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Through Her Eyes

December 20, 2011

I love observing my daughter. In fact, I laugh quite a bit when I do, because I realize how much I was like her when I was her age. Do you remember when you were 7…how you saw the world from those little, brilliant eyes? Was it very different from your perspective today?

Nia, happy, in character

Watching her, I remember things that make my spirit flicker. I remember dancing and singing without inhibition in front of ceiling-to-floor mirrors. In my eyes and in my heart I felt and looked amazing–all the time (that rocks!)– and I could be whoever I wanted to be… Sandy in Grease, Pippi in Pippi Long Stockings, Annie, etc., you get the picture. Yet, the most exciting part of her world is her exploration of everything, indoors or outdoors, and her almost complete avoidance of TV.

She doesn’t care much about that world in the screen, but the one in her mind and in her heart.

Now, I’m not recommending living in La La Land, but, what if we could keep that flame flickering? In fact, what if we made sure we didn’t allow it to burn out? How would daily, mundane tasks in life feel different? Think about it. Really, really think about it. I am.

When I visualize myself now, seeing life through my daughter’s eyes, I notice myself smiling, A LOT. I feel lighter, happier, healthier, and in awe of everything. In fact, through her perspective I think of a situation that normally would drive me into a tizzy, and it just seems so petty now– simply meaningless. In fact, petty, ego-driven and non-creative meanderings would most likely not even capture an iota of her attention. They would simply fly past her like a feather in the wind.

Yes, through my child’s eyes I get to determine what has meaning and what doesn’t. That’s powerful!

So, although we always want to tackle a great BIG goal each new year, what I’m suggesting is that we do something quite simple: see this new year through the eyes of a child, and more specifically, our child within. My sense is that in doing this one simple thing we’ll achieve more goals and more happiness, with greater ease.

Here’s my Five Step Prescription:

1. GO BACK. Find a photo of yourself as a child, that you absolutely love; one that without question speaks to who you are at your core.

2. TAKE NOTE. Grab a sheet of paper and without thinking, write down the first five words (adjectives or verbs) that capture the essence of your child spirit. Then, think of five specific memories (one for each word) that bring to life each word.

3. COME INTO THE NOW. Find a photo of yourself, today, that you love! If you don’t have one, take one!

4. BRING YOUR WORDS TO LIFE. Take your five words and now clearly define how you can lead with them and live them out daily– in the now.

5. SEE IT. LIVE IT. Take a large enough poster board, or create a screen saver of your two photos, your five words, and your new actions. Look at it daily. This is a new twist to the standard vision board– much less time consuming, and more powerful.

Are you laughing at my photo? I hope so. That’s what I’m doing, and that’s exactly the feeling I’m after. I love everything about this photo because it points to things I loved experiencing as a child: my secret hiding place (yes, behind this flower bush was my hollow hide out!); my first bike which tattooed me with a scar the first time I fell off it, and which allowed me to explore the world around me; my Mickey T, which represented one of my favorite fantasy lands– Disney; and my cowboy boots, which I loved to dance in and that reminds me of the little pony I once rode and connected with. And, best of all, my David Lee Roth jump that says it all.
It says, “I’m Kick A_ _!”

It’s funny. Looking at this photo brings me to present day, where my daughter creates the strangest ensembles which make me cry out, “You can’t leave the house looking like that!” But from her vantage point, each piece of the ensemble means something to her; it’s a piece of her very personal puzzle and she can care less what anyone thinks about it. To her, it’s the best ensemble ever that screams, “This is me, people! Love it or leave it!” That’s exactly how I felt in this picture. It’s a precious reminder.

If you’re looking for a way to bring 2011 to a close and begin to bring in some authentic energy for 2012, give my prescription a try, and enjoy re-connecting with your inner child…your true self.

Cheers to a passion-filled new year.

