229: Make 2018 the year you TELL more and better!

Greetings and Happy New Year!

There is something magic, added excitement, about the start of a new year. Many people take the time to reflect on the past and resolve to progress as they venture into a new year. Did you make any resolutions to improve your gifts and talents? To address a noted limitation? To explore, discover, or learn something new in 2018?

I’ve started my list, how about you? Awareness is step one, then starts the journey… day-by-day.

Every day there are opportunities to think about the messages we TELL yourselves and others. The question is are we aware of the messages being spoken, heard, and seen around us? Do we notice whether the messages are positively or negatively impacting what we resolve to do today, in this year, and in our life?

In the course of a day, we observe and others observe us. We interact with others and others interact with us. Throughout the day, we are also speaking messages to ourselves. There are ample opportunities to pause and consider the messages influencing and impacting our interactions and life. The question is are you noticing? Are you considering whether your daily interactions are allowing you to progress, or digress? Are you considering whether the messages you give and receive result in building up more often than tearing down?

It will have to be your choice to pause and give the messages you are giving and receiving some thought. It will have to be your choice to become more aware of your intentions and directions. Will you give the time and space to consider ‘How might I Teach + Encourage + Listen + Love more and better in this moment, in 2018, in my life?’

How might you Teach + Encourage + Listen + Love more and better so you attain your resolution?

Here’s to a happy New Year! I look forward to venturing with you through 2018. One of the resolutions I have for Tell Our Children is to have more gatherings that inspire and mentor adults to TELthe younger people in their life more and better. (I’ll tell you more about that next week.)

Until next week….may we all Teach + Encourage + Listen + Love more and better every day! #TELLforGood

~DF

 

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228: Do you TELL with eyes open and ears attentive?

It just makes sense, if you want to build positive relationships and improve situations, it matters what you say and do. Especially in difficult situations, where you and others may not see eye to eye, your words and actions really matter. Every person is merely TELLing a point of view. You TELL whatever you see, hear, and pay attention to in a given moment.

The TELL message has made me realize if you genuinely want to TELL for good – build stronger relationships and improve situations…

You interact with open eyes and see beyond yourself. You really look with your eyes to see the other person; you notice body language; you look to see them. You look at them kindly, softly and with curiosity.

You listen and hear with attentive ears. You realize what is being said to you is more important than what you have to say.

You pay attention to the other person. You notice what may be happening in the other people’s lives and recognizing/accepting it may be different than your own life. Somewhere I read, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” So true… when we pay attention to others, we are being generous by looking for their needs, who they are, and where they are coming from.

We TELL everything. We teach and encourage depending on how well we see, hear, and attend as we interact. We demonstrate how well we listen depending on where our eyes, ears, and attention are focused. It isn’t until we have eyes open and ears attentive that we show someone love and care.

To build strong relationships and improve circumstances, it requires seeing, listening, and paying attention in the ways described above. Of course, the best case is when everyone interacts with a set of open eyes and attentive ears, but my experience is that is often not the case. However, each person can choose for themselves to TELL with eyes open and ears attentive.

Isn’t it true that our strongest relationships are with those who interact with open eyes and ears attentive? Especially when faced with a difficult situation where we don’t see eye to eye, or like what we hear… opening our eyes and ears to each others’ point of view is how we get through situations and grow stronger relationships. These interactions make us stronger.

So now, I can’t help but think about the younger person in our lives. The youth and adult will seldom see eye to eye about situations.  The younger person does not have the life experiences to possibly see most situations the same way as an adult. We as the adults have so much to TELL them, and we want to have a strong relationship with them. Yet, too often the youth are expected to do more listening and paying attention to adults. What they really need are adults who see, listen, and pay attention to them.

When we don’t see, hear, or pay attention to another consistently, chances are likely this relationship is not getting stronger. When we do see with open eyes and hear with attentive ears, we are more than likely building a deeper relationship with that person.

Today, can we all put a little extra effort into seeing, hearing, and paying attention for good….especially towards the younger people in our lives?  #TELLforGood

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227: Are you an Encourager?

When the youth in your life are struggling to do the right thing, how do you respond? Do you stand with them?

Or when you see them striving to face a challenge, are you there to offer empowering and inspiring words?

What if you witness the younger person seeking some recognition or validation? Do you give a moment to honor them?

