Posts Tagged ‘Health’

“I don’t get it. I should have gotten the promotion. I’m better than he is.”

“She never notices all I do for the company, she sucks as a boss!”

“It’s not like it was my fault! WTF was she doing checking up on me?”

“He got me written up for being late a bunch of times.”

I used to hear stuff like this all the time when I was in banking and dealing with so-called “adults“. To be honest, it was mostly the younger adults, but not always. Now that I’m out of the business of dealing with adults, I hear a lot of complaints from kids that sound eerily familiar and worry me about the future.

“She got me in trouble for dress code violation!”

“I got yelled at because I had my phone out during a test. I was just checking the time!”

“He gave me Friday Detention because I didn’t turn in my homework on Tuesday.”

“Stupid Principal, called my parents because I didn’t go to school yesterday, now I’m in trouble at home too.”

What are all these people really saying? Really, they are expressing their own disappointment in their jobs or in their performance at school. The adults know, however deep-down, that their setbacks are not the fault of the other person. They know that their own behavior led to the situations about which they are reacting. It just feels better to bitch about who wronged you were. They know that there are probably reasons why one person will get a promotion over another. Sometimes these decisions are unfair, but most of the time they are justified. They know that bosses have a lot on their plates, and sometimes don’t have the ability to see everything they should. They know that part of their bosses’ responsibilities might be to make sure that they are doing the job they are paid to do. They know that they are held accountable to be at work on time every time.

My kids at school are at a precipice. I want to believe that they also know that they can’t blame Teacher X or Principal Y for their own misfortune. I want to believe that they really understand that they chose to violate the dress code. I want to believe that they know that they can’t pull out their cells during a test without opening themselves up to the possibility of being accused of cheating. I hope they understand that there are consequences for actions, and in the case of not doing homework, for inaction. I want to believe that they understand that cutting class is a big deal, and parents get a little pissed about these kinds of things.

But should I?

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I put it together in my head that the parents of the kids that complain about the world being against them are the same people who are complaining about how the world is against them! This is a learned behavior.

So how do we fight back?

It starts with me: If you are a parent, or like me, a teacher, or any other kind of role model, you need to let it start with you. We all have bad days at work, bad months even. We need to be honest with ourselves to recognize that sometimes stuff just happens. Sometimes we contribute to the problem by our reactions, and sometimes we create the problems. We need to act and react in a proper way so that those watching us with little eyes can learn the correct way to handle adversity.

Take control early: All of the above statements share one thing. They are all statements of reaction. Too often, we get busy, or bogged down in day-to-day details to think about proactively attacking situation. If my boss isn’t prone to notice the contributions I make to the company, maybe I should take some time to point out, in a respectful way, how valuable I am to the company before I get frustrated.

Be your best you: I get that it can become tough and monotonous to come in to work every day and give your absolute best. That’s what vacations are for. That’s what time off (weekends or just time between shifts) is for. I’m sorry, and I know full well how hard it is for me as well, but you have to be the best you possible whenever you go to work. Not just because your boss will like it, not because it is your job to do your best, but because doing so can motivate others around you to up their game as well.

These are just three of hundreds of things that you can do to deal with many of the setbacks that seem to creep up when least expected and least wanted. I’m sure there are more ideas, and I look forward to hearing what your ideas might be.

Of course we don’t just try to shift blame when it comes to work. Dylan wrote this song, but I firmly believe Mr. Cash did it best.  Enjoy!


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Earlier this week, Americans celebrated INDEPENDENCE DAY. In a nutshell, this is a celebration of the original American colonies’ approved a resolution that separated them from England. Either I’m not clear on what exactly happened, or the colonists really knew how to throw one hell of a party. Hot dog eating contests, barbeques, fireworks, Twilight Zone marathons, and every other form of entertainment that colonials could ask for were readily available to celebrate the idea that is now the United States of America*.

