Tomorrow

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Remember the line from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

“I can’t think about that right now.  If I do I’ll go crazy.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

–Scarlett O’Hara

Why is the idea of tomorrow so tantalizing?  Why do we feel that space, time and energy will open wide…tomorrow?  Are we lazy, deluded, or simply lacking willpower?

I have a vivid picture in mind of a young family waiting in front of the university publishing building, in a u-haul toting station wagon.  I was furiously running copies of my master’s thesis inside to be bound, before we moved back east to attend doctoral school.  Nothing but leaving town for four years, and not having the money to mail back all of those pages, had given me the needed focus and deadline to get that weighty project completed.

As human beings we naturally seek to avoid the uncomfortable in social situations, in work to be done, in actions to be taken. Though we berate ourselves for it– knowing we will be sorry–we still put things off until an impending crisis moves us to action. Case in point, Monday was September 15th, the final day to file tax returns for the previous year.  Ask any accountant; procrastination causes more stress, illness, and harsh feelings than any other human trait.

I can imagine heads nodding in agreement as we consider the consequences of procrastination.  But lets turn now from tasks to relationships.  Who hasn’t wished for one more day to say “I love you” to a loved one who has passed on unexpectedly?  Who hasn’t wished for more time spent listening to or playing with our children while they were young and adoring?  Who hasn’t been regularly guilty of not prioritizing our marriage or our friendships over the crush of work? Regret is one of the most destructive emotions and is rooted in procrastination.

This month’s Notes From Home is filled with solid ideas and tools to get you to identify and change your own and your children’s procrastinating ways. As always, we hope you will find instruction and inspiration for strengthening your family.

To happy families NOW,

Tim Thayne, Ph.D.
Founder
Homeward Bound

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Twitterpation Will Happen

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Parents want their children to be successful and happy.  It’s universal. While many of us are intimately involved in directing our children’s academic or extracurricular lives, we can often feel inadequate or uncomfortable in advising them in their social/love lives.  That’s understandable, but not an excuse.

Popular culture has tried to brainwash us into thinking it’s none of our business.  Perhaps we haven’t felt very successful in our own relationships and are gun shy about offering suggestions.  Often we have tried and been told we are still operating in the dark ages of dating.  I am here to tell you, do not be deterred.

No one loves your child like you do, and you have their best interest at heart.  With that said, you may need to freshen up your understanding of the world our teens are entering.  Though every child is different, on average you will find children who are ages 9-11 showing more interest in being with their friends, rather than just their family.  From 10-14 they may begin to associate with mixed gender groups, and from 15-19, there will likely be experimentation with romantic relationships.

You went through these stages of social maturation yourself.  Some did it more gracefully than others.  Take a moment to remember what it was like.  Remember the insecurities, the elation or devastation that accompanied romance.  Now, take that compassion and personal experience, and talk to your son or daughter.  Let them hear about you.  Let them learn of the good, the bad, and the ugly in your teen relationships.  Don’t become preachy or squirrely.  Sometimes you just need to share the story, and let them discover the lesson to be learned from it.  Though they may not act grateful, I’ll guarantee they are curious to hear how things were in “back when I was a kid.”  They will absorb more than you think.

My point here is simply this:  as a parent, your job is to keep your child as guided, informed, and safe as possible.  You will not be able to completely avoid heartbreak for them, but you can teach values, respect for others and themselves, and when they are ready, help them feel comfortable in exploring the world of dating and love.  Their future happiness is largely influenced by the relationships they are forming now.

I hope the articles found in this month’s Notes From Home will be a trip down memory lane as well as an important conversation starter in your home.

To Family Happiness,

Tim Thayne, Ph.D.
Founder
Homeward Bound

 

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Stop Spinning the Plates

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Twenty years ago, as a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy, I co-presented my first family seminar.  My target audience was what was referred to in the literature as “The Sandwich Generation.”  This four week class targeted people in their 40’s and 50’s who’s lives were being squeezed like a sandwich with the demands of raising children on one side, with the often competing needs of aging parents on the other.

Of course, these were only two of the stressors and time consumers in their lives.  On top of the family roles, they were often at the height of their careers, in the midst of accumulating cars, homes, and educational opportunities for their children, and were also devoted to church or civic roles.  This didn’t even broach the subject of carving out time for leisure and hobbies.