And, what if you see a child looking for a place to belong, do you welcome them?

Are you someone who tends to give the youth (and other people in your life) encouragement, or more discouragement? What is your response when you witness another person feeling discouraged?

Do you become an Encourager?

An Encourager will interact in such a way that the words and actions are about helping others gain courage. That is, they intend to give courage to face the day, to do what’s right, or to make a difference. An Encourager communicates to let others know they matter, that their life is valuable.

There are not enough Encouragers today. There are more and more people voicing discouragement. Just look at any social media feed, and words of criticism and destruction flow from one phrase to the next. People are so quick to speak discouragement, though if you really think about it, what is needed most is encouragement in order to turn the moment around. Aren’t there times when you needed to hear encouragement, but only words of criticism, limitation, or blame were spoken?

I worry about the youth hearing, seeing, and also speaking such discouragement. The criticism and negativity are expanding. The youth need to have Encouragers in life! As a matter of fact, we all do.

Everyone benefits by encouragement, especially in moments of uncertainty. Encouraging words have the power to soothe the pain from a hurtful comment. Encouragement can renew hopes and dreams, ignite a spark to continue and progress. An Encourager helps ease, often remove, discouragement. And most of all, an Encourager makes others feel loved.

Every person, family, workplace, school, and community needs Encouragers.

When people are struggling to do the right thing, they need someone to stand with them.

When people are striving to face a big challenge, or work toward a life goal, they need someone to empower and inspire them.

When people are seeking recognition or validation, they need someone to honor them.

When people are looking for a place to belong, they need someone to welcome them.

Are you an Encourager?  We all can be. It only takes a little bit of extra time and effort.

Encouragement can be offered in many ways. Think about what inspires and encourages you: an invitation to talk things out, a surprise phone call, a supportive note or text, a genuine smile, touch, or hug, or an uplifting song… Just think of the many gestures to encourage and bless others.

Today, why not give someone (and yourself) the gift of encouragement. Seek opportunities to encourage others. Be an Encourager to your children, partner, co-workers, friends, or whomever – and don’t forget about yourself.

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL your students to learn). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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226: Defining a most important goal – caring for the youth.

A primary goal parents and caregivers have is to care for their youth. Adults want to help the younger generation grow up to become healthy, productive, and resilient adults.

The majority of adults I meet say they strive to attain this most important goal.

But, here is my question….we may say that equipping the young for life is our goal, but how do we go about achieving this goal? Read any book on goal-setting and it is loud and clear that achieving a goal requires conscious decision and effort. It is not enough to just hope we achieve the goal. We are to keep the most important goals constantly in front of us, and make it our highest priority day in and day out. If we don’t stay focused and work on the goal, we may achieve something less or not achieve the goal at all.

So when it comes to raising the younger generation, do we really have a plan for achieving this goal, or is it like one of those resolutions we state and may – or may not – achieve? If goal success requires conscious decision and effort, what might that look like when it comes to raising the younger people in our lives?

One idea is consciously decide to find something positive to T.E.L.L. a younger person every day.

Imagine if more adults would consciously aim to teach, encourage, listen to, and love a younger person each and every day? What if every day, more adults were able to say ‘yes, I did’ or ‘no, I didn’t, but I will aim toT.E.L.L them tomorrow’.

How about you? Will you place a reminder on your phone, on your refrigerator, on your laptop, on your bathroom mirror… “Today, I will T.E.L.L. a younger person to be better!” And, then pay attention to whether you met this goal today, or not?

What if we made this important goal a priority day in and day out? Instead of merely hoping we raise our youth well, what if more of us would make a constant effort to T.E.L.L.them. Maybe then we can start to achieve one of our primary goals – bringing up the future generation.

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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225: Life is a series of interactions, for better or worse.

I’ve come to see life as a series of interactions. Depending on the quality of our interactions, the quality of our life will be determined. Every day we share our heart, mind and will with one another by the way we communicate. Basically, the heart is our emotions, mind our rational thoughts, and will our desire.

The older I get, the more I am aware of the emotion, mind, and will others are communicating. (I am also more aware of the emotion, mind, and will I say to myself, but that’s another post!)