America is good for celebrations. I’m not knocking any other country, but it tells you how much we know how to party when we combine alcohol and lighting stuff on fire! THAT is what a party should look like. Anyway, America, as a country is great for parties and celebrations. But as individuals, sometimes we allow ourselves to get mired in details and negativity so we can’t even see a reason to celebrate.

Right now, we are right in the middle of the Greater Depression. Many people have lost their jobs over the past decade or so. In fact, just going by the numbers that the government (underreports) 9.2 per cent of the people who are able and desirous of full-time employment are unable to find a suitable job.

Many families and individuals have gone on a fiscal diet where we eat fewer “greens” and strive to live within the confines of our income. People are spending less, and starting to save and pay off debt in ever-increasing numbers. People are scared, and with good reason. But too many people are allowing their fears to stop them from seeing reasons to celebrate! Let’s look at some of these reasons.

1. Many people are unable to find suitable full-time employment. Some of those people give up trying to look. So, if you are one of those people who do have a job, even if it is part-time, you have a leg up on a lot of people. You should celebrate this victory, even if it isn’t a complete victory, or even if you aren’t completely thrilled with the job you now have.

2. While you might be one of those people who are living much more frugally than before, you are probably spending a lot of time paying off credit cards. That’s great! Debt equals stress, and if you can avoid one, you go a long way towards avoiding both. So as you pay off debt lines (credit cards), or your car, or anything, celebrate it! Sure, you might be only making the first steps, but you are making steps. You deserve to acknowledge that.

3. If you have worked hard, and have made the right decisions that have allowed you to save a few dollars, you are way ahead of many of your peers.

“But Wil, if I celebrate all these little successes, I’ll go broke, or I’ll lose my focus, or I’ll just get frustrated when I realize how far away from my goals I am, or meow meow meow blah!” Sorry, I stopped listening so I’m not sure exactly what your excuses for not celebrating are, but I can tell you that they are B.S. and you need to wrap your head around that fact.

Look, when I quit smoking (yeah, I’m finally admitting that I’ve quit), I celebrated after I made it that first week. I celebrated again the next week. I celebrated again after I was able to withstand a very stressful couple of weeks for my family. I celebrated when I was able to be around smokers without cravings or without being that prick that judges others who haven’t made the decision to quit. I believe that my celebrations motivated me to not fail because the goal seemed too large and unattainable.

When you are celebrating small fiscal victories, I’m not saying you need to have a huge, blow-out party, or spend a ton of money. That would be the opposite of what you need to do. But maybe you buy a fairly nice dinner when you pay off a large credit card. Make sure you pay cash; you wouldn’t want to charge on the card you just paid off. Maybe you go to a bookstore and buy a CD or book that you would enjoy when you add another $100.00 to your savings account.

“But Wil isn’t spending money exactly what I’m trying to avoid?”

In large part, yes it is. I’m not going to lie to you here. Having small celebrations might slow you down on reaching your ultimate goals. A little bit. But you will gain the motivation to keep going, and you might even develop the motivation to have bigger celebrations for reaching bigger goals. Whatever works for you, go with it.

One word of caution: Moderation.

Keep your celebrations to scale with your successes. You don’t need a trip to Vegas when you get a new part-time job!

I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a while now.  I like it because it is a great feel good song with a bouncy little beat.  I hope you enjoy!




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*BTW, before some crank in his underwear, sitting at the computer in his parents’ basement decides to “correct” me on my historical facts, let me just say two things: One, I am a history teacher, I know my history. Two, the above paragraph is what we historians refer to as a JOKE! Get over it.

I love my job. I really do. Even though I’ve worked with some of the most demanding, annoying, pain-in-the-ass co-workers, even though I’ve been physically attacked, had my heart broken by seeing some of what I have to see on a daily basis, even though I’ve frequently had to walk into a room with absolutely no preparation and very little idea of what exactly was expected of me, I love my job. Three years ago, I couldn’t say that. Five years ago, I couldn’t say that. Now I can, but not then.

