I was rereading Harry Potter: the Order of the Phoenix recently when a scene made an impression on me in a way that it hadn’t before. It was the scene where Harry was able to see Snape’s memories of getting humiliated by Harry’s father and god-father when they were fifteen year olds in school. In the story the scene impacted Harry profoundly. It made him question his unwavering faith in the goodness of his idols and better understand Snape’s experience.
This reached me in a new way because I’ve become a father of my own little boy since the last time that I read the book. I thought about what Sebastian might see if he could view my life as a fifteen year old in school. What if the scene was of my worst moment from the viewpoint of someone who had reason to hate me? That’s an ugly little thought isn’t it? The problems surrounding me as a teenager were as numerous as the stars in the sky on a country night. I can scarcely remember a moment that I could point to and use an example of the life I want him to experience.
Frankly, it didn’t get much better over time. Littered throughout the first 25 years of my life are situations and examples that I don’t want my son to have to deal with. It’s interesting how far removed Sebastian will be from that. He was born when I was 36, 11 years after I started making significant strides towards maturity. The confident and capable person that he will experience as I raise him shares very little in common with the person I was before growing up.
That’s what got me thinking. I know I’m not the only one with a past that I’m not proud of that is working towards much better future. But how does that impact our kids? Most of us don’t want to talk much about our embarrassing pasts, least of all to the child that we want looking up to us as they grow older. But maybe that’s just what they need. I feel that quite a lot of the angst and anger that seems to come naturally from the teenage years has its roots in feeling misunderstood and frustrated. How much more meaningful would our advice be if our kids understood where we are really coming from. If they see that we have actually walked down these paths before and have meaningful advice for them based on experience. It’s very difficult for a teen to receive that advice from a boring old parent who doesn’t know what it’s like to go through the things that they are going through. I wager that it’s much easier for them to receive if its coming from a parent who can show that they empathize based on experience.
As I work on being the father that I want to be I hope that this lesson stays with me. There will come a point when he’s 15 and I’m 51 and he will be engaging in behavior that I dislike. I hope that I can still relate to my past and relay my experiences at that point into a meaningful tapestry of experience that he can relate to even if he doesn’t agree with what I’m saying.
My life changed forever about 9 years ago. I can’t remember the specific day or even the time of year but I remember the moment. If my life was a lever this moment would be the fulcrum. It’s the moment that I let go of myself and decided to trust Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in detail before and I want to take some time with it today.
The only person with me at the time was my girlfriend Edith. This was before we got married. We were alone in the old apartment that I used to share with my brother Bob on Touchton road. It wasn’t uncommon for Edith and me to spend our time there. I can remember many Friday nights spent there together drinking homemade margaritas and playing darts on our twenty dollar Walmart dartboard or playing Tetris on goofy little game system that we could plug into the TV. Those were some of the best times of my life.
This was the year that I finished losing weight. I was 29 years old, 245 pounds, in good shape and I was happy. I remember that clearly. It was the first time in my life that I was really happy. This was a huge change for me, it was a revelation. I’m embarrassed by who I was before this period in my life. I was very angry. In my anger I rejected God. I knew who he was. I had been saved long before this and I had experienced his love clearly during the period when I was just leaving my teenage years.
Things changed for me though. Events happened that hurt me in fresh new ways that seemed at the time to be indescribably cruel. It felt like I had found a port after coming through a horrible storm only to have it ripped away from me again, leaving me in shock and defenseless against the pain. It was as if I had let down my defenses just to be attacked and defeated anew. This period of anguish peaked with my 21st birthday. I remember it clearly. I had moved back in to my father’s house after I left college before graduating and I was working my first serious job trying to earn enough money to move out. I remember that evening, I spent it utterly alone. I remember breaking down and bawling as I sat on my bed in the dark talking to my mother and telling her how lonely I was. Read the rest of this entry
Age is a powerful thing. We can’t refute many of the things that come with it. Wrinkles, hunched backs and lack of sleep come to mind. Wisdom is another thing that people believe is correlated with age. I think this is debatable. We’ve all seen too many well aged people who are just as foolish in their old age as they were in their youth. That alone shows that age doesn’t automatically beget wisdom. On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore how reckless and immature young people have been for generation upon generation.
This leaves us with a question to answer. What is it about age that leads to wisdom in the first place? And why does it seem to work for some people so dramatically while leaving others virtually unchanged?
If you’ve been reading my material long enough then you have probably learned that I was amazingly immature in my own youth. I used to lash out at people due to my insecurities. I wrote bad checks (frequently) because it was easier than trying to manage my limited funds. When I started my career at Blue Cross I would stop working halfway through the workday because I had already done enough work to get credit for the day. Do you get the picture? I had no claim to wisdom of any sort, I was terrible. Read the rest of this entry
Displacements are an ugly fact of life in the world of big business. Sometimes they occur because the company has become more efficient or automated a process and rendered some jobs unnecessary. Sometimes it happens because organizations are realigned and redundancy is identified and eliminated. Sometimes it happens simply because the company needs to spend less money to improve their bottom line.
These situations can be unfortunate. Sometimes very good people are caught up in the backdraft and don’t have a chance to save themselves. In many, if not most, cases the people being displaced would have held down their job for years performing at an average level. These are typically not people who would ever be fired; they aren’t bad enough for that.
As a result, this is a very touchy subject. When someone is displaced they do not want to believe that it’s anything they could have prevented. It feels better to believe that they just got caught up in a numbers game. We disagree with that way of thinking here at Bootstraps. Here we believe in growth, we believe in self-development. It’s a harder road, but it is the road to success and the road to fulfillment. The path down this road starts with a simple decision. It’s the decision to take personal responsibility, to be accountable. That means that we look at the good and the bad in life and try to see what we can learn from it. What could we have done differently? What could we have done better that would have led to a different outcome?
The truth is that you have a significant amount of control over whether or not you are displaced. Keep reading and you’ll find 3 things that you can do immediately to increase your chances to staying employed. Before we get there, you may wonder why I believe that we have more control than we think. Read the rest of this entry
I had the awesome opportunity to give a presentation on teamwork to one of my customer groups this week. I was absolutely thrilled. It gave me the chance to share the type of material that I’ve been writing about with a live audience for the first time. The speech was 20 minutes long and I’ve cut it into 3 parts for easy viewing. I’m very proud of this one, hope you enjoy. Read the rest of this entry