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The 4 Words That Help Us Focus

There are four words that help us focus, but it's so obvious that you may miss it. As Churchill observed:

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Winston Churchhill

It's funny about that focus alludes us all. We are a medicated society and everyone is concerned about their ability to multi-task, etc.

As I said to someone I was coaching today, "I don't multi-task, I multi-obsess." That's closer to what we all mean; focus is concentration and obsession. Never-mind our fundamental mistake on that point, the real issues is our challenge with WHAT we are focusing upon.

Even if you think you are excellent at focus (I haven't met that person...except in my dad and Harry Truman, of whom it was said he could easily read a paper with such intensity that a train / train wreck would not interrupt him), you are probably missing the fact that it is more important to know WHAT is the object of your focus than the ability to focus is by itself.

There are 4 WORDS that are more important than the skill of focusing, and yet, they are the keys to success:

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Let's count them:

1. What
          2. Do
                    3. You
                              4. Want

In my consulting and coaching practice I find that most people have never clarified the answer to these four words formed as a question. In fact, usually people are talking about what they don't want.

Just think about the problem with this approach:

1. I don't want to go hungry.
2. I don't want to be abandoned.
3. I don't want my children to be dysfunctional.
4. I don't want Billy to hit Sally Jesse.

Frankly, it's really hard to organize focus or actions around those items. What you WANT is the touchstone for success in both focus and actions. So, it should look more like this---

1. I want to provide well for my family and my retirement.
2. I want to be loved and connected to the friends and family I care about.
3. I want my children to have great values and lives as they serve the Lord.
4. I want Billy and Sally Jesse to treat each other with kindness and respect.

Isn't that profoundly different?

If you have and employee, what are you wanting them to focus upon?
If you have a child, what are you wanting them to focus upon?

It's all about 4 Words--- WHAT DO YOU WANT?

"Do your math" is not the same as "Complete Lesson 17" --- is it?

"I want an Excel Spreadsheet on the monthly total sales" is different than "just work hard."

So, do you want focus? Well, it starts with the OBJECT of your focus. Do you want someone else to focus, then tell them what you REALLY WANT.

Honestly, this may seem obvious; however, I promise, you are probably violating this simple principle every single day in multiple ways.

As Bob Newhart stated it in the Mad TV skit, "STOP IT."

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

By Fred Lybrand, author of Glaen

www.glaen.com

 

Mark your answers from 1 to 10, with 1 being “No Way” and 10 being “I Think So”

1.     I can easily picture being with this person 10 years from now.

2.     We agree on everything that is really important to me.

3.     We finally solve our conflicts, even if it takes a while.

4.     If this person stays just the same forever, I’ll be pretty happy.

5.     I feel good chemistry with this person at least once a week.

6.     Our closest friends have good relationships.

7.     I believe growing a soul mate is as right as finding a soul mate.

8.     We always give each other the freedom to say “No” without getting in trouble.

9.     I’ve read or listened to a talk to help my relating to others within the past year.

10.    I am sure I would not be the one to call it quits in this relationship.

Add up you points and consider this common sense scale:

90-100   Fantasy Land (please re-take the Quiz with a little less pretending)

75-90     You are as close to a sure bet as it gets in a world without guarantees

55-75     You have a good relationship that would likely blossom with a little work

40-55     You probably need to find some outside help from some wise friends or mentors

25-40     The relationship needs professional help (pastor, counselor, etc.)

<25        The relationship has almost no chance until you change your mind

 

The 3 Must Haves for Successful Relationships

Friends who won’t speak. A husband and wife who are ‘done’ with the whole thing. Co-workers who no longer look each other in the eye. These three have far more in common than you might think.

Every year around Valentine’s Day, we all elevate our thinking about love and friendship to the sublime idea of Romantic Love. More than affection, this kind of love makes are hearts skip and keep our minds distracted. Surely all of us experience this kind of fantastic imaginary ideal at least once in our lives, if not again and again from time to time.   While romance has been romanticized, it is still the fondness and commitment that makes relationships really feel like what they are—a deep connection between two persons. All of these relationships can run aground in the sea of life. The reason for a shipwreck, however, is that what really works in a relationship is neglected.

It isn’t about love languages, or fresh ideas, or even listening (though all of these are fine). Instead, it is at the heart of Glaen’s message and it can be describe by three simple ideas.

At its core, every successful relationship has three essential elements.