I had studied the research and literature on this group extensively and I believed I understood their challenges fairly well.  I naively thought it couldn’t be much more difficult than what I was experiencing as a 27-year-old full-time student, who was recently married, holding down a part-time job and serving in our church with a fairly heavy responsibility.  Fast-forward 20 years.

Okay…I was dumb and naïve.  This mid-life stage is much harder!  I grasp the plate-spinning metaphor now and sometimes want to cry “Uncle!”

Ambition and a drive for growth and mastery are all good things if managed correctly.   They propel us forward towards our goals and these yearnings bring about great human accomplishments.  But at some point, all of us will have to ask ourselves if our drive and the accumulation of things in our life, is actually subtracting or fulfilling our lives.  Is our ability to love, serve and find joy in life being diminished by the frantic pace set by demands and ambition?

As a man, smack-dab in the middle of the sandwich generation, I will tell you, I have crossed over to a place where it’s time to take a few plates down before they crash.  It started last month when I shared that I had sold our herd of Black Angus cows.  As much as this was a dream, the time it took worrying about how to feed them, where to find summer pasture, and who would take care of them while I was about my “real job” was too much.

That experience felt so right, that last week I took down a second much bigger plate; Paisley Farms, our all-natural, pure-bred Berkshire hog farm.  This ambition was not about making money or it would have been easy for me to liquidate years ago.  In four years, we went from not knowing a thing about pigs, to building the largest, highest ranked farm in the Mountain West with Whole Foods Markets.  However, what started out with good intentions to provide an opportunity to work and learn together as a family, turned into one crisis after another, robbing us of the joy it was intended to create:  piglets being crushed by their mothers if no one was attending them at birth, missing pigs either from death or theft, feed prices at an all-time high, pork price negotiations, transporting hogs to market in blizzard conditions, farm audits, employees that wouldn’t show up, equipment breaking down or being mistreated, registration records, vet bills, and so on.  And this was supposed to be a hobby?  Thankfully, I found the perfect buyers, a young guy with great ambition, who also has the time to devote to it.  I think the farm “plate” will be a success in his hands.

This summer choose to simplify and prioritize the connections in your family.  Being squeezed or stretched leaves you with little time or energy to play with or even quietly behold your loved ones. Preoccupation will rob you of the satisfaction of healthy and current relationships.  When you are in survival mode, it’s all about the crisis, and unless your family becomes a crisis, you won’t get around to them.

Simplification doesn’t just feel good, it’s preventative .  When you develop attachment, rapport, trust and love in the family, it ends up being the biggest buffer against family troubles. I challenge you to identify the plates in your life that are distracting from your family, and find a way to set them aside.  Start small if need be.  There are usually good reasons you haven’t taken it down before.  This will most likely take courage and faith.  Remember, no plate is worth the loss of deep, loving family relationships.

I hope you will find ideas and resources in this month’s edition of Notes From Home to inspire you to make summer a time to renew your connection and satisfaction with your family.

To Family Happiness!

Tim Thayne, Ph.D.
Founder
Homeward Bound

 

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Practice for Parents – parenting doesn’t always come naturally

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Craig was coming out of the front door as I was walking up the driveway.  He carried two suitcases full of tools and computer equipment.  He was wet with perspiration.  As our IT guy, it had been his job to enter this beautiful California home and get it wired up and ready for the video coaching we were going to do with our first Homeward Bound family.

On entering the home, I looked up to see white video cable strung high on the living room wall, leading down the hall to be plugged into the kitchen desktop computer.  The anxious parents greeted me at the door, evidently willing to do whatever it took for me to help them with their daughter’s return from a year of residential treatment.

In our Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program, video-taping our sessions was a powerful tool that produced rapid  understanding and paved the way for a fledgling therapist’s faster growth.  Just as teens can become defensive when therapists tell them what they observed in their behavior, parents will often do the same thing when a therapist tries to help them recognize their contributions to negative patterns their teen exhibits.  But showing them a playback of their voices raised, their teen’s eyes rolling, their waffling and uncertainty about boundaries is a completely different ball game.  There is little room for subjectivity and not much need for coaching.  The information is in living color, right there for them to soak in and understand for themselves.

Knowing this, I decided to use videotaping in the work we would do for Homeward Bound families.  Things were set up with the family’s permission of course, s that I could sit at my desk in my office and pan and zoom around the living room.  The family was instructed to go into the room when they were going to discuss a subject that would bring up powerful feelings, or when there was an argument going on.  I could then immediately and precisely coach them as they used new communication skills t navigate the crisis.  Later, the family could access a playback of the digital recording as a refresher course if they needed it.

