All ‘Teens’ Posts

08 jul

Young Adults and Addiction: The Benefits of Inpatient Care

For many young people, drug use and experimentation is a rite of passage of sorts. However, experimenting with drugs and alcohol is far from harmless, and can often result in lifelong problems with substance abuse and addiction. In turn, addiction can lead to difficulties in virtually every aspect of well-being, including physical health, relationships, education, careers, finances and more.

Due to the devastating effects of prolonged substance use, effective treatment is necessary in helping young people break the ties of addiction, improve physical and psychological health, and learn to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol.

So, which type of treatment is most effective? The answer to that question often lies in inpatient, or residential care. Keep reading to learn more about inpatient addiction treatment, including its advantages, common practices and more.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Unlike outpatient facilities, inpatient care involves residential treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Patients will spend their days and nights in the facility, and will receive intensive, ’round-the-clock care. And while facilities differ according to methods and practices, most offer services like the following:

  • Supervised detox. During this stage of treatment, drug use is discontinued and the body to rids itself of addictive substances. Since detoxification can lead to the onset of painful withdrawal symptoms, inpatient therapy can provide patients with the adequate care and support during this stage of recovery.
  • One-on-one counseling. Talk therapy plays an extremely important role in effective rehabilitation. During one-on-one sessions, patients can discuss their problems with addictive substances, as well as formulate coping strategies in the interest of sustained sobriety. Also, counseling allows mental health professionals to diagnose and treat underlying psychological illnesses that may contribute to substance abuse.
  • Group therapy. Like one-on-one counseling, group therapy provides patients with a platform on which to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Plus, group sessions provide the added benefits of support and accountability from peers, which has been shown to promote a healthy, more effective recovery.
  • Family counseling. Some facilities offer counseling for patients and their families. This can help addicts and their loved ones open the lines of communication, as well as learn about factors such as codependency, guilt and more. For young people, this can help open the doors for better familial relationships, as well as effective communication and continued support.
  • Aftercare. Followup treatment is often included in inpatient care. Aftercare methods typically include continued counseling and support, as well as assistance with housing, employment, continuing education and more.

Choosing an Inpatient Facility

While different facilities offer similar rehabilitation services, they often vary according to atmosphere, location, price, etc. For example, many treatment centers cater to only men or only women, while others incorporate religious teachings into their rehabilitation methods.

Further, some facilities are designed for young people, specifically. Treatment programs that cater to young adults aim to enrich the lives of young people by addressing their unique needs regarding health and rehabilitation. For example, young adult rehabilitation programs often include classes and seminars relating to life skills, decision making, family communication and more.

Combined, the efforts of these inpatient facilities significantly enhance the chances of recovery, as well reduce the risk of relapse with addictive substances.

Although addiction can have devastating effects on young people and their loved ones, the proper treatment can promote sobriety, prevent relapse and enhance both physical and psychological health. With the intensive care provided by inpatient therapy, young adults can beat addiction, improve wellness and enjoy a better, healthier life.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on July 8th, 2014 in Family, Health, New Directions, Teens | No comments

27 feb

3 Ways Families Are Like Conveyor Belts

RobertCordrayConveyor belts are a great asset to businesses, whether they’re used in warehouses, assembly lines, or other applications. In the same way, families are a great asset when each member supports the others, pitches in, and works for the good of the whole.

There are 3 ways that families are like conveyor belts:

1. Like conveyor belts, families are always on the move.

Life, like business, is always moving, and it seems that something is always happening to upset the apple cart. Unexpected events, like illnesses or accidents, call for changes. Family members are ready to roll with these changes, and help out wherever they can. A family in Dallas had a mom, a dad, and three college-aged kids. When Dad was struck with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair, Mom took over the driving until Dad was able to purchase a modified car. The kids also helped out with driving and assisting Dad with physical therapy, and cheered him up when he felt down.

Even when no major problems arise, family members often arrive at new milestones in life. A family in Maine had two at once. John graduated from college and entered the military as an officer, and Dad got a big promotion at work. The other family members were supportive and encouraging, congratulating them both and wishing them well. When the conveyor belt of life rushes into new situations, families are ready for both the joy and the challenge.

