Archive for February, 2022

February 23, 2022

Family reunion

by Rod Smith

If you ever want a beautiful picture of a family reunion and mercy, the Biblical story of Joseph is the place to go. While you are there, if you can stop yourself from singing the music from “Joseph,” the widely loved musical, you will also see several family therapy axioms.

After decades of separation following a rather violent and involuntary departure and then years of isolation and struggle and torment, Joseph is full of grace and mercy toward his brothers. Recognizing who they are and realizing his brothers have come in search of help, Joseph discloses who he is and immediately asks about their father.

“I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?”

When there legitimately could be, there is no anger or desire for pay-back within Joseph.

“Come closer,” he says to his brothers and weeps with relief and gratitude for the opportunity for reconciliation.

“I will provide for you,” he tells his undeserving brothers.

What a family reunion! Many families long for such a reunion. Do you?

“Something got in the way,” I hear a woman say when she tells me she had not spoken to her sister in decades.

I concede, there are situations and times it’s impossible but, where possible, may we do our parts in getting whatever got in the way, out of the way.

February 20, 2022

The enduring belief in “there’s no communication” saddens me…..

by Rod Smith

I regret to inform a valued reader from last week that there is no “failure to communicate” in the dating relationship that is causing you heartache.

The man you are “seeing” – or trying to see – is not lacking in communication skills and he cannot be accused of not communicating with you. People are communicating round the clock. We cannot stop communicating. Try it. You cannot. Go ahead and hide from the world, turn off your cell phone, stop talking to the people around you. The message you send with such odd behavior will be loud and clear to others even if it is totally misunderstood and misinterpreted.

The core failure labeled “no communication” rests in the unwillingness to hear, read, or believe what it is that is being communicated. The man who is constantly late for appointments with you, who repeatedly “forgets” matters that are very important to you, who avoids your texts and daily plays hide-and-seek with you is a superb communicator. He is trumpeting, full-volume, loud and clear that he does not care about the “relationship” he has with you despite what he may say to you when you are together. There is no failure to communicate. The issue is a failure or unwillingness to read or believe what is being very clearly declared.

February 16, 2022

Life-changing concepts

by Rod Smith

Remarkably simple, thoroughly life changing concepts when understood, embraced, and implemented:

  • Blame has no good return for the person choosing it. No matter how poor a job our parents may have done, continuing to blame them, or anyone, and hold resentment against them, or anyone, will be unhelpful and will impact the future for generations to come. Each of us has to make our own lives work and be successful – or not – no matter what hand we have been dealt.
  • Resentment is emotional cancer. It eats the host alive and usually has little or no impact on the resented person. He or she is scott-free while the host continues to stew in resentment’s toxic acids. Unforgiveness darkens the outlook and twists perceptions on everything, not only on the target of unforgiveness.
  • Health is first an inside job. People do need help often from others but the initial impulse for wellness must come from within. No one ever successfully imposed enduring health on another.
  • The parent who is overly-focussed on the child is probably doing neither the child nor himself or herself any favors. Even though they may appear to enjoy it, children are not equipped to handle being worshiped. Benign neglect or divided attention are better options than up-close-super-focussed parenting.
February 15, 2022

It’s Who You Know!

by Rod Smith

“It’s not what you know but who you know,” runs the cliche. Like you, I have evidence that this often holds to be true. I am grateful that pre-existing relationships have opened many doors for me. I like to think that I have similarly fostered opportunities for others.

What you know is also important. Who you know won’t usually cut it if you are uneducated about some matters or unskilled in some areas. You can be steeply connected to “very important” people – they may even be family – but these relationships will not help when certain skills and qualifications are required for certain roles or privileges.

There is a somewhat related thought that I believe trumps who and what you know. How you relate to others is crucial to your success.

You are the one common factor in all of your relationships. Who you know and what you know can be derailed by how you behave. Kindness, humility, openness to others, willingness to learn, demonstration of mutual respect are sure-fire door openers. Brashness, arrogance, and an attitude of entitlement can have a door shut in your face no matter who you are or what you know.

February 14, 2022

Peace-keeping; peace-making

by Rod Smith

There is a difference between keeping peace (peacekeeping) and making peace (peacemaking). Peacekeeping takes a lot of work and saps energy. It’s never-ending. Peacemaking lays groundwork for authentic peace to rule. Peacekeepers work hard to keep the tensions from rising. They often pretend nothing is wrong. Peacemakers allow tensions to be aired and might even precipitate necessary conflict. Peacekeepers avoid conflict at all costs. Their reward is the semblance of tranquility, and the slow demise of their integrity.

Peacemakers invite necessary conflict. They know there is no other pathway to greater understanding between warring people. Peacekeepers may endure fake peace for decades – and feel “called” or anointed or special.

