Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Need to Achieve - Struggles of our Young Men and Boys

I recently read a book called 'Boys Adrift' by Dr. Leonard Sax which drives out 5 factors that are lending a hand in the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving men.  According to the book 1/3 of men between the ages of 22 - 34 are still living at home with their parents which is a 100% increase in the last 20 years. 

The 5 Factors that are discussed include
1. Changes in School Curriculum - boys brains aren't as advanced as girls when it comes to language and other learning.  Kindergarten is now teaching Grade 2 curriculum and boys aren't mentally able to learn what they are supposed to so it sets them up to fail as girls seem to be getting a head start and it is very difficult for boys to recover from. 
2. Video Games - This is a way for boys to escape and they learn to control their environment but they have a huge disconnection with the world and doing physical activities (sports plays a huge factor in helping to balance this out)
3. Medications for ADHD - many boys and young men are put on medication to "settle them down" and it changes who they are
4. Endocrine Disruptor - some of the elements found in plastics can mimic estrogen which can mess with boys brains
5. Lack of Positive Role Models - many role models that boys look up to show them that it isn't percieved as cool to be intelligent and motivated, especially when it comes to school.  So boys are buying into this and young women are more likely to go on to post secondary and graduate. Whereas, some boys will start, change school but will not graduate when they go on to college or university. 

I am not going to go through all the factors but I will share my thoughts on a few ideas that came up as I was reading.  It seems that if we don't figure this out the problems will just continue to happen. I think we do have some huge problems on our hands when we consider that boys are much less resilient and ambitious than they were 20 years ago.

When I was growing up I always felt like I was a little bit of a defective girl.  Everything was a competition to me and when it came to sports and games that didn't stop.  It was nothing for me to flip the game board that we were playing because it was clear that I wasn't going to win.  I didn't think of it as cheating at the time I just thought of it as a way to stop from witnessing the humiliation of me losing at something. 

I don't like the idea that teachers, parents and schools are taking away competition and it's dangerous.  Humans are animals and in nature there are winners and losers.  We see that when an eagle is hungry it finds and plucks a fish out of the water.  It doesn't care that it may have hurt the fishes feelings when it interupted it from its daily swim to eat it for lunch.  We live in a meritocracy where things are earned and I don't think there is anything wrong with that.  We work to earn money, credentials and social standing.  If those things are just handed over the value of their possession is often lost and wasted.  Kids are much more resilient and capable than we give them credit for much of the time so let them be competive, unsuccessful and learn from it. 

People talk about giving self-esteem to kids but there is no way you can give another person self-esteem.  As the name suggests its how you feel about yourself.  It is the way your form your identity and how valuable you think you are.  No one can give that to you!  Those are things you have to earn on your own.  Parents can help to build self-esteem, coaches can contribute, friends can solidify but it's up to the individual to be able to build it themselves.  And just as is the case if you earn something the 'old fashioned' way through dedication and hard work.  Getting rid of the idea where everyone gets a participation ribbon at the track meet will help to rectify this.  When you fail over and over and over again that is when you learn to succeed.  If you learn from people who are the most successful in our society its because they just learned to keep coming back from failure and each time they got stronger from what they learned. 

From my perspective I was told over and over again that young girls were are not supposed to be competitive and I was told all the time it wasn't "ladylike".  It was good because I stopped caring what certain people thought.  I knew who I was at the core of my being and it wasn't up to my Mom or Dad to solidify that on their own.  I did it!  Sure it was hard sometimes but it made me strong enough to stand in who I was and built my confidence to a point where I wasn't a follower and went after my goals and dreams regardless of what others thought. 

In a lot of cases I have seen parents baby their kids so much it's scary.  Not letting your child stand on his own two feet is a terrible thing to see.  I have heard of parents going in to see  university professors or administrators to talk about how Little Jimmy's mark isn't high enough.  And then we wonder why the boy has problems?  Maybe he should learn to work hard and if he doesn't understand something ask for help.  When Little Jimmy gets fired from his first job because he wasn't giving it enough effort is his Mom going to walk into his bosses office to explain why her boy needs a second chance?  Maybe she can bring in his Grade 6 participation ribbon to help sway the manager's decision!  My point is that this didn't happen over night to these boys!  It has been steadily happening with a series of how they were raised mixed in with environmental, biological, physical factors and so on.  Whatever is happening it is obvious that we are crippling our young men by not showing them what they are capable of or eliminated some of these factors on their own to help them thrive. 

