When we think about what’s valuable to us, we often think about material things… our home, car, investment portfolio. We think about business success. We think about getting praise… getting the credit… all temporary things. But we should value relationships above results; the process above the product; what’s “God-made” above what’s “man-made”; serving others above being served; giving others credit above receiving the credit; investing in people above investing in things. Why? Because these are what will last. And if we value them, then we’ll receive the kind of satisfaction that no amount of money will ever buy.
We all have dreams for our children. But how do we help them find their own? In his children’s book, You Can Do It!, New York Times bestselling author Tony Dungy tells the story of a young boy who feels restless and disappointed, until he finds a vision for his future. Encouraged by his family to “have faith and dream big,” the boy at last takes hold of his destiny.
What are your children’s dreams for the future? Have you asked them? Take some time as a family to talk about how your kids envision their own future. And don’t worry too much if their dreams for themselves don’t line up exactly with what you have in mind for them. Keeping the lines of communication open, and providing encouragement, support and guidance today will help them find their way toward a bright tomorrow.
Tell the kids you’re going to “catch” them doing right – things that go above and beyond what’s expected of them. Then, keep a record of these character points on a poster or white board in the house. Determine how many character points it will take to get a reward. You might want to settle on increments of 10.
Your children can redeem 10 points for a smaller item like going out for ice cream, or they can save up for a bigger reward. Let them redeem the points as they wish – and watch their virtue flourish.
Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys for almost three decades, said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” That’s great stuff.
The same is true of being a parent. Most of the time, your children don’t want to do what you tell them to do, but, if you’re thoughtful about the rules you set and the expectations you have of them, they can achieve far more than they can imagine. Don’t be discouraged if your kids are continually giving you a bad attitude about “how much they have to work around here.” Work and responsibility chisel away rough edges and hew a soul full of light and beauty.
At many dog races, the canines run after a fake rabbit around a track until they get to the finish line. On occasion, when there is a mechanical failure, the dogs actually catch the pretend rabbit and are ruined for the rest of their lives. They never race again because they know they are being deceived. They may even become depressed and stop eating.
We may feel for these dogs, but aren’t they like most of us? We spend much of our lives striving after the “if only’s.” If only I had a new car. If only I had a bigger house. If only I could get that promotion. If only my wife wasn’t so cranky. If only my kids were smarter. Etc. Then, if we do ever attain an “if only”, we realize it doesn’t deliver the anticipated happiness. It was a fake all along.
We all need to take the advice of centuries of sages – God first. Family second. Everything else after will take care of itself. And, when we prioritize, we will be surprised by joy.
In 1997, forty-five daring tax professionals participated in Money magazine’s annual experiment by preparing the magazine’s tax return. Result? Forty-five different bottom-lines. Less than 25 percent came within $1,000 of the correct answer. Even the most intelligent CPA can’t figure out all of the IRS guidelines. And this is just for tax returns. Think about all the “professionals” out there who claim they can help you become a super-parent in the much murkier world of parenting by their “new” insight or discovery. Truth is you only really need to master three areas to become the parent your children need you to be. But you must master them well. One is to be a person of integrity. Two is to spend a significant amount of one-on-one time with each of your children. Three is to be able to communicate well with them. Become a professional in these three areas and see the bottom-line of love with your children rise exponentially.
A Harvard study followed the progress of students who had written out their goals while still in college. Years later, those students were found to be more satisfied with their lives and more successful than those who had not put their goals down. So, to help achieve your dreams, put your aspirations to paper. First, be specific with your goals and include a time frame. Next write out three things you can do to reach each one. And finally, evaluate your progress every year. Start with family goals and work from there.