It's Only My Opinion

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

Archive for the tag “Kids”

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

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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+

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+

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.

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