Phone: 800-579-8051     email: richard@richardpaul.com  

You Can’t Reach Every Star

We are all afraid of something. I believe it’s ok to give in to your fears and turn around when it doesn’t feel right or comfortable to move ahead. I was in Florence, Italy my family and I purchased tickets to climb the famous, historic Duomo Dome. I have a fear of heights and I thought I could face it and overcome it just like the many stories I have read and heard. I climbed up 200 steps and there were two hundred to go, when we walked the hall inside the church dome I could not look out into the church below.  I was terrified, my heart was pumping and my body was shaking. I was numb, unable to think or comprehend what my wife and family were trying to say to me. The stress reduction breathing techniques went out the window and so did the laughter.  It was obvious to me that my fear had taken over my mind and body and the only thing that was working was my fight/flight senses telling me to get out of there.

When I came upon a break in the steps with an opportunity to exit and give up, I did. My wife felt bad and wanted to come down with me. I remember telling her to keep going. “Don’t give up because of me, just go!”

Going down the winding steps were even more terrifying. Slowly step by step I made my way down. No rails just walls to try to hold on to. You may be thinking that I am being dramatic, but for me this was one of the worst feelings I have experienced in my life. When I finally got to the bottom dizzy and still shaking I thought to myself I don’t care if I gave up it was my decision and it was the right decision for me.

From this experience I am reminded that we all get stressed out about different things; some we can easily handle and work through, other things we can’t. Others may push you to move on or offer their opinions but the final decision depends on you. Only you know what is good or bad for you and how much you can take before you lose it. Only you know whether or not it is worth it to move forward or to turn back.

Many years ago I talked to an autoworker who was taking advantage of the UAW/Ford Motor Company’s college Management program. He received his Master’s degree and was working toward his Doctorate. I was impressed with his willingness to want to learn and move forward in the company. He said he was offered his dream management position and after eleven months he realized he hated the job.  He explained that the books and tests never prepared him for the amount of stress he had experienced. He said the demands, long hours and paperwork was over-whelming.  He tried everything from meditation, breathing and even laughter but his fears took him over. He was stressed and getting sick all the time. He said, I remember one of my old co-workers telling me, “piece of mind is worth something.”  That’s when he made the decision to go back to his former position, pay cut and all.

Some may say he gave up but I say at least he tried. At least he knew how to monitor himself to figure out what is best his own wellbeing. Getting back to my Florence, Italy experience, did I get to the top and see what others describe as an awesome view?  No, but I made it up and down from 200 stairs and that works for me. Did my auto worker friend make it to the top or to a higher position in the company?  No, but at least he tried it out and realized it wasn’t for him.

From this experience as a speaker who promotes stress reduction and laughter I now realize you can practice your breathing techniques, your laughter and meditation, but if your inner fears take over your thought patterns the only logical thing to do is to follow your instinct and get the hell out.

Like my autoworker friend, take the steps go for it and when you get there if it’s too overwhelming follow your instinct move in another direction that fits you.  The point is, you may not be able to win at everything or get or hit every star, but at least you can say, “I gave it my all and did my best”.

I believe it’s so much better to try then not try at all or you will never find out what fits for you.

 

Richard Paul

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

Coach’s Need to Appreciate Every Player

I have listened to many talk shows and read articles on children who play sports and how we should only reward the players that try their hardest, give their all and display good sportsmanship.

Unfortunately there are many coaches that fail to see the quiet kids, the ones who are willing to go the extra mile if you ask, the ones who stay after and help load up the equipment and pick up the mess the other players left behind.

I remember when my son was playing soccer many years ago, the assistant coach’s boy and my son hardly ever played. Even though they both worked hard and went the extra mile at practice, the coach never gave them an opportunity to play.

As a parent you want to speak up and ask the coach; “why aren’t you picking my kid to play?” “He’s a good boy and tries really hard!” But that isn’t how it works. When it comes to sports the coach is the caption of the ship. She/he are the ones that have to make the tuff decisions for the team.

