8 Things I Did to Become a Better Parent

 

Lately, I’ve found myself asking the same series of questions. What does being a parent mean to you? How would you define your job as a parent? Naturally, in the most basic of terms it is to raise my children to adulthood, but being a parent in my eyes means much more than that. Being a parent is a job unlike any other, with no specific job description and no job requirements. To me, being a parent is creating a space for my children to grow into who they were meant to be. Not mini versions of me, but the best, most authentic versions of themselves. People who are capable of giving something to society and capable of thinking, acting and making their own decisions. People who will work hard, do their best and be considerate of others.

I have three children between the ages of 5 and 18, and I can honestly say that they are different, unique in their own ways. Therefore, anything I learned with my first child needed to be amended for the second and then the third. Only parents know how to amend advice we see, hear and read to meet our own individual circumstances and kids. Below are eight points that I feel helped me to become a better parent:

1. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries for your children and saying “no” to them isn’t being mean. Despite the pouting or the tears or the wobbling chin, all designed to make you feel terrible no doubt, children need boundaries. Boundaries with your children show that you are there, that you care, that you’re watching. That is why, once the boundaries are set, children will frequently test them. They want to know that they exist.

2. Know that quality and quantity are equally important

In my early years of parenthood, there were times when I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would’ve liked with my children because of work. But I made sure that the time I spent with them was special. We created family traditions, which included pizza nights, breakfast for basketball and Daddy-Daughter dances. Family traditions are something my children still participate in and will carry with them throughout childhood. Fun traditions often provoke a warm sense of well-being and are always looked forward to. Just as important as quality time is the amount of time you spend with your children. Create the space in your life where the time you spend with your children is prioritized and valued.

3. Show them empathy

Try to teach your children how to think of and see the humanness in others. Understanding why someone might have done something differently helps a child to understand that, although they are important, so are others.

4. Respect them

The best way I teach my children respect is by respecting them and others. Give your children the space to grow and the right to make their own decisions. In turn, they learn to respect other people’s thoughts, ideas, wishes and belongings.

5. Encourage them

Everyone needs encouragement at times, and a child trying new things even more so. It doesn’t mean overindulging your children or doing everything for them. Encouragement means offering support and allowing them to fail while teaching the importance of giving your best effort. For a child, just knowing that you are there to help if need be can be all the motivation they need to try something. New experiences help them grow.

6. Show gratitude

Being able to show appreciation and gratitude for something or someone is a great quality to have. I teach my children to celebrate what they have as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have. It helps children accept failures and disappointments while being proud of successes. It gives children a sense of inner calm and satisfaction rather than turmoil, anger and dissatisfaction.

7. Listen to my children

When talking with your children, really try to listen to what they have to say. When they voice their fears, it means that it is something that concerns them. Try and tackle their worries with attention and compassion.

8. Say “I love you.”

Three simple words, yet words that a child needs to hear again and again. As much as I may believe that my actions show my children that I love them, they still need to hear it and feel it. I take time out to verbalize with the hug and the kisses that accompany it in the mornings, daytime and especially at bedtime. Love can be shown anytime, including when showing sympathy, encouragement, or even when setting boundaries with your child.

As parents, we realize that each child is different — the rate they grow, the things they learn and the games they are ready to play differ depending on who they are. Have fun, make mistakes and enjoy the journey!

I would love to hear your feedback — please leave a comment below.

This article originally appeared in Huffington Post.

5 Winning Lessons From the Golden State Warriors

 

The Golden State Warriors basketball team is in the midst of a historic and record-setting season. The team had 73 regular season wins, breaking the NBA record previously held by the Chicago Bulls.

But it didn’t happen overnight. They planted the seeds to their current achievement during a time when the franchise suffered in mediocrity.

Flash back to 2006 and 2007, to what the Warriors dub the “We Believe” season. Leading up to the season, the franchise broke the NBA record for the number of consecutive years without making the playoffs (12). Head coach Don Nelson traded most of their big-name players for a band of journeyman and misfits to play “small ball,” a strategy that favors increased scoring, agility and speed over height, strength and low post offense and defense.

Up until that point, all NBA rosters looked the same. Each team was anchored around a 7-foot center surrounded by traditional positions—power forward, small forward, shooting guard and point guard.

