Getting children to redefine what their best is…everyday

Dr. Robyn SIlverman as a young teenager

Do you see “vision” in the eyes of your child?

Dr. Robyn Silverman for Powerful Words

Some might say that the difference between a successful child and an unsuccessful child is brains.  Others might say talent. Still others, might realize that it may just be the vision and belief that one can set goals, go after those goals, and succeed in achieving those goals.

When I was about 8-12 years old, I was convinced that I was stupid.  My brothers had been in all the advanced classes- I hadn’t. My brothers got high marks on all their tests—I didn’t.  My brothers were among those kids invited to their teacher’s home for a special celebration of “smartness” and I…played with the Barbie dream home.

It wasn’t like I was failing anything—I was pretty much just average. But boy—it was convenient to believe otherwise. “I’m not as smart as my brothers” and “I’m stupid” became my mantra.  It was my answer to all things challenging at school—all bad grades, the reason I was more of a follower than a leader among my friends, my fallback mantra anytime I got stuck in a pickle–  it provided my perfect excuse for mediocrity.

What’s funny about the repetition of a mantra is that not only do you begin to believe what you are saying—but so do others around you. My family just knew that they needed to help me out quite a bit since I could hardly do things myself.  My mother barely would say anything about the Cs on my report card because they were clearly the best I could do. My father admitted later on in life that he began to thank God that I was cute since I didn’t get blessed with the brains in the family. It’s not their fault.  I was VERY convincing.

So, when I entered 8th grade, I didn’t expect anything different than my typical average performance. Nobody did. But in meeting Mr. Hendrickson, who asked us all to call him “Hendi” since he was only 24 years old at the time, I had met my match.  Still young enough to know what a cop out looked like and old enough to know the difference between poor self esteem and actual stupidity, he called me into his office.

“What do you need in order to ace this next math test?”

“I can’t ace any test.  I’m a horrible test taker and I stink at math.”

“But what if you could?”

“Could what?”

“Ace the test. What would you need to do it?”

“Someone else’s brain?”

(The parent/teacher look.  You know the one.  You probably give it to your children when they make such remarks.)

“OK. I guess I would need a lot of extra help (but I couldn’t resist)…but a brain transplant couldn’t hurt.”

“Fine. My door is open to you everyday during free periods and after school. As for the brain transplant, you don’t need it.  But you need a thought transplant. You need a new definition of what your best is.”

“I try my best.”

“No, you try what you once believed was your best. You need a new definition. Your current definition is yesterday’s news. What do you want now? What can you do now? I don’t think you know what you are capable of.”

“Not much.”

“You’re doing it again. I’m not buying it. I want you to wipe clean the slate and see what’s possible now.  You’re going to ace this test.”

“If you say so.”

No , I want you to say so.”

“I’m not there yet.”

“Get there.”

“I’ll try.”

You see, I was basing my performance level, my attitude, and my belief in myself on who I believed I was—the stupid one—not on who I could be. Once this belief was exposed, I needed to either prove him wrong or prove him right.

So for the next 2 weeks I came in every day for extra help.  An opportunity had opened up—not that it wasn’t always there but I hadn’t been willing to take it.  After all, why bother when the results were bound to be the same?  Perhaps even with extra help, I wasn’t going to be able to do it.  But in the back of my head, a tiny voice asked meekly, but what if you could?

The day of the test came. I took it and didn’t feel half bad about it. Not that that would make a difference—since the results were bound to be the same.  But what if they weren’t?

It was later on in the day that I bumped into Hendi.  He stopped me in the hallway and said; “You did it.”

Not believing my ears I asked, “I did what?”

“You aced the test.”

Doubting these different results I questioned, “are you sure?”

To which he joked, “I’m not checking it again.  See… you can do it.  And now we all know.  We all have a new definition of what your best is. So, now you’re really in for it!”

It’s a day that changed more than just my definition of my best. It told me what was possible. It changed my vision of the future and redefined what I was capable of NOW rather than going by what I thought I was capable of then.  It infused me with confidence and the ability to push myself and to redefine what my best is every day.

Children must have the ability to dream if you want to see them rise to their potential . They must believe in what’s possible even if it hasn’t been done before.  They must be willing to challenge themselves and others. And yes, they must redefine what is “their best” everyday and refuse to live by yesterday’s definition of one’s best.

As parents and teachers,we must give children the permission to succeed—dropping who they might have been and building on who they can be. Sometimes we all get stuck in believing their performance sabotaging mantras. It’s time to stop allowing it to happen.

