It's Only My Opinion

Things I want to tell my kids that won't fit on Twitter

Archive for the category “Relationships”

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Everything Matters

Welcome to the 6th in my series of blog posts on “8 Keys to Getting it Right.”   ‘Everything Matters’ says just that, that ‘Everything Matters’. I try to instill this philosophy in my kids especially during times when they can’t see that what they do, the way they do it, the attitude that they do it with and the impending result may matter a great deal- they just never know when.

Everything Matters...I think that if you are going to do anything, you need to do it with everything that you have. You have to do your best, no matter what the instance or the task at hand. Whether it is making a bed, cleaning your car, taking a class, making a meal, running onto a court, setting a table, raising a child, or doing a task for a job, you give it your best because everything you do and the way you do it-  matters. And guess what? People notice. They notice the attitude and the outcome. They notice the commitment and the enthusiasm. Don’t like what you are doing? So what- do it better than anyone else. Take pride in the fact that it will have your name, your signature on it, no matter how banal it is to you, it may not be banal to someone else. In my opinion, if you want to be considered for leadership, a promotion, be captain of the team or simply keep your job- make every single thing you do matter;  have it make a difference. Have it make a statement and you will make a name and a life for yourself.

Maybe my kids/your kids don’t care. There is a possibility that ‘Everything Matters’ won’t matter to them. In my opinion, my job is to make them care. To open their eyes and help them see. Some kids are naturally responsive when it comes to knowing that ‘Everything Matters’, others are not. As a parent, it is part of my DNA to make it part of their DNA. I am not supposed to be their friend, I am supposed to help them make better choices and then to let them go when the time comes. I just looked up the word Parent in the dictionary.  (I was hoping it was a little sexier but it wasn’t.)   The definition of the word parent means: a person who brings up and cares for another. My husband and I are definitely in the process of bringing up our three kids  and of course, we care for them. For me, if I do care for them then I will always try and do what is best for them as long as I am in the position to do so. I will not hold or bite my tongue. I will take every opportunity I can to teach and train and share the insights and opinions that I have with my kids till they move out on their own. (ignoring the rolling of their pretty blue eyes if I have to.)

Is this an easy job? Nope. I want my kids to know that everything they do and everything they say is a reflection on them and their ability to do more and handle more or be offered more from those around them. Until they are in a position to write their own ticket, I have to help them see the path they are on and where it may be leading them. Will I always be right? Absolutely not. But I have more experience and I’ve either made those mistakes or watched other people make them to know that I have a better shot at guiding my kids then they do on their own.

If you don’t think “Everything Matters,” then look around you. Look at the news of late. Look at our leaders and our teachers, the athletes, the politicians and anyone who has any influence or our attention for a while in the world and tell me I am wrong when I say that “Everything Matters.”

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski

8 Keys to Getting It Right: Don’t Make Excuses

I am enjoying writing the series of blog posts, “8 Keys to Getting it Right”. I hope the people who follow my blog or choose to read it have found the information to be useful. As I think about the key that I will write about in this post, it is probably the one key that our son (who is 19), seems to have taken to heart the most. I know that because recently he quoted it back to me when a situation came up for him in his life. He said, “Mom, you said people don’t like it when you make excuses.” and he is right.

‘Don’t make excuses’ is not only a key that you can practice successfully in your personal life but it is also a key that, practiced well, can aid you in your professional life as well. In my opinion, people would rather not hear your excuses for anything. Excuses are another way of not taking responsibility. What parents, coaches, teachers and bosses would prefer is for you to take responsibility for the outcomes in your life. They rather not hear your reasons why you didn’t do well on a test, or why you didn’t come home on time or why you weren;t prepared for the game or why you didn’t get the sale. What they all want is for you to admit that you did not follow directions, that you choose to do it your way, that you made a conscious choice to disregard the rules or guidelines you were given. Those conscious choices you made then led you to fail. Your decision to abandon that which was specifically laid out in front of you as a way to help you achieve success, led you to the place you ended up.

What your parents, your coaches, teachers and bosses are looking to hear, dare I say, would be shocked to hear from you, is that you made a mistake. That it was your responsibility to accomplish a task and you failed. What would absolutely blow them away would be to hear you say, “I apologize. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again.” Wow!