Nelson decided to create a fun, fast-paced style of play designed so that players were interchangeable parts. The entire team rallied, highlighting each other’s strengths while also having fun playing a game they love. The result was astounding and marked a turnaround that led to an improbable playoff run, which shocked fans and experts alike. The changes continue to pay dividends.

The “We Believe” season not only revitalized the franchise but also its fan base. The Warriors fans continue to be the most supportive and vibrant fan base in the league. Why? It’s simple—the franchise has transformed their failure into success. Fans love cheering for a team that plays the game with joy, passion and celebrates each other’s success each and every game.

But on a deeper level, the Warriors’ success can be applied off the court—in your business, relationships and personal life.

1. Create your starting lineup

None of us reach our goals alone. Personal development guru Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The Warriors are committed to being a successful team. Each player has their own set of unique talents and skills, and they work together to utilize their contributions for the overall good of the team. Who is your starting five? Make a list of supportive people who will help move your goals forward.

2. Celebrate other people’s success

In last season’s playoff finals, regular season MVP Stephen Curry wasn’t named the Finals MVP. The award went to teammate Andre Iguodala. After the announcement, Curry was seen jumping for joy, celebrating his teammate’s accomplishment. Your inner game will improve exponentially when you shift toward abundance and celebrating other people’s wins. Pick one person today and acknowledge their achievements—big and small.

3. Focus on your strengths

Many people doubted if the Warriors could win playing “small ball.” They ignored the skeptics and perfected their own style based on their strengths as individuals and as a team. Instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses and becoming mediocre, develop your strengths and become great. Identify one to two strengths and decide what you can do to make them even better.

4. Make it fun

Have you noticed the Warriors high-fiving on the court, cheering from the bench and being high-spirited during the game? You can experience greater success and joy by playing the game of life at the highest point of consciousness. When you have fun, life becomes easier and less stressful. What are three ways you can incorporate more fun and joy into your life today?

5. Be the best version of you

It’s no coincidence that Curry, the Warriors star point guard, and this year’s regular season MVP (by a unanimous vote), is also their hardest worker. Every year he commits to improving his game and becoming a better player. Whether that means staying after a game to work on his jump shot or arriving an hour early before the game to get a competitive edge, he is focused on being better. Give yourself the gift of your own attention and work on being your best self through personal growth and development.

You don’t need to be professional NBA coach or player to transform failure into success. You have all the skills you need to start changing your life right now. Begin by scheduling time in your calendar in the next three days to focus on practicing one of these principles. Keep note of how your life changes while understanding that change takes time. Continue to add additional principles as you see progress and celebrate those milestones.

You don’t have to be the most talented to achieve greatness but you do have to be willing to make a commitment to change and put in the work to make it happen. With your “roster” of supportive and influential people, an attitude of abundance and remembering to have fun, I believe you will achieve your best self. Take it from the best team in the NBA, the transformation from mediocrity to record-breaking success only takes a few shifts in your game plan (a good jump shot doesn’t hurt either).

This article originally appeared in Success Magazine.

5 Relationships the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Cultivate

Everyone who decides to throw the proverbial caution to the wind, quit their job and become an entrepreneur hopes that things will work out, and they will have success. However, things are infinitely more complicated than we would all like to think. There are some crucial relationships that one needs to form, in order to become a successful entrepreneur. No man is an island, and we all need help, in some way or another. Especially when it comes to business, you rely on the good grace of others in a lot of different instances. Therefore, here are the 5 business relationships that you need, as a successful entrepreneur.

Bankers

While this list is in no particular order, the first has to be banks and bankers, because they are directly responsible for your financial stability. Chances are you are going to need a line of credit – especially in the beginning, you will need a start-up loan. And in order to receive it, you need to maintain good relationships with your local banks and bankers. How can you achieve that? By making your payments on time, first of all. If your name comes to be associated with poor or late payments, it’s difficult to get out of the dog house.

Another thing you can benefit from when you have a close relationship with your bankers is ensuring the safety of your money. They can help you set a system in place that can secure your finances and make sure that your deposits make it through and no one can embezzle from you or other such actions. It pays (literally) to form a tight relationship with your banker.

Employees

Of course, employees are also vital to any business you may want to set up. To strike gold in this department, you have to do a good job finding and choosing people who are professional, qualified, serious, and dedicated to their job. But that is not enough for them to make your company flourish; you also have to inspire them. This is where the vast majority of “bosses” go wrong – they vastly underestimate their relationship with their employees, when that is arguably one of the most important of all.