2. Families work as a team, like an assembly line.

Conveyor belts are often used as assembly lines, and families work as a team on an assembly line, producing happy and productive members. A family in Ohio had 2 kids who loved sports. Their parents attended every game, and their dad coached baseball and track. When the kids wanted to try a new sport, their parents encouraged them, and when the kids didn’t do so well, Mom and Dad told them, “That’s ok, as long as you do your best.” Mom and Dad emphasized that team spirit, fair play, and sportsmanship were as important as winning, and the kids repaid their support by being good team members and good sports.

Another family in Tennessee was not into sports, but they had a favorite project they did together. All good singers and musicians, they sang and played Christmas carols at the retirement home in their community every Christmas. Dad played the guitar, Mom was lead singer, Jeff played the violin, and Sara the clarinet. Just like conveyor belts are used in an automated material handling system, this family work together as a system to making the world a happier and more loving place.

3. Like assembly line workers, everyone plays a different role.

When a conveyor belt acts as an auto plant assembly line, each worker on it has a different job; one worker installs the motor, another puts on the fenders, and another does the painting. In the same way, each person in a family has a role to play, the role he or she is best suited for. In the Smith family, Dad was a model of strength, and taught the others responsibility by going to a difficult job. He was also an example of love, a sentiment President Howard W. Hunter past prophet of the LDS church, expressed in his inspirational quote, “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Mom taught love and patience by being an example. When 4-year-old Bobby colored on the wall, Mom understood that the wall was very tempting, but explained that paper is for drawing.

Each child was encouraged to discover a sense of self, and to develop his or her best attributes. Sally was very motherly, and helped with the baby. Tom was good at repairs, and put a new cord on the vacuum cleaner. Rob helped Mom learn computer skills. Each person in the family felt that he or she belonged, and had an important part to play.

Like conveyor belts, families are team-oriented, but with a place for individuality. And like conveyor belts, they’re adaptable, but there for the purpose of a greater good.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on February 27th, 2014 in Family, Relationships, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

01 sep

3 Steps to Avoid Power Struggles

MaricleWhy Do We Power Struggle with Our Kids?

Do you find yourself caught in power struggles with your kids? Most of us do, and sometimes, just making a few small changes can have a big impact. At every stage of development, having a sense of power is critical to a positive self-image. Whether your child is on the Autism spectrum and needs to feel a high level of control, or he is just feeling the usual growing pains of adolescence, all kids need to have some decision-making power.

Giving choices can help kids feel more independent, capable, and in control.

MaricleImageInterestingly enough, when your child feels this way, you will too! The next time you find yourself in a power struggle, look for a way to offer a choice. Better yet, don’t wait for a power struggle – build your child’s self-esteem and save yourself frustration by proactively looking for opportunities to offer choices. Younger children don’t have the tools to understand many things, but we can empower them with little choices: Peanut butter and jelly, or turkey? Yellow shoes or grey shoes? Would you like to brush your teeth before or after the story? Teenagers can understand more and have more input into more significant decisions.

Building decision making skills is one of our most important jobs as parents.

Making choices builds critical thinking, perspective taking, planning, and other important cognitive skills. Just think how many times a day you use these skills yourself. If you help your children practice decision making when they are with you, they are better equipped and more likely to make good decisions when they are alone.

Choice, Stick to It, Praise
This is an easy three-step approach that I teach parents. It can help empower families to avoid power struggles while teaching decision-making skills.

1. Choice:
Take the example of 3 year-old Maggie, who is at the Please Touch museum. Mommy is ready to move on, but Maggie’s not. She refuses to put down a stick. Instead of getting into a power struggle, her mom might say something like: “Maggie would you like to put the stick back here on the blue ledge, or on the red one?”

It’s amazing how giving even a small choice empowers kids and helps them to feel more in control. In this example, Maggie enjoys age appropriate independence and decision-making power. When she completes the task, she can feel proud of her accomplishment. Secondly, by giving her a choice of where to place the stick, her mom uses distraction to shift her focus away from the transition and onto something else.

Now consider an example with 14 year-old Max. He really wants to play both soccer and baseball this year. Unfortunately, there is only enough money for one sport. What if his parents gave him an appropriate amount of information and then involved him in the decision? They might say something like: “Max, we have $200 for sports for you this season. Soccer costs $150 and baseball costs $190. If you choose soccer, then you would have enough money left over to buy new cleats. If you choose baseball, there’s only $10 left over, so you will have to use your old equipment. What would you like to do?” Max has enough information to understand the rationale, and has power in prioritizing what he wants. Now instead of focusing on how it’s “not fair,” or feeling that you don’t care, he is engaged in problem solving and prioritizing together with you.

