Archive for September, 2019

September 20, 2019

Friday formula

by Rod Smith

Greet all people with a smile, even if you’re faking it. It’s not insincerity. It’s being polite. It’s refusing to infect others with your inner discontent. Get rid of your discontent in private, when you’re alone.

Be as clear as possible with plans and expectations so possible hurdles and misunderstandings are minimized. Most people like straightforwardness and honesty more than they like complex surprises that could have easily been avoided. Clarity now usually means fewer confusions later. Try it.

Talk less. Listen more. Ask questions that assist others to talk more. Promote other people’s dreams and desires. Move away from shifting every conversation to focus on you and your interests. Other people are very interesting, perhaps even more interesting than you may be.

Do simple things to lessen the load of others. Open doors, stand back, pick up after yourself, and say “please” and “thank you” a lot. Assume a servant attitude no matter how important you or others may think you are.

Work at being the most generous, forgiving, and kind person you’ve ever encountered and you’ll be amazed at how many generous, forgiving, and kind people you will repeatedly encounter.

September 15, 2019

How to spoil a child

by Rod Smith

How to spoil a child:

  • Run interference for your child as much as possible and so reduce all possibilities that your child may learn that actions and inaction have natural consequences. 
  • Get in the face of every teacher, coach, referee your child ever encounters (and do it as soon as possible) so your child and all officials know who is really in charge. 
  • Give your child the impression that teachers, coaches, school authorities, even the police are all idiots so they will always feel above the rules and the law.
  • Ignore common civility so your child will learn to behave similarly.
  • Praise your child excessively – and suggest others do the same – especially where little or no skill, talent, or meeting a challenge is necessary so the pain of having to learn something new or difficult may be delayed, even avoided.
  • Blame the teacher or the school if your child doesn’t do homework. Belittle the way it’s assigned, it’s timing, the lack of access to resources and its relevance – but never, never suggest the child’s homework is the child’s responsibility. 
  • Do your very best to live as though every discomfort in your life is someone or something else’s fault so that your child may project blame as much as you do.
September 12, 2019

Is it love?

by Rod Smith

When asked to officiate a marriage I ask couples to assess their shared experience and to use these points for discussion:

  • You find it easy, or it seems natural, to include many of your long-lasting friendships in your shared activities and find no feelings of control, jealously, or possessiveness within you.
  • You are each more yourself than ever; there are no eggshells to tiptoe around, no topics to avoid, no lies to continually conceal, no facades to perpetuate.
  • You maintain a distinct life of your own while simultaneously becoming closer to each other.
  • You enjoy working through issues that arise, even if the journey is painful, because the process brings you closer to each other and you have the sense of accomplishing something that is important for the future.
  • You enjoy sharing hard earned resources with each other without the thought that you are giving up something or wasting anything.
  • You have talks about faith, finances, career options, and have discussed the hurdles and complexities that accompany such matters.
  • You have fun together and are not preoccupied with the state of your relationship.
  • You speak highly and respectfully about each other always and to all – no exceptions; and you readily affirm each other both privately and in public.
  • You have met each other’s immediate and extended family and are both doing can to embrace and understand how they view life and live life.
  • You’re getting used to each other and life feels better as you think about a future together.
  • You can hardly wait for each new day so that you may embrace the possibilities each new day offers.
  • You are committed to seeking each other’s highest good, no matter what.
September 11, 2019

Crisis in masculinity?

by Rod Smith

Perhaps authentic masculinity is misunderstood.

Reading multiple, glaring and blaring cultural messages a young man may easily think a “real” man is measured in sports abilities, in physical strength, or in demonstrating a lack of empathy. He may think it’s the refusal to reveal “soft” emotions, or to cry, or he may believe masculinity is related to levels of alcohol consumption, the ability to impress women, deceive his parents, or defy authority.

I’d suggest “real” masculinity is reflected willingness and capacity to live by and speak the truth. It’s expressed when a boy requests respected people to help him with his blind spots so he may increase his awareness of how his life impacts others.

It’s the willingness to forgive others and to seek forgiveness from those he has wronged. It’s to learn from past errors. It’s to desire authentic humility and to seek opportunities to serve others.

Masculinity is values-driven, not peer or pressure driven.

Masculinity protects the weak, the helpless, and speaks up for the underdog. It seeks the highest good of all others, female and male.

Masculinity wins without gloating and loses without blaming.

It’s to learn to love art, reading, and writing.

It’s to appreciate the difference between legitimate and illegitimate authority.

It’s to find a voice and to use it wisely.

It’s to enjoy and communicate with parents.

It’s to love and develop skills and talents so that all may benefit.

September 9, 2019

The power of grief

by Rod Smith

The power of grief should never be downplayed or underestimated. Severe loss can leave a person in a state of shock for years and he or she may never recover if recovery means returning to the way things were before the loss. 

