ABCs of a New You

Accept, Behold, Create

Changing one’s attitude is not complicated, but it requires hard work.

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Step A: Accept the idea that a change is needed.

His mother worked with a former student of mine. When the mother continued to complain about her son’s behavior and grades, my former student encouraged her to enroll him in my classroom, saying, “Mr. Roberts can help him.”

He had chosen to hang with the wrong crowd at his middle school. His attitude was disrespectful. School was a bore. His grades fell almost off the alphabet. His mom was rightly worried.

Those four things are connected: hanging crowd, disrespect, boredom, bad grades.

There was nothing wrong with his brain capabilities. In fact, he was quite intelligent. But crowd and boredom and attitude combined to interfere with his academic achievement.

He had been kicked off the basketball team. That punctuated his bad attitude.

He really was behind in his academic skills and understanding. His choices during the past school year had determined that would be the case.

I have seen it over and over during my work in schools: Bad attitude results in bad grades which removes privileges. Then the student chooses to rebel against the loss of privileges with claims that the loss was the reason for the poor attitude, poor grades, poor respect.

Looking at it from the correct sequence takes courage and the willingness to admit, “I’m the one to blame.” “My choices caused this disappointment.” The school, his teachers, his parents – all warned him of the consequences of his choices.

Loss is always a disappointment.

But loss is always the result of poor choices.

To reverse the disappointment, and future losses, start making better choices.

Step B: Behold (Look at)

For the student I began telling about, acceptance and encouragement from the other students and the teachers gradually won him over. The influence of the other students who were eager to participate in class activities and work toward excellence, rubbed off on him, slowly but surely.

It really is true: Birds of a feather flock together. It is also true that you can change the flock you hang with and become like the new birds.

Choose which birds you want to be like, and join their flock.

Keep what and who you want to become always in front of your eyes – keep looking at the goals.

Write a description of the person you want to become.

A written list of characteristics and abilities is important.

Include attitude words like, happy, eager, proud…

Include behavior descriptors that you want to achieve, like, leader, successful, high-achiever…

Search on the Internet for ‘positive attitude words’ and ‘positive behavior words.’

Add to your list the ones that resonate with you.

I encouraged my student to make his new choices visible. “Write one word from your two lists on a colorful Post-It Note and put it on the mirror, on the wall, around the house, on the TV screen, in the kitchen,” was my Prescription.

The Bible tells us, By beholding we become changed. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

My student found pictures in magazines that he could cut out and the whole class helped him post them on his desk, computer, and around the classroom.

This exercise can be thought of like the carrots used to keep work animals moving forward, incentives for you to reach a little farther, try a little harder, work a little longer.

Step C: Create a new reality.

Creating begins with thoughts.

See the pictures and notes and change your thoughts.

Change your thoughts and change your life.

We think about the things that occupy our time and attention. Music, movies, video games, social media – the more time we spend on those activities, the harder it is to choose something better.

Change begins with a choice.

Replace those things in your life that are moving you away from your new goals.

Choose to spend more time with books, nature, exercise, helping others, gardening. Learn to draw. Learn to write poetry and stories.

Read a book.

Instead of watching a movie, read a book, maybe even the book that was used to create the movie.

Get a list of books that everyone should read by age 12.

Or a list of books that everyone should read in their 20s.

There are lists specifically for men and for women.

The habit of reading is critical to creating the ideal You.

Change the music you listen to.

It is a known psychological fact that we like the music with which we’re familiar. We’re familiar with the music we listen to. So changing music preferences is simply a matter of making the choice and acting on it.

I recommend Classical Music. Many studies have been done documenting the brain benefits of classical music.

Amazing Benefits of Classical Music

Brain Boost from Mozart Effect

Everything in life begins with a choice.

What you choose to put into your brain/mind determines your attitude.

Yet, your attitude can strongly influence the choices you make.

Don’t leave it to chance. Choose. Be the master of your attitude. Use your attitude to improve your life.

My student got his act together, graduated from 8th grade, and will soon enter college.

You, too, can achieve success.

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Attitude + Dream + Work

The plan was for her to arrive just as the school term began. The report from the school in her home country said she could barely read or write, and she was too shy to ask for help. Her English was limited.

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September waned, and October breezed in. She was still waiting for paperwork that would enable her to enter the U.S. Her mother was already here. But rules are rules and waiting was the game.

November came. Her desk in my classroom stood empty. Her future classmates looked at the desk to question “When?” less frequently now.

