Living Well

May 29, 2010

Having Fun with our Children and Youth (and Living Well)

I have to confess, I wasn’t a good “player” with my own children as they were growing up.  I was too busy doing what most fathers tend to do in their thirties….focus on earning money, providing for one’s family, and establishing a place in the organization so he can climb the corporate ladder.  It is a time for a lot of men of ongoing justification for not taking time to play…to just remind everyone that they have to earn their way in the world…there is, thus, no time for actually having fun with our children.  The many men who live with this same philosophy as I did are really not helping teach children to live a blessed, balanced, less stressful life…one that has joy in it and helps them learn to live well.    

 Now I am a grandfather and learning how to play.  I am thankful that I have learned it early and not late in my journey.  So I have been thinking about playing and involving myself in my grandchildren’s lives.  In this blog I am simply brainstorming 100 (and more!) ways to be actively involved in the lives of children (and youth) for the purpose of being present with them and helping them to live well while they are young and open to the adventures of life.

The following list is merely my brainstorming some activities that we might enjoy together with children and youth.  Children and youth need adults in their lives as mentors and role models.  This list is not by any means all-inclusive, but you will see with a little imagination, you can add to the activities that will be meaningful to you and a child or youth.  The items cover a range of ages and types of relationships, including mentoring.  Experiencing these together will help them grow into response—able adults because of the potential dialogue and teaching that may come from the shared activities.  I haven’t completed the list myself, but have been playing more and more.  Try them….have fun…and allow them to slow your pace on the corporate ladder as you gain a perspective on what matters in life!