You see, in my opinion, by not making excuses for your actions and the outcomes you have just elevated yourself in the eyes of the person who put their faith and trust in you. You have proven that you are that trust worthy individual they thought you were . You proved it by taking personal responsibility for your actions. Taking personal responsibility is almost counter cultural in today’s world of blame someone else, make an excuse, and argue your way out of your bad choice.

No matter what you do in life, no matter what guidelines and rules you choose not to follow, no matter what the outcome- don’t make an excuse for it. Fess up. Admit your mistake. Take responsibility for your choices and then apologize if it goes bad. I think an authentic apology goes a long way toward mending disappointment or hurt feelings. I read a really good book on this once called, The Five Languages of Apology. In it the author, Gary Chapman talked about the extent to which one may need to apologize in order for someone to accept the “I’m sorry”. For some it is simply, “I am sorry.” for others, “I am sorry, it was my fault.” or “I am sorry, it was my fault, what can I do to make it up to you?” more still, “I am sorry, it was my fault, will you forgive me”. The level of the apology may depend on the person or the seriousness of the perceived offense. In my opinion, the levels do not matter as much as the actual ability to take responsibility and then apologize for the mistake. My son has a very difficult time with the concept of apologizing. He believes that if he apologizes, he is admitting that he was wrong. Yes, you are wrong and what is so horrible about that? You are human. You an not perfect. You are wrong and your ability to take responsibility and possibly manage the effect your actions has on another human being by not making excuses, admitting your mistake and then apologizing for it can go a long way toward your success in life- even in your failures.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Expectation = Disappointment

Welcome to blog post four in my series, 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If this is your first time being exposed to the series, I invite you to go back to the beginning and read them all. One post does not build on the other, so if one of the Keys has no interest to you, skip it!

The key “Expectation = Disappointment,” was introduced to me when I was at The University of Arizona by my friend and Sigma Chi big brother, Tod Carson. Of course, I don’t remember the situation surrounding the reason he shared it with me, but the learning has stayed with me for a very long time and I think it so valuable that I have shared it with my children and include it here.

I do remember that Tod had rightly accused me of always expecting more than I should which led to many a disappointment. But hey, isn’t that life? You have X amount of expectations only to end of disappointed X amount of the time. So, what’s a girl to do?

Learn to just be.

Don’t expect people to act in a certain way. Don’t expect friends to be a certain way or for opportunities to pan out in my favor or events to lead to happiness. Expectations can, and usually do, set you up for disappointment. Think about the last time you went somewhere that you didn’t want to go (i.e. party, play, concert). Most of the time, that event ended up being the most fun, or the most valuable for you. Why? You had no expectations.

I bet you’ve heard this before: you never find love when you are looking for it. You find love when you least expect it. Why? You least expect it. When I approach a situation armed with my set of expectations, I increase the chance I will be disappointed.

In my opinion, it is hard not to have expectations. For control freaks, it is doubly hard. Control = lack of control. The tighter you hold on- the more things slip through your grip. The more I try to control things, the more likely it is that I will mess things up. Letting go of expectations and control is not easy. Does that mean I don’t have expectations of my kids? Of course not. I’ve spent the last three posts sharing the expectations my husband and I have for my kids. My Kids have disappointed me and will disappoint me in the future. My unconditional love for them is what gives them a “do over” every time they have disappointed me. As parents, you do that for your kids and in my opinion, we should. I want my kids to know our home is the safe place for them to fail and fall. The people you can disappoint and get a fresh start again. Our friends and our colleagues don’t always get the same privileges. The relationships we have with them are different. When our expectations have gone unmet and we experience disappointment, we may tally those let downs on the internal scoreboard we keep. A disappointment that can’t be forgiven or one disappointment after another can end up jeopardizing our feelings towards friends or colleagues (and sometimes husbands and wives) and we may choose to eliminate the situation, job or the person from our life.

Just to be clear, having expectations is not the same thing as having a goal. A goal is something you do for yourself. An expectation is usually something you have for someone else. I can’t set a goal for you but I can have an expectation of you. See?

In my opinion, Tod gave me a valuable gift when he pointed out what I could not see; that my expectations were leading to disappointments and those disappointments were making me miserable.

Tod invited me to a New Year’s Eve Party at his parents’ house when I was 20 years old. I met a boy that night and we were married a few years later. Would you believe I was not expecting that?