  • It is unwise to suggest a person move on, get over it, or has had enough time to grieve.
  • Listening is useful and helpful and can provide tremendous support even if very few words are exchanged.
  • Time passed does not mean grief diminished. A loss endured years ago can seem to rise up out of nowhere and hit a person afresh as the event just occurred. It is as if grief is time-locked, living within the griever, and has a life and power of its own. 
  • A person who has grieved for years is probably an expert at understanding the grief process. Understanding does not mean the griever is on top of it. Insight and understanding do not equate to completion or the diminishing of the power of loss. 
  • Attempts at logic do not usually provide comfort. Grief escapes and logic.
  • The “experienced” griever (who wants that title?) will often develop the ability to detect inner-rhythms of grief and know which days will be better than others.
September 7, 2019

My inner victim!

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Monday

Questions to quell the inner-victim….

There’s something very powerful about asking myself questions. The process puts me in my place. It quells the budding victim in me, especially when I face difficult circumstances or mistakenly think I’m not being sufficiently honored.

These nine live up my sleeve:

• How can I grow (up) from this? Immaturity is at the heart of victim thinking – at least for me (perhaps it’s also true for you).

• Where do I need to give up a desire to control others or an outcome? Coming face-to-face with my finiteness is occasionally annoying.

• What is (or was) my role in getting myself into this? I’m the common factor in everything I face.

• In a decade or so what about this will I remember? Importance drains with time the more trivial the issue.

• How important is this? Is this worth the energy already spent and are you ok with dishing out even more?

• Am I blaming anyone for anything? Other people are almost always NOT the problem.

• Is there anyone I have failed or refused to forgive? Transference and projection are victim breakfast.

• What is the brutal truth? Come on, you know it.

• What will it take to keep my integrity in tact and for as many people as possible to benefit from this circumstance? Sometimes you have to look over the horizon.

Answering such questions, as tough as they may be, helps me avoid becoming a victim, thinking like one, or turning others into my victims.

They remind me that I am responsible for my life.

When the voice of the closet victim tries to assert itself, these questions shut it down, so the grown, and growing man within me can act, and do what a thinking and responsible man has to do.


September 5, 2019

Maxims…… water-cooler chats

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Friday

Maxims …. for Friday water-cooler chat (do people still do that?)

I sat down with a friend last evening to discuss a few maxims worth inculcating:

• Nobody is all good and very few are all bad. The best of humanity are tarnished; the worst possess redeeming qualities.

• Make no heroes, and take no victims; fear nobody, fawn over nobody.

• Stand on your own two feet without pushing anyone else over. (O’Steven Reynolds)

• If you skating on thin ice you may as well dance.

• There are no knights in shining armor unless you sharpen your own sword, so stop behaving like a damsel in distress.

• Quick fixes lead to deeper problems than the original problem you tried to fix.

• All growth requires some loss.

• Always say goodbye well.

• Avoid the F-word unless you know what it means (it’s an acronym) and your intentions reflect the original meaning.

• Nobody needs to curse or swear. There are always better, less harmful ways to deal with the poison in your heart.

• You are part of the problem or part of the solution. Choose. (Dean Sherman)

• Don’t hide the family skeleton teach it how to dance. (Howard Crabtree)

• It’s never a kitty, it’s always a lion. (Hardly anything worth doing comes without challenges no matter how easy or innocent it may at first appear.)

Please, let me have your additions to this list.

September 3, 2019

Parenting ends……..

by Rod Smith

Parents have 15 to 18 years to train children for great lives, to face challenges, love others, and to serve their communities. 

Moms and dads get almost two decades to coach whole living. 

This is sufficient time to complete such training if it begins in the parents’ heads long before the child is born and if it begins immediately the child is born.  

As I have written numerous times parenting ends. While this has gotten the ire of readers occasionally it is usually from those sold on the belief of “once a mother; always a mother.” 

We do not stop being our children’s mother (or father) but our children inevitably exit childhood, which ideally, is also when parents end their parenting. You are still mother (or father) but mothering (and fathering) is done.  

If a 40-year-old still needs or demands parenting something is amiss in at least one of the involved parties.  

Actively teach your children from as young as possible to be independent of you. 

“The day will come when you can do all this (cooking, cleaning, laundry, finances) on your own,” and, “you don’t need me nearly as much as you think you do,” and “look at how capable you are,”  are wonderful things to tell your children. 

September 1, 2019

Families can be confusing networks…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Monday

Families can be confusing networks, routinely placing its members into double binds.

If your family says:

1. They want you to discover and use your talents but when these gifts lead you into uncharted territory you are met with raised eyebrows and unexpected resistance.

2. You can think for yourself and express your uniqueness but when you do you are met with powerful, often unspoken, pressures to conform.

3. You are free to be friends with whomever you choose and you can fall in love with whomever you choose but when you bring significant friends home they seem subject to close examination.

4. They want you to be free and to explore the world, but when you start planning and you book your tickets things seem to change.

Celebrate if any of this is true for you. Yes, rejoice. You belong. You are loved.

The challenge is to listen and to hear (there’s a difference). The challenge is to respect the cautions and the raised eyebrows received from those who have loved you the longest. The challenge is to be your own person in the midst of these binds without splitting the family AND without giving up on your uniqueness and your callings.

These double binds, and others like them (some even more ominous), come with the territory of being family.