Real Education

Smiling students after graduationWhen I was a kid, my parents valued education and told my sisters and me that getting a good education was the key to having opportunities in life. My mother was a school teacher, so she could help us with homework throughout most of our school years, and my father, well, he was sorry he never got the chance to get more education, so he just gave us the drive.

But when I grew up and had children of my own, I realized that my path had been laid out for me and that I had pursued education without ever stopping to ask my self why. I may have chosen my fields of study, but the thought of traveling, taking a “gap year” to work or even starting a business had never crossed my mind.

If we look at the history of knowledge, we can see that it was once reserved to special people, such as nobles, religious leaders and professional scholars. Later on, getting a “good education” required no entitlement, only money, and over time, education became more and more accessible to everyday people.

Still, the feeling that education gives you and edge and lifts your social standing remained and was transferred from one generation to the next. Knowledge was power, or so everybody thought.

Read more about education for the real world

Predictably Happy Kids

Little baskeball playerAs parents, we are supposed to do what is best for our kids. One of the biggest choices we all need to make is how to develop our kids when they too young to choose for themselves. Obviously, without being able to see into their future, this could be a case of the blind leading the blind.

But maybe it does not have to be.

In the past few days, I have been reading an excellent book called Predictably Irrational by Professor Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT. In one of the chapters, he describes experiments that show humans are so sensitive to loss they do everything they can to avoid losing even things they could have, but do not actually have. One of these things, he says, is options.

In his description, he give parents’ decision-making about their children’s development as an example of how irrationally expensive it is to keep our kids’ options open. If you do the math, he says, you see that spreading the family resources over 4 different activities each week, say ballet, piano, art and karate, means your child makes 1 unit of progress in each of them every week, as opposed to choosing just one activity, say piano, which would allow the child to make 4 units of progress every week and become really good at it.

I was tempted to agree, and this post was almost about how much his point made sense, but then Eden and I went for our morning walk (it is so great she starts late on Wednesdays) and reviewed her life, the lives of Tsoof and Noff and those of other kids we know, and my view of this issue changed completely.

Read more about how to help your kids succeed

From the Life Coaching Deck (5): Making Money Addiction

Money stackWhen I was about 15 years old, I learned the hard way that sometimes you want things and only when you get them, you realize they were not what you wanted. Addiction is like this too – you want something and shortly after you get what you want, you realize it was not what you wanted.

As a life coach, I talk a lot about wanting. I believe wanting is essential in life. It is the driving force of our existence. But today, I want to tell you about a session on my life coaching deck that reminded me again why the question “Why?” is as important as the question “What?” Chris, one of my wonderful clients, taught me a wonderful lesson about what happens when you do not know why.

All I knew about Chris was that he was a businessman in his early fifties, married, with no kids and a lack of motivation who was looking for a life coach. Nothing special. We all have those periods in our life when we just find it hard to get up in the morning.

This is what I told myself when I prepared for his session. The first time he came, when I opened the door, I saw from the corner of my eyes a classy Mercedes Benz parked outside. Well, the first thing I could think of was “Oh my god, what a beautiful car”. I have to say it made me more curious about the reason he came. I thought that car was the result of lots of motivation.

“Why are you here, Chris? What do you want?” I asked him.

He looked confused. “I really don’t know. I think something’s wrong with me”.

Read more about addiction to making money

Proud to Be a Teacher

Happy World Teachers' DayWorld Teachers’ Day was this week (5th of October) and I had been approached by a pre-service student at the University of Queensland for an who wanted to interview me for an assignment she had about being a teacher. At the end of the interview, she said to me, “I think they should use you as a motivator to make people choose teaching as a profession. You make it sound like it’s the best profession in the world”. I told her I had heard that many times before, because I am a teacher by choice and not a teacher by necessity.

Teaching, as you probably know, is not the best-paid job in the world. In some places, it is even in the lowest income range, which I find shocking. At the beginning of my career, I thought I valued education only because I needed to justify my choice of becoming a teacher, but every year that passes, I see that this justification is the only one there is, as there are so many disadvantages to being a teacher.

Maybe it was no coincidence I received this story by email on the day I had the interview.

A school principal addressed his students during a graduation ceremony.

He said, “Doctors want their children to become doctors, engineers want their children to become engineers, businessmen want their children to become CEOs, but a teachers also want their children to become one of them. Nobody wants to become a teacher by choice. Very sad, but that’s the truth”.

Then, he told them this story.

Read more about why teachers are so important

Parents Doing Business

Happy familyI had my first business at the age of 25. I finished my Special Education studies and opened an Early Childhood Center that became a very successful business within a short time. I was a mother and a wife and had a mortgage, a car and a personal loan for my business.

If you hear parents tell you that kids are an obstacle for them, I can tell you that having kids is a bad excuse for not doing business. When the kids grow up and leave the house, they will be left with their excuses. So when they have to explain why they have never done what they have always wanted to do, they will start saying, “It’s too late now”, which is just another excuse.

If you are thinking of starting a business and will need to juggle business and family, it is a good idea to discover what you will have to do to succeed at it. Some people are not cut out to own and operate a business. Others do not know how to balance a home and a business. Managing your business, your home and your parenting well requires some skills and attitudes that will determine the success of your business, the quality of your family life and even your health.

Unlike people who do not have kids, business parents risk a lot more than their own time and money. They risk their relationships with their partners and with their kids, as well as the quality of preparation their kids get for life. You go into business because you want a better life for your kids, not to destroy your relationship with your kids, so do it right!