Then, as December loomed tall on the horizon, word came. She’ll start on Monday.

Half the school year was almost gone. Based on her age, she should be entering 9th grade. How could we accomplish the task in so short a time? We decided 7th grade was her best fit.

She would not speak up in class to participate in discussions. She would not ask a question nor answer mine. I put her desk next to mine and assigned one of my female students to be her guide.

Strengths

The one strength that she showed and used was Attitude. She would take her textbooks home to translate, read, and study. She would talk to me in a quiet voice that couldn’t be heard 3 steps away from her desk. That was one reason her desk was next to mine.

She loved volleyball. So I organized games during breaks, recess, and lunch. Soon she recognized that she belonged. Her shyness began to melt. She worked hard and spent long hours pursuing understanding. She really wanted to please me with her progress. My praise made her beam.

The purpose of this article is not to detail the steps we took, nor the pedagogy implemented.

So we jump ahead to March.

We participated in Camp NANOWRIMO in March. The whole class. The challenge was to write 30,000 words or more during the month. In the form of a story. I let her write in her native language if she chose, but she pushed herself to write in English.

March, April, and May. Three miraculous months of learning and achievement. I met with her mom and step-dad to share that I wanted to have her graduate from 8th grade in May.

Class trip to Panama City, graduation celebration, and Summer break. She enrolled in 9th grade in public high school in August.

At church one day at the end of the first 9 weeks of her freshman year, she came running up to me grinning. Her parents were right behind, also grinning. Her report card was all As and one B!

How was she able to accomplish this?

Attitude.

Which caused her to work hard toward her goal. My job as teacher had simply been to offer her the opportunities and support that she needed to excel.

During my teaching career I saw miracles like this over and over. Kids labeled as “poor students” when given the challenges and opportunities to change their attitudes about being good at school – discover they can fly. And they soar!

Yes, I know how to break complicated concepts into bite-size chunks that my students can handle. Yes, I know how to demonstrate that “everything is connected” and help them understand the connections.

But the miracle happens inside them, not in me. I get to watch as they have their ah-ha moments, and as they move on to accomplish their dreams.

Now, for you, reading this post. If you have not yet achieved your goals in school or life – it’s not too late. The first step is – get your attitude in line with your dreams.

To accomplish big-dream things, requires a big-dream attitude. Not a big-shot attitude.

Dream big. Pay attention to the connections from where and what you now are, to the fulfillment of your dream. Keep your focus on that distant goal.

One step at a time, make sure you lay a solid foundation, and help others traveling toward their dream… and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish, in time.

Attitude is a choice.

Choice is under your control. Choose wisely and achieve big dreams. Choose carelessly, or let others put their choice on you, and dreams become nightmares.

Everything is connected.

Attitude impacts everything in your life: negative attitudes will attract negative results; positive attitudes will attract positive results.

The process of changing one’s attitude? More on that next week. Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss it.

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It is a common belief that reading about someone else’s experiences is beneficial – a pattern for achieving your own goals, and a caution against making the same mistakes.

Did this story cause you to reflect on your attitude and how it is affecting you?

Did the story inspire you to work harder toward your dreams?

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Focus and Attitude, Part 2

Focus & Attitude, Part 1 (If you have not yet read Part 1, I encourage you to click the link and read or listen before reading Part 2.)

The Israelite army defeated the Philistine army the day that Goliath fell. God was able to use a teenage shepherd to lead the scared military men to victory.

Focus-Attitude Part 2 (Download a PDF of this post)

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Remember this gold nugget: Use what you have, to start the task.

Begin. One step. One stone. And you’re on your way to victory – to having the job completed, the problem solved, the challenge faced.

A prospector doesn’t know where the gold vein will show up or what twists and turns it will take. He uses his tools to explore, to discover.

Life is a goldmine. Every experience contains a bit of gold, but it is usually hidden. If you’re not looking for gold, it is unlikely that you will find any.

But in every experience, every circumstance, there is a nugget that overcomes the giant.

Sometimes I think it would be easier if the giants were flesh and blood like Goliath. But often the giants can’t be seen. They are real. And we have gotten pretty good at hiding in our tents and pretending they will go away if we ignore them.

The Israelite soldiers who were trained to fight for God’s honor chose not to accept the mission. God provided someone else.

After David killed Goliath, I can imagine that there were numerous soldiers who said to each other, “That was easy. I could have done that.”

