A New Definition for Leadership

When we think of a leader, we might picture an elected official or the head of a company. Often we imagine someone in an influential role. And that’s not wrong because leadership is influence.

But there is perhaps an even better definition for  leadership — one that can help us see that every single person has the potential to be a leader. The definition came from Dr. Tim Elmore, leadership expert and president of GrowingLeaders.com. Dr. Elmore was a guest on our radio show last Saturday, and he has said that leadership is “solving problems and serving people.”

We have heard parents say that their child is not destined to be a leader, and it’s true that not every kid is going to be a CEO or a politician or even a team captain. But every child can solve problems, and every child can serve people.

As parents, we can do things to intentionally groom this in our kids.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Their Name is Today – Review and Giveaway

I love the title of this book!

Their Name is Today is an awesome reminder that our kids won’t stop growing to wait for us to get our act together or get through this project or that crisis. They need our love and our focus right here and right now.

In his book Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, author Johann Christoph Arnold reminds us that “as long as we have children entrusted to our care, we cannot forget that the demands they make on us must be answered in the present. Their name is today. Whatever children need in the way of guidance, security and love, they need now. Because soon enough it will be time for them to fly on their own, and then there will be no holding them back.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Aim Kids For Success With Project Management Skills

The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.

What Has to Be Done?

  • Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
  • They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
  • Then they should define any related goals and be specific.

My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on these wedding venues greenville sc, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.

When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Living in the Growth Zone

Want to help your kids reach their potential in all areas? Encourage them to live in the Growth Zone.

A couple of years ago I read a book called Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin, and it introduced me to a concept that has been fruitful in my home (and Jody’s too!).

There are three basic zones where we can choose to live: the Comfort Zone, the Growth Zone and the Incompetence Zone. Most of us choose the first for obvious reasons – it’s familiar, it’s automated, it’s habitual, it’s quick, it’s easy…it’s comfortable. The Comfort Zone is simply doing what we are good at, what we like, what we always do.

In some areas, the Comfort Zone is both appropriate and efficient. Think of morning and evening routines. We want our kids to wake up, start the day with prayer, make their beds, tidy their rooms, brush their teeth, get dressed, and get to the breakfast table on time. Routines help make this process quick, smooth, and comfortable. As it should be! The same holds true for the bedtime routine.

But when it comes to schoolwork, life skills, exercise, and specialized skills, we want our children to blossom and flourish. We want them to strive for excellence and mastery, and this process is inevitably and necessarily uncomfortable.

Think about developing muscles. It takes consistency (working out even when you don’t feel like it), discomfort and endurance.

The Music Example

My husband is a musician, and he teaches guitar part time. When a new student comes, he tells them that their success hinges not on the time they spend in the lesson but on the time they spend practicing at home. The more they practice, the better they will play. But here’s the catch – practicing guitar can be painful for a new student (the strings literally hurt their fingers), and it can be boring. Until they learn enough basics to begin playing something recognizable, chords and scales can be a drag. But unless they are willing to drill these basics over and over, pushing through the discomfort and the boredom, it never gets easier, and it’s never fun.

But the key to mastery in every area is pushing through the difficult part to reach success. My husband has been a musician for more than two decades, but he still practices an hour every day (sometimes two or three) and learns new theories, seeks out new sounds and sets new goals.

Guitar practice is a great example of how the zones work. Often my husband’s younger students have the most difficulty practicing. They don’t have the inner motivation to get through the discomfort, so it falls on their parents’ shoulders to enforce practice time. Typically, his teenage students have a clear goal, and they’re more willing to persevere.

Incentive

It helps to have incentives. If our kids can’t find an intrinsic reason for growing, we can offer extrinsic rewards. Some parents shy away from rewards, thinking that it’s just bribery, but if presented well, rewards can go a long to helping kids learn to develop their own inner reasons for pushing through to success.

Just as consequences teach that bad choices equal bad results, rewards teach that good choices equal good results!

 

In our house, kids get points for things like housework, and at the end of the week, points can translate into cash. That’s not to say they can choose to abandon their duties if they don’t feel like working. In fact, not doing your chores with excellence can lead to discipline in our family, but if they work hard, without being told and achieve a level of excellence, our kids will be rewarded.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

With or without rewards, growth always begins by leaving the Comfort Zone. For music practice, it means setting aside time (typically an interruption in a person’s schedule is uncomfortable) and drilling the basics over and over (often painful to the fingers and usually boring). Then, at the lesson the student has to display what they have learned so the instructor can inspect how well they are doing and what needs adjusting. This can also be somewhat uncomfortable for the student.