In order for your employees to work well, you have to make sure you maintain satisfaction. People have to be fulfilled in the workplace and be inspired and encouraged by their leaders. The mistake most entrepreneurs and people in management positions make is that they equate more time spent working hard with good results, more money and a growing business. But you should know better: you catch more flies with honey. That means that treating your employees with respect, compensating them fairly, and making sure they have time for their personal lives will be better for you in the long-run.

Customers

Every entrepreneur knows that customers can make or break your business. No matter how hard you work, how organized your company is and how intelligent your business concept is, if the customers are not happy, not stimulated, and not attracted, you either lose them, or you don’t attract them in the first place. In order to ensure the success of your business, you have to ensure the happiness of your clients.

Now, customer satisfaction is achieved by paying attention, first and foremost. You have to put yourself in their shoes and ask “What would make this a positive experience for them?”, “What can I do to ensure good customer service?”. A good product or service that fills a need is essential, but so is excellent customer service – engage them on social media, make the experience personal, make them feel special. The benefits are twofold: first of all, you retain your existing clients. Second of all, word of mouth will travel about your business and how much you value your customers and that will act as free advertising, essentially.

Vendors

Most businesses rely heavily on vendors, and unless you build a solid, trusted relationship with them, you might find yourself without essential items, not only when it comes to the product you might be selling, but even basic stationary or materials. You cannot afford not to be in your vendors’ good graces. The trick is to think of them as your employees, which means that you have to show them the same respect and attention. Get close to them, always have a means to contact them and make sure that, should an emergency happen – such as you needing to pay late, or needing materials urgently – they will be there for you.

Mentors

A business relationship that is also a personal one is mentorship. When you’re starting your own business, you need all the help you can get, from anyone who will listen. But most of all, you need someone with experience and extensive knowledge who can guide you. Find someone you look up to, a successful entrepreneur you would like to emulate, and ask for their advice. Again, this works in your favor in two different ways: you get the help you need, and you establish a positive business relationship. Remember always to show gratitude, treat them with respect and acknowledge their insight – it will pay off.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the investment in relationships is the best investment you will ever make. Take the time now to build them and your business will soar.

This article originally appeared in Inc. Magazine.

Shift Happens!

manual gearbox in the car

My 10 days in California has come to an end and I’m super excited about the shifts that occurred during my trip. What started out a business trip ended in some amazing shifts both personally and professionally.
BTW you will be hearing my California influence in the language of my post. Don’t judge love it 🙂

This post comes from the best, most vulnerable place in me. It’s kinda scary but super cool at the same time because I have no attachment to how it is received. Just straight no chaser.
The ability to slow down, be present and co-create has allowed for even more clarity in how best I can be of service and alignment with purpose.I know that I am in purpose and my gift shines when I’m being of service to others. Helping them transform their lives that may never have seemed imaginable. We all have gifts that are specifically for us to shine and give to the world.

Ask yourself if you are living up to your potential and sharing your gift?

This gift isn’t meant to be hoarded it’s meant to be developed and then shared with others.
My alignment to service has opened the door to do even more with people and be a part of real life miracles in their lives. And I’ve realized that I still need to BE MORE, DO MORE AND CARE MORE! I need to play ALL OUT and give of myself even more than I have. My gift is to be shared in loving service of others and help them transform their lives.

I have some BIG announcements and ideas that I’d love to co-create with others. I want to be more accessible….If something comes up in you while you read this and it resonates, it’s probably time to listen to that.

Maybe it’s a dream you’ve had but told yourself it’s too BIG.
Maybe you’re ready to leave a job you’ve been miserable at for years but cling to it because of “security”
Maybe you want to have a better relationship with your children and spouse
Maybe you have no idea what-what you want and are now ready to explore that
Maybe you want to be clear on your purpose but want help finding it
Maybe you just want to create more
playfulness in your life and relationships

The wonderful thing about life is all we have is this moment. The gift and magic happen in the here and now. Not in some imagined future.
If you’re ready to stop waiting until the “right time” to create something amazing in your life let me know. Share with me what you’d like to create and let’s do it. The space I hold is amazingly abundant and enough to go around.
Share your gift so we can create a place for your to shine and share it with the world.
Let me know what your BIG dream is and how I can help. We can’t keep it unless WE give it away.
Are you ready? Let’s go….