Many of us girls got tough because we were told over and over that we couldn't do something or it wasn't allowed.  At some point the decision is just made that it doesn't matter what other people think.  Many women wanted to go after what it is they wanted and maybe that has forced our boys to take a step back because of our new found strength.  As an independent woman I don't have to rely on a man alone to provide for me.  I don't think in the case the situation has an easy answer but I do know that I love and appreciate men and it is necessary for all of us to take a look and figure out what to do to make our young men stronger and more resilient again.  I plan to do my part by making them earn things, work hard, toughen up and physically participate in his surroundings. I also want to limit the amount of exposure our young boys have to plastics that mimic estrogen so it doesn't physically mess with their hormones. I will continue to follow this subject and keep you up to date on my findings.   

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Not Another Resolution!!! Aim for the Moon... Reach the Stars! Learning to Exceed the Goals You Set

Many of us have heard the expression "aim for the stars... reach the moon!" But, what if you learn to exceed your own expectations?  What if you learn to do more than you thought you were capable of?  What if you tossed away all of the negative talk, set a goal and just went for it with everything you had? 

Well it would make you feel powerful, enlightened, magnitized and unstoppable.  These are the feelings I started this New Year with! I don't normally set "New Year's Resolutions" for a few reasons 1) I prefer to reach my goals (resolutions often fail) 2) I want to set my goals all year round at different points depending on my progress (Ready, Fire, Aim instead of Ready, Aim, Fire) 3) I want to acheive my goal and figure out the next step 4) I want my goals to become my habits because then they are part of my lifestyle.

I have always read 52 books a year consistently over the last few years.  When you break it down it ends up being about a book a week.  This year I wanted to switch it up and push myself further by setting the goal of reading 55 books for the year.  I thought it was challenging and a stretch for me at the time.  In October of this year I took a look at my list and miraculously had reached my goal 2 months early!  That's when I though "okay so now what?"  I wanted to bask in the success of what I had accomplished of course and then I thought "what if I keep going?"  So page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book I ended up reading 75 books total.  20 books in just 2 months!

Many people embark on their New Year's Resolutions with reckless abandon.  They start out hard and slowly falter.  The problem is they lose momentum. So how do you make the staying power last?  1) Write the goal down 2) Post it somewhere you can see it, live it, breath it 3) Make small steps everyday (Don't go to bed until a bite has been taken out of your goal) 4) Track your progress (This keeps you committed to the cause) 5) Tune out the negative self talk and keep being positive with yourself.  Most importantly 6) Hold yourself accountable (Don't let yourself give up you set it you finish it) 7) Don't try to boil the ocean pick 1 goal and see it through  

Whether you plan to read more, lose weight or go travelling it is all about small consistent steps.  In the IT world it is often said "If you can't measure it. You can't manage it" So make sure you are keeping track.  If you falter, and it will happen because no one is perfect, own it, acknowledge it and take another step forward. 

Whatever you are working on... go for it!!!  Who knows you might actually surprise yourself by aiming for the moon and reaching the stars! 

A few people have asked me to send out a list of the 75 books I read in 2011.  So I decided to post my original list below to make it easier then having to check my earlier post.  I also rated the Top 8 books of the 20 I just finished reading . 

For your information in 2012 I haven't set a book goal as I have decided to focus my energy on some other initiatives. Of course I will continue to read but I was really satisfied with getting through this many books in 2011.  I will still track my books just to see where I am at because it is part of who I am now :) 