But when a student is willing to endure these discomforts and is willing do it again and again, he will grow. Consistent practice of foundational skills over time is operating in the Growth Zone.

Pushing Into the Growth Zone

Now, once a student masters a set of skills, he has to begin learning new ones or else he becomes comfortable and stops growing. This seems like common sense, right? But in life, we see it happen all the time. How many times have we, as grown adults, worked hard at something only to reach a comfortable place and then stop? Think about weight loss. Anyone who has ever battled the bulge can probably relate to a time when they worked hard (leaving their Comfort Zone) for a season, only to slip back into old, more comfortable ways once they’ve achieved a small measure of success.

So continuing to push into the Growth Zone requires consistent evaluation and increasing challenge.

The Incompetent Zone

But there is also a point where we can push too far. As a teacher, my husband has, on occasion, over estimated the ability of a student and given him a task that’s too difficult. In that case, the student is pushed into the Incompetence Zone, and just as he can’t grow in the Comfort Zone, he can’t grow where he is still incompetent.

Let’s look at another area where this concept can help our kids grow and succeed. One of my main goals as a parent is to raise children who are capable of running a household with excellence by the time they leave my home.

Growing Life Skills

I want my kids to be able to budget money and save, plan and prepare healthy meals, maintain a beautiful home that offers a place of rest and rejuvenation, and be good stewards of their things (cars, tools, appliances, etc.). All of this takes training.

I will never forget the first time I went grocery shopping for my new apartment. I was out on my own, and I had to make all of my own meals. Eating out for every meal wasn’t in the budget, and I didn’t have the dining hall to fall back on, as I did in college. Nor did I have roommates who would pick up my slack, as I did when a bunch of us moved off campus.

Walking up and down the aisles on that first shopping trip, I grew more and more perplexed. Hmmm…what should I get, I thought? Milk! People buy milk at the grocery store. It’s a staple, right? Oh, and bread! That’s important.

I went on to collect a strange hodgepodge of things in my shopping cart that I thought I’d need. But after a day or two, I realized that I didn’t have much to make actual meals, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t survive forever on cereal and pasta.

It took years for me to learn how to make a menu, use recipes, and build up a stock supply of spices and other ingredients. Cooking is both a science and an art, and I had to learn the building blocks to be able to eventually do it well.  Truth be told, I don’t enjoy cooking (thank you God for giving me a husband who does!), but I can do it, and I can do well when I have to.

Still, it was an uphill battle, as was learning how to clean efficiently, budget, balance a checkbook, save money, and so on. I decided that I didn’t want my kids to struggle as young adults the way I struggled. I wanted them to leave my home as fully competent adults.

Finding the Growth Zone

When we start teaching our kids life skills, it’s easy to allow them to either live in their Comfort Zone or to push them into their Incompetence Zone. I remember trying to teach my older daughter how to sweep. She was seven at the time, and I soon realized that no matter how hard she tried, the broom was too cumbersome for her little body, and she was not going to do it with excellence until she was taller. At that point, she was an incompetent sweeper.

My fourth child is now nine, and sweeping is not on his task list, but after almost a year of consistent training, he does an excellent job of washing the dishes, wiping down the counters, folding and putting his clothes away, changing his bed sheets and keeping  the living and dining room tidy throughout the day.

When he started, it was messy and uncomfortable (both for him and for me). He would wash and rinse the dishes, and then, dripping wet from chest to waist, he would come find me and ask for an inspection. There was water all over the counter and the floor, and there was still some food and soap on the dishes, which meant I needed to do some retraining, and he needed to try again. Dishes took a LONG time to get through in the beginning, and I made sure he did it all by himself, including drying up the water mess, changing his clothes and hanging the wet ones out to dry and then being responsible for putting the clothes in the hamper when they dried.

Once a chore is mastered, it’s time to either have that child train up his replacement (a younger sibling) or add a new level of responsibility (perhaps learning how to plan and cook the meal). Otherwise, they will slip into the Comfort Zone and the growing will stop.

Growing in Academics

Perhaps your daughter has great math grades and her homework has become a breeze. She might be operating in the Comfort Zone, and that means she’s no longer growing. I’ve heard this story many times – a child gets great grades for a time, but eventually they start to slip, and parents are left baffled. What happened to my honors student, they ask?

Chances are they grew comfortable, and began to find excitement and stimulation somewhere else. But by encouraging them into the Growth Zone, we can help our kids find lasting success.