If you want to see what we can create in your life and are ready to PLAY ALL OUT email me at devon@deonbandison.com and let’s explore what coaching together may look like.

Onward and Upward
Devon

Procrastination Is Not A Thing…It’s A Story!

Slow service concept as a time clock with a shell shaped as a snail  as a metaphor for procrastination and leisurely customer service or being tired and sleepy symbol on a white background.

We’ve all said it at one point or another….”I’m a procrastinator” or “I haven’t finished yet because I’m procrastinating.”

People talk about it like it’s a fixed state or has somehow become our destiny. Sometimes it sounds like it has become a part of us. Like a not so powerful superhero…

“The Procrastinator”

But procrastination isn’t a noun, it isn’t a fixed state and it’s definitely not who we are.

Procrastination is a STORY

It’s a story that we have chosen to tell ourselves and tell others as a reason why we haven’t completed what we set out to accomplish.

Recently I’ve been working with my coaching clients on changing the stories they’ve created in their life that no longer serves them. They’ve discovered that most times, the root of becoming a “procrastinator” is fear. It becomes a built in excuse for why we don’t accomplish what we set out to do.

Full Definition of Procrastinate: transitive verb: to put off intentionally and habitually intransitive verb: to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

Dr. Steel Piers did extensive research on procrastination and published his findings in a book called The Procrastination Equation.

Take a second and think about what you have been putting off lately in the name of procrastination. Now I want you to assess how these four factors are showing up in that equation:

Expectancy- this is the level of confidence you have about your goal or what you want to do. People are often fearful that they won’t be successful so their expectancy is low which makes it easier to put it off.

Value- how fired up are you about completing the task or achieving the goal? If you aren’t motivated, think about the benefit of completing it (i.e peace of mind, better health, etc).

Impulsivity- how impulsive are you? Do you stop in the middle of a task or put it off to check email, facebook or send a text message? This is one of the major factors that keeps you in the procrastination story.

Delay- How many times have you said things like “I’ll do it after I watch some TV” or “this can wait until tomorrow.” This is the time to increase your expectancy and realize the value of completing this task RIGHT NOW!

Four Ways To Stop Procrastinating

Set goals- goal setting and creating small wins in your life increase and fuel your motivation. Make your goals challenging, meaningful, feasible and specific.
Just begin the process- focus on process goals rather than outcome goals. For example, instead of worrying about completing your 10-page paper all at once, shift to the process. Set a goal to write for 25 minutes today.

Focus to finish- set a timer for 25 minutes. Turn off all notifications, phones, and social media. Focus on one task for 25 minutes, then give yourself a 5-minute break. REPEAT. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.

Define you WHY- what is your goal behind the goal? Why are you doing what your about to do? Here is a great video by Simon Sinek on finding your Why.
You are not a procrastinator!!! That doesn’t have to be your story anymore!

Create a new story today by:

a) Assessing where you are on the on the procrastination equation.

b) Implementing the four steps I’ve laid out for you!

A new habit usually takes anywhere between 30 days to 245 days to create, averaging out at around 66 days. Starting today, try and implement the four steps above whenever you find yourself telling the procrastination STORY!

Remember it’s only a STORY and you are the author of YOUR STORY.

Change your story and change your life!

———————————————————–

High-Performance Coach and Fatherhood Thought Leader Devon Bandison teaches business owners and entrepreneurs around the world how to achieve more at work, at home, and in the community. His coaching has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and he ‘s a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.

Learn about Live Your Legacy Mastermind Community Here: https://www.legacy.zone

The Live Your Legacy Mastermind & Group Coaching Community

Live Your Legacy poster

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” ~Peter Drucker

Join today and become part of an online community of inspiring leaders that will help you achieve more, become more accountable and support your BIG goals.

Each month we will focus on a different leadership skill that you can use to create freedom, abundance, and prosperity in your life.Our first Masterclass begins tonight and the program has ongoing enrollment.

Click here to learn about membership:

Masterminds are used by mostly all of the most successful and prosperous people in the world.

  • How does a mastermind work? A group of smart people come together to tackle challenges, share resources and create prosperity in your life. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. If you are lucky enough to get invited to one, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business

Masterminds are incredible and can do wonders for your personal and professional success. Growing in a group is not only more effective, it’s more fun!

If that sounds interesting to you, keep reading.