I have talked to many of my friends who have been coaches and they all said that the goals is to win, and we will do whatever it takes to win the game. They also added that we try to play everyone but unfortunately sometimes kids get left on the bench.

I understand that the goal is to win and that not every kid can be a winner. There are some kids that are gifted and others that are not. But I think we are forgetting that these kids are not professionals but rather kids that join the teams to learn the game and better their abilities. They can’t better themselves and help the team sitting on a bench.

I wish there were more coaches like my friend Mike who was willing to take the chance on the quiet kid. The one who would do his best and never complain. Here is Mike’s story of giving the quiet, reserved player a chance to better himself, build his confidence and to truly be part of the winning team.

 

The ‘Quiet and Reserved’ player:

I remember one of my soccer kids who was very quiet and not very confident.  He was always very timid during practices but would give his best, and never complained.  He was always respectful and did whatever I asked of him.

One day we were playing a big game, which we needed to win, and we were actually leading by a couple of goals.  We had a corner kick to make and I decided to take out one of our best players and substituted him with my quiet and reserved player.  Not only was my key player stunned, so was the rest of the team, especially when we had a chance to win and here I was sending in a non-aggressive player to make the play.  At first the quiet player was reluctant to go in he didn’t want our team to lose because of him.  I just encouraged him to go in and do his best and nothing more.  To our amazement the quite little boy scored many goals and thanks to him and his willingness to go the extra mile we ended up winning the game.  He was so proud, his confidence level rose to a higher level and his self-esteem improved.  As the season went on, he was more outspoken and aggressive and not afraid to play soccer to its fullest and enjoy it.

If we want to help the quiet kids from being bullied or isolated from other kids we have to not only give them a push but also appreciate what they do to help the team.

Coaches remember these kids will never forget you and your leadership. Especially if you are willing take the chance on the quiet kid, you may find like my friend Mike did, that it may or not pay off on the field, but in the long run depending on how you handle things you will inspire that child to raise their confidence and improve self-worth and self-esteem.

Thank you Mike Rother for contributing to this article.

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

Funny Story

At my dad’s place of residence he got in an argument with the head cook over a pickle.

There wasn’t a pickle on his plate for lunch and he demanded a pickle.

The cook came out and told him there is no pickle on the menu.

He said he wanted one and she came back with a whole jar full and screamed.

“HERES YOUR PICKLE!!

 

All that anger and stress over a pickle.

Somebody Needs to be Willing to Quit!

A couple weeks ago I was waiting in line eaves dropping on someone’s conversation. One woman was talking to another about a disagreement her daughter was having with one of her friends. It was apparent that the two girls were involved in a pretty bad conflict over a boy in school.  The woman telling the story kept saying “her daughter’s friend was bullying her daughter.” But is sounded to me more like a bad conflict.

At most schools and conferences I have spoken at many teachers and parents really don’t understand the difference between conflict and bullying.

Here is the brief definition:

Conflict is basically two people in a disagreement and no one is trying to overpower anyone.

It is not serious, accidental and only happens occasionally. In most cases it is face to face or texting privately between the two individuals. 

 Bullying is when someone is over powering another, it is purposeful, it is a repeated action and can happen quickly. It is when someone crosses the line and spreads lies, rumor and gossip to other people online or directly in front of the person being targeted. In some cases there are physical violence and threats.

 Bullying is bad and it can bring darkness to all involved but a good conflict can actually strengthen a relationship.

 Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but Margaret Heffernan says good disagreement is central to progress. She argues the best partners aren’t echo chambers, and how great teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.”  (NPR/TED Staff- “Is Conflict Good For Progress”)

 Think about the disagreement you may have had with a friend. In time you were both able to work it out and find some kind of common ground.  I know I have had many disagreements with my friends, but in the long run we both learned why we value each other’s wisdom, and friendship. 

 Getting back to the two moms I overheard in line at the checkout one of them said these words that I thought could help you with your students or child, “somebody needs to be willing to quit!