And it worked.  A parent from Miami watched himself on video as he addressed a drinking incident with his daughter.  His weak attempt to implement preset consequences for her actions summoned this response from him join our coaching session later:  “That was the most pitiful display of parenting I’ve ever seen.  I will never do that again.”  I didn’t need to say a word.  He could see it all o his own.  Another parent from Connecticut said, “If you think you know about your relationships with your kids and spouse, there is no substitute for seeing the experience live. For me, the video feedback was eye opening and revealing.  Inside five minutes, I knew what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong as a parent, and no one had to tell me.  It was as clear as day.”

So a brilliant idea right?  Well, I will say now that it was definitely gutsy.  Not only did it take a very specific kind of family to agree to this procedure, but I frightened off 95 percent of the families we could have helped.  Other professionals were stumped as to how to motivate their families to enroll in our process because most couldn’t get over the hurdle of that scary video-camera stuff.  It took years for professionals in our field to move past the guys-that use-video-taping reputation, even though we realized the obstacle we had created and stopped using cameras within six months of implementing them.

Why would I tell you this awkward story about our first families and our initial attempts to help them?  It’s simple, really:  because you can’t solve a difficult problem if you don’t go “all in.”  At the time I started Homeward Bound, I remember reading studies that reported 50,70 even 90 percent recidivism, depending on the issues being addressed.  These dismal outcomes were not acceptable in my mind, as the best our field could produce.  I was driven to find a solution to the problem of recidivism after treatment with the courage and gusto common to those who want to make a big difference.  We weren’t savvy marketers; we were just determined to build a program and process that worked, regardless of whether it was hard or uncomfortable.  The only criteria we used to determine if a certain feature should be included in our model was the question “Will this enhance the likelihood of success?”

Parents, if you want to become good at parenting, you need to practice.  You need to watch yourself or ask your spouse to watch you and give you a compassionate, but frank review of how you handled a situation.  I understand how threatening this can feel, but if you truly want to improve, you have to be humble enough to take the coaching.  If you don’t have a spouse or someone you trust, get a therapist or coach.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t pick someone who just wants to remain on your payroll, so they are heavy on the validation and soft on the direction.

There is nothing more important than our family relationships.  Put your best efforts, your money, your time, your everything into learning how to relate to and direct your family.  It takes practice, coaching, and at the end of your life, you can rest assured that you used your time and life wisely.

To Family Success and Happiness!

Tim Thayne, Ph.D.
Founder
Homeward Bound

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Letting Go Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

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Yesterday I was at a cattle auction barn in Colorado selling my small herd of Black Angus cows. They looked so good. Their ear tags were all new and matched. All but one of the cows was pregnant, and the bull was big and healthy. I had taken two of my sons out of school to travel down to watch it all unfold. A few weeks earlier we had told them we had decided to sell the herd. There were tears and the youngest wailed “But we wont have as much farm in us!” He mirrored how I was feeling.

I had come to the realization, however, that running cows at this time in my life was much more of a drain on our finances, my mental energy, and the family’s precious weekends than I wanted to afford. Though I’ve always dreamed of having a large herd and thousands of acres of land to run them on, this was not the time nor season for that. I felt at peace when my wife reassured me by pointing out that though we were closing out a chapter, it certainly didn’t mean we couldn’t someday write cattle ranching back into our life story.

Holding on to control, a belief, a parenting technique, a relationship, or a position can be exhausting and is very often destructive. I suppose that as Americans we feel like we can’t budge or change direction or we’ll be called a quitter. Wishy-washy and soft is not what built this great nation, and we certainly aren’t about to succumb on our watch, right? Perhaps it feels against your character. But sometimes we need to let wisdom outweigh the desire to continue doing what we are doing.

With the cows, it dawned on me that the cost of holding on was too high for the benefits it would yield. Letting go is hard to do if you keep thinking about things in the same old way. In fact, you can’t. You have to see it differently. The release I felt when the decision was made was almost immediate. A new peace just seeped into my body and reinforced the rightness of this step. Since then, I haven’t waffled on the decision. It created space and energy. I was freed up to pour my passion into something just as valid and enjoyable.I was able let go because I had given it my very best effort. There were no regrets in letting go. I knew there was nothing I had left undone or untried. Though my accountant and others may have said I should have let go sooner, I wouldn’t have felt at peace; I simply needed to go through the process myself, in order to have the peace that came.

