my parents told us repeatedly.) We continued to set very high standards and trusted our daughters until they proved us wrong. (My parents told us we trusted them too much.) We accepted their word, treated them with respect, believed in their abilities, built their self-esteem, and avoided physical punishment.
Many years ago (Nicole was 13) the "envelope" got pushed too far. I was speaking in Boston. Marcela was alone with our two daughters. At bedtime, she went into their rooms kissed them good night, turned off the lights and went to sleep.
At 2:30 a.m. the phone rang. Marcela answered in a sleepy voice: "Hello." The voice said: "Mrs. Rinke!" My wife: "Yeees" "Mrs. Rinke, this is Montgomery General, we have your daughter Nicole here!" My wife suddenly wide awake: "What kind of a prank is this?" (Remember Marcela had tucked Nicole in and kissed her good night.) At the same time she threw down the phone and rushed to Nicole's room, to discover to her horror, that Nicole was gone.
Nicole had snuck out of the house in the middle of an incredibly stormy night to go joy riding with three friends. As we found out later, they attempted to drive from our house in Olney, MD to Baltimore about 40 miles away. The fearsome storm, accompanied by flash floods forced them to turn around and head back to Olney. Since the night was still "young" they decided to hang out and seek shelter at a boy's house that was under construction. It was pouring "cats and dogs"; there were no lights, not even starlight. Everyone rushed into the house to get out of the storm. Who was first? Of course, Nicole, the young lady who always "pushes the envelope."
As they rushed into the house, the others heard Nicole let out a long primordial scream as she disappeared from sight. Everyone slowed down, groped around, but could't find Nicole. Finally, as their eyes began adjusting to the dark, one of them heard moans from the basement. They carefully scaled down the wooden supports to find Nicole in a pool of blood. She had fallen through a large hole in the floor, a hole where the steps were going to be. Falling one story, head first, she had hit the concrete floor full force with her forehead. Everyone saw blood all over Nicole's face, her blouse and pants. No motion. No stirring. No breath. Just blood. Everyone began to panic, except one boy who had enough gumption to run home and get his dad, who took Nicole to Montgomery General.
Nicole's face was badly injured. There was a possibility of kidney and other organ damage, broken bones, sprained muscles. And there was the suspicion of alcohol and worse, the one thing that every parent dreads, maybe even ... drugs. The doctors ran all kinds of tests, took multiple X-rays, conducted every blood test in their arsenal. They worked all night, ruled out organ damage, concluded that nothing seemed broken, stitched up Nicole's face, and made her like new again. Or did they? They did not rule out alcohol, they did not rule out drugs, and they could not patch up the loss of trust between us. Trust that we had planted as a fragile seed. Trust that we had nurtured and cultivated during the past 13 years. Trust that was not given to me when I grew up, no matter how hard I worked to earn it. Trust that I valued virtually more than anything. After all, I didn't want to repeat the cycle. But now the fragile "plant" had been trampled into a thousand little pieces. And no matter what any of us did, wishing would not repair and put it back together again.
We tried anyway. In our own imperfect way, we all tried. But it was incredibly difficult. We began to plant new seeds. We tried to nurture and cultivate them, but found that each seed began to perish just as soon as it began to sprout. Regardless, we persisted and persevered. We kept planting the right seeds, and avoided giving into the temptation of looking the other way, of giving up. Instead we did the "right thing," working hard to rebuild what we had before. We began to renew the trust that seemed to have been lost forever, kept setting high standards, persisted in practicing "strict love," often to the consternation of our daughters, who frequently told us as that we were the "toughest parents anyone ever had." Most importantly, we worked hard not to fall back into the trap of old habits.
Did we succeed? None of us were sure, until five years later, the day Nicole graduated from high school, when she gave me a card that I value more than anything she has ever given me. Why? Because it reminds me that I've broken the cycle, and gives me renewed hope, happiness and pride whenever I read it. Which is frequently, because Nicole has given me permission to share it with my audiences whenever I deliver my motivational keynotes. Now I'd like to share it with you, in the hope that it will encourage you to continue to plant the right seeds:
I thought this time would be a nice time to say thanks. You've helped
me a lot over the years. Although now I'm graduating and moving on to
a new stage in my life I still need all those things you've given me
in the past. I know we've had trouble accepting each other's differences
but, I thank you for attempting to understand, and more importantly
accept me as me. I know sometimes I don't seem very appreciative, but
I am, I think I've really grown to respect you and you've done the same
for me. I want you to know that no matter where I am and how old I get
I still need some of your advice and guidance. I know that sometimes
I screw up, but I am still learning. I also know that it's hard for
you to sit back and watch me screw up, but thanks for trying and respecting
my need for freedom.
P.S. Just a brief update. The same young lady who had difficulty making
it through high school is now as successful environmental lawyer who
recently accepted a teaching position at Harvard.
5. HEAR WOLF "HOWL"--I MEAN SPEAK
Oct 24, 2011 "Increasing Your Personal Effectiveness", Renaissance Woodbridge, Iselin, NJ. This full day seminar may be open to you if your company is a member of the Institute of Management Studies (IMS). Contact Ken Verostick, email@example.com for specifics.
Recommend me to the meeting planner of your upcoming state or local dietetic association and I will help make your next meeting a "howling success." As a way of giving back, I speak to ADA groups at significantly reduced rates.
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