Archive for April, 2006

April 30, 2006

Are you in an abusive “arrangement” (I cannot use the word relationship when things are so toxic)…

by Rod Smith

No one can abuse you without your cooperation. Put a stop to it today. If you are in danger, do everything it takes to get yourself to safety. Leave your husband if it is necessary. It is better to be safe than dead, free than “abducted” in the name of marriage. There are things more important than marriage – like patience, honor, respect, freedom, goodness and peace. If he says he loves you but you detect none of love’s qualities and you are living in danger and fear, do whatever it takes to secure your safety. If you do not stand up to an abusive person, the abuse will accelerate and patterns establish themselves ever more firmly. Turn around begins within the heart and a good place to start is with a few simple but difficult decisions.


April 30, 2006

Love, because you are human

by Rod Smith

It is in us to love. It’s human. We have the capacity for it. Even hurt and rejected people can love. Once a person accepts that love has more than romantic connotations, as powerful and valid as these of course are, he or she will be able to see its broader power.

Love is unleashed through simple, but not easy, human acts of seeking the highest good both for oneself and for others. Acts of offering unearned forgiveness, of reaching out to the estranged, of welcoming a stranger, of letting go of all prejudice, of rejecting dishonesty – all begin within the individual human heart.

When a person intentionally facilitates others toward finding and enjoying and exercising the full range of their humanity, he or she will know and see and experience the powerhouse love is.

Even people with reason to reject others, having themselves been rejected or treated inhumanely, have it in them to love, if they dare to muster the courage for it. It comes quite naturally to the courageous person, and when it is unleashed, the purposes and the meaning of life surge into the heart of all who have the courage to hear and respond to its powerful call.

April 28, 2006

Child with needs: what can we do?

by Rod Smith

Reader Query: Our son is 7 and the youngest of two. He is going through a terrible patch of feeling unheard, unloved and unequal. He is very intelligent and confident which is extremely over-powering. His demands cannot be met because he has overstepped all his boundaries. He has a heart of gold and a soft inner personality but his outer appearance is tough and strong. He is crying out for help and so are we, especially me, his mother with whom he feels he can just be himself and it gets very out of control. I find myself trying to escape him, which torments me because my two boys are MY LIFE. My husband says he needs to know where he stands, find where he belongs in life, and, once his confidence is up again, he will excel because he has leadership qualities! The boy has just overcome shingles and was very ill. I am certain it was due to stress, although I could be wrong. Please help. (Letter edited)

Rod’s Reply: I found your letter moving. Please seek face-to-face help with a pediatrician. Consider a personal journey to a place where your children are part of, but not YOUR LIFE. Some space between you and the boys might benefit everyone in the family.

April 27, 2006

Some thoughts on Leadership

by Rod Smith

Great leaders are a rare find. Power-trip “leaders,” martyrs as “leaders” self-pitying “leaders” and manipulative “leaders” are plentiful; they run countries and cities and teams all over the place but great leaders are like an endangered unprotected species. It’s unusual to find them running anything at all.

I had a high school teacher who perfected the art of great leadership, and I saw it at work recently in a well-known coach. Although I am not always certain, I have read about a few mayors who apparently have a clear grasp of it. But the scarcity is understandable. Inevitably, authentic leadership will be opposed, resisted, often rejected and even put to death. It unwittingly unsettles every complacent trace within us, and, once we enter its influence, it challenges our laziness and seems to expect that we deliver our best. For these reasons such leadership is often unwelcome.

In the face of great leadership we have only a few choices: we can rebel, run, sabotage or enjoy the challenge of discovering, facing and sometimes realizing our potential.

Authentic leadership has nothing to do with money. In fact, besides the basketball coach I mentioned, every one whom I know who “gets it” regarding leadership would be considered poor were the measure money. Leadership is not about power or getting people to do or be anything. It is not about being obeyed or honored. It is an acknowledgment of the potential in others, respecting their freedom, believing in their ability to prevail over the difficulties they face. The authentic leader, if you will forgive the jumbled metaphors, “clears the deck” so others can “dance to their own drum” and make music and movement beyond the leader’s design. Authentic leadership is about trust of self and of others. Here are some ways to identify authentic leaders:

1. They know leadership and relationship are inseparable.

2. Leading others does not mean over-powering others.

3. They develop a good self-knowledge knowing they will unwittingly take out their frustrations on others.

4. They know and understand that craving or enjoying power diminishes it while empowering others benefits everyone.

5. They appreciate the power and the influence they have and treat their role very respectfully.

6. They encourage adventure.

7. They discourage safe options.

8. They know that the value of all people and their ability to perform tasks or deliver services is not related.

9. They understand the importance of their own character development.

10. They know that the manner in which something is done is more important than the result achieved.

11. They know that leading is a role not an identity and are ready to be led by others who might be better equipped at a task or project.

12. They know how to apologize.

13. They never intimidate, dominate or manipulate others.

14. They know that no one is perfectly good and no one is perfectly bad.

15. They have little interest in the symbols of success because they know their seductive powers and have seen right through their shallow promise.

April 27, 2006

To Middle School people: clothing and how to dress

by Rod Smith

Wear clothes that fit you. If you consider dressing like a good-for-nothing fashionable, do so when you can afford it. Dress very well when interviewing for a job or meeting your grandmother. Remove all body “art” when you are with your teachers, former teachers, parents and grandparents. Don’t get a tattoo. If you have to “express yourself” do it through words on a page or with paint on a canvas.