In my work with parents, I watch this over and over when parents try to “make” something happen for their teen; a grade, a skill, a friendship, a character trait. In time they realize they can’t make it happen. It is an experience of gaining wisdom in what you can and cannot influence. As a child gets older, as parents we will learn to pull our power in and around ourselves, understanding that we can only control our thoughts, our actions, our peace.

Since the Disney movie Frozen has made popular the song “Let it Go,” how about making it our theme song as parents?

To Family Happiness!

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Why I Wrote the Book

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At the time I launched Homeward Bound nine years ago, I was an idealist with a burning desire to significantly improve the long-term success of treatment by supporting teens and parents during the critical transition afterwards. Actually, the vision was even loftier than that. We wanted to eliminate recidivism in so far as humanly possible. Naïve? Probably. But was it worth attempting? Absolutely! So with that lofty goal we set sail with gusto on our adventure.

During this same time frame, many treatment programs were busy on their own quests to continuously improve their treatment processes with an eye toward more successful outcomes for their clients. The advances have been substantial and our field, as a whole, is better than it has ever been as a result. Though we may never reach perfection, it’s gratifying to look back and observe what happens when a compelling vision, persistent focus and time converge. New discoveries are made and remarkable things happen.

My career journey reminds me of when I was 16 and I helped my dad and brothers build the home that my parents still live in today. Dad showed us the spot on my grandpa’s ranch where he wanted to build. He then spent a good hour or more describing to us boys how he envisioned the design of the interior, the orientation the house would have to the beautiful cliffs across the forty acre field, as well as where the stock corral would be built. He also expressed his hope and belief that it would be a home my mom would be proud of. That was an exciting day.

Then came the day we started the work. As a teenager who didn’t have the same compelling vision my father had, I preferred dreaming about it rather than making it a reality. Little by little, day after day, the project progressed from a brush-covered lot, to a large rectangular hole in the ground, to cement walls with a floor, to a framed house and so on to it’s completion. At each phase we would take a break, grab a soda and back away from the structure a few feet so we could take it all in and appreciate our handiwork.

Although we have not “finished” or arrived at our ultimate destination with families in treatment, I have come to a place after more than two decades of effort, where I have something to share with you. It has been a taxing project and now it is time to celebrate, and thank you all for your part in it’s creation.

This book, titled Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen’s Success In and After Treatment, is not something I could ever have done until now after these many years. I also could not have done it alone. The experience required has come as I’ve worked along side many of you. What I have to share has sprung from countless hours shoulder to shoulder with teens and their parents as they apply what they’ve learned in treatment. The principles and concepts in the book have been formulated and refined as together, my team shared their experiences and creativity with me to build the models. They have been further expanded as we have been invited into treatment programs, who held a common vision, to help them create more effective parent programming.

So much has been done in adolescent treatment to refine it, that there are very few things left that will make for a quantum leap in desired outcomes. I believe, however, that engaging parents in the right ways during and after treatment is that game changing component. It’s not just nice to do…it’s crucial. When a parent places their child in treatment, they are at an all-time low in their parental confidence. Our job is to give them what they need to become the game changer in their teen’s treatment and beyond. This book gives them the tools to do it and it’s been my honor to present it.

To Family Happiness!

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Value Based Living

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Values: important, beneficial, principles, standards of behavior, something you have a high opinion of.

If one of your friends were asked to describe you to a group of strangers, what would they say are your most passionately held core values? Would they come up blank, or fumble around for a generic answer like “Ummm…he values his weekends.” Are your core values obvious to others who witness your daily actions and approach to personal relationships?

To be honest, I’m questioning whether some of my friends, and even my family members, would accurately identify my core values, because my actions do not always make them obvious. For example I value my children far more than my occupation, but far too often I’m caught trying to type an email while a child is telling me about their day at school. If I’m not able to make my values translate to the people I’m around morning, noon, and night, then what good are they on an epitaph?

Most of us can talk eloquently about our “espoused” values, but there is too often a gap between what we think we value, and what we are actually demonstrating. My hope is that this edition of Notes From Home can help you re-enthrone the important values in your life, giving them the proper prominence in your speaking, teaching, and especially behavior.

To Happy Families!