Read more about how to be a good business parent

Everyone can do it (with expert help)

Success seminarThe first thing you learn about starting a business on the Internet is that everyone can do it. I remember the first seminar I attended. You may have had the same experience yourself. It is a free event that makes hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales in one day. The food, the venue and the free gifts are nothing compared to how many suckers come to those events for the promise of sitting on the beach in a swimsuit with a laptop, sipping cool drinks and watching the dollars appearing on the screen every day and every hour.

The suckers’ slogans

Gal and I went to our first event as life coaches. It was an awesome weekend. It was a great seminar and I learned a lot. For 2 days, they promised the world “Be your own boss! Work 3 hours a day! Money will be coming out of your ears!” and … “Everyone can do it!”

I have to say I almost believed them. I wanted to believe them with all my heart, but because our life coaching course had promised exactly the same thing, I had the suspicion there was a pattern there. Luckily for us, it was not a test of our trust. We just did not have $10,000 to buy the product on offer. We were shocked that our fellow coaches spent so much money just weeks after they had spent thousands of dollars on the life coaching course.

If you have ever heard these slogans about trying to build a business on the Internet, be warned, someone is convinced you are a sucker and might be taking you for a ride.

Read more about how to succeed in life

Escape of the Rats

Man running in hamster wheelThe world today is a rich, technologically advanced, ever-changing, interesting, exciting, confusing, demanding, fast-paced, interconnected, stressful, cold, impersonal and sometimes abusive place. We live a different life from any other period. What does this mean?

To many of us, it means we feel trapped. We often hear or read the term “rat race” as a description for the way we live – like rats in somebody’s lab, running around, trying to find a way out or get to the reward at the end of a confusing and frightening maze. Trouble is we do not even know whose lab we are in and we feel helpless and out of control.

In his excellent book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell describes some fascinating events and research about how our environment affects our behavior and the behavior of those around us. Sometimes, it can drive a man to kill, but when managed well, it can lower the crime rate and improve the lives of many people. He calls this “The power of context”.

The book highlights some things that we can all use to regain control of our lives, improve the quality of our time on Earth and make the world a better place for our children and even for other people around us.

Read more about how to escape the rat race

Lifestyle of the rich and the famous

Prince William and Kate MiddletonOur highly commercialized world pumps us with the idea that being rich and famous is a good thing. Even things “mere mortals” find difficult to deal with, like going on a diet or breaking up with a partner, are leveraged to create more fame and more fortune for the celebrities. Scandals are just useful ways to sell the next movie or the new album. So useful, in fact, that some of them are manufactured.

In their song Lifestyle of the Rich and the Famous, Good Charlotte sing about how celebrities complain all the time and say their life is hard, even though they have money, mansions and other things money can buy. By contrasting fame and fortune with living on the streets, this song reflects general public sentiment very well.

But it is not true.

If you have been anywhere near a TV set in the past few weeks, read any newspaper or even glanced at a magazine at the checkout line, you have seen them – Prince William and Kate Middleton. Their lives and upcoming wedding were covered from every angle and then, their wedding was covered in even more detail. Anyone who had anything to do with them at any time was interviewed ad nauseam and every bit was replayed over and over again.

Read more about being rich and famous

Boiled Frog

From time to time, I get it by email. Now, with social media, I also get it on Facebook and Twitter. It is the story of the frog in hot water. In case you have never read it, here it is for your reading pleasure:

image_thumb[1]Frogs’ sense of heat actually detects differences in temperature. If you take a frog at room temperature and drop it into hot water, the frog will jump right back out as quickly as it can. However, if you put the frog into a pot of tap water and then gradually heat the water, the frog will just enjoy the nice wet environment and think nothing of it … until it is cooked.

“Eew, gross”, you say, or maybe, “How cruel”. OK, gross or cruel it may be, but it is just a story to illustrate a point. And the point is … drum roll …

When we believe everything is good and we do not need to change, reality eventually bites. No matter how subtle, we still need to pay attention to change in our life and do something about it.

Read more about creating positive change in life

Bullying (22): How organizations can stop bullying

Drawing of a workplaceWhen individuals bully at work, the problem is not as severe as when the organization has a culture that supports bullying. The organization as a bystander can choose to be a defender, protect victims and create a cooperative atmosphere, or to be a major supporter of bullies and increase the problem. Unlike the kids who are bystanders at school, organizational bystanders suffer from the bullying directly through loss of productivity and money.

This chapter includes many tips to help the organization condemn, stop and prevent bullying. Each tip here can make a huge impact on someone’s life and has the potential to stop the bullying cycle – victims feeling powerless and bullying others to regain their power, causing their victims to bully others to regain power and so on.

When I was 15, I had a very special teacher who supervised our school’s student council. He was a very devoted teacher and we felt he really cared for us. One day, I asked him, “Reuben, why do you do this? Why do you work so hard to empower us?”

He said, “If I convince 5 of you to make a change and each of you convinces another 5 who will convince another 5 each, eventually, we will have a better world!”

I am spreading his words. If you are part of an organization, particularly in a leadership position, and you help condemn, stop and prevent bullying towards one person, you will make a difference in the lives of their partner, their children, their grand children, and their great-grand children for generations to come.

We need strong and courageous people to put a stop to this cycle. If we stop one bully and then one more bully, we can gradually change the world. I believe this with all my heart.

Read more about how to stop workplace bullying