2. Stick to it:
You need to be consistent. If you tell your child that you have only $200 for sports, you can’t miraculously produce an extra $150 because he whines or begs.

Consistency and predictability make kids feel safe, let your child know that she can trust your word.

3. Praise:
Let her know she did a good job. Most of us love to get a pat on the back. Most kids do too and you will help build a positive self-concept by reinforcing their positive choices and qualities.
Make praise concrete, earnest, and focused on their innate personal qualities or effort.

Try phrases like:
“Wow, you worked so hard.”
“Great job figuring this out,” or
“You’re such a good cook.”

What’s your experience with power struggles? What are your worst or most typical power struggles with your kids about? Which struggles pull you in every time? What are some strategies that have worked for you? (Or which strategies haven’t worked?)

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at:

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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Posted by Amy Maricle on September 1st, 2013 in Family, Teens | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , ,

17 jul

How to Live a Cultured College Life

JennaSmithMy college experience was full of social adventures, both on and off campus. These memorable times usually stemmed from my frustration with books. While I appreciate the knowledge that was given to me, book learning is certainly not where I had the most fun. The truth is that I enjoyed hanging out at the house social events, the quads and the places where people gathered to share ideas.

You don’t have to be a social butterfly to be a popular person; it’s just a matter of putting yourself in the right place with something interesting to say. There is no age group for approval, emerging into a college ecosystem takes considerable effort.

Read on for tips on how you can become the social connoisseur of your college journey.


Sororities and fraternities offer a kind of bond that lasts well into adulthood but you can go beyond those organizations and delve into on-campus clubs. Most campuses have a multitude of clubs to choose from and depending on your previous background, you could discover commonalities with the current members of each club. Some clubs are very diverse and you might find christian graduate program students hanging out with Ph.D candidates in the same club or start your own!

Joining these clubs will help you find more people that you can talk to about the things you are interested in. Interest and social merging come from connections, finding those connection grows your social web, to become comfortable and involved.

Collaborate with your new friends on starting your own club. Speak to the admissions office or dean’s office in relation to starting your own brand. You can expand on the current English or Film societies, by offering to host after events for meet and greets. You can create a subreddit dedicated to your club on the social bookmarking site “Reddit,” then take your membership and mission statement to campus administration and secure a physical meeting spot.

On Campus Events

My college hosts concerts once a year where artists of all types come to perform for the student body. Lots of booths spring up with fun games, prizes, and people generally hang out in the sun while they listen to music.

A site like Eventbrite might feature ticketed events you can visit on campus. Campus newsletters can keep you abreast of social events, such as receptions and gatherings. A site like can help you find off campus events in your area where you can meet other students outside the pressures of school life. You may be feeling a bit homesick, and Meetup can connect you with people from your hometown in your new college home. This incorporation of events allows you to merge into the student body with a desire to want to learn more by connecting more.

Talk to Professors

Students often form bonds with professors, and they may refer you to a study group that shares your interest in the specific subject. Take advantage of office hours and discuss meaningful ideas with your professor. If your professor maintains a discussion group, inquire about the subjects and ask for an invitation to learn more. College is as much about networking as it is about learning, so keep the lines of communication open with your professors.

Not only will a professor be pleased with your ability to become involved, but it could lead to an offering of a student teacher, assistance, recommendation letter or heading a study group. Doing so brings admiration from your peers, while bringing a sense of experience for academia and business processing.

Visit the Library

According to The Digital Reader, 76 percent of U.S. libraries offer eBook lending. This permits you to review and catch up on books via your mobile devices. The library is more than just that place you go to study in silence. There are tons of books about topics you may not have considered without the exposure. There is interesting work and reading on subjects like quantum theory, or anthropological studies of African tribal societies.

Challenge yourself to check out a new book on a topic that interests you and you’ll be amazed at how much you will learn by stepping out of your comfort zone. You may discover a hidden talent or passion that comes full circle once you expand beyond what you know. You might even pick up a valuable job skill in the process. Visit your campus library website to check out new exhibits or talks posted there too.