– This post is dedicated to Tod’s parents Ed and Nadine Carson, may they rest in peace.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

Givers Gain is their happily ever after…

I belong to a Business Network International group in my area (BNI). It is a wonderful organization whose purpose is to help one another build our businesses by giving the people in our chapter and other local chapters,  qualified, warm referrals. We have a really amazing group. It is because of the culture that exists and the people that are there every week. I respect everyone in our chapter and find my Tuesdays happily  filled with BNI activities.

Our VP, Greer Canady, was asked by Ivan  Misner, who started BNI, to write her story about her involvement in BNI and how she met her husband through the network.  Greer doesn’t fancy herself a writer. I kinda do so I volunteered to interview her and write her story for her. I am like JR Moeringer was to Andre Agassi in the book Open (JR wrote the book ‘Open’ for Andre but didn’t really publicize it because as he said, it was Andre’s story not his. I went to high school with JR so I have been following his career and think his books are very good- pick up the The Tender Bar and tell me I am wrong. His new book Sutton is just out and he is on a book tour.)

So this is Greer’s story…. and I get to write it and share it here… in my blog….

Greer Cannady not only makes a good living with the many referrals she is passed at BNI, she has made a life from it, as well. Five years ago, Greer went to her first BNI meeting by way of the gentle prodding of her father, Chuck, who is also a BNI member and who was President of The Independence Chapter at the time. She loved what she saw and she joined that BNI Chapter the next week. Not long after joining, Greer stepped up as Secretary/ Treasurer of the Chapter. It was during her first month in this role that she went to that fateful Regional Leadership Meeting where she met Michael Cannady. As an officer, she was required to go to Leadership. She would later find out that Mike was the President of his Chapter and was there for the same reason.

Greer went into the meeting and started chatting with people from her Chapter, as most people do, and then sat down with them. After being comfortably situated, Steve Wiegert, the Executive Director, asked everyone to stand and choose another seat next to someone they did not know. This is where the facts are in dispute. Greer says, “Mike sat next to me and Mike says I sat next to him.” Whoever sat next to whomever beside the point… she immediately took notice of him. She was happy that she was sitting next to him. Sparks flew immediately. However, being a strong, old fashioned woman, she would have never called a man or been the one to ask a man out, so she is almost certain that he sat next to her. It did not escape her attention that he was not wearing the all-important ring on the all-important finger.

Mike and Greer Canady on their wedding day When the meeting at Paradise Park was over, he playfully asked her to join him in the foam pit for a foam ball shoot-out. She kicked off her heels and although in a dress, went in to do battle. After 20 minutes, they said their good-byes and went their separate ways. She didn’t see him again until the next monthly Leadership Meeting where he asked her to go out for lunch after the meeting, explaining he had some time to kill. She later found out that he had stretched the truth, as he had to excuse himself to cancel an appointment he had booked following the meeting.

Greer and Mike have been together ever since. Looking back, she is sure the foam ball pit was a test. He wanted to know if this attractive, positive, strong women he sat next to “by chance” at a BNI Leadership Meeting could go with the flow, have spur of the moment fun … and she passed with flying colors. She kicked off her heels and then fell head over heels in love.

She married Mike, nicknamed “BNI Boy” by Greer’s family, in June of 2011 on the side of a mountain in Summit County, Colorado.  Greer’s five years with BNI have been more than she ever dreamed of. She joined the Leadership Team of her Chapter almost immediately after joining BNI and she never looked back. She has served as President two times, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, and Chapter Coach. Most recently, in May of this year, she was selected to attend Director training in St. Louis and had the wonderful opportunity to meet, talk with, and be trained by Ivan Misner. “It was the best week of my professional career,” she says.

The organization and all of the people in it, have impacted her life in so many ways, all of them positive. It has made her a better employee, a better leader, a better speaker and she met her husband. She has grown financially, personally, and professionally as a direct result of BNI and the Giver’s Gain philosophy. Greer is forever grateful to the organization for the countless ways it changes lives. She has seen it with other people in BNI as well. “My favorite BNI moments are the ones when a fellow BNI member’s life is changed by a referral. I have seen it time and time again and it’s awesome every time. In BNI, the opportunities really are endless,” she says. The Givers Gain philosophy has always been a part of her life. She says she was raised that way. If a BNI member mentions they aren’t getting enough, she always challenges them to take a look at what they are giving. “The question shouldn’t be why aren’t you getting enough, the question should be how much are you giving and how could you give more?”