The difference was in David’s focus and attitude: “All of my skills and talents are to be used to honor God.”

The other soldiers did not know God well enough to have confidence in His ability and willingness to deliver – they weren’t really sure that God Saves.

They were worried about losing the battle with the giant.

They were worried about the possibility of shame and defeat.

They were focused on the wrong things. “Can any normal soldier compete against such an enemy? My dagger against that giant’s sword? My spear against the tree-spear that Goliath carries?”

Their focus was on self; their attitude was “I can ignore the insults to God. If He isn’t going to send lightning to strike that giant, why should I risk my life?”

Five Stones

It’s good to have more than one.

Developing skills for facing life isn’t a ‘one-stone-fits-all’ solution. David had four additional stones ready for the battle.

You may not be naturally good in math or history or science, but pick up those stones and place them in your tool bag. God never asks you to acquire a skill for which He doesn’t have a task that it will enable you to complete for Him.

You can choose not to take on learning the skill, but in doing so, you will be less useful to God than you have the potential to be. Someone will be called on to complete the mission, it just won’t be you.

When you are offered opportunities to learn, to develop skills, don’t short-change yourself. Don’t be content with one stone.

Do Battle with Personal Giants

What giants are you facing today? Finances? Addiction? A life-style?

Is your giant a schedule that is too busy so you don’t think you have time to get to know God?

The Rebellion Giant?

Maybe you think your parents are too strict. Maybe you think the church has too many rules that just don’t make sense to you. Maybe you think God is too strict.

The Doubt Giant – does God really care?

Where do I begin the battle? What weapons do I have to fight with?

We begin with Trust that He cares.

We begin with Faith that He saves.

That’s all He asks of us: begin with a small stone. Like that small stone that was in the riverbed waiting, He is waiting for you to pick Him up and be used against your giants.

It was just a small stone that David used to honor God.

To everyone is given a measure of faith. A small stone, to be sure. But, used well, fired from the sling of trust in God, a small stone is the beginning of a victory.

Here’s the most powerful stone I know: Jesus loves you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more; there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less.

Jesus loves me. Say it with me, Jesus loves me. Do you know it to be true? It is the truest statement that can be made.

Years after defeating Goliath, David wrote, “The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18) The small stone had grown into a Rock Fortress.

“Jesus loves me” is a sure defense against the Goliaths that you and I face in our lives right now and into every tomorrow. It is our fortress, a Rock which Satan cannot overcome.

Trust

When my grandson was 2 years old, I put him up on the second step on our stairs and held out my arms to him and encouraged him to jump. He didn’t look down to see how far it was to the floor. He looked right in my eyes. He didn’t say, “No. Papa, I’ll get hurt if you drop me.”

He laughed, he giggled, then he jumped. He knew, he had experienced, “Papa cares, Papa is safe, and Papa will catch me.”

God holds out His arms to you today. Don’t look down; don’t worry that you might fall, that you might get hurt, that your friends might make fun of you. Look into His eyes, look at the scars in His hands.

Know this: God cares; God is safe; God is the One who saves from all giants, even the ones that you face today. This knowledge is more valuable than the Gold of Ophir.

Learn the lessons of Focus and Attitude: Use the tools you have to begin the battle. With God, all things are possible. Stand up and stand out for God’s honor.

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Focus and Attitude, Part 1

My post last week began a series on Trust, entitled Trust Me. (Click to open that post.)

Let’s see how Trust is important in this story. You will find the full narrative in 1 Samuel 17.

Download a PDF of this post:  Focus and Attitude Part 1

For forty days Goliath mocked the Israelite soldiers. He wore a suit of armor that weighed more than the average man could pick up. He didn’t have to know how to fight, he could just step on you, or fall on top of you, and squash you like a bug. But he did know how to fight; he was a trained warrior.

His voice was as big as he was tall. He stood across the valley and shouted for hours on end, ridiculing and mocking and taunting and making the men feel like helpless little boys.

There was no escape from his voice. In the camp in their tents, during the night when they tried to sleep, while they ate, no matter where they went or what they did, Goliath’s voice reminded them of their hopeless situation.

Consider it: you against Maximus Prime.

Defend His Honor

Along came an untrained brother who had been sent by his father to “see how the battle goes.”

Soon after David found his brothers in their tents, Goliath came out of his tent to begin his show. After one sentence, in which Goliath ridiculed God, David was ready to fight.