In this Mastermind Group, you WILL achieve BIG RESULTS in less time with the support of other great leaders. 

Our focus is creating the freedom you want in your life and career.  Imagine having instant access to me and other people who can help make your dream a reality.

*The First Live Webinar will be on March 29th*

What’s In It For YOU?

  • Monthly Master Class
  • POWER Modules
  • E-motivators, audios, and/or videos
  • Weekly goal setting/accountability debrief tool
  • Monthly Modules and Activities
  • Peer accountability partners 
  • Access to our Secret Facebook Group
  • Part of a growing community of inspiring leaders
  • Customized Personal Development Plan

You also get this…

Here’s a couple of additional benefits you receive from being part of a Mastermind Group. The expertise you want at your fingertips.

For example:

  • Looking to create financial freedom- we have someone who can help you
  • Looking to build a side hustle- we have someone who can show you how
  • Need a website built? We have someone in our community.
  • Want to be a professional speaker? We have someone in our community.
  • Looking to change careers? We have someone in our community.
  • Want to write a book? We have someone in our community.
  • Need help to start that business? We have someone in our community.

If that’s not enough, there’s more…

In addition, I will be hosting a monthly Master Class and a Group Coaching Call that digs deeper into some of the principles and mindsets that create success (Accountability, Habits, Routines, Owner/Victim, Creating a Team, etc).

Invest in your future today?

Register TODAY!

We have three different levels of membership (Silver, Gold, Platinum).

Our silver membership package costs less than a cup of coffee a day! Really? YES!!!

Don’t put your dreams on hold any longer, now is your time! Give yourself the gift of your own attention and invest in yourself

Learn More: register today!

Looking forward to having you in this amazing community!

Live Your Legacy poster

Don’t Treat Your Life Like A Gym Membership

group of young people running on treadmills in modern sport gym

At the beginning of each year, we tend to have a long list of new goals and resolutions that we set out to accomplish. Most of us feel like the new year is the perfect time to make the changes in our life that will allow us to achieve more.

Would you be surprised to know that 25% of people will quit within the first month of setting a new year’s resolution? 

The problem isn’t that people set goals, it’s how they structure it.

If you belong to a gym or fitness center you probably know what I mean. Right now, gyms are so full that it’s hard to get a treadmill or a 25-pound dumbbell.

When you come back to the gym in a few weeks your experience will be quite different. 80% of the New Years Resolution gym crowd drops off by the second week of February. They actually bank on this and sell memberships knowing that only 1 in 5 people will actually show up.

Why is that?

Because people are not structuring their goals in a way that is sustainable.

As you think about the first month of 2016, ask yourself these three questions:

1) Where am I with my goals?

2) Is my daily routine structured to optimize time for my priorities (goals)?

3) Do I find myself losing momentum?

Let’s make sure that you continue to grow and prosper throughout the year.

Here are three ways to ensure you achieve more this year:

1) Choose your number wisely– The optimal number of goals to set for any given year is somewhere between 6-9. I’ve found this to be the range where most of my clients flourish.

2) Goal Stacking- Instead of trying to tackle all of your goals at once try starting with one goal at a time. In January, you may add going to the gym, and in February a financial goal and so on. This allows for you give each goal the focus and commitment necessary for sustainable success.

3) Accountability- find an accountability partner that will help you get started and keep you on track when you hit roadblocks. Often times, they are the spark that keeps you going through the rough patches. Accountability partners can be a paid coach, a childhood friend or someone you meet along the way.

You have everything it takes to make all of your goals become a reality this year. If you’ve found yourself losing steam lately, apply these three tools to give you the boost that you need.

I look forward to hearing about your continued success and breakthroughs in 2016!

5 Ways to Lead a More Fulfilling Life

Happy young African-American man isolated white background

At some point in our life, we’ve all asked the question, “Is this it? Was I put on this planet just to pay bills, work long hours and never have enough time in my busy schedule to have fun?”

If you ever felt like the opportunity to live a fulfilling life was passing you by, you are not alone. A few years back I remember feeling this way soon after I received a significant promotion. Although the new assignment came with more money and a better title, I no longer did the work that I was passionate about.

On top of feeling dispassionate, the job required longer hours. Longer days impacted quality family time, gym days became infrequent and my eating routines fell by the wayside. This is not what I envisioned as an ideal way to live my life and new I had to make a change. I’m sure you can relate to a time in your life when it felt like you were going through the motions with little room for passion and reward.