1.     The Point

2.     The People

3.     The Price

The Point simply refers to what a relationship is about at its core. It is not about what you can get, what you can give, or how well two people can change one another. The point of a relationship is relating…which means connecting. We use words like bonding and being on the same wave length. In a romantic context it has as its aim a more intense version of connection called oneness. Honestly, the names don’t matter, but the point does. Relationships that work stay on point and they keep connecting together. Fights are division, coolness is distance, and silence is death. The point of connecting together can only happen in real time (that means, right now). Connecting again and again in real time is what builds strength in the bond; be it friendship, romantic love, or to team members pitching in together at work.

The People are the second essential and refers to the influence those around us wield on our lives. Glaen says, “You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around.” The truth is that you will drift toward the character and interests (on some level) of the people you are in the greatest connection with. This explains why getting new friends distances you from old ones. It also explains why there is a repetition of connecting with one failure after another (sorry for the bluntness). A failure to recognize this plain fact is a step toward the destruction of the relationships you have or want. Sometimes it is uncomfortable because we really need to change, but in fact, starting with a vision for the kind of person you want to be can lead you to find, keep, and grow the relationships you long to have.

The Price for successful relationships is Truth. Yes, it is telling and living the truth. “But the truth about what?” you might ask. The question itself already says you are in trouble! It is the truth as anything (and everything) comes to the forefront. It is the truth about beliefs, and goals, and faith, and politics. Why does Truth matter? Well, the simple fact is that a successful relationship is an authentic connection with another person you’d like to be like (more or less). For that connection to happen, it is absolutely necessary that you are the ‘real you’ and the other person is the ‘real them’ in the relationship. This truth-based being real means that you and they are connecting and relating and growing together as the real thing. As soon as a mask goes up, the game’s afoot. The best you can hope for without truth is a good relationship with someone you don’t really know…which, of course, isn’t a success by any measure.

For more information about Glaen:

A Novel Message on Romance, Love & Relating, visit www.glaen.com.

Friendships, dating, romance, and marriage—it’s all confusing to college grad-student Annie until the day a white-haired stranger appears in her life. Glaen is an unusual professor and unconventional mentor who guides Annie on a path of discovery that unlocks the secrets of real relationships. Annie discovers the mystifying affect of how learning to tell the truth changes everything in friendship, family, and love.   The solutions Dr. Fred Lybrand offers in Glaen book will astound and free you to quit doing the very things that take away your ability to find the love and friendship you want. More importantly, you’ll discover a fresh path to the possibility of greater connections with those you care most about.

Glaen

by

Fred R. Lybrand

 

The Barnabas Agency

February 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5

Softcover/171 pages/

Website: www.glaen.com

Blog: www.glaen.wordpress.com

Become a fan of Glaen on Facebook!

 

 

Should We Re-Think What We Teach Our Kids About Altruism?

What is Altruism?

Well, as of right now Merriam Websters claims:

Altruism is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 83rd most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com.

And, it’s defined as…

 Altruism: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others

Pretty big kudos, true?  And, of course, it is incredibly appealing to the idealism of youth (and the hope of heaven).
How wildly noble it is to think of other instead of oneself.  The problem is rather simple…is this really possible?  Can
anyone really think of other without regard to oneself?

Webster’s adds a few examples, among which we find:

Mary may have ample resources and prefer that her share pass to her children who have greater need and are in lower income tax brackets.
(The progressive nature of our tax laws often fosters such altruism among family members.)
—William M. McGovern, Jr. et al., Wills, Trusts and Estates, 1988

Of course, there isn’t enough information, but was it really unselfish?  Really?  Was she not leaving a legacy or helping her children to avoid
later family conflicts?  Was she hoping that they would appreciate what she was doing?  Are the motives purely and perfectly loving?  Really?
No, we don’t know for sure…but it is easy to imagine that she would have felt bad (been thought of poorly) to keep it to herself.

So, what am I saying?  Is there no such thing as altruism?  Pretty much.  I don’t see how an ideal can be truly fulfilled this side of the perfection
of heaven.  Worse yet, it is harmful to our kids because it simply teaches them to pursue an unreachable goal.  Why would we do that?

Now, before you wig out (is that still a hip phrase?), consider the most altruistic person in history: Jesus Christ.

The most altruistic action ever taken was His own death for the world (see John 3:16).

And yet, was it completely without regard to Himself?  Was it truly selfless?

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, even in the incredible sacrifice of the Lord…us with him (and the joy accompanying it) was a part of His motive.  But, wasn’t that good and noble
and right?  Of course!

You see, there is no way to escape our own self-interest.  God placed it there.  It is the foundation of the Law and it is the Crown of Grace.  We are all
glad God loves those we love, but we are glad-glad that he loves us.  It’s just how it is.