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The Bald Guy’s Eye Opener

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Normally, my contributions to Notes from Home are based on personal experience with the topic of choice, so when Roxanne selected “Body Image” for this month’s e-zine, I knew it could be hard. I couldn’t imagine what to write. After all, I was finally okay with my shiny bald head. Now in my forties, it has been years since I last ordered a case of Kevis, Extra Strength hair and scalp lotion for more youthful, thicker, and fuller looking hair.

As proof that I was beyond the reach and influence of media, fashion, and what GQ portrays as handsome, last week I was asked by my kids what I would give up to have my hair back. My honest reply was, “nothing.” They didn’t believe me, but a feeling of satisfaction washed over me. I had arrived!

Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” While that sounds harsh, I believe there is a lot of truth to his statement and decided to ask myself some tough questions related to my own beliefs and ways of thinking about body image. What I found was that the “arrival” I thought I had achieved, unfortunately turned out to be a shaky truce. I have a long way to go, darn it. Let me give an example.

Last month, one of my sons needed a physical to be on the track team. He has always been short of stature and I’ve worried about that over the years, but when the doctor’s report noted he was not even on the percentile charts for height and weight in his age group, I panicked for him. Old insecurities from my own adolescence resurfaced. Anxiety about him feeling “less than” someone else because of his height, gripped me. I worried that there would be a girl (or a dozen) in the future that he was interested in, who wouldn’t give him the time of day because he wasn’t at least 3 inches taller than she was.

When I looked deeper I realized that I’m not worried about his height exactly. I’m concerned about his self-worth. I only want his happiness and somehow, deep down, I have this belief that if he was taller, he would feel better about himself and would have greater confidence to tackle lives challenges with. Am I crazy?

If I am, I’m okay sharing this because I think most, if not all of you reading this, will relate with me in some way. Whether you are a man or woman most, if not all, of you will be able to find something you are trying to fix in yourself or someone else because you think you’ll be happier, or they will be more successful if you do. If you can identify the subtle (or not so subtle) ways your judgments of yourself and others are colored by stereo types, you can now deliberately change that. Your life can brighten significantly over night with a new perspective. With this new awareness, you can stop transferring your own insecurities onto your children.

To close I want to invite you to click on this link and view a short video. You will see a powerful experiment where women describe themselves to a forensic artist who draws them and a stranger who has just gotten to know the woman takes a turn describing them to the artist. Who do you think is more critical in their assessments? See for yourself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

I invite all of us to be an alternative voice that rings loud and clear above the media and those wanting to whip up insecurities to sell fashion, diet products, or promises of a more glamorous life. Let us lead out and teach our children that we love ourselves and we love them just the way we are, in whatever shapes and sizes these wonderful bodies happen to be in.

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Who Are We and What Do We Stand For?

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From the time I was quite young, I believed and felt deep down that the family was the most essential and fundamentally influential unit in life. I saw successful families in my community putting their best energies into their homes. When it came time to choose a major in college, nothing seemed to call me like the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. I had considered medicine, law, forestry, agriculture, politics, construction and even dance. I mentally envisioned myself in just about every field of study (except mathematics and art history) and each occupation had its own appeal. Some interested me because of the prestige or potential income; others just sounded fun, like being a National Geographic photographer. But when it came to the question of where I could have the most impact for good in the world, no occupation ranked higher, in my mind, than a field where I could work every day in strengthening families.

On New Year’s Eve, our next door neighbor Belinda passed away suddenly after a routine knee surgery. Three of her six children are still at home. To say our neighborhood was shocked is a gross understatement. Every time we look out our window expecting to see her feeding the dog, pulling up with groceries, or calling to her children, we are struck with sadness all over again. Eventually, we come around to remembering that for her family, there were no big regrets. She is an incredible example of one who consistently and through example taught her family who they were and what they stood for.

Walk into Belinda and Stan’s home and you will find beautiful family portraits everywhere. You will see quotes, scriptures, or positive sayings on plaques and in frames. Their long driveway is always full of cars for wedding receptions, extended family reunions, church functions, baby showers, or play dates. She would have her grown children and grandchildren over monthly for dinners or to plan service projects they wanted to participate in. She spent hours in community drama productions, performing alongside her children. As a couple, you could find them sneaking away at 9:00 at night to the hotel three miles away for a 12 hour getaway to plan out the new school year and make sure they were putting the most important things first. She and her family bring a targeted energy and purpose to everything they do.