 There is good conflict that can help strengthen a relationship and there is bad conflict, where each party hits below the belt so to speak. (but this is not bullying) They may regret what they said to each other and it could end a good friendship.  This kind of conflict may need mediation, someone outside of the two parties involved to help them realize that “somebody needs to be willing to quit”.

 

 Most schools and some churches offer mediation for student to use to help work out their differences.

Check with you school counselor or church office for recommendations.

 There is a difference between conflict and bullying and I welcome your comments and your stories.

 

Presidents Day Bully Prevention Blog

This past week I have been watching the Thomas Jefferson documentary on PBS.  When they talked about the Declaration of Independence and how Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the three men elected to be the committee to write the document, Ben Franklin didn’t want to write it because he didn’t like people editing his work.  John Adams said “too many people don’t like me.”  This left Jefferson to write the entire document.

In the Declaration of Independence it talks about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It made me think of schools that have aggressive students bullying other students, in essence taking away the way they want to live their life at school, the freedom to feel safe, and their fears that take away any chance of happiness while at school.

I think that like our nation’s forefathers administrators, teachers, parents and students need to come together to draw up their own Declaration of Independence from aggressive, bullying behavior. Including a set of strategies, policy reinforcement and procedures that remind all students that aggressive bully behavior is no longer tolerated.  Letting it be known that a team of students, parents and staff are committed to making sure every student will have Life, Liberty and Happiness.

“Efforts to create a safe and supportive school for all students will be optimized when the school functions as an aligned system where all members, programmatic components and policy and procedures are coordinated, guided by the same underlying principles, and working toward the same goals.”   Bully Free Schools: Circle of Support Resource Guide for Trainers

Have selected students read this document weekly on the announcements, at assemblies, in the lunch room and parent night events.

Like Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson you are the chosen one to speak up for those who are afraid to say STOP IT.  But instead of making excuses like Franklin and Adams, be committed to work as a team to draw up a school declaration that students, staff and parents will be proud of they will abide by.

 

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Sticking to Your Discipline Strategy

 

Here is another great story that my friend Mike Rother shared.  I believe this is an example of what it means to set rules and stick to them, even if the entire school or team may be affected by your decision.

 “I think this was my second season in Omaha coaching a 14-16 year old kid’s soccer team.  We were at the start of the season and I was getting the kids into shape before we started working on some drills.  I remember one of the kids John B. as a good player but also a little outspoken, the one that was a little cocky and arrogant at times.  Anyway, after I had everyone running laps around the soccer field, this young man decided he did not have to wear his soccer shoes and was basically going to do a fast walk instead around the field in his bare feet. The rest of the kids followed his lead with a fast walk pace and sped around the track.  Seeing this, I immediately stopped the kids and had everyone take off their soccer shoes and socks and directed them to continue back running laps around the field, compliments of John B.  At first they all thought it was cool, but after several laps around the field you could hear his fellow teammates complaining to John for taking off his shoes. They complained that the bottoms of their feet were hurting and that they had to take on extra laps.  After poor John B. received enough slack, I stopped them and asked John if he wanted to put on his soccer shoes. He did so respectfully and gratefully, so did the others.  When they did, they thought I would start our soccer drills, but I had them line up again and continue to run laps.  No one said a word and they all continued running around the field as a team.  After a couple more laps, I stopped them and we started our normal practice and nothing more was said.  John B later became one of the best players I ever coached for ten more years. After I moved back to St. Louis, I would still get a Christmas card from John B.”

As you can see Mike, didn’t give in when he made the decision to have all the kids take off their shoes and socks and run the laps; even though they were all clearly upset with John B.

I have seen many parents, teachers and administrators give in when are crying or upset. When you stick to what you say and follow through, in the end they learn. As you can see from the outcome of John B. he likes and respects Mike as a mentor and a leader.

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

A Lesson in Leadership and Respect

I was speaking recently at an event near Atlanta, Georgia.  During the evening social I met a new friend Mike Rother, and he shared several stories that relate to my bully prevention, positive behavior topics and with his permission I want to share them with you.