I used to get burned out at work. I’d get to a certain place within the company, I’d figure out everything within the company that I needed to know in order to be effective, and I’d get bored. Sometimes being really good at my job would backfire on me and my bosses would start piling work on me that I couldn’t handle. Again and again it would happen, and when it did, I generally would get fired within the year. Eventually, I read somewhere in some book that I needed to find mentors that would help me to survive being burned out.

I tried to find a mentor, I really did. The problem was that everybody I looked to as a mentor looked at me with suspicion. I don’t know whether they thought I was playing a joke on them, or if they believed I was somehow plotting to screw them out of their job. Point is, my choices of mentors didn’t really help me to survive burn-out. It wasn’t until I had my own employees that I realized that burn-out is a terminal condition, for which there is no cure.

So, are you completely screwed?


While it’s true that once you get burned-out, there really is little you can do to undo it (not in every case, but the majority of time), there are some things you can do to avoid burn-out.

Take your vacations: Most companies allow their full-time employees to take time off every year. Many young people (yep, I was guilty of this too) don’t take this time. They make excuses.

“I don’t need time off.”

“I’m too young to need a vacation.”

“I can’t afford to take the time off.”

“I have too much to do.”

“Blah, blah blah.”

There are a ton of other excuses as well. All of them are BS! First, if you like your job and the people you work with, you need to make sure that you are bringing in your best self to work. That means taking a few days when the opportunities present themselves. Second, the company was doing just fine before you got there, they will survive a few days without you. JUST DON’T OVERDO IT!

Leave work at work: As a teacher, I am frequently called upon to do work for school at home. I do what I need to do, but I make sure I leave as much time as possible for me to have some kind of life. Besides, when you are too attached to work, your personal relationships will suffer, which will stress you out at work, which leads to…,? You got it- burn-out!

Manage your finances: If you are a normal, you work for one major reason. You need to pay your bills and survive. If you get yourself way out of whack financially, you are going to get frustrated that your job just isn’t cutting it anymore. Once that happens, burn-out comes quickly after questions like:

“Why can’t I make enough money to catch up?”

“How come I never have any money to do anything?”

“Other people don’t go through this, why me?”

If you are being financially responsible, saving when you can, spending when you should, and are not stressed out about money you don’t have, you aren’t stressing about what your job isn’t providing for you.

Stay healthy: Much like poor financial health will affect your job performance, poor physical health will make you have to work harder to achieve the same results. Harder work for which you will NOT be paid extra. If you are working harder, but making the same amount of money, your stress level and your propensity for burn-out will increase.

Have fun! Tied to several of these things, is the basic need to have fun. I teach, Monday through Friday. When I’m healthy, I also go to a gym and work out regularly for fun. On weekends, I visit with family and play RockBand with my in-laws- for fun! I firmly believe that being able to do something that allows me to burn off some steam where I don’t have to think about work allows me to go to work ready to work and ready to avoid burn-out.

Take a nap: Along the lines of staying healthy, stay rested. Make sure you are getting enough sleep so that you aren’t tired during your work day, and try to limit exertion late at night before you go to work. Of course, some exertion is fun, relaxing, and totally worth it, so use your best judgment here.

So, before you get to the point where you are burnt out, try one or more of these ideas, or if you know of some ideas that work as well or better, let us know. Like any other terminal disease, burn-out can be prevented. Take this holiday weekend, if you are able, and start getting to the point where you are able to relax and avoid getting burnt out altogether.

Of course, there is a stage that comes before burn-out, as our friends from Foreigner can tell you.  Enjoy!



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***This one is for parents and other adults out there.  If you are a parent or adult, please read this, join the conversation, and share this with as many people as you can.***


This isn’t the post I had planned on doing this week.  I had planned a post about advice and the sources of that advice.  I might still do that post later, but this is too important.  This isn’t going to be one of those fun posts with pictures and music videos.  Sorry.


“You sit down and they have one of those revolvers on the table.  They put one bullet in and spin the thing [cylinder].  You pull the trigger.  If you win, you get $4,000.00.  If you die, your family gets $3,000,000.  $4,000.00 is a lot of money for me.”