The same goes with parenting effectively…it is there self-interest that helps them choose well.

It is true selfisness that has them choose poorly.  The problem isn’t our self-interest, rather it is that we are often self-interested without considering others
too.  We are also self-interested without thinking down the road a little (students want to play right now…but as they mature they forgo playing for study…
because it IS in there own best long-term interest!).

Yes, Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The translation is fine…it includes our interests too.

Please re-think this…crazy altruism is distracting our youth from the realities of life on an imperfect world.

This is a lesson worth the effort!

Blessings,

Fred

P.S.  I’d love your thoughts below.

Guest Blog: On the More Subtle Danger of Television and the Media

The following is a book review by Holmes Lybrand (18 year old High School Senior).  The book should be required reading.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

The title of this book does a very good job of explaining the premise and prophecy Neil Postman believes about America.  This book attempts to help us see the immediate threat that Television/Show Business presents to every areas of our lives (especially the educational, religious, political).  Postman’s main point, much like Aldous Huxley’s in A Brave New World is   “…not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking,” that the influence Television has on us now is not only unproductive, but it is also very harmful.

Postman explains that even when television is used for educational purposes it is still quite harmful, and at the least is a waste of the student and teacher’s time, saying that they are not asking, “What is education good for?” but  instead pondering what TV is can be used for.   Television is good for drama & amusement, and America has figure out how to draw the public to this business so very well.   Postman dives deeply into how and why TV sets the course for our culture, and makes very clear why this is a terrible, terrible thing.

I really have nothing bad to say about this book (except that people won’t read it ;-).   It was short and direct, I didn’t ever feel preached to, more of just encouraged to see the uncompromising truth of things.  I started out thinking, “Perhaps his views are a tad too extreme?” but by the end of this book, that thought now doesn’t even cross my mind.  I think we as humans do need to see things for how they are, television is amusement (or drama, you might say), that is all.  To ask, “Yeah, but can drama be used to help…like with the news?” is only to miss the point.  Amusing news is still essentially amusement.  Amusement, from a-muse simply means ‘not to think’…and so with the news as well.

I really enjoyed this book, although I still have things to think through concerning it.  Neil Postman is surely right, and the last 27 years (since Amusing Ourselves to Death was published) has only proved his point with emphasis.  Hopefully people might begin to realize it , especially in the area of the news.  Television is amusement, and only when we fully understand that can we be masters over it, and not the other way around.

Holmes Lybrand
http://holmeslybrand.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/amusing-ourselves-to-death-by-neil-postman/

What Should Your Child Study in College?

So, I’m going to be a lone and stupid voice…but I want to save you all the heartache in life I possibly can.

Tiringly, parents incessantly nag their kids into pursuing careers that they are suited to only mildly if it at…and mostly because of money. Now, before you think about an exception–just leave it there, it is an exception. The Grand Mistake is Pursing a Job Path in College as Your Primary Goal.

Here’s the truth—when you check it out, you find that about 85% of Americans are not in the career field they studied (for) within 10 years of graduation. Do you see the problem yet? 100 folks study hard and in 10 years only 15 of them are still in that field (surely engineers are an exception!) The reasons are likely multiple, yet understandable. Industries are dying and rising before our eyes—change-and-retooling is the climate in this increasingly face-paced world. However, another reason is even more likely— most people find out they basically HATE the field they study for! They were young, they looked at where the money was, and they didn’t give ‘what do I want to do / what do I love?’ a second thought.

That’s too bad.

Here’s a different viewpoint. Go get EDUCATED, don’t go get an EDUCATION. What I mean here is something to do with developing a particular skill. The skill is simply ‘learning how to learn’. Just think about it. If you can teach yourself anything then you are ready for everything. Need to retool? No problem. Need to advance your career by learning something? No big deal.

The point of education should really be to learn how to learn. Learning how to learn is the traditional idea behind ‘Liberal Arts’. The word ‘liberal’ in education used to be connected to the words liberty and freedom. Once you have learned how to learn, then you are free to pursue whatever you’d like.

May I tell you the big secret about ‘what to study’–it doesn’t matter. OK, maybe if you are going to be an engineer it will, but for most other things it really doesn’t matter. If your child will study something he loves in college, then he is likely to do pretty well at it…which means he has a shot at learning how to learn (because he was successful). It’s even better if he has the goal of learning how to learn in the curriculum he chooses.

My dad wisely told me to study English (we thought I was going to be a lawyer) because, as he said, if you can read and write you can learn and communicate. What more do you need? Exactly!