So take our math whiz who now breezes through her nightly homework. It might be time to hop online and pick up some supplemental math workbooks or find games that will challenge her skills. Help her set a goal and choose a reward for completing the goal. Maybe you can contact her teacher and see if there are any students in the class who might enjoy a peer tutor (learn more about one on one tutoring at home). If so, your child could reinforce her own skills by teaching them to someone else, plus it will build a strong work ethic and sense of civic responsibility.

In the summer and on long breaks, you can help your kids get ahead in math or master those times tables. You can assign them to a read a great novel or pick up a book of fun science experiments and challenge them to finish all the experiments before the end of the break. You can download a song of the 50 States and offer a date with mom when they can recite all the states and capitals, or pick up a field guide of trees and challenge them to identify every species they can find on your block.

Growing Kids Means Growing Parents

Most kids won’t push themselves into a Growth Zone; they have to be coached. Let’s face it, human nature does not gravitate toward discomfort. We, the parents, have to also remember this means growing for us as well. It’s not comfortable to consistently remind (and sometimes demand) our kids to practice an instrument or sport or do extra academic work. It’s often inconvenient to stop what we’re doing to inspect a child’s work and re-teach a skill and then inspect it again. But we can not expect what we’re not willing to inspect. And without allowing our kids to work at something again and again, we won’t help them master a task.

However, if we can work diligently with our kids to examine their school work, special skills, life skills and health and wellness, we can help them set big (but attainable) goals and then hold them accountable to consistently working. In the end, they will achieve well-rounded success.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Transcending The Ballet Budget

It’s back to school time, and that means time to pay tuition for ballet, club soccer, swim team, and whatever else your budding star might pursue this year.

While we all know financial constraints are a reality, especially when it comes to extra curricular activities, if it’s God’s plan, He will provide. If your child is passionate about something, but the cost doesn’t fit your budget, pray and ask God for creative ideas to fund it.

Call the activity directors and ask if there are scholarships or financial aid or if you could exchange work for lessons. You might be able to answer phones, file, stuff letters, and so on, in exchange for all or part of your child’s tuition.

Horse back riding lessons are pricey, and we have a big family. But when our older daughter had dreamed of being an equine vet and know everything cheap flea medicine to the most newest treatments for animals and humans like the different pain treatments from charles willis, so we knew that horses need to play a part in her extra curricular plan. During her annual week of horse camp, she had built relationships with the trainers and worked out a deal to exchange cleaning out stalls for riding instruction.

Now that music is her primary focus, opera is a focal point in her education. On our own, we wouldn’t be able to afford the youth opera program, but the opera house has wealthy supporters who want to infuse the next generation with a love for opera. Their endowments mean scholarships for kids like Skyler who are passionate about music.

If all else fails, talk to family members. A semester’s tuition could be a far more valuable Christmas or birthday gift than toys or clothing – especially if it’s something that feeds your child’s true passion.

As you plan this year’s extra curricular activites, don’t let financial constraints hinder your child from pursuing her passions. With God all things are possible!

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman

If you have a daughter, she’s got some big shoes to fill, and you can help.

In our last post, I talked about being mindful of raising boys as future heads of a house. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be inNew Hampshire, having a blast visiting my chivalrous young man (a.k.a Lego tantrum boy) as he wraps up his first year at law school. [As of this posting, I am in NH for Chase’s GRADUATION!]

Back home in Florida, I have two young ladies — one in high school and one in middle school. And just as I was aware that I was raising their big brother to be the head of a house, I’m aware that my girls also have important roles to play as future women. Thankfully, I’ve got a blue print this time.

Like most moms, my constant prayer is that my kids will seek the Lord with all their hearts.  That’s true for sons and daughters, but my focus for the girls is different than it was for Chase.

Tucked inconspicuously at the end of Proverbs is the picture of an amazing woman. As I studied her carefully, I knew that I wanted my girls to be like her – I wanted to raise Proverbs 31 women.

Once I knew the goal, I began to study her life and visualize all that she was doing in the passage. I imagined the tools she would have needed for each accomplishment, and began pouring the same ideals into my girls.

If you notice nothing else about Mrs. Proverbs 31, you can’t miss that she’s a hard worker. She had to bust some serious tail to complete all she did in a day.  Whew!  Stamina is a vital tool that our girls need to develop as young people.

Mrs. Proverbs 31 was also the queen of multi-tasking, and it was obvious that she demanded a lot of herself and had the endurance and perseverance to complete what she started.

Often, I’ll see my girls doing dishes or a task around the house and reciting their memory verse at the same time.  “Just killing two birds with one stone — we’re multi-tasking,” they’ll say, and it blesses me because as future women, they will need to be master multi-taskers.