Marla's Reading List 2011 - 75 Books Goal Achieved

Additional 20 Book Read Between November and December
Top 8
56. 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself - Steve Chandler - Recommended by a friend this book was incredible as it related 100 short stories of how to turn a defeatest attitude into an inspiring one. 
57. The Girl Who Kicked a Hornets Nest - Steig Larsson - The follow up to the Girl who Played with Fire
58. The Girl Who Played with Fire - Steig Larsson - The follow up to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
59. The Help - Kathryn Stockett - Against popular taste a white woman writes a book on stories of black maids' stories in Mississippi (Didn't watch the movie but the book is fantastic)
60. Secrets and Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World - Martin Yate - A book that teaches you how to go for the job of your dreams by breaking it down into little pieces
61. A Woman Among Warlords - Malalai Joya  - A woman writes her story of political struggle in Afghanistan
62. What got you here won't get you there - Marshall Goldsmith - Figuring out ways that you are getting in your own way and how to change your behaviour.
63. Success Principles - Jack Canfield - A huge book on how to go after your goals and different tactics and strategies to make it a reality

64. Women, Food and God - Geneen Roth
65. Goals - Brian Tracy
66.  Goal Setting - Susan Wilson
67. The Legends of Hip Hop - Justin Bua
68. Green for Life - Gillian Deacon
69. A thousand splendid suns - Khaled Hosseini
70. There's lead in your lipstick - Gillian Deacon
71. Glitch: The Hidden Impact of Faulty Software - Jeff Papows
72. Drive - Daniel Pink
73. Great English Poets - William Blake
74. You were born rich - Bob Proctor
75. Young World Rising - Rob Salkowitz

Original List of Books (Posted in October)

Top 10 Books
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson - Novel about a kick ass chick that doesn't take crap!
2. Discover you Genius - Michael Gelb - About 10 genius' and how to use your own gifts to the fullest
3. Play their Hearts out - George Dohrmann - About the corrupt system of AAU Basketball in the U.S.
4. The Four Agreements - Miguel Ruiz - Being true to your word and not taking things personally
5. Born to Run - Christopher McDougall - Ultra-marrathon runners that live in Mexico and don't use shoes
6. Innovate like Edison - Michael Gelb - Thomas Edison' amazing attitude of continuning to move forward
7. Playbook of Success - Nancy Lieberman - Making a game plan for life and talking sports at work
8. Coaching Team Basketball - Tom Crean - Head Coach at Marquette teaches players to think team first
9. The Saint, the Surfer and the CEO - Robin Sharma - not taking life for granted and going after your goals
10. Quotable Michael Jordan - Quotes from interviews with Michael Jordan

11. The Devil and Ms. Prym - Paolo Coehlo
12. Complete Condition for Basketball by Human Kinetics
13. Step by Step Basketball Skills
14. How to play like the Pros - Jay Triano
15. How to improve at basketball - Drewett
16. The Solution - Lucinda Bassett
17. Take the stress out of your life - Jay Winner
18. Writing the killer treatment
19. Amazing Resumes
20.How to not make art - Julia Cameron
21.Secrets to the Monarch - Allison DuBois
22. Cover Letters that Knock 'Em Dead
23.Stress Solution - Penny Kendall - Reed
24. Women in Business
25. The Leader who had no title - Robin Sharma
26. The Wisdom of Bees - Michael O'Malley PhD
27. Leadership from the Monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma
28. Knock 'Em Dead Job Search 2009
29. Joan of Arc
30. Family Wisdom from the Monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma
31. Amazing Resumes
32. Blackfoot Book of Knowledge and Dictionary
33. Joan of Arc
34. By the River Piedra I sat down and wept - Paolo Coehlo
35. Harriet Tubman
36. Joan of Arc
37. Leonardo da Vinci - Christiane Weidemann
38. Harriet Tubman - Leading the Way to Freedom - Laurie Calkhoven
39. State of the Union
40. Big Book of Quotes
41. Life - Paolo Coehlo
42. How to see yourself as you really are - Dalai Lama
43. 11 Minutes - Paolo Coehlo
44. Big Book of Sports Quotes
45. The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha
46. Across the Line
47. Mixing Races - Romano
48. Selling the Wheel
49. A woman's guide to rapid weight loss
50. Malcolm X - Militant Black Leader
51. Money, sex, war, karma - Loy
52. Success Strategies Pt. 2 - Robin Sharma
53. Discover your Destiny - Robin Sharma
54. Harriet Tubman
55. The Pilgrammage - Paolo Coehlo