It's Only My Opinion

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

Archive for the tag “choices”

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+

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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+

8 Keys to Getting it Right – Do the Right Thing

A few weeks ago I started a blog series on The 7 Keys to Getting it Right. If you want to read  the preface of the story I invite you to go back to the first blog in the series called: Attitude is Everything. There you will also find the list of the 7.  Since the first post, I have decided to add another key. The 8th key, which is ‘Have a Spiritual Practice’.

Do the right thing The second Key, ‘Do the Right Thing’ used to be called, ‘Make Good Choices’. It dawned on us a little too late when the kids were in their later teens, that this was not specific enough. We heard an inspirational presentation by a former marine who was also an Eagle Scout talk about ‘Doing the Right Thing’. It dawned on me during the course of his speech that our definition of “Make Good Choices” and our children’s definition of “Make Good Choices” could be rather opposite from one another. You see, what they thought was a ‘good decision’ was, in our opinion, not a good decision at all. ‘Good’ seemed to be subjective. In fact, we were thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me? You think that was a good decision?” What the former Marine brought to light was the idea of right versus good. There is not a ton of ambiguity around what the’ right thing to do is’ versus what the wrong thing to do is.

We spend an awful lot of time telling our kids what we think is important and then following that up with our actions. Our kids have  called us, “old fashioned” and we have been chided  on numerous occasions,  “no one else does that or thinks that or believes that”.  My answer is always the same, “I could give a rats bottom as they are entitled to their own opinion.” When push comes to shove they will know, without any doubt, what we think is right and wrong. They will know what we believe. Doing the right thing is not always about doing the easy thing. Some days it is doing something or not doing something even though everyone else may be going in the exact opposite direction because it is the right thing to do. Many times the right thing is not the most popular. How much courage and individuality do you have to have to do what is right even in the face of pressure to do the wrong thing or to look the other way altogether? It takes more guts than most people, especially teenagers, have.

In my opinion,’ doing the right thing’ is not about making your life hard but surrounding yourself with people who won’t make it harder for you: your friends, people you work with, people you play with, people you pray with. Some people are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  As our kids grow into adults, as they discover who they are and what they stand for, I hope that they find themselves surrounded by people who will support their choices. Hopefully they will make some choices because of the values and morals that were instilled in them by us. Will they always choose the path that we would have them choose? Absolutely not. But I can guarantee you that their choices and definition of “right” will have a better chance of reflecting ours because of our willingness and commitment to make sure they knew what we thought the right thing was. Either way, I know we will love and support them because, Family is Everything.

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+

London Calling: Olympic Inspiration

I like watching the Olympics with my kids. The Olympics are full of people with amazing stories. Stories of hopes and goals and dreams come true. From what I have seen they are people who usually knew, from an early age, that they were meant for something bigger. Most were encouraged by family and friends. When my kids were very young we turned off the TV for an entire year- no TV for 365 days and nights. That was an amazing year as my kids learned how to be creative. They did so many other things with their time and because of this opportunity they learned to create, to entertain themselves, to play together and to just- be. We turned our TV off for an entire year except for 10 days: when the Summer Olympics were on. We watched the games every day and then during the commercials the kids would run outside and pretend they were Olympic Athletes. They’d see how far they could throw a stick – the javelin or how fast could they run across the driveway- the 50 meter dash. They were young and carefree and creative. (Man, I would love to turn the “boob tube” off for another year. )

I want to watch the Olympics with my kids again because I want them to see what is possible. I want them to hear the interviews with athletes, to see what hope sounds like, what hope looks like. I want them to hear someone their own age talk about what happens when you decide to do something and then set your heart and mind and body to accomplish it. What sacrifices you have to make, what dedication you have to have, what obstacles you have to overcome. And then what success and triumph and glory looks like.

Lately,  I’ve been studying a lot about having dreams and setting and achieving goals. The one consistent  message  I have heard is this: Do not give up. Never give up. Never quit. Don’t stop.

In my opinion, every Olympic Athlete that is in London these next 10 days knows this- has lived this. Watching the Olympics, I am hoping my kids hear that message as well. That no matter what you want, if you want it badly enough, if you commit to it with all your heart and mind and body, and never give up, you can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. Isn’t that part of what is meant by “The Olympic Spirit”?

That inspires me.

Freedom

Today is the 4th of July. Independence Day. Our independence as a country from Great Britain.  So we celebrate. We eat a lot, some people drink too much. In most parts of the U.S. we light fireworks (sorry DE, MA, NJ,RI, NY ). I am older now and I am thinking about “my freedom.” What does that mean to me? What am I free from? What am I free to do? Not to do?

