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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Greatest Gift

Especially during this traditional season of giving, I'm reminded of an idea that underlies many of the life secrets I described in my last Musing: giving the greatest gift of all to our children -- our time.

I'm speaking about meaningful, insightful, one-on-one time with young people. Quality time that demonstrates we understand what's really on kids' minds. Caring time during which we offer wisdom, options, and food for thought.

Do you often feel that kids are tuned-out and don't want your time? Well, although it sometimes seems that teenaged ears are shut, they're not. Kids hear and see everything. It takes awareness and time on our part to pass along the lessons we've learned, such as the wisdom that "stuff happens" and how one responds to life's speed bumps is what matters.

The wonderful notion of "paying it forward" invites us to invest our time with young people -- our own children as well as those we mentor, coach, and teach. And believe me, the rewards will be great. This is a gift that keeps on giving; as kids apply your wisdom and insight to better define and refine their lives, they will influence and inspire others.

My grandfather was fond of reminding me that the loudest statement we can make about the world we envision is what we do in our own lives. So it is with kids: how we respond to our own life challenges makes a huge difference to the young people we hope to guide. For example, do challenges make us angry and negative, or do we deal with problems responsibly and keep a positive outlook? When devoting time to kids, always be aware that it's more what we model in our own lives than what we say.

Thoreau used to write that there is no beginning too small. His friend William James would add that whatever we do should be done if it makes a difference. So take a small step that truly does make a difference. During this time of year, and always, warm a young person's heart by giving the greatest gift of all -- your time. You'll find that your own heart is greatly warmed in the process.

Happy Holidays,


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