I’ve realize how important it is to discern whether an individual is interacting to construct, or destruct, the relationship or circumstances. Is the overall message to improve, or make matters worse? Depending on the answer, I must choose whether to engage or not engage in the interaction. I must discern whether my words will be heard, or if the interaction is about only hearing what the other person thinks. And, if it is a 1-way communication, I must decide whether the heart, mind, and will of the person are constructive, or destructive for the relationship or situation.

How we interact with one another matters. How we interact with the youth in our life really matters. Every day we are influencing their heart, mind, and will in that moment and possibly future moments.

Have you thought about the way you interact with a younger person? How would it be if we all started to speak in ways that benefit a younger person’s heart, mind, and will? How would it be if you started today paying closer attention to your own heart, mind, and will? Constructive, or destructive? Improving, or making matters worse?

Give time each day to evaluate your feelings, thinking, and desires as overall positive or negative. If negative, be more sensitive about how you are projecting your words and actions toward others. Can you find healthy ways to shift your focus to be more positive? Consider how your words and actions are being influenced by your current feelings, thinking, and wanting in this moment.

When you are communicating with a younger person, recognize that your heart, mind, and will are more than likely different than theirs. Diligently seek ways to communicate to ensure their heart, mind, and will are being heard.  Do not just speak what you think. Periodically pause and ask yourself questions such as “How is this younger person feeling in this moment?”; “What is he or she thinking in this situation?”.

The words and actions you choose today will influence the younger person’s heart, mind, and will in the moment and possibly in the future.

The better you understand your own heart, mind, and will, the better you are able to support and develop someone else’s.

In every interaction, the words and actions chosen reflect the current heart, mind, and will of all those involved. #TELLforGood

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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224: TELL the youth to keep sculpting a life story

Recently I was speaking to a group of high school and middle school students about the stories of life they TELL one another.  My message was intended to inspire them to seriously think about the stories they Teach, Encourage, Listen to, and Love at this point in their life. The stories they TELL today may sculpt who they become.

The great artist Michelangelo was once asked to explain how he created such amazing, perfect sculptures. His response was quite telling. Michelangelo spoke about the perfect statue already being inside the marble, all he did was get rid of the excess marble. All he did was keep sculpting away until the perfection was on display for others to enjoy.  Look at Michelangelo’s The Pieta.  He sculpted this in 1499 at the age of 24.  He merely removed the excess marble!

Michelangelo'S Pieta

I shared this story about Michelangelo with the youth. I wanted them to know there was also a perfect expression deep within them.  Every one of them have a perfect gift and talent to contribute and share with others. They may not realize it right now, or maybe they have some ideas, but the purpose of childhood and schooling – and living life – is to keep sculpting to reveal the gifts and talents within. Just keep sculpting!

We talked about how some of them may already be thinking about the story of their life, or at least something beneficial for their future. If there is a great story they want to TELL later in life, start sculpting that story now.  At this point in their life, there is more marble to remove, and the mistakes are less costly. There is time to try different things without harm, just keep sculpting.

I wanted to inspire them to imagine what could happen later in their life if starting today, and again tomorrow, they challenged themselves to keep sculpting their gifts and  talents.  What if every day, they would think about who is TELLing them to keep sculpting for their good?

A young man, junior in high school, came up afterwards and shared how he was just going through the motions every day at school. He was only thinking about graduating so he could move on and play college football. “Now I realize I have more to TELL myself and others who are my teammates. I need to think about how I can TELL stuff so others can become better at football. I also have a lot to learn, or should I say sculpt.”  I was so inspired by this young man, as well as the other teens in the room!

Please keep him and all the younger people in your prayers, that they have at least one person in life who TELLs them unconditionally. We all need that someone who will Teach us, Encourage us, Listen to us, and Love us…. unconditionally.

The youth today need to see and hear from adults who are actively sculpting life. As you interact with a younger person, consider what you might say or do to help this individual sculpt a future and reveal the unique gifts and talents within.

Ask yourself…  How might I…

Teach this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Encourage this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Listen for this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Love this younger person to keep sculpting and becoming his or her best self?

Today and tomorrow, and beyond…. #TELLforGood

 

About the author of this post:  Denise Forrest, Ph.D.

Denise is a mother of three grown children and has been a teacher to thousands of students.  She is the creator of the TELL message and Founder of TELL Our Children, Inc. Denise also serves K-12 schools as a consultant focusing on mathematics education and instructional decisions for student learning (TELL for student learning). You can contact her by emailing denise@tellourchildren.org.

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