Every Hero Needs a Guide

Smiling students standing outdoors

(This article is from my other website, wwwJustSayNo.org.) Across the table, with coffee in hand, the police sargeant patiently answered all of my questions. As a Notre Dame grad, involved in thousands of drug arrests during an exceptional career that spanned three decades with the Columbus Division of Police, he was the perfect person to shed light on the growing problem of drug use among high school students. I wanted to learn as much as possible from him for my book, Seeing Past Friday Night.

The fundamental question

After a lengthy conversation, I asked a final question that he was uniquely qualified to answer. “You’ve witnessed it all,” I said. “You’ve seen the destruction, the incredible cost. You’re the one who explains to the parents why their child was arrested. The question is, why do some kids try drugs for the first time?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “They don’t know. They just say they weren’t thinking.”

“Okay, I get that,” I responded. “But, think about it … what is the real reason?”

This time he took longer and said, “It’s really hard to say. I can tell you what the parent’s reaction is, every single time.”

“What’s that?”

“Absolute shock. When I tell them that their 16 or 17 year old son or daughter was just arrested for selling drugs to support their own habit, they are absolutely shocked. They cannot believe it, which, of course, is understandable.”

(His words made me recall how many times parents say, “I gotta tell you, I would be absolutely shocked to find out that my kids were doing drugs.” The sargeant’s sobering words made me realize that just because parents would be absolutely shocked does not necessarily eliminate the possiblity that they will be one day.)

I pressed on with the question …

Apologizing for being stuck on this one question, I asked a third time. “Think about it. You’ve seen so many great kids from wonderful families go down a dangerous path during their high school years. In many cases, if they could only go back in time and make a better decision that first time they try drugs, their whole life might be so different.”

He pondered one more time, and after a long moment, shook his head and said, “Young or old, they all say the same thing. They just weren’t thinking.”

It finally struck me … 

For Real Change in Your Life, Add Coins

For Real Change in Your Life, Add Coins. Photo of a person holding a tray of coins, from which sprouts a green plant

In my book, Single Page Life Plan, I explains how you can make a big change in your life, just by adding a few Coins to your day.


Photo courtesy of @iStockphoto.com

What are Coins?

Coins are those small things we can do every day to help make another person’s life better. Every day we wake up in the morning with a certain number of Coins in our hand that we can potentially spend.

To spend them wisely, we have to be:

  • Creative
  • Intentional
  • Proactive

Because here’s the thing … the Coins you don’t spend by the end of the day, are gone forever.

Attention Parents … Your Teen has Left the Village!

Beautiful teens at summer festival

It Really Does Take a Village to Raise a Child:

It may have been the best-planned social event my wife and I have ever attended … 8th Grade Graduation for our daughter, Michelle, and her 57 classmates! Months of intense preparation by a 12-parent graduation committee resulted in an impressive ceremony followed by a dinner party that culminated in a professionally edited 45-minute music video featuring photographs and video clips of the kids as they surfed through 8 years of:

  • Classroom activity and spelling bees,
  • Track events and swimming meets,
  • Class trips and birthday parties,
  • Trips to museums and zoos,
  • Summer vacations and volunteer projects,
  • Science fairs and talent competitions, and
  • All of those travel teams!

I thought, “Wow. It really does take a village to raise a child.” Like us, I’m sure you were an important part of that village of Parents, Teachers, Coaches, Doctors, Educators, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and of course, Babysitters!. Then something rather earth shattering occurred … High School.

“Who?”

Up until that point, we knew all of Michelle’s friends and had formed many friendships with their parents. We coached them in sports, served lunch in the cafeteria, carpooled them to school, and knew their teachers and coaches. In high school, however, there was an entirely new set of teachers, coaches, and friends who we had never even met before. My wife and I would ask, “Now, Who is that again?” and “You’re going to Who’s house?” and “Who’s driving again?”

We never did find out who Who was!

Our teen had left the village. Like it or not, she was becoming a young adult. We had raised a child with the help of a village. Now it was time to help her become a strong individual, a responsible adult.

It Takes a Strong Individual to Transition from Childhood to Responsible Adult

All of a sudden, she was in a different world; one that really wasn’t as excited about receiving parental help. And, quite frankly, we didn’t have the time and energy to start all over again for her four short years of high school. But, it seemed like the timing couldn’t be worse for her to navigate this new world by herself.

Michelle was about to make new friends, learn to drive a 1500-lb car 70 miles per hour down the freeway on snowy nights, and say either yes or no to binge drinking, smoking, and drug use. She would begin new activities and make new decisions that would have enormous consequences that would extend well into her future. She was on the verge of receiving an explosion of new freedoms and independence at a time when her level of experience in these matters was relatively low. The village we knew so well was gone. And, we knew very little of her new world.

We raised a child with the help of a village. All of a sudden, we had to rely on her to make responsible decisions in this new world. Have you ever felt the same?

The Bottom Line Is This

On Friday night, when your son or daughter finds out that they didn’t …

  • Make the basketball team, or
  • Pass that chemistry exam you told them they better ace, or
  • Get that part in the play they so desperately wanted, or
  • See the text from their girlfriend that she wants to break up,

And someone comes up to them and says: Who cares? Let’s go get high. When this happens, their teachers will not be there. The police will not be there. Their coaches will not be there. You will not be there.

The Good News Is …

No matter where your teen is,
No matter what time of day or night it is,
No matter how often he or she has to make a critical decision,

There is one person who will always be there… Your teen! Wherever your son or daughter goes, he or she is always there! The one person who can Just Say No.

This can seem daunting, that they are relying on themselves. But, it can also be liberating for them; to know that they don’t have to rely on a dozen unknown forces to be safe. It empowers them and gives them a quite confidence.