Soak in the Vibe

Campus life is about exchanging ideas and learning new things. It’s also about escaping the stress of the classroom, so make your time outside more cultured by trying out new things. Join local clubs, attend on campus events, talk to your professors and visit the library – your college life will be one to remember.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on July 17th, 2013 in General, Personal Stories, Teens | No comments

07 mar

Raising Resilient Kids

After having worked for several years with emotionally disturbed children and their families, I have learned that one of the most important keys to raising resilient children is worrying less about protecting kids from every difficulty and focusing more on helping them create positive meaning out the difficulties in their lives.

We all know that some people are able to live through intense traumatic events without becoming emotionally disturbed. On the other hand, many kids with severe emotional symptoms have experience nothing more than being misunderstood by their parents. This shows us that the intensity of an experience is not what causes traumatic stress.

The key factor in the creation of traumatic stress is the meaning that the person creates to make sense out of the experience. For example, if someone lives through a violent assault, they could decide that the experience has awakened in them a strong desire to make the world safer. They would move forward with a mission to work for good and see the experience as difficult but eventually positive. However, that person could decide the assault means the world is a fundamentally unsafe place, or worse, that they did something to cause it. In this latter example, the person would experience major traumatic symptoms.

Researchers like Robert Neimeyer, who specialize in grief and loss, have found that if someone is able to create a compelling positive meaning out of a painful experience, it can entirely mediate the traumatic effects.

The problem is that children are not able to create these kinds of meanings for themselves. They need adults to help them. I suggest that parents be proactive in helping their children create compelling positive meanings out of the difficulties in their lives in order to help them grow to be more resilient.

Tim Desmond is a therapist in private practice in Oakland, CA, and directs a mental health, day-treatment program for children. He offers phone counseling for adults and couples through his website,

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Posted by Tim Desmond on March 7th, 2011 in Health, House and Home, Relationships, Teens, Uncategorized | No comments

24 nov

The 3 Ways We (Accidentally) Help Our Kids Fail

JayForteI know we don’t mean to help our kids fail; sometimes we just do too much for them – we don’t make them do their work. Maybe we love them too much and want their lives to be easy. But too much of the wrong kind of help doesn’t prepare them define who they are, identify their talents, find their best place in the world and own their lives. I am a father of three daughters. I have learned some things that I feel have prepared them to step up and stand out in their lives – to own their lives. And I thought it was worth sharing.

My personal perspective is that the greatest gift we receive in life is the ability to invent our lives – we can create each day in the way we choose. And what we need to help us invent extraordinary lives – extraordinary according to our terms – we already have. We are born with unique talents and strengths (gifts) that exhibit themselves through our abilities and passions. We are great at some things, not others. We love some things and not others. Each of us is unique. Each of us is different. Learning about this difference is the key to inventing our most amazing lives, and helping our kids invent theirs.

For example, I am good at and love details, precision, social research and writing. My kids are not at all like this. They are more social, more scientific and are more take-charge. They would hate my job. And though I may feel that my job would be good fit for them and would give the resources to be successful in life, they don’t feel this. They must get up each morning and be thrilled by life. Following in my footsteps is not be the best choice for any or all of them. They need to choose for themselves those things that play to their particular talents, interests and passions. This is how they become successful. This is not what many parents do.

As a greatness coach and a parent, here are the most significant three ways I see that we (accidentally) help our kids to fail:

1. We do not help them know themselves – what they are good at and what they are passionate about. So many of today’s kids are very self-unaware; they have little sense of who they are, what their talents are and what they are passionate about. They go through life on autopilot – being directed by parents and friends – doing very little of their own thinking.

It is our role as parents to help them learn how to identify their talents, interests and passions. Many times our talents are so closely connected to how we think that we have a difficult time identifying them. This is a great opportunity for parents to share what they see in their kids and dialog about it. Catching a kid doing something great, and commenting on it, helps him notice his behaviors. And as much as we learn about what we do well, we also learn about what we don’t do well – also critical information. We aren’t good at everything but we each are good at some things. Learn to identify those things and we help our children learn to play to their strengths.

2. We don’t show them enough of their world, and talk to them about their options, so they can choose wisely in work and life. Critical to their success in life is first to know themselves, then to know their world. Their greatest success and happiness will be in finding places in their world that allow them to use what they are great – to have their greatest impact. For that, they must know their world to be able to choose wisely.

