March 14, 2011

On a personal note…

Dear Edie,
While I continue to enjoy doing keynotes and training for associations and corporations, my heart and soul are drawn to making a difference with kids. My character building program lead to writing the book on bullying which will be followed with one on bullying in the workplace. No boredom in sight!

I am here to help. If you are living or working with people who show no respect and lack good character, do let me know. To tolerate social violations is giving permission and reinforces the unacceptable behavior of others.

It is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens that reveals true character. The character of the Japanese people was revealed in their response to the recent tsunami that washed away entire cities and many loved ones.

The Japanese Tsunami Reveals Resilience and Character
What’s Your Character Quotient?

It’s not what happens to us, but what we do with what happens that reveals true character. As the creator of a character building program, I Believe I Can Fly!, I could not resist commenting on the response of the Japanese people to one of the most horrific disasters of our time. After a 9.1 earthquake, then a tsunami, the Japanese people are now threatened with the deadly repercussions of a nuclear meltdown. Having lived in Japan for a short time about 45 years ago, the graciousness of the people have a special place in my heart and I have always admired their personal pride, honor and graciousness.

Michael Brown, the director of FEMA during the Katrina disaster, predicted that after the shock, we will see the Japanese people playing the same “blame game” that we frequently observe here in the United States. I disagree with Mr. Brown. He said it was human nature and as a psychotherapist, I do know how people deal with grief, loss and painful events. With entire cities missing, the losses of the Japanese people are incomprehensible. Although we all share natural instinctual behaviors, social and cultural conditioning also shapes our behaviors or why would we teach parenting skills and character education?

News reporters have commented on how calm and polite people were as they rushed to stores for supplies, but did not push or shove. They respected the needs and rights of others while concerned about their own survival. Obviously their survival instincts were tempered with what I refer to as cultural override. Their honor trumps their anger and acting out.

I remember being awed by the attitude of gratitude demonstrated by the children of Sri Lanka after that devastating Tsunami had taken the lives of their parents. Although they had to feel despair, they were not looting, violent or starting riots. Was their corruption and people who capitalized on the tragedy by abducting girls for sex slaves? Yes, but those heartless sharks were often coming in from the outside to victimize victims. These people were not the orphans and children of the land that I saw politely standing in line and waiting their turn to receive a piece of bread. Even after loosing their homes and their families, they did remember to say, ” Thank you.”

Personally, politically, and in the business world, we must move from a place of entitlement to empowerment. No one experiences personal power when they continuously give it away. When you blame others for your state of powerlessness and helplessness, you are by your own choice increasing your state of powerlessness. How can you ever score any points when you constantly give the ball away? That is what you are doing when you do not take ownership. Life never promised us a rose garden, but learning to deal with the thorns does give us the privilege of smelling a few flowers if we chose to notice them.

No one owes you anything, but you do owe it to yourself to take charge of what you can control which are the thoughts you choose and the beliefs that shape how you experience life. How the Japanese people are not REacting but PROactively moving forward with pride, dignity and honor is a teachable moment. Don’t just applaud their resilience and strength of character, learn from it and live it.

Don’t leave your child’s health, happiness and success to chance. Don’t wait until it is
too late. Learn how you can encourage and empower your child or grandchild to a life of
endless possibilities.