I often hear people say, “Once I get the ________ (raise, promotion, house, car, etc.), then I’ll be happy.” This way of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. It actually prevents us from living life to the fullest.

However, the exact opposite is true. Focusing on creating a more fulfilling and happier life will actually increase our pay grade inside and out. Sound too good to be true?

Research has shown that satisfaction and fulfillment are key components to a successful career. Optimistic thinking leads to increased performance and accomplishment which sets us up for a more prosperous career.

Our brain performs best when we are in a positive mindset. When we feel optimistic about our future, we are more energized, focused and better problem solvers. On the other hand, when we are consumed with our problems, we are drained of our focus and energy needed to perform optimally. High performers add more value and thus take home bigger paychecks.

Living a meaningful and fulfilling life goes way beyond the monetary gains. It centers us on becoming the best version of ourselves. Leading a happier life allows us to show up more fully at home, work and in the community. As a result, we show up more powerfully as better parents, spouses, friends and employees.

It’s never too late to start creating the life we want. We all have the power and everything needed to alter our destiny. The key to doing this successfully is letting go of all of our inhibitions so that we can start working toward building a life that we absolutely love every day.

If obstacles are getting in your way, here are five ways I used to start creating a more fulfilling life:

1. Keep Healthy– A healthy mind, body and spirit is key. Treat yourself to the gift of your own attention by eating well, working out and meditating. All will help you increase optimal functioning.

2. Leave Your Comfort Zone– Seek out new opportunities. In the process, your confidence will increase allowing you to take more healthy risks. Transformation only happens beyond your comfort zone.

3. Stop Complaining– Complaining reinforces a negative state of mind and offers no solutions. Take ownership of your happiness. Next time you feel frustrated, take a few deep breaths and focus on something positive.

4. Show Your Gratitude– Write a thank you card, pick up the phone, volunteer or send someone a book they would enjoy. Tap into your heart and let others know how much you appreciate them.

5. Be Valuable– Instead of focusing on your personal success, focus on being of value. Bringing value to a relationship, business or community increases abundance and fosters reciprocity – the more you give, the more you receive.

Are you ready to create a life where you wake up energized and excited about the day ahead?

You have everything that it takes to create a life complete with happiness, abundance, and fulfillment. Looking back that promotion actually was an opportunity in disguise that transitioned me to a life beyond my wildest dreams. You can do the same. These are five ways that will help you on your journey in achieving your own happiness and fulfillment.

The Youth Sports Trophy Culture: It’s Not About Trophies It’s About Values

Close shoot of black happy smiling little boy holding prize cup with other kids cheering on the back

Are Participation Trophies Sending The Wrong Message To Our Children?

This past weekend one of my clients sent me an article and asked what I thought about Pittsburg Steeler Linebacker James Harrison having his children (ages 8, 6) return the “participation trophies” they received from one of their sports teams. Harrison posted the following on Instagram:

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”

As former college basketball player and someone who coaches fathers on how to perform at their highest level in life and business, my initial reaction was total support of the message. I never received a participation trophy growing up and was taught the same core values Mr. Harrison was teaching: Everything in life and sports should be earned. My default response was to return to my own experience as an athlete who worked his butt off to eventually earn a college scholarship. In large part because of my experiences growing up, I’ve come to realize how important it is to work hard, experience defeat and be able to learn and improve from losses and disappointments. These are lessons we can take into our everyday life as a parent, business owner, or someone trying to reach their full potential. It’s not defeat that defines us in life but how we react to it that creates our success moving forward. All important lessons I believe Mr. Harrison’s statement supports.

On the other side of the argument are those  believe participation trophies serve as source of pride and a self-esteem booster for kids. That children who participate and work their tails off all year need to be rewarded for finishing the season and not giving up on their team. This reward anchors a child’s experience and encourages them to show up and contribute to the collective.

A 2014 Reason-Rupe poll showed that the more successful adults are in life, the less likely they are to be in favor of the participation trophies. The poll found that the desire to withhold participation trophies increased with income, age, and education. For example, 55 percent of those making less than $30,000 a year were in favor of participation trophies, while only 23 percent of those at the top earners ($110,000 +) wanted trophies for all. It really isn’t about trophies, which by the way has skyrocketed into a 3 billion dollar a year business. The issue is really about instilling values and life lessons in our children that they can take off the field into the world.