He turned to his brothers and the group of soldiers near him and said, “That’s not right. That Philistine is making fun of God. What are you going to do about it?”

David’s focus was not on himself or even the Israelite army. David could not bear the thought that someone was saying bad things about God.

David’s focus was on God – on defending God against the accusations being made and the insults being shouted for all to hear.

Saul, the king, had informed the soldiers that he was to be notified as soon as anyone was ready to do battle with Goliath. David, in his youthful innocence and naivete boldly stated that he would fight this giant in order to show to the world the truth about God.

Soldier’s armor was placed on him; soldier’s weapons were provided him; soldier’s battle plans were drawn out in the sand for him.

Use the Tools You Know

But, David picked up his sling and ran forward to the stream bed that lay between the two armies. Many stones of the right size and shape, smoothed by the rushing waters as in a stone polisher, lay in the stream.

David selected five stones for his mission. Four of them he placed in his leather bag that hung from his belt. The fifth one went into his sling. Then he bounded across the stream toward Goliath.

Goliath was shocked. “You send a puppy out for me to play with?” he roared.

David watched his enemy carefully. He saw the giant throw down his shield and push his protective helmet back so that he could better see this teenager who was coming toward him. It was then that David prayed out loud as a warning to the enemy and as a reminder to the Israelite soldiers, watching and listening as they cowered in their tents behind him.

Adding Injury to Insult

“My God, the One you have been blaspheming, the One you have been lying about, will today deliver you into my hands so that all may know that God is the One who saves,” David yelled as he sprinted toward the battle.

I’m not sure that it is a good idea to yell prayers to God. But, David had a plan. A plan that had nothing to do with the sand scratching by the king and his generals. A plan that looked past the giant into the faces of the Philistine soldiers behind their hero.

‘I am not the one fighting this battle! I am only the weapon that will be used by the God you are defying.’ That was the plan. David knew that his stone, placed accurately on the forehead of his target, would at least cause the man to fall, dazed.

A fallen hero would spread panic among the enemy soldiers. But it would spread confidence in his fellow warriors. David would quickly be joined by brothers eager to participate in the victory rout.

The God he had befriended in the solitude of a shepherd’s life did not disappoint. Courage and trust were just two of the veins that David had mined from his life’s experiences: Trust in God and Courage to act.

One stone, carefully guided to the right place, brought honor to God. David had four more ready, in case other giants ran to Goliath’s rescue. But one did the job.

Use Tools the Right Way

The stones had been there all the time. The stones were in the reach of the rest of the Israelite soldiers all the time. They had complained “these dumb stones are difficult to walk on in sandals” “it takes too long to fill my water bottle with these stone in the way”; they had thrown the stones at nothing, at birds, at other rocks.

But the attitude and focus of the soldiers was – the stones were a nuisance. The stones made their lives more difficult. The stones had no value in their lives right then. They had not learned to recognize the riches that lay within their reach.

Skills That You Have

But David had a different focus and a different attitude from the soldiers who were too afraid to do anything. David’s focus was on God and Honoring Him; his attitude was “I will use the skills that I have to stand up and stand out for God.”

That’s a Golden Nugget!

If that nugget is not yet visible in your personal mine, you can find it, just look in the right places.

The nugget says, “I will use the skills that I have to stand up to this problem or this challenge or this obstacle.”

Just as David’s attitude enabled him to see the value of the stones, you, with the right attitude, will be able to see possible solutions to your problems, obstacles, challenges.

Conquer with Attitude

That attitude will move you along a path that overcomes whatever the problem is. It is true, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Thinking that you can will start you on the path to overpower the problem.

We all have skills. You don’t need my skills in order to stand up for God, just as David didn’t need the tools that the king offered him for the fight. The shield and sword and armor were Saul’s, not David’s.

David needed to use his own skills, focus on honoring God, and show his confidence through his actions, that God will save.

“I will use the skills that I have…” is a great foundation stone – a gold nugget the size of an anchor.

I recommend including God in the equation you use to face life. If you’re not sure how to do that, email me and I’ll be delighted to help.

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Trust Me

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You’ve probably seen the commercials urging you to choose a specialized medical center for treating cancers. A common statement by the real patients who are featured in the ads says, “I had to trust someone.”

Of course, because the choice turned out well for the spokesperson, you are encouraged to place your trust in the same business, so it will turn out well for you, too.

Download a PDF of this post:   Trust Me

Do you trust commercials?

Who can you trust?