Connecting to what our kids are seeing and hearing is critical – particularly in today’s intellectual age. Kids see so much more than their Boomer parents saw at their age. And this information needs conversation – to help them become aware of what appeals to them and what does not. Family vacations, reading together, reviewing websites together, learning projects and being active in the community are ways to show kids what things are available – how large the world is. The more kids start to show interest in areas, the more they should be encouraged to investigate careers and work in those areas.

3. We define happiness for them by telling them who they should be, what they should do for work and how they should live. Many parents believe they know better so they choose their kid’s life directions. I remember telling my father as he told me what my profession was to be, that for me to be successful, happy and own my life, the choice about who I am, what I do and how I live, must be mine. Parents take away life accountability when they dictate the steps of life. The more we encourage our kids to know themselves and to know their world, the better decisions they will make about their lives. This allow us to be the guide from the side in their lives – available for counsel but always relinquishing the decision to the life owner. This is critical to help create the next generation of responsible, happy and personally successful people.

Each of us receives the gift of inventing one life – our own. It is entirely our choice how large or small we invent that life. In my coaching, I regularly see that parents want to ensure their children have happy and successful lives, so they take over and dictate life’s decisions. This generally creates the opposite response – instead of helping our kids feel successful and love their lives, they become unhappy and disappointed, feeling like they are living someone else’s life.

Our greatest role is to prepare our kids to take the baton and run their lives. We help them run successfully when we guide them to discover their unique greatness, understand their world, then find their best fit. There is a great place for each of us in life. Find that place and we love our lives. And loving life is what we want most for our kids.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, and greatness coach. He is the author of The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition. His coaching and programs inspire executives, employees, parents and students to discover and play to their greatness, to live and work with passion, power and purpose. More information at and

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Posted by Jay Forte on November 24th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 nov

The Greatest Holiday Gift

JayForteAh, the holiday season. And we are already bombarded with a Sunday paper that tips the scales with gift ads. TV and radio ads remind us of the best gifts to give, who not to forget and how to make the holidays special. Buy, buy, buy.

I don’t know about you but this can do a great job of interfering with the kind of holiday I want to have if I let it. I don’t want a holiday of stuff – I want a holiday of experiences and stories. I want a holiday of emotions and connection. I want the memories.

As kids, it wasn’t just the gifts that made us feel so terrific about the holidays, it was the memories of feeling important, cared for, loved and special. I remember very few of the gifts I received over so many past holidays. What I do remember instead is singing carols, having neighbors over, decorating the house and eating treats that only showed up at the holidays. When I think of these, I am immediately brought back to sitting by the Christmas tree. I can smell the evergreen. I can see the lights and tinsel. I can smell the cakes baking and can hear the laughing from the other rooms as neighbors come by. I am immediately transported to happy times. It was the event. It was the feeling. It wasn’t the stuff.

So here are some of my ideas of holiday gifts that move away from the stuff and go for the memories:

Hosting a party with friends where we celebrate our time together.

Having brunch with my kids where we can talk about life, their dreams of starting families and loving the moments we spend together.

Sending and receiving cards that say, though we haven’t spoken in a while, you are still in my thoughts.

Playing music that is festive and celebratory, inspiring a feeling of peace and calm.

Walking with friends, or as a family, through towns and streets decorated with things that are bright, happy and festive.

Telling stories around the table with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, about what life was like, how each celebrated the holidays, and what made life great.

Stopping for a hot chocolate on a cold night, because we haven’t done it in a while and nothing beats the smell of hot chocolate – with whipped cream or marshmallow.

Taking an extra day off from work to be at home (not out shopping) and playing games, working on family projects or inventing a new recipe together.

Making a video where each person in the family, or each friend, records a memory of the holidays, then shares the message with the rest of the world on YouTube.

Committing the time to learn how to discuss and communicate about the things that are important to each member of the family – to help them discover their talents, strengths and passions and build a life they love.

Buying recycling bins and having everyone in the household learn how to recycle everything that can be recycled – a gift to the planet.

Being invited to, and sharing in, another person’s holiday traditions with an open mind and an appreciation for its importance to that person.

Selecting something that the receiver adores, and the giver does not add to his debt.

Holidays are terrific. They make us stop the routine and come together to celebrate. And giving seems very much a part of the holiday. But we don’t have to give until we’re broke. We also know that things never truly bring happiness, memories do.