It is important that we all take a deeper look at this discussion and see why there has been such a spirited debate over whether participation awards for children are healthy or not. I know parents who sometimes struggle to identify the fine line between appropriate praise and overcompensating by praising everything their child does. Behind Mr. Harrison’s statement is the bigger issue of how to best support our children (emotionally, psychologically) and prepare them for success in life.

Here are questions to consider:

Are participation trophies a way to improve and support positive self-esteem in a child?

OR

Are these types of awards part of a bigger problem that creates entitled and unmotivated adults?

In order to create a meaningful discussion that goes beyond who is right and wrong, I wanted to explore several different perspectives and then offer a potential solution to the issue at hand:

The Issue At Hand

How can we best set our children up for success in life (socially, emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually, etc.)?

Different Perspectives

Over the weekend, I made some calls and asked this question:

Is James Harrison right? Are participation trophies sending the wrong message to our children?

My first calls were to the professional and college athletes I work with who are also parents. Next I asked some of the high-performing fathers (business owners, CEO’s) who said they were either average, below average or non-athletic growing up.

Finally, I went to the people who this debate affects the most, children. I asked my own children (ages 13, 17) as well as some of their friends what they thought about the debate over participation awards. There are far too many instances in today’s society where adults and experts create a discussion about our children and youth without including them. This was an important perspective and their responses may surprise you.

All three perspectives were important for me to integrate into what I already know from my experience in child development, parenting and human behavior.

Here is what I’ve learned from everyone’s comments:

The “Yes” Argument

Participation trophies creates a false sense of accomplishment

“I wanted to give my children all they wanted, all I hadn’t had. In so doing I may have deprived them of what they needed most: the grit and the tools, to take on the world and make their own way.” Harry Belefonte

The professional athlete’s I spoke with whole-heartedly agreed with Harrison’s perspective. One stated, “Great job Mr. Harrison for teaching the value of hard work and that nothing in life comes easy.” As a father, I also want to instill in my children the importance of creating good habits, working hard towards a goal and giving your best. I agree with Mr. Harrison that teaching children the importance of earning things in life through hard work is a very important life lesson.

These are the times in our life when the most profound transformations take place because of defeat. Defeat and experiencing losing is important for development and has a way of getting our attention. It allows us to look at our habits, work ethic and performance to see where we can improve. If you never experience losing and are rewarded for simply showing up you may never learn this lesson of perseverance.

What I’ve noticed from observing the high performers I work with, whether its sports or business, is a sense of never settling for mediocrity. Winners in life, business and sports always feel that there is more to do. If business exceeds expectations in the first quarter, they want to top that in the second quarter. If the team wins a championship, they are quickly focusing on repeating the following year. In many ways, there is never satisfaction because there is always a bigger milestone to achieve.

The “No” Argument

Participation trophies teach children the value of showing up

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up” Brene Brown

The lesson that may have been missed in all of this is the value of showing up. One of the CEO’s I spoke with had a different take on the message the trophy sends. “By not giving a child a trophy after a long hard season teaches children that there is no value in trying. As Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of life is showing up.”

As a father who has coached many of my children’s teams over the years, I understand the hard work, dedication and commitment that a children (and parents) make to attending practices and games. Advocates for participation trophies argue that sending a child home after a long season empty handed sends the message that there is no value in the attempt. Sports can be a microcosm of life and teaching children that it’s bigger than winning or losing is important. By earning participation trophies, children receive the message that being accountable, showing up and working hard means something. Some children won’t be superstars or be fortunate enough to be on winning teams, but that doesn’t mean they’re not embodying winning values.

What the kids are saying

“Participation is more than just showing up”

When I asked my 13-year-old son and the players on his AAU basketball team, I was expecting them to be opposed to the trophies. These very competitive kids are always looking to win the next game and tournament. To my surprise, most of them (9 out of 10) were in favor of the trophies. They told me that they understand the difference between MVP, Championships and Participation Trophies and there is room for them all. The players went on to say that working hard and being committed during the season should be rewarded. WOW! I was impressed.