Was it coincidence that she found herself at a Leadership Meeting where she met a man she ended up marrying? Maybe. She likes to think it was because she was living the BNI philosophy, she gave of herself and look at all she’s gotten.

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right- Do More Than You’re Asked

I am now 3 posts into my series on the 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If you are so inclined I invite you to go back to the first and second blog to read them. These keys are the values that my husband and I are purposefully trying to instill in our three wonderful children (Happy Birthday Brielle on Monday!) As anyone with kids can attest, all you can do is try. In my opinion, my failure as a parent comes when I don’t try, when I don’t communicate and I don’t take the lead as a parent. Hey, I know it’s not easy. I know that there are days when they don’t listen to my husband and me. But that does not stop me from being the parent. I am still the parent right? I mean, if you live in the house that we pay the mortgage on, drive a car that we make payments on, and eat in our kitchen- then check- I am still the parent and as long as you are my child then I will do my best to make sure you know what is important to me.

Do more than you're asked Sliding by. Doing the bare minimum. Are these the actions or values of any successful person you know? Is this the goal when your coach or your teacher or your boss asks you to complete a task? If so, then a life of being ordinary and average may well be your destiny. When our kids leave the house to go to their jobs (one works for FedEx and one for Cold Stone Ice Cream) the last thing my husband says is, “do more than you’re asked.” He is telling them to do more than people expect. Surprise everyone around you. Give it your all and leave nothing on the table. Amaze them and let them know that you are someone that needs to be kept around. When you do more than you’re asked you become more valuable than the next person. The people in charge will look to you as a valuable member of the organization or team or class. It goes to your attitude. It goes to your ability to achieve success, whatever success may mean to you. See, I am an options girl. I like to have lots of choices. I like to ensure that more often than not there is a range of possibilities. When you do more than you are asked, you open yourself up for more opportunities, more choices, and the possibility that you will get what you want in your life.

I think anyone can do what is asked. But the extra-ordinary do more. They take the initiative to make more out of any situation and thus become more valuable, less replaceable in their spaces in life. Will their teachers and bosses and coaches always notice? No. What matters just as much is what you do even when you don’t get the recognition and the pats on the back. Doing more than you’re asked is about personal ethics and making purposeful decisions to be that better player, that better student or better employee. No matter who notices or applauds.

In my opinion, doing more than you’re asked may get you more than you can possibly imagine.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectations = disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

7 Keys to Getting it Right – Attitude is Everything

It was the middle of the night and I was thinking about my kids and what my husband, Blair and I , are trying to teach our children. What is it that we think is so important that we say it over and over again? What are the statements, those declarations, we have been making to all of our kids from day one? You know. The things you say so much that one of your kids eventually says to you, “I know Dad. You’ve said that a thousand times.” Those insights you want to ingrain in them so much that, as the parent, you tolerate their eye rolling and the pleading, “I know. I know, you say that all the time.” What are those mantras that you hope will one day be repeated by your kids to their kids? One day it seems that they could have cared less what you thought, and what you thought was important, and now they are, in fact, repeating your words.

I’d like to share 7 of the things that I wrote in the middle of the night. They are, in my opinion, keys to getting it right in this world. My plan is to take some time over the next few weeks to address each one. Why we share them with our kids, why we repeat them and why we try with all our might, to get our kids to understand how important attempting to live by these statements may prove to be in their lives.

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectations = disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation

Attitude is everything

No matter what you do in your life, no matter what you believe someone else has done to you- you only have control over one thing- your attitude and how you respond. You can’t control what someone else will do or say, but you always have the right to choose your response- your attitude. The more positive your attitude, the more positive the energy you will exude. A positive attitude is infectious. If you have the chance to hang out or do business with a person who constantly complains or a person who is full of positive energy- you choose a good attitude every time (you may choose the complainer but that gets old and you eventually look for a way out).