So, how are you inspiring your children to redefine their definition of their best?  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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How do you celebrate achieving a goal?

toasting to the achievement of a goal

Goal Setting and Celebration: Inspiration from First Grade Phonics

Dr. Robyn Silverman

When I was on 1st grade, we used to do phonics.  I remember the June day like it was yesterday.  It was warm in the school and we were all suffering from an acute case of Spring Fever.  It was on that day that we completed our last day of Phonics.  Mrs. Rabin announced, “You’re all done! Congratulations students! You can throw away the cover!” We all got up and my friend, Leanna, started a frenzy of little kids skipping around the room towards the trash can singing “no more phonics! no more phonics!” It was fun!  We felt great about ourselves! We got to the end!  I never forgot it.

What happens when YOUR goal or benchmark is reached? What about when your child reaches his or her goal?

Let’s say that you lost the 25 pounds you wanted to lose. You completed the course you needed to take to finish your degree. You’re child moved to a higher level. S/he finally got the A on in her hardest teacher’s class. Whatever it is, what’s the celebration plan? We’ve overcome so much, it’s hard to change…you did it…so it’s time to celebrate, isn’t it?

Without celebrating a goal, the whole process of goal-setting and goal-getting feels dull and meaningless! As the Powerful Word of the Month is Goal-setting, this is a great time to teach our children to celebrate before moving on to the next goal.

Celebrating can come in all forms—it can be as serious as being given an award or as silly as doing a funny “celebration dance” with a friend or parent. It can be as simple as a making a chocolate-milk toast to the success that was made and as intricate as baking brownies, wrapping them in a special tin, and sharing them with a friend, teacher, or sibling who also had some kind of success.  Celebrating can be going to the movies, giving your child a night off, going to dinner, or even buying her a congratulations balloon and hanging it on the back of her desk chair in her room. You can turn up the radio up really loud and invite him to jump on the bed with you (if that’s allowed for this special occasion). Whatever you do, you do need to commemorate the process if your child is going to learn that making and achieving goals is fun and something extraordinary.

One last hint– be sure that you do it too.  When children see you celebrating your goals, they’ll be more compelled to set and celebrate their own.

So, how do you and your children celebrate the success of your goals? Are you a bed jumper? Brownie baker? Movie goer? If this step has been missing in your goal-setting routine, what would you like to do? Give yourself something to look forward to…

Comment below so others can hear your ideas.  We can all get inspired from one another.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied: Defining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

calendar for goal setting

Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied:

Redefining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Where did the time go? Didn’t we have definite plans for 2008? Goals? We were going to get to it. But alas, we didn’t. And now it’s January…2009.

My gosh, we waste a lot of time. Procrastination comes in all forms. Email. We searches. Blackberries. Yes, and we know who you are.

Alright; I’ll confess. I’ve just entered the world of FaceBook. Go ahead, “friend” me! It’s a really cool tool that’s reconnected me with friends and colleagues of the past and present. This is both positive and negative. More connections can lead to heightened opportunity, greater feelings of unity, and growth. More connections can also lead to more senseless yapping on the internet, addictive checking of messages, re-exposed high school wounds we would have liked to have left untouched, and yes, lots and lots of wasted time. I sometimes find myself searching around for blasts from the past without any good reason for doing so. And no, curiosity isn’t really that good of an excuse.

We’re quick to blame other people and our “situations” for our lack of concentration and progress. But at the beginning of the New Year, perhaps it’s time to reclaim our control and ask ourselves what’s really happening and how WE can take action to fix it. Let’s make 2009 the year we get “it” done! After all, aren’t we all sick of mediocrity?

(1) Who? It’s time to get honest. Who can you be around and still get the work done that needs to get done? Spouse? Friends? Pets? Who hurts your progress? Who distracts you? Who makes you feel incapable, incompetent, or anxious?

(2) What? Break it down: What do I really have to do? What are the bite-sized pieces that I can put on my to-do list? What’s the plan for today, this week, this month—and what’s my overarching timeline? What can keep me on track?

(3) Where? We often forget to think about our location and how it serves (or doesn’t serve) us and our specific purpose. Where do I flourish, feel productive and make progress? When I look at where I work, what should the space look like for maximum productivity? Where do I lose my focus? Where am I more apt to succumb to distractions? Get honest with yourself. Perhaps a location-change or a space-overhaul is just what you need.

(4) When? Many of you, just like my coaching clients, are not just parents, teachers or business owners. We wear a lot of hats. Still, we do need to take control as best as we can. Ask yourself; When it my best time of day for innovation, business maintenance, or strategic planning? When is my worst time? When do I get tired? When we determine our optimal “when,” our plans become real and certain.