I’m a big believer that you don’t get something for nothing. If it seems too good to be true than it’s a scam and run the other way. If it is any good than it always costs you something. Take the price you are willing to pay for your freedom. The price you are willing to pay for it can be a lot like bidding on Ebay. You go in wanting it for a set amount. You get attached to it. You wait for the “time left” to inch down minute by minute. Then you enter your maximum bid. Instantly, you are outbid. You bid higher. You are outbid. You bid higher because you have to win. You have to have it. And before you know it- you’ve spent more than you were planning. Without a thought you gambled it all away because you were “in it to win it”. You had to have it and were swept away, even committed, to doing whatever it took to get it.

What would life be like if we were all committed to making our little part of the world we live in the best we could?  How much would you bid? How much would you sacrifice? How deep would you go? Would you get swept away because you had to have it and would give anything to get it? How much are you willing to pay for your freedom? What price did others before us pay for our opportunity to even consider this idea?

We need to treat our freedoms; our right to choose, to pray, to play, to work, to speak, to love, to even have an opinion, like something on EBay that we have to have.

In my opinion, we have a lot more freedom than we think we do. We just may not fully realize that we can’t have it for free.

Family is everything

I am spending the week in Iowa. I grew up here. My mom was the oldest of 5 girls and they all lived in the same city for a very long time. Her parents, my father’s parents and his sister did as well. I grew up celebrating holidays surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Santa always came at about 5:00 on Christmas Eve because we had so many places to go on Christmas day. It was awesome. I miss those times being around my family. There  many times I wish my children could be best friends with their cousins the way I was.

70 years of marriage…

My grandparents are 90 now. They have been married 71 years. Now that is an accomplishment. They are an example of how to live a great life. Their 5 daughters love being around them. Their grandchildren love spending time with them (I am one of them) and they have 24 great grandchildren (my kids are 3 of those). They still play bridge with friends (someone always beings desert after lunch so they have something to slam their stomachs shut), played golf until recently (got harder to find a foursome at their age) and danced every Saturday night at the supper club for years. I think they are still with us because they love and they are loved by their family. In my opinion, when you love like they do and you have the respect and admiration of your family, you have a reason to live. I am looking at the both of them right this second. They are watching Golf on TV.

I tell people I come to Iowa so my kids can go to Sports Camp here. I really come to Iowa to be with family, to be with my grandparents. I will not ever say that I regretted not spending time with them. My grandmother just told her husband of 71 years that she loved him. She asked him if he had a good Father’s Day and then she sees he has on bright green socks. He said he bought them at Kmart last week. He obviously bought them without her. She’s laughing at the socks he picked out. They don’t do much without each other so his buying bright green socks without her is a big deal.
We should all be so lucky:  to love and to be loved- surrounded by family. In my opinion, family is everything.

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

Your Decision – Your Consequence

The only parenting book I have ever read was, Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. When I find something that makes perfect sense to me, something that resonates with me, I stick with it. The philosophy of the book is this: kids like to have some control in their lives no matter how old they are (1-18). As parents, we should indulge them that freedom by giving them things to choose from that we, as parents, can live with.

For example, when younger kids want to pick out their own clothes to wear to school, you could lay out 2-3 shirts and 2 bottoms and let the little one choose between what is offered. The same applies to lots of kinds of choices.  The other concept in the book that I think is powerful is the idea of consequences. A child makes a choice and then, as long as he/she won’t hurt themselves physically, lives out the consequence of the choices they make. How many times has your child wanted to go to school without a jacket, thinking it was warm enough they did not need one. Why fight with them? Why argue? Let them go without a coat and let them experience being cold. Next time, they will make a better choice for themselves because the experience they had was based on a choice they made and also lived with the consequence. In my opinion, kids, no matter how old they are, need to make choices and then live with the consequences. That is how they learn.

I wish for, I pray for times when my children can make choices and then experience the consequences of their decisions- good and bad. The thing is, the younger they are when this happens, the smaller the consequences. The older they are, the more serious the consequences. I don’t eliminate the opportunity for them to make choices for themselves. I pray for consequences they can live with and learn from. My husband doesn’t always agree. Two of my kids are in high school and I believe that the grades they get are their grades. Not mine. I try and explain what I believe could happen in their lives with good grades and what options there may be with bad grades. Do I shirk my responsibility or punish for bad grades? Not really. I may take privileges away, things I believe are distractions (phone, Xbox, etc) but I don’t punish. I do not sit in their classes, I cannot study for them or take their tests. So I believe they need to be responsible for their grades.

In my opinion, my job as a parent has less to do with telling my kids what to do as it is to try and discuss their options, support their decisions and watch them enjoy or suffer through the consequences. So pray for consequences when they’re young. When they’re older it could mean the difference between keeping or losing a marriage, a job or their lives.

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