So, I called my 17-year-old daughter to see if she would have another view. A few days earlier, I had moved her into her dorm room for her first year of college. She spent most of her life on dance teams that participated in recitals and competition. Her view was similar to that of my son’s team. She said, “participation is more than just showing up, it’s agreeing to work to be part of a team. Whether we win or lose, it doesn’t take away our effort.” She continued to say that a criteria has to be met to receive it though. Things like attending practice, working hard and being a good teammate. Children get it and fully understand the distinction between a first place trophy and a participation trophy. As they schooled me, I wondered to myself if it was the adults, who were making this more complicated than it needed to be.

It’s Not about Trophies It’s about Values

“The major value in life is not what we get. The major value in life is what we become”

Most people are either on one side or on the other of this debate with no wiggle room for common ground. Participation trophies are either GOOD or BAD.

There is common ground between both sides of this debate that can ultimately benefit our children. The commonality is that everyone wants the best for their children, but we often go about it different ways.

As a student of child development, I also have to point out the research of Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck who wrote a New York Times piece titled “Too much praise is not good for toddlers.” In her research, Dweck talks about the negative repercussions of praising children for everyday achievements. She doesn’t discourage praising kids altogether, but suggests focusing on how they approach difficult tasks, strategize and concentrate.

The adults may have missed what the the kids recognized all along: Participation is more than “just showing up.” Webster’s defines participation as “the state of being related to a larger whole.” Isn’t that a value we want to instill in our children? Teamwork, sacrifice, service and contributing to a greater good.

It reminded me of the college professor who on the first day of class announced, “You all start the year with A’s, and this is what you have to do to keep it.”

Maybe the answer is to place meaning and emphasis on values rather than a trophy. Sports can provide valuable life lessons to help our children develop into healthy adults:

1. Teamwork– Teamwork in sports fosters emotional and social development that can easily carry over to life. This translates in how well your children work with their teachers, classmates, relatives, and anyone else they may encounter in life.

2. Resilience- You will experience adversity in life but never give up. Everyone gets knocked down, but what’s important is how you respond.

3. Sportsmanship- Your character shouldn’t be determined by a win or loss. Show up in the world as the person you want to be.

4. Fun- Children do this much better than adults do. In sports and life, find what brings you joy. Follow your dreams and have fun with it.

5. Hard work- This is a valuable lesson that translates in all aspects of life.

6. Everyone has strengths- Teaching children to look for the strengths in other people is a great lesson in relationship building though connection and empathy.

7. Responsibility and Commitment- “No practice, No Play.” Sports help children understand the importance of following through with their commitment by attending practices and games. Being responsible for yourself and keeping your commitment to your teammates is a valuable life lesson.

So… Is James Harrison Right? Are participation trophies sending the wrong message to our children?

It depends… Trophies don’t send messages, PEOPLE do! 

Maybe we’ve been debating the wrong question and complicating the issue all along. Harrison’s points about earning things in life and dealing with adversity are great life lessons. I think it’s fair to challenge the second part of the statement “your best sometimes isn’t enough. When children give their best, it should be good enough.

Competition is at the heart of sports, and maybe trophies should be reserved for the winners, but everyone’s effort deserves to be acknowledged.

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

Fatherhood Picture Of The Year Contest: And The Winner Is…..

First, I’d like to thank all the families who contributed to the Fatherhood Picture of the Year contest. It has been a huge success, as we received an overwhelming response of amazing pictures depicting modern day fatherhood.

Pictures were submitted by wives, husbands, children and friends, which made it all the more fun. The decision to choose a winner was extremely difficult, so I enrolled the help of my own children in the process.  Before I announce the winner, I’d like to personally thank and recognize all the fathers for being such great role models in the lives of your families.

And the WINNER is……..

All nine fathers below are the winners. Yes, that’s right, we have an 9-way tie. These submissions of our fathers in action were too good to pick just one winner.

Congratulations to all our fathers below. As promised, each winner will receive a FREE coaching session from me.

Here are our winning father’s:

Charles Jones shows that “proud papa” smile moments after the birth of his precious newborn

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Jeff Bogle sharing the sunshine with the light of his life

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Darryl Mathis in the New York State of mind with his adorable children.

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Rob Barea teaching his son that fatherhood is a marathon not a sprint

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Jon Harrison and his son “May the force be with you”

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Jesse Foster shows what being an ambidextrous father looks like

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Michael Vigneau riding the waves of life with his little ones

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Brian Henderson sharing creativity and endless possibilities with his daughter

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Brian Mininger with his own version of the “Fab 5”

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Congratulations to all our winners…

Happy Father’s Day!!!