My son, Tripp, finished at the University of Texas (Austin) with a degree in Studio Art. People used to ask me ‘what can you do with that’? Nevermind they cool ways artists are used in the design businesses… I simply told them that he loves it and has a goal of learning, not a goal of a particular job. Also, if you learn how to take nothing (blank canvass) and make something (painting)….well, that seems like a pretty sweet skill for the rest of your life. Currently he has been employed to study public policy issues and map the causal loops in systems-dynamics presentations. He’s thinking next is seminary and a Phd across the pond. Not exactly Studio Art (though he has sold a number of paintings).

Again, what does that have to do with art? You’d be surprised! He has learned how to learn.

Focus on learning the skill of learning…you’ll be surprised how valuable (and FUN) that path will become for your student and your life.

Blessings,

Fred Lybrand

………………….

And Jody Added:

I love Fred’s post here. I will confess, when Tripp first wanted to study art I was a bit hesitant. But Fred is right, it is about learning to learn. Tripp has really done well in his job and has very high praises from his boss on how quickly he learns.I was just reading a book on how so many people are so unhappy in the field of work they are in. This book was telling of the importance of finding out what you love, what your good at, what is fulling to you. Not, what jobs are really hot now, what does the family want me to study, what field makes the most money…
Thanks Fred,
Jody

What Get’s Rewarded Gets Done

Maybe what you don’t like happening is your fault. Maybe you are encouraging the wrong
things in your life. Success is clearly about communication, and we communicate
in many subtle ways. It may just simply be that you are communicating to others
that you want THE OPPOSITE of what you really want.

Just ask, “How am I encouraging ______________________?”

What does you mind tell you ?

Great…now think about how to encourage something different. If you only have
creeps coming up and talking to you, change what you are wearing (or where you
go). If only marginal people apply for the job, change the amount you’ll pay and
where you look for employees.

You may get the idea…but you won’t learn it until you practice it!

Blessings,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Thoughts (below)?

Don’t Teach Math Too Soon (Lighten Up)

teacher math helpAgain, learning math early is NOT the key. Besides proof with our own 5 kids (Brooks just made an 800 on the math section in his SAT and didn’t start math AT ALL until 8 years old), just look at what the Finnish schools do (sounds a lot like homeschooling as you read the whole list…except a few twists). Finland ranks #1 and USA ranks #23 (lots of reasons for this). The following article suggests a few things. MY APPEAL is to LIGHTEN UP about MATH until they are 7 or 8 (or 9). At 4-6 years old, just use math around them, teach them to read, and rote-learn math facts (actually I question whether or not this is really worthwhile that young).

Finland:

The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Here are a few points-

Students have light homework loads.
Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
Finland uses very little standardized testing.
Children do not start school until age 7…
Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
…more at…http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/1075-u-s-students-compare.gs

All I’m pointing out is that the Finnish world thinks:

1. All children need to learn math
2. You get help for kids who need it
3. Focus on learning and to be more well rounded…don’t obsess on grades.

I’m not saying we should be like Finland. I’m saying that homeschoolers (and the schools) have terrific opportunity. Finland shows that even if you do some odd things (socialization)…ALL kids can still learn

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Have you been thinking about homeschooling?  Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make?  Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child.  We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals.  And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales.  The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool..  We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing.  So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends.  We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 25+ years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out.  If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network

  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success

  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word

  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything.  If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.”  The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education.  Education is learning how to learn.  We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything.  How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems).  Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy.  Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http:www.advanced-writing-resources.com).  Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject—make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools.  A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers.  So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you.  Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind.  By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone.  Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others?  Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way?  There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families.  You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect.   Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe).  The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use.  Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords).  If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.”  The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning.  Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education.  It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit.  External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline.  We all need help doing what needs to be done.  Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves.  There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field.  Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great.  Without a coach you can’t compete.  If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you.  Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.

.

_________________________________________________________________________

.

Want Some 100% Free Homeschooling Help?

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So Why Don’t We Finish the Books We Start?

So, I’m sitting here at my desk and I’m looking around my office of about 1400 books (another few thousand) are in the garage in boxes (yes, it is possible that I have an addiction).

book.chair

As I look at them, I realize that some of them I have never read and some of them I have read two or three times. Why would I buy a book and not read it? Why, in fact, would you buy a book (Kindle counts) and not read it? The answer is really simple…it isn’t interesting to you. I know you have been thinking it is about discipline, but why in the world would you be obligated to read a book just because you bought it?

Well, Dr. Lybrand, it’s a waste if we don’t read books we buy. Really? I’m thinking many of us would be better off intellectually if we had skipped Twilight (even if we bought it). Also, you don’t think it is a waste to not watch every show on TV/Cable, etc. [if that’s your thing], do you?

