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Monday, January 3, 2011

Learn From the Speed Bumps

Can you believe it’s 2011? I was born on 1-11-47 so my birthday this month is 1/11/11. That is a once-in-a-lifetime event! My wife thinks it deserves some kind of celebration; I think a quiet dinner with friends is more than enough.

My grandfather used to say that birthdays were a time to forget the cares of the past, enjoy and nurture the moment, and thus be prepared for a grand future. Consistent with this, I always share with young people going through the Lifeplan program that “stuff happens” and it’s how we respond to those challenges that will define our lives.

As we rejoice in the optimism of the New Year, let’s remember that there will be speed bumps and we can learn from them. Yes, if you’re careful, sometimes you can drive around the bumps. But most of the time, you don’t see them in advance. Some would say speed bumps are there for a reason. Some would also say these challenges are opportunities to learn from.

Every successful person I’ve known has said they learned more from their failures and from navigating speed bumps than they did from their successes. Far from being overwhelmed by life’s challenges, they learned to study them, accept them, respond to them effectively, and turn them into something positive.

In the Lifeplan program, there’s a module called AIM. It stands for “acknowledge, identify, and morph”. In this exercise, young people learn to acknowledge the ever-present voice in all of our heads. Too often, that voice is negative. So the kids learn to acknowledge it and identify whether it’s positive or negative. Then they learn to morph the negative talk into positive, affirming self-talk, thus taking control of the chatter and growing a positive, can-do attitude.

This and other parts of the Lifeplan program help kids navigate the speed bumps in this challenging world, and give them the self-awareness and resolve to thrive and not just survive. One 8th grader who went through the Lifeplan program said that the process allowed her to “identify my values, build my positive self-talk, and link these to my goals and dreams for the future.” That’s what it’s all about.

It is my hope in this New Year that we can equip thousands more young people with the tools to create their Lifeplans so they can succeed in life and contribute to growing a healthier world. As my grandfather would say, a grand future lies just ahead.

All the best,


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