“Sure, if I need to buy some X [the drug MDMA, also know as ecstasy] I can give a bj [oral sex] or a hand [manual stimulation] [for the money].  I’m not hurting anybody, and I can’t get a job to pay for it.  [You] do what you have to do.”

These are actual conversations I’ve heard from children as young as 14 this week.  The bracketed and italicized entries are mine, designed to clarify what was actually said.  Pretty shocking stuff.  The most surprising thing about all of this?  That I wasn’t surprised by hearing any of this.  Sure, maybe these kids were lying, but they really had no reason to do so.  Nobody was impressed, intimidated, or proud.  Besides, I’ve heard these same claims before from other kids.  Eventually you have to stop calling our kids liars and start addressing issues.

This is the reality for many young people out there.  Somewhere along the line, we have allowed our children to believe that this type of behavior is okay.  We have allowed our kids to believe that money and drugs are important enough to do anything for.  We did this.

In talking with those students, I questioned them on why this behavior is okay when it wasn’t  for generations before theirs.  I wasn’t making any judgements.  I really wanted to know where this idea came from.  The second student had a mother who prostituted herself for money and drugs.  The first student believed that they were trying to help the fam in some way.  If they won, four-grand pays a lot of bills.  If they lost, the family would be set for a while.

Of course, when dealing with criminal elements, trusting them generally proves to be a bad policy. 

I’m pissed here.  I don’t even know where to begin on how pissed off I am.  And I hope you are pissed off too.  But what are we going to do about it?  What can be done?

I don’t know if there are any answers that will absolutely answer those questions.  I’m not even sure of all the questions.  See, I don’t have any kids.  That is a choice.  But I deal with kids every day at various levels of maturity and development.  I deal with the hard kids.  Also a choice.

So parents and adults, what can we do?  How can we make sure that we don’t have to hear these stories anymore?  Here are my thoughts:

  • It starts at home, but it doesn’t end there.  This is a bigger issue.  Leaving the issue at home stops any chance that the problem will be stopped.
    • At home, teach your children about what is important and what isn’t.  What is important?  That’s something that you have to decide for your family.  One suggestion is that kids need to be taught that certain things, once given, can never be regained.  They need to know that giving a bj or a hand-job puts an absolute value on something that is irreplaceable:  innocence.
    • At school, the place outside of home where kids spend the most time, hold the employees feet to the fire to make sure they are teaching the values that you hold as important.
      • I belong to a system where many are fighting against the people over money.  That system is called the public school system.  You need to make sure that the system stops putting money in front of doing their jobs.
  • There is right and wrong.
    • We live in a society where everything is okay.  We are permissive for everything.  “Hey!  I’m not hurting you, so what’s the big deal?”  The big deal is that what you are doing is wrong.  It’s wrong and I don’t want my kids around it.
  • Fear can be a great motivator.
    • When I was young, when I was doing something wrong, I didn’t care if the police found out.  I was terrified of what would happen if my parents found out.  Kids today have no fear of either police or parent.  Kids with no fear have no problem putting a loaded gun to their head and pulling the trigger.
    • Kids need and want to be punished for bad behavior.  Society wants you to leave the kids alone.  This society is the same one that tacitly approves of many of the things that hurt kids.

Finally, the next time you are in a store or mall and see a parent striking or yelling at a misbehaving child, don’t approach to tell them how they are wrong.  Also, don’t avert your eyes and pretend nothing is happening.  At some point, after the situation is dealt with, go and tell the parent that you understand and support them.  This person isn’t abusing their children.  Nobody decides, “I haven’t abused my children today, and I need milk.  If only there was some way to solve both problems…, I know, to the grocery store!”  These people are trying to make sure that their children never end up in my classroom.  They are trying to make sure that their kids aren’t selling their bodies for drugs later on.

I’m sure there are other things that need to be done, I just don’t know what they are.  As I asked before, please share this with parents and other adults.  Put your two cents in as well. 


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