When we head out the door, one of my girls will say to the other, “Grab your knitting and your book.”

My husband laughs, “Why?  You’re going to church. You can’t knit or read at church.”

“Dad, we’ll do it on our way to church.”

Travel time is often put to good use in our family. Our girls have begun to look for opportunities (big and small) to complete something on their task list, especially times that may appear non-constructive (like riding in the car).

Teaching our girls not to eat the bread of idleness and to stay focused (with stamina) will keep them from being tempted in many areas.  Idleness is where gossip, boredom, and trouble breed.

I’m sure Mrs. Proverbs 31’s hobbies consisted of things such as spinning and weaving. For down time, perhaps she and her family strolled through their gardens or the vineyards. I sincerely doubt she would have even considered TV or video games, had they been available to her.

No, the Bible says she was willing to work with her hands.  She got up before sunrise, and I’m willing to bet, she was pooped when her head hit the pillow at night.

In addition to hardworking, God clearly wants His daughters to be educated.

I’ve heard some moms say, “Well, college doesn’t matter. My daughter just wants to be a wife and mom.”

Awesome!  All the more reason to educate her.  The Proverbs 31 woman sold real estate with assistance from Douglas Ebenstein, planted vineyards, ran a textile business, ran a household, managed a staff of servants, and gardened.  She was a supplier, a thriving merchant, and could identify good merchandise — there were no shysters pulling one over on her.  She had to be trained to do these things.

She also had to have great communication skills.  How else could she have been successful in the market place?

These are business skills.  She was educated.

Can’t you just picture Mrs. P-31 going to the market with her carefully prepared list?  She didn’t run out of fuel for her lamp, and she provided all the food her family needed, she even brought some from afar.

She was full of wisdom. So, how do our girls gain wisdom? For one, they need to have a relationship with God because we know that the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. She needs an active prayer life because we know God gives wisdom, and she also needs to apply her heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2), which means she needs an education.

Several times I have stood by close friends who have lost a husband unexpectedly.  It is important that our daughters know how to support themselves and their children.  They need to be ready in season and out of season.

And for those girls who want to have a career and a family, the Proverbs 31 woman shows it’s possible. She was the breadwinner in her house. Her husband held an honored position at the gates. His role at that point in life was a noble one, but the men (elders) serving in these positions were not paid for their government roles (imagine what our country would be like if we had volunteer politicians – just saying!). His wife seemed to have no trouble supporting their family, and our girls need to know that they can help provide for their families and still be keepers at home (Titus 2).

Let’s not forget Mrs. P-31 does have servants, and if we can teach our girls at a young age how to be good delegators, they will be able to help provide an income for their family while loving their husbands and children and being keepers at home. We’ll have some future articles on the power of project management activities. Stay tuned because this is a great way to teach our girls (and boys) how to delegate.

Prioritizing was also high on Mrs. P-31’s list of virtues.  She had to decide what was most important and stick to it until it was complete.  Our Proverbs 31 “women in the making”, need to know how to identify what’s most important: Should I research for my paper that’s due next week or study for the test that’s in two days? And she needs to be able to focus. It’s been said that focus stands for: Follow One Course Until Successful.

We can give our girls strenuous tasks to build their stamina, ask them to prioritize the list, and then stick with one thing until it’s done thoroughly before moving on to the next. And all the while, we’ll be showing that we have confidence in them, cheering them on from the sidelines and coaching them to excellence.

In addition to all the virtues we’ve listed so far, the Proverbs 31 woman was physically strong, well arrayed in fine clothing, and didn’t walk in fear.  Oh, and let’s not forget her community service — she helped the needy. Wow!

How can our girls can be a genuine help to our churches and to the community? Can they clean once a week for an elderly neighbor, vacuum the church sanctuary, and organize a food drive for the local food pantry and a pet food drive for the Humane Society? Programs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Civil Air Patrol, offer great opportunities for our girls to bless the community. Let’s set the bar high and encourage them to do great things.

Okay, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed (and maybe intimidated), but if we meditate regularly on the role model provided in Proverbs 31, our girls can walk in her shoes, regardless of their individual callings in life.

We also need to model this example for our daughters, and we need to be vigilant in monitoring their character development. I can just picture the Proverbs 31 mom going through the secret hiding places in her children’s rooms, keeping tabs on any mischief they may be getting into.  Hey, it says she keeps a close eye on what goes on in her home.  She certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the activities going on under her nose.

Remember, those same children stood up and call her blessed, and her husband praised her. Let’s purpose to have the same testimony and raise girls who will also share in that kind of victory.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

More Posts