 Over the next few months I plan to offer up a few of Mike’s stories. At the end I will be giving you some tips and suggestions from those stories you can implement with your student, scouts or team members.

This story took place one afternoon as I was getting my 12-14 year old boys soccer team ready for the fall soccer season.  I remember it was at the beginning of a practice session, while I was assigning kids to their appointed positions so we could play a scrimmage, when one of the kids, who I had assigned to play a defensive position, came up to me with had an attitude. He demanded that he be given the goalie’s position as he was deserving of it over the kid who had been assigned to play that position.  I responded nicely but firmly that he takes the position I give him.  He was a good defensive player as I remember and I wanted to see how he performed as a full-back.  He then threatened me that if I did not allow him to play goalie, that he would walk off and not play. He said something along the lines of “we can’t win without him.”  I told him I was not changing my assignments regarding positions and if he wanted to leave, to leave.  I believe, he dared me one last time while he started to walk away and I just waved at him with a friendly sign of goodbye.  I believe some of the kids who overheard the conversation were stunned by this as he was a strong player.  I watched him walk back to where the cars were parked and where some of the kids kept their bikes.  After that, I diverted my attention and energy to the rest of the kids in coaching them as we played our scrimmage.

 I can’t remember the exact time frame, but it was a good half hour or better when the kid with the attitude came back, walked onto the field and came up to me with a total different attitude and respectfully and humbly asked me if he should go out onto the field now to play the defensive fullback position I originally asked him to take.  Without a beat and if nothing ever happened between us, I said no and that I wanted him to play goalie and while pointing to the net, I gave him some pointers of what I wanted and expected for him to do as our 1st string goalie.  He said yes sir and immediately ran to the goalie net and the scrimmage went on.  Nothing was ever said about the incident again and this kid became the best goalie I ever had.

 In the classroom, during the den meetings, on the field and at home we are going to get tested by our students/cub scouts/team members/children. If we quickly give in to their demands in short run we quiet things down, but in the long run we lose respect. As one school principal put it “we lose our ability to lead.” What Mike did was demonstrate two things. One that he was the leader/coach the one who makes the decisions for the team. Secondly he refused to backdown and the young man as well as the other team members got the message. Being a leader is being someone who is open to suggestions, but in the end, makes the final decisions that are beneficial to the group as a whole.  

 

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Important Topics for Parent/Family Nights

Recently I read an article about a school that was putting on a family night to help educate the students and parents about mental issues.  It was a free event for youth and families to shed some light on the dark stigma associated with mental health concerns. This is a great topic. It is a message that is needed to help promote understanding and respect. I believe the more we understand and respect one another the less likely are to gossip, isolate and spread rumors.

What really caught my eye was how they had a strategy in place to convey the message and inspire students and parents to want to attend the event.

First of all they were serving pizza. That way attendees would not have stop home to eat before attending the event.

Secondly they asked the teachers to offer attendance at the session as extra credit. If the students brought family members and they all stayed for the entire presentation they would receive the credit.

Thirdly they also put together a raffle with prizes donated from local business. At the end of the presentation they drew the tickets and the people that remained present during the raffle had the opportunity to win a prize.

The topic they were presenting was enlightening and so was their strategy to promote it, bring people in and keep them there. If you’ re planning a parent night or family event you may want to implement some of these ideas.

If you have other suggestions that have worked for your school parent nights please share and I will make them available to our readers.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

 

NFL Speaks Out Against Bullying

I was at a business meeting the other day and one of my clients asked me what my thoughts were about the recent reports involving Miami Dolphin’s football player Richie Incgnito. He has been accused of obscenely harassing, bullying, and threatening a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Jonathan Martin in the locker room, via text and voicemail, and elsewhere.

I agree with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis who said: “there is a difference between hazing and hate.”  There is also a difference between positive team motivation and negative team aggression. One of my older friends is a former college football player and at lunch the other day he shared, ”In my time our definition of hazing was the rookies carrying in the equipment or dressing up funny in public.” Today I think some players and coaches have crossed the line when it comes to good team fun.”