Peacekeepers often have high levels of martyrdom. How else would they rationalize the stress of trying to hide the proverbial elephant in the room? Peacekeepers are often portrayed as deeply spiritual because they can endure so much without “saying anything.” They often see their suffering as persecution, rather than the product of being misguided.

Peacemakers value authentic peace. The peace that exists between people with the courage to endure conflict, for the sake of lasting peace, is as gold when compared with its counterfeit cousin.

Assume your legitimate role as a peacemaker, and give up the other as nonsense.

February 9, 2022

Stephen Light

by Rod Smith

Former Durban resident and Glenwood High School Old Boy and East Coast Radio coach Stephen Light is in KZN this week, visiting from the UK. We go back a few years. He was about 13, delivering a prepared speech in my classroom and alluded to eating polony in Smith’s t-room he visited in Red Hill as a very young boy. Light, always a very bright light, quickly made the connection once it was clear his English teacher knew the same shop and was also a Mr. Smith.

Stephen Light is an executive coach with a remarkable list of international clients.

“I challenge people. I go beyond the obvious, showing them what they don’t see, helping them change themselves,” writes Stephen. Light is also an accomplished actor. He brought Charles Dickens’ Artful Dodger to delightful life in Oliver on the Glenwood stage co-starring with Durban’s Steven Stead who played the perfect Oliver.

“Consider yourself at home,” Stephen, “part of the furniture,” while visiting Durban. Perhaps you could pop in to your former high school, show those boys the sky really is the limit. After all, you’ve proved it. Your life demonstrates there are no limits to what a person may achieve if he or she merges courage, integrity, humor, commitment and daring vision.

February 7, 2022

The 5 Gs may we exemplify them

by Rod Smith

May the Five Gs live and grow within each of us and our families.

  • Gratitude: the capacity to express thankfulness, not as a trick but as sincere appreciation for life and all of the joys and challenges life offers. 
  • Generosity: the ability to give and share more than from excess. Generosity is not giving others what you don’t need, it is giving from what you do need. 
  • Grace: offering kindness, acceptance, a welcome to others when and where it is undeserved. Remember, it is not about who others are, grace is about who you are. 
  • Goodness: seeking the highest good for self and others. It is not selfish to seek your own highest good. Seeking your own highest good is the starting block that makes it possible to be a presence of goodness for others. 
  • Genuineness: living with sincerity and interest in others. Genuineness cannot be faked although many try.   

None of the above will be ours through determination, resolutions or reading some guru or watching another YouTube presentation. It is the byproduct of humility, willingness to listen to others, a desire to learn from our mistakes, and a desire to make good (as far as is possible) on past failings, and then the courage to act on what we know to be good, right, and wholesome.

February 2, 2022

There are no ugly people

by Rod Smith

Listen closely when people talk to you. 

Most people are aching to tell you who they are. 

They will leave trails, sometimes crumbs for you to follow, and the trails and crumbs will lead you into the deepest, most beautiful and sometimes troubled recesses of their lives. 

But, go ahead and follow the leads. 

I assure you that you will end up in a beautiful place. 

You may have to turn a blind eye to some wrecks along the way, hold your nose in some of the crevices. 

If you persist and hold onto the thought that indeed you are no better than any other human and follow without judgment you will end up in a place more beautiful than the finest artwork the world has to offer. Yes, it is more beautiful because the “Art” to whom you are listening is still in creation, in motion, yet unwrapping and discovering his or her beauty. 

While you may grimace at the idea it is nonetheless true – and I have no desire to sound dramatic – I have sat face-to-face with people deemed ultimate trash by society and a handful afforded me momentary glimpses into their immense beauty. 

Appreciating mountains or a single flower cannot be rushed.

It’s the same with people.

Listen intently. Given time, people will lead you to their unique place of enormous beauty.

February 1, 2022

Fundamental wellness truth oft’ ignored or avoided

by Rod Smith

There is a fundamental wellness truth that is obvious but missed or avoided by many. I will get to why it is avoided by so many in a moment but first, here it is. Take care of yourself, first. First, mind your own business. 

I don’t mean “mind your own business” in the ways our language and culture usually hears it, as in keep your nose out of other people’s affairs, although that is a really good idea.

By “mind your own business” I mean take care of your own behavior, concerns, worries, reactions, unhappiness, anger, dreams and ambitions – work on your own stuff – before you focus on what others are doing or not doing.

Many conflicts are avoided in my home when I take care of my own attitude rather than get derailed by what my sons are doing or not doing. My sons are easy targets if I am unhappy with myself. The minute I focus my frustrations on them and not on my reactions and responses to what’s going on in me, things get derailed in our home.

I think this approach is avoided because it seems selfish – when it is the very opposite of selfishness. I think it is avoided because it is far easier to project and notice the weaknesses of others than to work on facing our own.