A good friend of mine has a small artificial Christmas tree that he leaves up and lit all year. Each month, he, his wife and his son, exchange small gifts. As he told me, it is not about the gifts. It is about a small Christmas tree that stays lit all year in their house to remind them that every day is to be celebrated. Brilliant.

So as the holiday approaches, may you find new ways to celebrate. May the gifts you give and receive be personal, focused on feelings and create memories. Wishing you amazing holidays that you fondly remember forever.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, life and workplace coach. He is the author of the books, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to help them live fired up! More information at and

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Posted by Jay Forte on November 14th, 2010 in Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

28 oct

Get Ready to Pass the Baton

JayForteAs parents we all love to think our kids are great at everything. We love it when they walk early, talk early, excel in art class, earn good grades and are athletic. We brag, we boast – we feel so proud. It’s natural.

But nature, biology and even divine intervention seem to feel that we aren’t good at everything – that we should specialize. We are all different and must learn to understand ourselves to know our specific talents, strengths and passions – those attributes unique to each of us – so we can learn to find our best fit in today’s world. And when we find our place, we can create our best and most personalized lives – lives that are just right for us.

Inspired by our DNA are brain connections that are strong in some areas and weak in others. Early in our brain development, the brain allows the weaker connections to wither, allowing our strongest connections to lead. These connections create our personality, preferences, talents, strengths and passions. We are hardwired in very particular ways and our greatest performance (and happiness) happens when we understand this hardwiring and use it to make meaningful decisions about our work and life.

Science supports that we are good at some things and not others; we love some things and not others. Our greatest impact happens when we play to what we are intrinsically good at. We start to know this as we reach our later teenage years. Some realize it sooner, some later. But to realize what we are good at and are passionate about takes effort. It takes work. It takes work that each of us must do; we can’t do this work for our kids.

As parents, our role is to get them ready so we can pass them the baton of life – to be capable of taking it and running their life’s race. They choose where, how fast, with whom and how to run.

We are their coaches and trainers. We help them see their greatness – their talents, strengths and passions. We introduce them to the world so they can start to determine their best place – their best fit. We introduce them to the world so they realize they have choices – and the best choices will be those that allow them to play to what they are great at and passionate about. To be able to make these choices, they must know themselves and their world. And we bring all this together for them when they are young. We help them they discover the unique gifts they are born with and start to find their best place in the world that lets be who they were created to be.

When each of my three daughters graduated from high school, we hosted a “passing of the baton” ceremony. We explain that in the past 18 years, we have worked to help them discover who they are and have tried to show each of them how big the world is – to see all that is available. But when the baton is passed, they will own it all – their direction, success, happiness and choices. They will need to find their best fit – their place in their world – to be happy and thrilled by life each day. This is what is required to take the baton – to own your life.

We are still available for counsel and conversation but they must use all that they have seen to start to make wise personal choices – not to please us, be who we think they are supposed to be, or live as we feel they must – but, rather, to define happiness and success for themselves. We don’t tell them who to be. We remind them they must be the best at whatever they choose – and their best and happiest lives will be built around what they are good at and are passionate about doing.

Each of my three daughters has chosen wisely for herself; each took the baton and has owned her decisions, career and life. We may not always agree with the choices, but we realize they now own and invent their lives – as we did so many years ago. It is a wobbly process to start but with the right coaching, they learn very quickly to make good decisions.

Someone told me once that the worst thing a parent can hear their child say is “I have a miserable life.” We want our kids to be successful, but must also realize that success in our eyes may not be success in theirs. Maybe the better line is that we want our kids to love their lives and be thrilled by life each day.

So how can you coach your children well, to be ready to take the baton when it is passed to them:

1. Spend meaningful time with your kids and let them share what they think, feel and love. Listen generously.

2. Expose them to many things; many times our kids become things or do things because they didn’t know greater things were available. One of my favorite ways of showing kids the great choices in the workplace is to Google “job titles.” The sites show titles of jobs that many of us never knew we could be. It expands their options.

3. Watch the personal biases and judgments as kids start to connect to what matters most to them. An impartial approach allows kids to consider everything.

4. Careers and interests don’t always follow from parent to child. Allow children to search for those things that capture their interest, and always require them to see how what they are interested in fits in today’s world (they still have to make a living and move out of the house!).