Most of us haven’t come to grips with a reality about our reading— if the book isn’t worth reading to you, then don’t read it (not saying the kids shouldn’t read their school books!). I came to realize many years ago that NOT EVERY WORD in a book is equally important. I also noticed that once I got what I wanted from a book, I couldn’t find a good reason to finish it.

So, as I pondered the issue of reading I realized that one of my biggest issues was that I wanted to be able to tell someone who asked me that I had read it. Really? Yep, that was me. So, as I thought a little more, I realized two things:

1. What I really wanted from the book was what I really wanted from the book
2. It was a waste of time and energy to try and make myself read something that I didn’t really care about

Ah! All I needed was a way to describe what I did with books, so I borrowed a term from the pirate lore:

I PLUNDER BOOKS

“Have you read this book?” they ask. “Even better, I plundered it.” I answer. This leads to a conversation about how pirates would go onto a ship and remove the treasures and leave the junk. That is what I aim to do with a book. I want to grab the treasure and leave the junk. Now, sometimes that means I read a book SEVERAL TIMES in order to plunder it. Sometimes the treasure is dense in a chapter or two, so I plunder again until I get every gem.

I think this approach to reading allows me to understand and recall a lot more than most folks because I’m not wading through a cargo hold of salty water and ruined packages.

Why don’t you give it a try? Take a book on your list or shelf and give it a plunder. Plan to ONLY READ the stuff you find fascinating and valuable; in fact, read some of that twice! You might just be amazed at what happens! Oh, and if it works and you are chatting about plundering at a dinner engagements…please give me some credit! 😉

Off to learn,
.
.
Fred Ray Lybrand
.
P.S. You could plunder my book on getting more done: The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without). It’s on sale in Kindle and comes with a link to a free workbook. CLICK HERE

 

Writing: The Secret Way to Calm Your Argumentative Kid

Everyone likes to argue, especially when they get to be about 12 years old.

“No, Dr. Lybrand, I have a quiet 12-year-old.” Well, maybe you have the exception, but something is wrong. Quiet people just argue in their heads, while other-than-quiet-people argue out in the ether.

Plain Fact #1

Arguing is thinking. It is natural for humans to think, and debating an issue or question through is a keen way to think. You really don’t want to crush the talent for thinking in anyone…especially because learning how to think means they’ll have very little competition at work someday 😉

Plain Fact #2

Arguing is a developmental stage for humans which matches the design of the brain. In classical educational understanding (Trivium), the game works roughly like this—

1. Grammar/Data Stage (ages 1-10)
2. Logic/Thinking Stage (ages 11 -15)
3. Rhetoric/Communication Stage (ages 16-21)

It works out that every subject you learn in life follows this form. You must understand the parts (Data), then understand how the parts fit together (Logic), before you can then use your understanding with others (Rhetoric/Communication).

So, having a child who likes to argue (or an employee who does the same) isn’t bad, but it needs some direction. This energy easily moves into writing, because WRITING IS THINKING. Here’s the simple thing you can do when a child gets animated about a subject or issue [our kids often preceded their argument with “They’re idiots…” We never consistently conquered this ungracious expression of frustration ;-( ].

Here’s what I recommend when you get your child to write about the issue that is frustrating them (the issue they are trying to think through):

1. Ask them to answer this question, “Why are you so sure that _________?

Asking for them to explain why they are sure means they’ll need to generate evidence (proof in data or proof in logic, or both). When we express the basis of our conviction in terms of evidence, we often see the flaws ourselves. It is SO FUN to watch a child figure out their own bad thinking!

2. Ask them to explain exactly why the other side thinks the way they do.

Frankly, if you can’t argue both sides, then you don’t understand the issue. This is, in part, what the court system was intended to do…give the best argument both ways for a judge/jury to impartially decide (comment: sadly in court, ‘winning’ became more important than ‘truth’).

So, have your debater write using these two essentials. Even better, have the paper read and discussed together at supper or over ice cream. Everyone will benefit! Also, as a final thought, when your child is arguing with you about what he/she does/doesn’t want to do, these points will work well for you. Just ask (for example):

1. Why are you so sure that I’m wrong to (require you to clean your room before you go out)?
2. What are the reasons you think (I want you to clean your room before you go out)?

It’s not a cure-all, but it will be a big deal as they grow that you direct their unction for arguing! Also, you’ll at least help them become a GOOD lawyer!

Off to learn,

 

Fred Ray Lybrand
The Writing Course Works