Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is there really a choice between being right and being nice?

A bit of wisdom I've seen floating around Facebook is, "If you have a choice between being right or being nice, always be nice." (quote attributed to Dr. Wayne Dyer)
Which, for the most part, seems like sage advice.  It certainly feels good.

For example, on the highway, if most motorists would drive with this in mind, many accidents would be avoided.
You may be right to not exceed the speed limit, but to enforce that by doing so in the  passing lane is less good than the disruption caused by doing so.  Be nice.
You may feel the right to defend your position in a lane from someone who didn't use turn signal but that is less good than letting someone in.  Even if they act like jerks and speed up to get in front of you.  Be nice.
Etc. etc.

But what about the times that you need to be right at the expense of niceness?

As a parent, I really want Joshua (and unnamed future draft picks) to have some solid principles that are worth ruffling feathers over.  More importantly, I want my kids to have the courage to stand on conviction in the face of being considered "not nice," and the wisdom to know when that is appropriate.

Which brings me to the current hot topic du jour of bullying.  I agree that bullying is a problem.  I also think that the solution is much more complicated than any school program can address.  There is a real heart-and-home level problem.  And nice kids simply choosing to be nice will not solve that.

My fear is that having a mantra of being "nice instead of right," diminishes the real-world need for principled people.  Eventually, then, standing up for what is right becomes being a bully, because it isn't always nice.  It isn't that big of a stretch.  We are already at a point where simply accusing someone of bullying requires (by official policies) actions, reporting and monitoring by administration-level school officials.

Labeling like that is a step down a path toward lots of very bad unintended consequences.

I will tell you about my bullying experiences later, but I can say that I am thankful for the bullies I've faced in my life.  Chew on that.

Anyway...  much prefer Mark Twain as a source of quotes to the feel-good Dr. Dyer.  Twain said, "To be good is noble, but to show others how to be good is nobler."

And I would say, It is OK to be right.  And be nice about it as much as possible.

OK then.  Anybody out there intentionally teaching your kids to stand up for what is right when it matters (and when it might be unpopular)?  How?  Am I the only one with an aversion to feel-good-isms?

Don J.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Askers vs. Guessers

For most of the first eight years of our married life, Renee and I were dual-income-no-kid types. We are both fairly independent personalities so things cruised right along and we had a lot of fun being a married couple with a lot of freedom to pursue our individual interests.

A lot of our friends and family warned us about the change of life that comes with a baby. And, just as the sure as diaper duty, the arrival of Joshua in 2011 put us into a situation where we had to rely on each other in totally new ways.  You see, the 'Independent personalities' term I used above is sometimes just a veil for 'selfish.'  And without kids, it can be ok for a long time.

The amount of time available to share with each other shrinks dramatically and suddenly. The incredible neediness of a baby (now toddler!) takes away any ability get away with being selfish.

All that to say, we have a lot more conversations now about how we communicate.  I'm talking about basic pre-marital counseling type stuff here. Expectations based on our own family backgrounds, personalities and communication styles.

Which caused this article to catch my eye.  As with any attempt to narrow people into two categories, it falls very short.  However I think it is an idea worth examining with your significant other to see what he or she is thinking in the communication process.

Essentially, the premise is breaking down personalities into Askers and Guessers.  Askers just ask, and guessers sort of hint and prod and only ask if they expect a positive answer.

If an Asker and a Guesser are trying to communicate, especially under stress, the difference in approach can certainly cause a breakdown.

After discussing the idea with Renee, these are the important things we took away..
(I edge toward being a 'guesser' and Renee is more of an 'asker' btw)

1. Both parties in a relationship should have no reluctance to ask for something directly, whether for help with something or for information.

2. It is important to consider how the person on the receiving end of an 'ask' will evaluate it.  Phrasing, timing and even mood can come into play there as well.

3. If you are asked something that isn't clear, it must be ok to discuss the question without it being a personal conflict.

4. If an 'ask' is going to get a negative response, it should be well thought out and communicated as well.

Naturally, all of that is built on the base of a trusting relationship that assumes each party has the other's best interests in mind.

What do you think?

Does your relationship have any conflict based on mistaken assumptions when you try to communicate?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!


Yes, this blog took a whole year off.  Lazy blog.

Actually, it ran out of steam because, simply, it wasn't very interesting.  And, I didn't know what I was writing for.

I was reminded of that in reading this article "The Problem with Memoirs."

Basically, what does it add to the already over saturated world other than a place for me to vent?

Not much, but I will try to make it more meaningful for 2013.

I enjoy sharing life with many good friends, and I hope that through this blog I will add many more going forward.

Have a great start to 2013!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Complication Multiplication

Back Yard-9807

Many, many helpful people tried to tell us about how much adding a baby to the family dynamic would change things, but nobody was really able to quantify it for my logical brain. What does it mean that things get "a lot more complicated?"

I will try to explain my view after 8 months for any of you other logical brain people.

Before Joshua arrived, I assumed that this "change" would be a matter of addition. The whole "1 + 1 = 3" thing. That sounds like funky math, and it is. The sum of the parts is much more (fun, complicated, messy, crazy, time consuming...) than you think going in. But still, that is only half of the story.

In reality, there is even more funky math involved. That would be a multiplier effect added in the mix, and there needs to be a variable on both sides of the equation.

Something weird like 3x(Y+H) = 3x(Y-W) where x is a wild card and H and W are the relative moods of Husband and Wife and Y is whatever else needs to be happening at a given moment. You math geeks can tear that apart if you want, because we are not dealing in real numbers here. And figure that the value of H and W change daily.

Basically, with a baby, any change in routine of one person has a drastic effect on the other person, causing complications, confusions, unexpected consequences and the occasional nasty look.

The key, of course is being flexible and communicating changes in routine ahead of time. And when that doesn't happen, make the baby laugh and everything gets better.

Life does indeed change a lot. And by a lot, it is in orders of multiplication, not addition.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And the winner is...

First, huge thank you to those of you who volunteered cash to motivate me in the Weight-Loss-A-Thon effort. It has been a great start to getting healthy and certainly a fun experiment on a number of levels.

These people rock!

Jacob Euerle
Julie Melrose
Karl Haertel
Alison Walker
Amy Williamson
Bill Adamson
Amy Owens Quinn
Jan Johnson
Beth Brown
and Patty Barringer.

Lots more of you gave words of encouragement along the way as well, and that has been great.

The final count is 17lbs lost over the course of four months. By my math, that is $238 for the Kaufman Genesis Center.. I will be contacting each of you this week about that.

Finally ... the winner of a photo shoot and Christmas cards..... (Chosen at random by the lovely Renee)..

Bill Adamson.

Thanks again to everyone who helped motivate me... next up will be some exercise fun starting in January.