I’m not saying that you should never be unhappy, that you should never complain or never be depressed. I am saying that you shouldn’t make it a habit. It shouldn’t be what defines you or how other people describe you. It should be a blip on the screen that is you. Make a conscious choice to have a good attitude, to be a person who has a positive outlook . It is a gift you can give to yourself and to others around you. Sometimes life is not going to go your way. Sometimes you will sit on the bench. Sometimes you will not get what you want. It is inevitable. The attitude you have, the attitude you decide to have, will be the difference between if you play the next game or ride the bench again. Whether you get the next job you interview for or if you keep applying to other positions in other companies, whether your friend stays by your side or decides your friendship has had its season. Believe it or not, you have a lot more control than you think you do. It’s only my opinion and I believe that attitude is everything.

Next time…Do the right thing

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

The Blessing of my Mother

I have scheduled this blog to post at the exact time we are sitting down for dinner. It is a very special occasion. We are celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. She doesn’t look 70 and I say that honestly. She is surrounded by her daughters, her sons-in-law, her 8 grandchildren and her husband. This is my gift to you…

Happy Birthday Mom

I have the blessing of my mother.      I have the world.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You are a blessing to me. You are my guide, my role model and my friend. If I am half of the mother to my children that you have been to me, than I am serving my children well. Growing up and still today, I  am braced by your grace, inspired by your wisdom and fortified by your unconditional love. Your ability to listen and share unbiased advice has been a compass to me.

You have been at my side for every important milestone in my life. And I mean every milestone. Piano recitals, high school volleyball games, professional presentations, getting married, having our children, their first birthdays, graduations and everything in between. I feel your presence in my life every single day. You provided the values (as old fashioned as my kids think they are) that guide my life and that I try, with all my might, to pass down to our kids. You gave me a love for running and exercising. You gave me creativity, freedom and confidence. You gave me kindness when I made mistakes and your dedicated ear when I needed advise. You gave me security when I needed to feel safe and supportive words when I needed comfort.

My husband loves you. All of your “sons” feel the same way that he does. You are a joy to be around. You are generous. You are intelligent (graduated sum cum laude the same time I graduated). You are strong. The worthy qualities I have as a person, and as a women, were established and then nourished by you.

You are a blessing to me. Although it is your birthday, you have always been a gift. The gift of life- the gift of spirit- the gift of acceptance and love. As your daughter, you gave me those gifts, those assurances, and because you did, it allowed me to go out into the world and accomplish what I set my mind and heart to do.

In my opinion, you gave me my world.

Happy birthday, mom. I love you and am so proud be your oldest daughter.

For Jo Capps on her 70th Birthday 7.7.12

Happy Anniversary baby- Got you on my mind…

In the About page of this blog, I mentioned that I have been married 20+ years. This month is our 21st Anniversary. The fact that we’ve been married this long, is not luck. It’s not an accident. It is a choice. I choose to do the things that it takes to have a successful marriage. What those ‘things’ are, from my observations of other people, are different for every couple.

My husband and I dated for 6 years before we got married. I knew that this was the man for me the first time I danced with him when I thought he was going to kiss me (I swear my bottom lip was shaking). It took him another 5 years , 11 months and 3 weeks to know this. The ‘things’ that make or will make your relationship successful will be different from the ‘thing’ that makes our relationship successful. We have discovered, as we taught marriage preparation to engaged couples for 8 years, all couples have different ‘things’ that are deal makers for them. In my opinion, one of the keys to a long-term, successful union is discovering what that ‘thing’ is for you and your mate as soon as possible. For you it may be date night, or listening to one another or laughing a lot together or cooking together or praying together. For us, our ‘thing’ we discovered early was- unconditional support. We support one another’s aspirations, dreams and interests. That means that even if I don’t agree with something or can’t see the point of it, and it is  important to my husband, I support it. No matter what. Tattoos are not his favorite and yet, I have 3 of them. He actually paid for the most recent tattoo (yes, there will be another one someday). He has supported my desire to get my personal trainer certification and my professional choice and dedication of late. I supported his ‘boy trip’ to Chile over New Years and his desire to start and have his own business . There have been many other supported choices over the years for the both of us.

That is the ‘thing’ that works for us. In my opinion, finding that “thing” for you as a couple, as soon as you can and then hanging on to it with everything you have, could make the difference between celebrating 20 years or or more (hopefully) of marriage or…not.

So happy anniversary baby, got you on my mind…. and in my heart and soul. You complete me. (What can I say?  He likes the Jerry McGuire movie.)

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