Our kids are great – at some things. And effective coaches help their players (or kids) discover the things they are good at and then work hard to get better in those areas. This allows them to move from good to great. And to be successful in life, you must find your thing, then be great at it.

For me, the greatest success as a parent is a happy and passionate son or daughter – one who loves his/her life and does each day what he/she does best. That is success in my book. I don’t need or want my kids to be like me – unless that is what they want. Besides, the world needs us all to be different, to add the texture, color and richness of ideas and impact. We invent our world by those who live in it at this moment. To have the best world, we need everyone in their “greatness zone” – that place where they are connect to their best and share it with all of us. Help them get ready to take the baton and live their greatness.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He coaches individuals how to reconnect to their talents and passions to achieve extraordinary personal and professional performance – to live their greatness. More information at and

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Posted by Jay Forte on October 28th, 2010 in Career, Family, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

13 jun

What Went Right?

JayForteI hate to wait in line; I will avoid crowds like the plague. So when I have to do an errand at a big home center, I always choose an odd hour. I love that they are open at 6 am. And I don’t mind being the first one there if it means getting my errand done in hurry and without crowds.

So, let me set the stage – a Saturday morning, up early at one of the large home centers in South Florida. I needed three cabinets to mount on the wall of the garage to get things off the floor and out of sight. This has been on my to-do list for nearly a year. Today was the day to get it off the list.

But before I take you quickly through the event, I want to draw your attention to something. We do so many things during the day that work out well – the things that go great. But I find in looking at my own attitude and talking with others, we seem instead to notice and dwell on the things that did not go right, even if there were many things that did go right.

So here is my event. Let’s keep track of the things that went well (Good Thing – I’ll use “GT”) and things that did not (Bad Thing – I’ll use “BT”).

The normally busy highway had few cars and it was an easy ride (GT).

The store was open early and the parking lot had available parking near the door (GT).

The product I needed was not well labeled so it took 10 minutes of wandering to find what I was looking for (BT).

I locate the cabinets I need and the price is reasonable (GT).

There aren’t any of what I need on the shelf; plenty of other sizes but not the ones I need. (BT).

The staff member finds what I need on a higher shelf and prepare to use a forklift to retrieve them. (GT).

I find another brand of cabinet (already preassembled – I can save time and just hang them when I get home, not need to assemble them too) and get help loading on my cart (GT).

I go to the checkout and am the only one in line (GT).

I bring the preassembled cabinets to the car – they don’t fit in any configuration I try (BT).

Okay, stop for a minute. Count the GT’s, and BT’s. Six good to three bad. And at this moment, my only thought is how I hate this event. But actually, things have been great. Why do a few bad things overtake so many good things? Hold that thought. Back to shopping.

I reload the cabinets onto the cart and am now furious about having to return the pre-made cabinets and buy the ones that will need assembly. I now have to do this errand again, as if the first time (BT).

There are no other customers at the return register and they easily process my return, and laugh with me about how some things just don’t work out right (GT).

I find the cabinets I need, get help and they pull three down for me with the forklift truck in a matter of moments (GT).

I go back the check out register – only one customer in front of me in line with a small order. When it is my turn, the woman who initially processed my order recognizes me and looks at me with a face asking for an explanation. We both laugh at the event (GT).

These boxes fit beautifully in the car (GT).

I get them home to find rough packaging damaged one of the cabinets (BT).

I know how to fix what happened to the damaged cabinet and do not need to bring it back to the store (GT).

I follow simple directions and build all three cabinets quickly and easily. (GT).

In another 2 hours, three cabinets are up on the walls in the garage and I get to see the garage floor for the first time in a long time. (GT).

Okay, I know this was a mundane event but realize we are constantly assessing our situations and determining whether they are good or bad. The bad events trigger our defense mechanisms, so the more we focus on what doesn’t go right, the more we activate our fight or flight responses.

Fight or flight is designed to make us efficient at protecting ourselves by amplifying our circulatory system, enhancing our senses and being prepared to defend or run. When our systems shift into fight or flight mode, the rest of our normal systems (those that keep us in balance – homeostasis) are interrupted. And the more we stress and focus on the bad things (BT), the more we constantly activate this fight or flight internal response and the more we suppress our normal health functions and immune system – we get sick. It is actually far more complicated than that but the thing to remember is that when we focus on what went right, we activate a better health response than when we focus on what went wrong. And this response is our choice.