At many of the middle schools and high schools I have spoken to about bullying and cyber bullying, social workers and counselors have shared that there seems to be a double standard regarding what is and not tolerated in the school and in the locker room (field or on the court). For some reason, society seems to think its normal behavior for coaches and team members to trash one another.         . As one counselor put it, “the problem is the teasing, threats and harassment don’t seem to stay in the locker room and on the field.     It finds its way in the hallways, into the classroom, on the bus and on Facebook.” This why is many social workers and counselers are beginning to speak out agains negative, disrespectful locker room behavior.

As a bully prevention specialist I see firsthand how hard many schools and parents are working. They are trying to teach their students positive behavior skills only to be struck down by sports figures and celebrities that have gotten away with their disrespectful behavior.

I am so grateful to Jonathan Martin for courageously coming forward and his willingness to take a personal leave of absence from a football team that was working toward the playoffs. Because of Martin’s willingness to speak up, he reinforced what we as bully free advocates have been driving home to every student to “SPEAK UP AGAINST BULLLYING!” 

I am also appreciative to the NFL and Miami Dolphins for suspending Richie Incognito indefinitely from the team for alleged detrimental conduct pending continued investigation of the inherent issues. This helps reinforce our message to the student that if they speak up against harassment and bullying behavior that we’ve got your back.

Other football greats like Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has said, “Great locker rooms self-police.”  This message also reinforces our bully prevention message, “If you see someone being harassed verbally, physically or online you need to say something. Report it and speak up against it.”  Many of the schools that I ‘ve followed up after presenting the bully prevention assembly for their students have reported that when the students follow our instructions to speak up in the hall, classroom, on the bus and online they’re helping  the teacher and staff  put an end to what could end up being an ongoing bullying problem.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Pretending It Doesn’t Bother You

Growing up I remember my mother telling me over and over again to pretend it doesn’t bother you. YAH RIGHT! I don’t know how many times I tried that strategy only to have the aggressor in my face screaming and calling me names. Now he wasn’t only making fun of me he was broadcasting it to everyone waiting to go into school. It was so embarrassing I would run into school just trying to get away from everyone.

Dr. Kaufman, Dr. Raphael and Pamela Espeland in their book “Stick Up For Yourself!” writes, “Don’t ignore the bullying. Bullies want a reaction from the people they are picking on. If you ignore them, they’ll try harder.”

Here are three tools available to a child that may be targeted by a bully:

1) Teach them how to use eye contact. Practice in the classroom and or at home. When they are asking you a question remind them to give you eye contact. The more they practice this the easier it will be for them to look an aggressor or a child bullying them in the eyes and tell them to stop it.

 

2) Demonstrate how they can refrain from giving the aggressor the response they are looking for. Brain storm ideas on how they can avoid crying, getting even and losing their temper. For example when I was in 4th grade a kid used to steal my hat and throw it in the mud. I used to get so mad and cry. So my friends and I brainstormed an idea to put an end to the bullying. I went to the second hand store and bought of 15 hats. Then next day I put them in my coat pockets. At school when the kid ran up to steal the hat, I would not get mad or upset I just pulled another hat out of my pocket and put it on my head. After about ten hats he stopped, never bothering me again.

 

3) Start laughing as loud as you can as you walk toward a large crowded place, near a teacher or parent or friends. Just laugh and laugh. I used to do this when a big kid was calling me names, it really freaked him out. Laughing wasn’t the reaction he wanted and he quickly stopped teasing me.Remember instead of telling our kids to just ignore the aggressor teach them how to stay calm and work through it. If you have other suggestions that has worked for you or your children please email me your suggestion at richard@richardpaul.com, comment on this blog or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/ducksense

 

Also remember from January 20 – 24, 2014 students across the country will participate in the 10th Anniversary of No Name-Calling Week. If you would like additional information on how you can participate email us at richard@richardpaul.com

Copyright Richard Paul 2013