The two in the photo checked each other out and became good friends.

We moved 1,500 miles to a new community for a new job. We left behind the doctors and medical practices that we had learned to trust.

One of the last things we did in the old town was to ask for recommendations for professionals in the new town. Unfortunately, there were no known associates in the new place.

So, we talked with people we already trusted: employer, boss, associates, church leaders and members. Soon we had a list of recommendations for medical and community professionals who were trusted by those we trusted.

Ask people you trust for advice.

I recommend that process.
But don’t make the circle too small. Include people who have community trust also.
Check with the BBB for information.
Use the Internet to find Reviews:

Google, Yelp, Health Grades, Consumer Reports, Rate Mds, Health Grades, Web MD.

Similar sites are available for Lawyers, Plumbers, Auto Mechanics, and every service specialty.

Today you can hear many voices warning that the medical and pharmaceutical communities are quacks, or worse, criminal in their intent to harm you and cheat you out of your money and health.

There have always been charlatans and criminals who attempt to take our money. The Internet has given them a bigger platform. So be careful.

But, don’t accept the theory that all doctors fit into the danger zone.
Don’t believe that all medicines are filled with poison.

Remember, water in the wrong amount will kill you. So will oxygen. And food.

Medical Professionals can be trusted.

I know that it is possible for people in trusted positions to fool their constituency, their patients, their clients. Yet, it seems that such trickery is the exception, not the rule.

The exceptions are loudly, and at times, wildly proclaimed on the 24 hour news channels and the evening national and local news broadcasts. They receive so much coverage that the impression is that we have to fear everyone. One doctor out of the hundreds that care for our Olympic athletes is the exception.

Be vigilant.
But wisely trust.

The government can be trusted.

To a certain extent. Government is power, and power in the wrong hands is dangerous.

As long as we have a large group of engaged citizens who participate in voting at election times and when laws are presented to be voted up or down;

As long as our state and national representatives and senators are monitored by the citizens they serve; As long as citizens stay informed and active;

we can trust our governments in the United States of America.
We, the citizens, must stay informed, knowledgeable, about the history and constitution of our country.
We, the citizens, must hold the elected officials accountable.
Accountability is done with votes.

Those who neglect to vote have only themselves to blame when corrupt power rules.

Family can be trusted.

Stay close to your children and grandchildren. Keep the conversational avenues open. Be sure they know they can tell you anything – without you condemning or exploding.

Children have to be trusted. You’re raising them. Do you trust yourself?

Parents and grandparents have to be trusted.

Teachers can be trusted.

I personally find it very offensive that a comedy series named Teachers, ridicules the teaching profession.

Students watch the shows and adopt attitudes from the actors. These attitudes are carried into the classrooms and make the teachers’ jobs more difficult.

It has often been said, but bears repeating, Teachers make every other profession possible. Let’s treat them with respect.

But let’s also attend Parent-Teacher Conferences and PTA meetings. An involved community gets a better return on its education investment.

Pastors can be trusted.

But, be careful who you give the title to. Not everyone who preaches is a pastor.

In God We Trust

Those words are printed in countless places in America.

Yes, God can be trusted.

When our trust is placed in God we can look at the past, the present, and the future with peace.

God is in control. Of everything.

Sometimes He lets things get wonky, but even in the chaos, He is in control.

To really trust Him, study His Word. Such study will be a safeguard against imposters – who can’t be trusted.

A knowledgeable trust is the best kind.

Can You Trust Entertainers?

Entertainers do their thing for one reason: money.

Who are the entertainers? Actors, talk-show hosts, paid athletes, magicians, spokespeople for products and services, comedians, singers, millionaire preachers…

Entertainers have become regular promoters of every product and service that you can imagine. Apparently it is true that thousands of people accept the advice of people they recognize from their entertainment choices… and believe. And trust. And buy. And imitate.

Each and every one of those entertainers who seems so sincere, so confident, so trustworthy, is reading a script and pocketing thousands (maybe millions) of dollars, to put on an act to convince you to trust.

Be careful trusting anyone who can convincingly pretend.

Exceptions can be found in every career.

We have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. That’s an old expression. I hope you understand its import.

Study carefully where you have placed your trust.

I have probably offended some with this post. To offend is not my intention.

I hope that self evaluation will happen. A large group of people in America today seem to be able to hold up a stick and call it a snake – fully believing it to be such.

Blind trust is still blind.
And blindness prevents one from seeing reality.

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