Your job is to guide them to be their own hero! To motivate themselves to prepare for a big life.

Your teen will have to transition from the village to their new world … fast!

P.S. If you have a parent group, or a classroom of 7th grade, 8th grade, freshmen or sophomore students who would benefit from Just Say No, click here to see the presentation outline of the Just Say No Talk.

A Collision Course

Photo of a car driving along a winding road

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com

Do you consider yourself to be a good car driver, or someone who will be a good driver as soon as you get your license?

You will have taken all of the necessary driving tests and spent many hours on the road, and are probably a relatively conscientious person. You probably have what it takes to be a good driver. Right so far?

Now Ask Yourself This…

Will you be a better driver four years from now, after you’ve had 48 more months behind the wheel?

Regardless of age, everyone knows the answer to that question. The more time you spend driving in rain, ice, snow, hail, sleet, high winds, blinding sun, and thick fog, the better driver you become. Driving under different conditions, such as when you are stressed or tired, in mountainous regions or on long trips; this makes you a more experienced, better driver.

Because that is how experience works!

A Collision Course: Expanding Freedoms vs. A Lack of Experience

Very soon, you will learn how to drive a 2000 pound car 65 mile per hour down the freeway.

You will make choices on:

  • Where you want to go,
  • What kind of summer job you want to have, and
  • Whether or not you will pick up the habits of drinking, smoking, or doing drugs.

You will decide:

  • How you handle dating relationships,
  • Which colleges or trade schools to attend,
  • Or which career path to follow after high school.

And your experience in these matters, like everyone when they are a young teen, is relatively low.

These expanding freedoms and your lack of experience are on a collision course. They will converge. How will you deal with that?

One More Question for You

Do you consider yourself to be good at confronting drugs, alcohol, and tobacco? You are probably mature for your age and use good judgment.

But, will you have an even better insight after four years of watching some of your friends get kicked off sports teams, wreck cars, be cited for DWI’s, or injure others? Will you know more after seeing the carnage left behind from a drug overdose? From seeing younger brothers and sisters follow bad examples?

Nobody is saying that you are immature. Likely, you are more mature than a lot of people who are twice your age.

But, it is not a matter of maturity!

It is a matter of experience!

Defy the villains

The best advice you can give yourself is to stay strong for another day. The single act of confronting drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in high school puts you way ahead of the game.

In the meantime, there are real villains in this story that are counting on you making mistakes.

But, they will be disappointed.

Because, every story needs a hero.

 

The Power of a Single Action Step!

If you could add an hour to every week of your life, how would you spend those extra 52 hours that you pick up each year? Exercising? Reading? Enjoying some quiet time?

Man half asleep in be about to hit his ringing alarm clock with a hammer.

Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto.com

How I saved $3,500 from the power of a single action step!

You can add that hour to your week if you choose Stop Hitting the Snooze Button as one of the Action Steps of your Single Page Life Plan©, because most snooze alarms are set for nine minutes. Those 9 minutes, multiplied by 7 days, adds up to over an hour per week! This illustrates the power of a single Action Step.

A 15 minute mystery …

A time-management consultant once told me the story of a doctor who complained to her that he always seemed to be 15 minutes behind schedule all day long. She visited his office  to try to solve his problem. What she discovered was remarkably simple … he regularly began his first appointment of the day, with his very first patient, 15 minutes late! Simple Action Steps can make an enormous impact on your life.

My simple Action Step was made on January 1st, 7 years ago

I’ll leave it to you to determine how important this action step was, but I really believed it change my life for the better. I decided to

The Change of Landscaping in America

The change of landscaping in America. Photograpch of an old baseball bat with electrical tape around the grip, on the grass, next to baseball with home plate in the background

Photo courtesy of @iStockphoto.com

The Change of landscaping to the American front yard

My dad did such a great job on our front yard in the 60s and 70s. He would seed and fertilize it every year. And the grass around the circle of dirt we called a pitcher’s mound was so green! You couldn’t find a single weed on either side of the base paths we created during our baseball games! We can learn a lot just from looking at old photographs of a typical neighborhood from the late 50s to the early 70s. Back then there were ball gloves, kickballs, and frisbees 

5 Reasons Why We Embrace Chaos

Photo of a business woman juggling picutres of a house, a soccer ball, a financial graph, a wallet full of dollars, a calendar. She appears overwhelmed. Chaos is not Your Friend.

A friend of mine once said, “Chaos is my friend!” While he was kidding, I could sense that there was a part of him that relished multitasking a hundred things at the same time. It was almost like a game for him; a game he thought he played well.

Photo courtesy of  istockphoto.com

Chaos is not Your friend!

One of the main reasons people avoid creating a life plan is because they have become comfortable with chaos. This manifests itself in 5 different ways. 

My 3 Favorite Speakers of 2014

My 3 Favorite Speakers of 2014. A picture of Major Dan Rooney and Garrett Scanlon after Major Dan's presentation for the BBB of Central Ohio, in Columbus

All I can say about My 3 Favorites Speakers of 2014, who I’ve been able to see in person, is … Wow!  (Founder of Folds of Honor, Top Gun award recipient, & PGA Golfer, Major Dan Rooney)

My 3 Favorite Speakers of 2014:

Major Dan Rooney, Chad Hymas, and Fr. Robert Barron

Here is the criteria for my list:

  • Are they genuine people with an authentic message?
  • Do they leave you uniquely inspired with tangible ideas you can use to improve your life?
  • Are you still reflecting back on their message 3, 6, 12 months later?

It helps too if they are:

  • Entertaining
  • Have a great sense of humor, and
  • Are fascinated by the important things in life

These 3 have it all!