Though the youngest child is only 7, there is no way he could miss what the culture of his family was set to be. The married children and father will continue to teach and carry out their family vision. Even their garage door code, WiFi password, and email addresses symbolize their closeness and purpose as family. This clear vision is compelling to them, to the extent that they lived it on a daily basis. Their priorities showed that their mission was their family. Family closeness, support, love, spirituality, fun, and service are their values.

My own family has taken the original two page mission statement we started with and condensed it down to a rousing cheer we do around the dinner table. Though it’s not done every night, we retell the story of where it came from and why it’s our cheer. It is based on a scripture that was given to us during our wedding ceremony, and is basically the only advice we remember from that day. It was that we build our marriage and home on the rock of our Redeemer. So as a family we shout “Thaynes…Built on a Rock!” Then making our hands into fists (rocks), I bump the fist of the person next to me, and they bump the one next to them until we go all the way around the circular table, then simultaneously throw our hands up in the air with a “Whew!” The goal is to see how fast we can do it. Of course, the kids want to try it over and over again to connect faster and better. It’s not necessarily sophisticated, but it is fun and weighty with meaning for us.

All-too-often in my work with highly motivated and successful people, there is a feeling of despair because there was no way to reclaim their families or turn back time. Even my constant optimism provides little consolation. They realize that all the success they had outside the home really didn’t matter, if their families had been pushed low on their priority list. This month’s Notes From Home is meant to inspire you to start the process of making your vision more formalized if it needs to be. We all want to go, like Belinda, with “no big regrets,” leaving a clear vision and legacy for our families to follow.

To Family Happiness!

Tim

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Pulling A Rabbit From My Hat

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When I was a doctoral student at Virginia Tech, I was doing my dissertation project on the use of marriage and family therapy models in business organization’s leadership and management training. I worked with leaders from industries ranging from hospitals to circus’s. We worked intensively together to educate, train, and coach them on real situations for weeks at a time. There were incredible results, which made for a very exciting project.

One of the professors on my committee, Harold Kurstedt, is a brilliant management systems engineer. He also taught parts of the training. He would often press me on how I did what I did in coaching. I told him it was a mix of several therapy models and my own personal style. I didn’t know how to explain it, much less teach someone else how to do it. After three workshops, he came up to me, handed me a sheet of paper with a diagram, and said “Here’s your model.” He had captured Solution Focused Coaching.

Though Harold was a great mentor, I worried that he expected me to work magic on the stage, particularly when he took me to Virginia’s Forum for Excellence to teach a group of 300 people. He wanted me to ask for a volunteer from the audience, have them share a personal or professional struggle, and come to a magical ending. The volunteer should feel empowered with a clear solution and exude enthusiastic confidence. Oh yes, and I had 15 minutes to do it in. I had only done this in therapy settings, or in small groups with trainees I knew well from hours of personal interviews and coaching. I was so sick with nerves that I didn’t sleep the entire night before.

That day, as the presentation got underway, Harold turned the time over to me to demonstrate Solution Focused Leadership and Coaching. I said a silent prayer for a homerun issue. An engineer from India raised his hand first. Just great. What if I couldn’t understand his heavy accent or his engineering projects, much less truly help him come up with a solution. Fortunately, prayers are answered. He and his wife were building a new home and their relationship was suffering as they fought over decisions constantly.

In a nutshell, I used the model, which includes keys like:

1. I listened without interrupting.
2. I was curious about his strengths and how he had solved problems in the past.
3. I explored exceptions to the problem story.
4. I focused on solutions, not the problem.
5. I was affirming.
6. I summarized what I had heard.
7. I kept whittling things down until together, we came up with a doable plan
He was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to get home and implement the plan. He was sure things were going to be different this time. People in the audience crowded us afterwards, wondering if the engineer had been a plant because it worked out “too perfectly.”

The point of my story is that this wasn’t magic. I wasn’t exceptionally brilliant. Simply put, there are powerful, true principles in communicating effectively. If you put real effort (and it takes effort) into learning them, you will experience greater ease and satisfaction in any realm of your life. If you have tried, but still can’t apply them consistently or effectively, get someone else to apply them for you. Find a trusted teacher, a coach, a clergy member, or a therapist to help. It sure beats trying to sludge through problems in the same old ways, expecting better results, and being consistently disappointed.

Every other month, Notes From Home will pull ideas from our extensive parent curriculum on the Family Bridge to teach principles of good parenting. We hope you enjoy learning and being reminded of solid and successful principles as much as we at Homeward Bound do.

To Your Family’s Happiness!

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