Namaste,

Monique

My daughter taking a Strategic Pause

I chose this title for my final post about The Leader in Me, because this statement reflects what the students feel at these various schools where the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have been implemented (all over the world, I might add!). Regardless of how they went about it, the feedback seems to be same. The students recognize and appreciate that these principles, courses and events are about helping them have amazing lives; about identifying how spectacular and unique they are, and about dreaming and achieving.

I’ve referred mostly to A.B. Combs Elementary, the first school to take on The Leader in Me. Their success was so profound that in 2006 they were named the number one magnet school in the U.S. Amazing. However, they are not the only school to achieve success. The second half of the book details how middle and high schools implement the principles differently than do elementary schools, but have also found significant success. Covey highly suggests that each school doit “Their Own Way.” The important part of implementation is not necessarily how it is done, but how the children and teachers feel. Here is a list of a few other schools highlighted in the book with a snapshot of how they infused the Habits:

  • Singapore – Chua Chu Kang Primary School: Habits 1-3 are taught to the 10 year olds; Habits 4-7 are taught to 11 year olds, and all of the Habits are taught to the 12 year olds, who were preparing for their national exam.
  • Chicago – Noble Street Charter School in Chicago: The 7 Habits are taught as part of the year-long freshman literature class. Students read the 7 Habits for Teens as well as a series of “personal journey” books that promote taking charge of one’s life and overcoming opposition.
  • California – Mar Vista High School: The 7 Habits are taught as part of a stand-alone course called Crossroads. It entails a potpourri of life and career skills and uses the Habits as foundation for the course, which is taught to freshman. They also read the 7 Habits for Teens, and use the matching Student Activity Guide.
  • Singapore – Clementi Town Secondary School: Created a program called HEY (Highly Effective Youth) to help first-year students transition from lower level to upper secondary level. They focus on one Habit per week and infuse the Habit into all coursework and via events.
  • Guatemala – Across all High Schools: The Minister of Education wanted to address the “hopelessness” that most youth felt in the country. She wanted to teach the kids to dream of a better country and a better life. She created the Path of Dreams program to give youth the tools to learn how to dream again and help them create a Life Plan. Students also are required to develop action plans to help remedy a social problem (in teams), like AIDS, or child abuse.

One common thread across all schools listed in the book is that all teachers are taught the 7 Habits prior to implementation.

In beginning this journey my goal was not to set out to prepare my children to be CEOs, but to be able to lead their own lives; to give them timeless principles that can serve as road maps for them daily. As children, their issues may not seem as complex as ours, but certainly they seem BIG to them. Whether it is sharing a cherished toy (for my 5-year-old), or dealing with peer pressure (for my 11-year-old). I feel confident that 7 Habits will help them make the best choices for them in the moment. And, if they happen not to make the choice I would have liked for them to make, well, it will provide another opportunity for us all to reflect and learn.

The final chapter of the book guides parents, like me, to implement these principles at home. Covey recommends using  The Power of Modeling, which includes these important components:

  1. Inspire Trust: The best way for your children to learn the Habits is to see you modeling them.
  2. Clarify Purpose: Be clear on what you want your children to learn/accomplish. What is your family’s mission? If you don’t have one, create one. Identify milestones.
  3. Align Systems: How will you get buy-in? How will you teach the principles (books, activities, etc.). How will your children be held accountable and rewarded?
  4. Unleash Talent: How will you nurture your children’s gifts. How will your children be involved in planning and goal setting? Will they be empowered or micro-managed?

Finally, Covey suggests incorporating a tradition that A.B. Combs created, called the “strategic pause.” He calls it “recompassing.” I loved this idea and will be teaching it to my children for sure!

It involves having students/your children pause for a few minutes, take a drink of water, stretch their bodies, look toward the light, and think of something hopeful. It is a way of re-energizing and refocusing them.

In closing, I will share a beautiful quote found in the book by Helen Keller, whose own challenges led her to be a mentor to many children:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore…and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without a compass…and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. ‘Light! give me light!’ was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour. – Helen Keller

May all of our children be shown the way, with love, light, and leadership.

Have a great week!

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.