Boys – don’t “sag.” Your underwear protruding above your pants is most uninteresting. Pull your pants up to your waist. Wear a belt sufficiently tightened to hold your pants above your waist. Wash and comb your hair a lot.

Girls -don’t buy into the typical youth leader’s thinking that suggests that what you wear, as a young women, leads young men to “fall.” Young men have been “falling” for centuries. Some would “fall” if you traipsed around in a zipped canvas bag. The carnal cravings of males have nothing to do with you or your clothing. Nevertheless, be modest. It is wiser than being immodest. Brittany Whomever is not worthy of your imitation. A cursory glance at her résumé (and those of her ilk) will make this clear. Hopefully your ambitions far exceed her achievements.

April 24, 2006

Victim-speak from “love” sick woman…

by Rod Smith

My boyfriend has broken up with me but I can’t get him out of my mind. I still love him. He is with a friend of mine but he still sees me on the side when she is at work. It hurts me that he cheated on me with her. Now I am glad he is cheating with me on her. He flirts with me by sending me text messages and says he misses me. We get together when she is working and then after we’ve been together about an hour of two, I don’t hear from him for about two weeks. He has a way with women that everyone he has been with still knows and likes him. He brags he can get back with any of his old girlfriends. What should I do? (Letter edited)

This toxic entanglement reveals such selfishness and immaturity on the part of each participant that only severe cut-off from all these “relationships” on the reader’s part might give her sufficient room for insight and growth.

Pain is a wonderful motivator, and there does not appear, at present, to be enough of it to move this toxic bind to greater health.

April 23, 2006

Questions to ask a SAFE boss……

by Rod Smith

1. Am I worth the money you pay me?
2. Am I fulfilling the purposes for which I am hired?
3. Where do I need to grow?
4. Do I have habits / practices that annoy / frustrate you?
5. Do I have habits that detract from my work performance or diminish the culture of the workplace?
6. Am I a good team player?
7. How can I improve as a team player?
8. What would you like me to do more or always?
9. What would you like me to do less or never?
10. What would you like me to do that you have seldom or not seen me do?
11. What do you most value about any employee?
12. What is it that you most value about me?
13. What do you think are my work-related strengths?
14. Given your experience of me, would you employ me again?
15. Where and how would you like me to be more accountable to you or to anyone else?
16. How do I get more responsibility within this organization, and, therefore, also earn more money?
17. Do you think there might place within this organization or outside of it where I might be better suited as an employee?
18. Could we devise a specific set of measurable goals you’d like me to achieve in the next 6 months?

April 23, 2006

Wisdom found from seeking advice from others

by Rod Smith

“I just read your column in The Mercury, Friday, April 21, 2006. How right you are to advise the lady to consult with her wise and long-term friends (regarding the sale and moving from her home). We have just sold our lovely family home after 28 years. We are down sizing and it is indeed a most stressful time. However, we are blessed to have each other to see ourselves through this time while trying to find a smaller secure ‘lock-up-and-go’ place to stay. We could not agree with you more. Now is the time for the lady to consult with trusted, long-term friends. We certainly value the advice and friendship we are receiving right now from such special friends. I dedicate your brief article to good, faithful friends worldwide.”

Wisdom can be the result when a community of friends put their heads together, shelve their personal ambitions, and seek to assist each other. My only hope is the reader has such a community and that her feelings of isolation are not exacerbated by my suggestions!

April 19, 2006

A person who loves you…….

by Rod Smith

1. Does not intentionally embarrass you in private or in public by what he/she says or does. Partners sometimes use scornful humor and cutting sarcasm in private and in public. Love does all it can to avoid such behavior. (Parents who intentionally embarrass their children may well love their children, but their behavior is not loving).
2. Listens attentively to what you have to say to others even if he/she has heard what you are saying many times.
3. Stands up for you when you are right and stands up to you when you are not.
4. Will refuse to be a pushover within the relationship.
5. Does not offer you unquestioned support no matter what you want to do. Unquestioned support comes, arises not from love, but from idiocy. Blind support is no sign of love, not even in a marriage.
6. Is not afraid to ask tough questions. He/she who knows he/she is loved will welcome tough questions.
7. Does not try to cut you off from your community, monitor what you read or to whom you talk.
8. Does not tell you how to dress, speak, think or feel.
9. Gives you regular uninterrupted, eye-to-eye contact time in order to hear what is occurring in your life and about what is important to you and to similarly reflect about his/her life. This means time without television, radio, music, and cellular phones, pagers, computers, Email, or children invading the holy territory between you.
10. Regards your shared private life with absolute and undiluted respect.

April 18, 2006

He is driving me crazy (with his jealousy)

by Rod Smith

He is driving me crazy! He goes through my mail. He scrolls the computer to see the websites I visit. I run a daycare. He accuses me of doing stuff with every dad, grandpa, uncle. I have never cheated but I feel as though I am being treated worse than if had. My daughter is 3 and he is like a step dad and has been there all her life. I am afraid if I leave him she will never get to see him and if she does he will tell her dad to start problems. He even has his mom and dad look down at our house to be sure nobody is here. Please write something about what I can do. (Letter edited)

Jealousy is a virus and he is riddled with it. His jealousy has NOTHING to do with you or your behavior. Is this the kind of man you want showing your daughter what men are like? I would hope not! Behave as you would hope your daughter would behave were she to one day find herself in a similar situation. Focus on your behavior and not on his! Unless you get yourself free, things will only get worse.