(5) Why? The “why” of our business determines motivation, inspiration, and enthusiasm for every project. Ask yourself; Why am I doing this? Why do I care? Without a “why,” your life will feel empty, dull, and pointless. Whether you do what you do for the good of yourself, the good of your family, or the good of mankind, make sure the reason is compelling so that it consistently inspires you to move forward every day.

First, breathe.  Stand back and really think. You may need a great success coach to work through it all with you. These simple yet powerful overarching questions will inspire you to determine the answers that are vital to your success. Get honest with yourself, answer the questions, and allow your responses to shape the circumstances of your success.

COACHING CLASS! As a success coach, I’m setting up another parenting coaching group for motivated adults who want to make 2009 their year for goal success. Interested? SPACE IS EXTREMELY LIMITED. This group is starting very soon- please let us know that you plan on participating. Fill out the form on my website and I’ll send you more information! PowerDay retreats also available.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn Silverman introduces the Powerful Word for January: Goal Setting!

Goal-Setting Quotes:

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination –Fitzhugh Dodson

Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars. — Les Brown

The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.— Denis Waitley

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. –Stephen A. Brennan

When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life. –Greg Anderson

You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals. –Edmund Hillary

Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.
— Aristotle

The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals. –Booker T. Washington

Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life. –Les Brown

Planning is part of goal-setting but not goal-getting. Goals die without action. Do what you’ve planned today so you can have what you want tomorrow. — Dr. Robyn Silverman

The unfortunate aspect about living life without your own goals is that you may very well reach a point in your life where you will wonder, ‘what would have happened if I had only done… —Catherine Pulsifer

When you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. –Zig Ziglar

Here’s to a Powerful Month and a Powerful Year!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs




Got Goals? The 7 Deadly Downers that Dash Your Dreams

New Years Resolution and Goal Setting

The 7 Deadly Downers that Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions:

Help Your Family Obtain Goal-Setting Success!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Have a New Year’s resolution? Watch out.  These 7 deadly downers can sabotage your goals.

Many POWerful bits of information come in 7s. Seven numbers in a phone number, seven days in a week, and seven wonders of the world. Most people say that their favorite number between 1 and 10 is seven. Of course, seven can showcase the bad things of this world as well, such as the seven deadly sins to avoid.

And now…

The Seven POWerful Downers that Hold People Back from Goal-setting Success! After all, the January 2009 Powerful Word of the Month is Goal-Setting– so we want want our children and families to be on the look out for these negative words.

(1) No: Such a small word but like an ant, powerful for its size. It’s arguably one of the most powerful words in the
English dictionary. Definitive by nature, it requires no other explanation for what it means. It’s the enemy of progress
and the dasher of dreams.

(2) Can’t: This word is a mind-trick. “Can’t” is the little voice inside our heads that tells us what we are not able to do.
Even if we’ve never tried it or attempted to do this thing this particular way before, “can’t” has already decided the outcome.  Tacking on a simple apostrophe and that one little letter “t” to the end takes this word from emphatic and positive to pathetic and negative.

(3) Won’t: Won’t is our inner child throwing the proverbial tantrum. “Won’t” is bratty and uppity, immature and insistent in getting its way. With folded arms, nose up in the air, and a smug look, “won’t” will easily cut off its nose to spite its face.

(4) Never: A POWerful Downer indeed. “Never” is infinite permanence. “Never” robs us of our power of choice for the
future. What feels impossible today is assumed to be insurmountable in the future despite changes in circumstance,
wisdom, and guts.

(5) Maybe: This word is just plain wishy-washy. It means nothing. Neither gutsy enough to say yes or direct enough to say no, “maybe” provides little hope for progress when there has been no definitive commitment.

(6) If: This tiny word is full of it. Projection, that is. “If” blames others when things don’t go its way. “If” takes the onus off of itself and lays it like a monkey on someone else’s back. It has the power of negating everything said before it with just one small insertion. It whines and begs for someone else to do the work or just simply, make it happen.

(7) Someday: While this word seems genteel enough, the reality is, it wants to sell you a bill of goods. It’s a snake-oil salesman. “Someday” is procrastination in action-there is no commitment, no follow-through, and no progress. “Someday” might tease someone-it might play a trick or two on the brain, but someday has no power for good until someday becomes today.

Actions may speak louder than words, however, these words bark loudly in one’s head. In this next year, you can make a choice to fill your mind with “yes,” “I can,” “I will,” “always,” and “now” or the Powerful Downers detailed above. They are your goals, your dreams, your hopes, and your life. Take back the power.

Here’s to Powerful Goal Setting and Goal Getting Success in 2009!

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Dr. Robyn Silverman signs