Even though I know this, when a neighbor saw me putting the cabinets up, I went right to the part of the story where the cabinets didn’t fit and basically I had to do the purchase event twice. Then I stopped myself and summarized the great things that happened and that the project was done sooner than I expected.

How do you turn the negative into positive?

  1. Focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. If you are starting to lose your cool, stop! Then list 5 things that have gone well in the last 5 minutes, 30 minutes or hour. Learn to focus on the successes.
  2. End your day with a “what was great today” list. Celebrate great things. Celebrate great responses. This allows you to approach your rest period in a grateful and generous way.
  3. Improve your language of appreciation. Speak kindly to yourself and to others. Notice great things others do and comment on them. Notice the impact on yourself and others when your language moves from negative to positive.

Approach every event with a challenge to stay calm, maintain your cool and find the good things. There are always great events – we just have to focus on what went right instead of what did not. It is our choice to be upbeat and positive. And if you look at the science connecting health and emotions, you will see that one of the greatest things we can do to stay healthy is focus on what went right.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book (due out in August 2010), Happiness Matters; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on June 13th, 2010 in Career, Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | No comments

24 may

Conditioned to Think You Can’t

JayForteA friend and I had a discussion this morning about what influences our perspectives. He reminded me of how a 5-ton elephant can be controlled with nothing more than a chain and a post.

When baby elephants are captured, they are restrained by a chain connected to a post, anchored to the ground. Because of their small size, they try to pull free but cannot. They then learn that when chained to the post, they cannot get away – and they remember this. So as they become an adult elephant, very capable of pulling free from the chain, they don’t think they can, so they don’t try. An early memory told them they can’t and now they never challenge it.

We are like elephants. We have early memories about something that influenced us and we bring that perception to today. It could have been a comment, a look or a response by someone that we knew or maybe didn’t know. It could have been an event that backfired like stumbling in front of others and we are now convinced we can never be on stage, in front of an audience, or lead a meeting. We are frequently chained to think we can’t – even though we can. Here is a personal example.

As a kid I had a terrible interdental lisp. When it was pointed out to me, I stopped speaking, tremendously worried that I would embarrass myself. As I started speech therapy I found I had an easy ability to learn a language and to articulate sounds – something I never would have known. I quickly learned a new way to pronounce an “s.” Today, I am a speaker. Imagine. If I had let the terrible events that introduce me to my speech impediment control me, I would have been like the elephant chained to a post, thinking I should be embarrassed about myself and stay out of the public. I would have never chosen my favorite work and my best fit – speaking to audiences about talents, passions and possibilities. I can imagine doing nothing else. I broke my chain. And I found a strength in the process.

Many of us remain captive to “I can’t” thinking, like the elephants chained to the post, because we don’t know ourselves well enough to know how capable and strong we really are. The more we connect to our unique talents, strengths and passions, the more we find our internal strength – the strength that helps us realize our futures are not dependent on our pasts. We are not limited by events that happened to us. True, they influence us, but we have attributes (call them gifts) that help build our courage and our confidence to break our chains and come through stronger, braver and better.

From my perspective, life events are placed as obstacles to help us stop, think about a better way, and get to know ourselves better. When we encounter an obstacle we can act like the elephant – to stand still and give in. Or, we can think our way through it and realize we are more capable than we imagined. And when you do this several times, you develop the courage to consistently do it and life becomes yours to invent.

To help you break your chains, consider the following:

- Think of one “I can’t” situations that currently limits you. Think back to the event that made you feel incapable, unworthy, unable, etc.

- Assess your talents and strengths. What attributes do you have that allow you to move past this limit – what attributes do you have that will help you break your chain?

- What is the first small step you can take to move past this limit – to see how capable you are and to develop your confidence?

- Try one, then another, then another. Then throw the chain away.

There are truly some situations where “I can’t” may be the right response. But we use “I can’t” significantly more frequently than we should because we are controlled or influenced by things said or done in our past. Today gets built today – there is no particular reason why it must be like yesterday unless you want it that way.

What is true for you today? What are your talents, passions and strengths, and how do they give you the confidence and courage to say “I can” instead of “I can’t.”

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The End of Average; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on May 24th, 2010 in Career, Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,