  1. Set mentoring goals together with the child that you are working with.
  2. Undertake career planning or life planning with a young person you mentor.
  3. Converse about what it takes to succeed in life, from character to personal appearance.
  4. Write thank you notes together to people you agree are doing good in your community.
  5. Spend time talking about personal values.
  6. Take time for listening to this young person’s dreams and hopes.
  7. Visit a college, technical school or place of education together to see what the future might provide for the student or just to experience a college campus.
  8. Share about the importance of relationships.
  9. Talk together about the need for balancing all aspects of life.
  10. Talk and learn together about finances.
  11. Discuss the opportunities for networking.  Set a plan for planting and cultivating a network of people.
  12. Take this young person to your workplace.  Share with them what is needed for success in your profession and in life; how to balance them both.
  13. Go to the public library together, just to think about what is available in the learning housed there.
  14. Learn new aspects of computer language and application together.  While the young person may be able to teach you shortcuts or software techniques, you may share about the computer’s relevance to the work world.
  15. Introduce the young person to your friends or be a part of some activity with them.
  16. Talk about living with financial stewardship.
  17. Discuss together the pitfalls of living above personal income level.
  18. Role-play a job interview.
  19. Create or develop a resume.
  20. Visit a museum or historic site and discuss the legacies we have from the individuals honored.
  21. Include the young person in a business luncheon.
  22. Work on a community project together.
  23. Discuss the need for philanthropic attitudes.
  24. Share your personal story of volunteerism in your own community.  Relate why you are actively involved in civic opportunities.
  25. Help this young person find employment that matches their abilities.
  26. Talk about the responsible use of credit cards.
  27. Develop a fitness plan together.
  28. Exercise together.
  29. Talk about healthy life choices.
  30. Help them locate health and life insurance.
  31. Share what you may have learned from a tragedy or difficult time in your life.
  32. Talk about each other’s favorite music and why you like its style, artists and presentation.
  33. Learn a new sport together.
  34. Go to an art museum.
  35. Sip tea or lemonade in a park as you just talk about life.
  36. Design and build something together.
  37. Repair some kind of equipment together.
  38. Take a trip to a new place for both of you.
  39. Go to a movie that appeals to the young person.
  40. Take the young person to a movie that appeals to you.
  41. Together watch a PBS special of some educational value.
  42. Discuss current events, whether locally, nationally, or internationally.  Share together your ideas of why these things occur, how you might solve conflicts or what might be the benefit that comes from these events.
  43. Go camping or hike a wilderness trail.
  44. Make a meal together.
  45. Visit a nursing home several times a year.
  46. Attend church together.
  47. Read a favorite book or new release together and dialogue about it.
  48. Take this young person to a friend’s work site.
  49. Discuss the latest trends in business, fashion, music or culture.
  50. Learn about politics together.
  51. Play on the swing set.
  52. Tumble down a grass-covered hill.
  53. Volunteer to work with a political campaign.
  54. Fund raise for a worthy community agency.  Do a telethon or canvass a neighborhood.
  55. Develop a business plan for a dream company or enterprise.  Share this plan for critique with your local chapter of SCORE (Society of Corporate Officers and Retired Executives).
  56. Visit a friend or family member in the hospital.
  57. Talk about taxes.
  58. Set up an internship in line with the pupil’s abilities.
  59. Lie in the grass and visualize shapes in the clouds as they pass by.
  60. Play blocks together.
  61. Set up an internship that will stretch the young person in new ways.
  62. Attend a community lecture or forum.
  63. Go to the ballet or opera.
  64. Go shopping together for a friend.
  65. Discuss the issues of relationships in marriage.
  66. Talk about the responsibilities of parenting.
  67. Discuss the importance of personal accountability for actions and decisions.
  68. Talk about your own inevitable death and your plans for this event.
  69. Together attend a funeral or wake.
  70. Study a historic figure together.
  71. Talk about building self-esteem and the barriers the pupil encounters in having a healthy picture of themselves.
  72. Talk about prejudice and stereotyping.
  73. Attend a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration together.
  74. Learn together about gender issues.
  75. Volunteer to work with a Hospice Patient.
  76. Discuss sexual responsibility, such as fidelity, integrity and commitment.
  77. Play board games that involve strategy, like Chess.
  78. Play board games just for fun.
  79. Challenge each other with cross word puzzles.
  80. Have the young person write a paper on some topic of leadership or mentoring.  Serve as a teacher in how well the paper communicates an idea, as well as the grammar used.
  81. Color pictures in a coloring book.
  82. Have the young person give a speech.
  83. Get down on the floor and play with the toys the child likes.
  84. Plant a garden together.
  85. Discuss the virtues of patience and persistence.
  86. Visit a farm to talk about planting, tending and the legacy of the earth.
  87. Learn about environmental issues.
  88. Attend an ethnic festival.
  89. Learn a second language together.
  90. Talk about your generation and what their generation expects.
  91. Tell each other clean jokes.
  92. Spend an evening eating popcorn and watching Three Stooges or Little Rascals videos.
  93. Work on building a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  94. Pick up litter in a section of town that needs it.
  95. Let the young person order for everyone at your table while attending a restaurant.
  96. Help someone elderly, disabled or disadvantaged to work around their property.
  97. Take cookies to the neighbors.
  98. Attend a professional sporting event.
  99. Drive around your city, county or region and discuss the heritage and history expressed in its culture.
  100. Purchase, wrap and deliver Christmas presents to a child enrolled in Prison Fellowship’s Project Angel Tree.
  101. Visit a courtroom trial.
  102. Visit a jail or penitentiary to share with inmates (always check with the local authorities in these matters).
  103. Attend an outdoor symphony.
  104. Volunteer time at a children’s home.
  105. Let the young person drive in the driveway of your home.
  106. Go to a carnival or fair.
  107. Pay a young person for chores around the house.
  108. Help the young person open a bank account.
  109. Collect clothing for someone who has lost his or her possessions in a fire.
  110. Work in a soup kitchen on a Holiday.
  111. Try an ethnic food or restaurant in your region.
  112. Wash evening dinner dishes together.
  113. Collaborate on writing an article about leadership or mentoring for possible publication in a newspaper or magazine.
  114. Discuss what it means to be a servant leader and whether it is a real possibility or just a great hope.
  115. Play video games together.
  116. Discuss what real success truly is.
  117. Work on a plan concerning management of time that promotes a balanced lifestyle.
  118. Sing songs together.
  119. Pray together.
  120. Rake leaves in the fall.
  121. Go swimming.
  122. Make S’mores at a campfire in your back yard.
  123. Camp in your backyard in a tent.
  124. Get a pet and make the young person responsible for its care.
  125. Teach the young person to drive.
  126. Play badminton.
  127. Jump rope.
  128. Play basketball together.
  129. Blow bubbles with gum or soap.
  130. Play “I Spy,” a game where one person picks an object and announces, “I see something blue.”  The other person needs to guess what it is until the object is located.
  131. Tell stories with the young person filling in the blanks, such as, “There was a little girl named ______.”  Let the young person put in the name.
  132. Do this until you have a whole story.
  133. Let the young person make up stories to tell you.

Open your mind to all the possibilities of sharing, talking, playing, and living fully together with a child or young person.  Help the next generation to live well by sharing your life now.

Blessings, grace and peace for the days to come.

David Neidert


February 21, 2010

What Does Your Name Mean?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 7:23 pm
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What is in a name?  The ancient Egyptians believed that the name of a person carried their essence, the quality of their personality.  Wisdom literature tells us that names are important.  Choosing names for children still sells thousands of books a year.  Many people carefully determine a child’s name not just on the basis of how it sounds, but what it means or the legacy of someone they want to honor in this new life.

When my wife and I named our children, we were very specific about them.  Our oldest is Sarah, who is princess because she was a gift; a princess to us.  Our son is David Benjamin.  The Benjamin was more my doing than my wife’s decision.  She wanted Jonathan, but I was studying Hebrew at the time…David (the beloved) Benjamin (son of the right hand).  Since we would have two children then…a boy and girl…these were important names for us.  We wanted to name them not just out of the air, but with tags that would travel with them over a lifetime.

Names are important as identifiers, but they also precede us and carry identifying qualities.  Marketers know that brand names are important because most people will buy something without delving into comparative quality simply based on the name and the reputation that goes along with it.  Marketers are banking on that association of name and purchase. 

People of history are also summed up in their names.  Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and others carry their histories in their names.  Rosa Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Florence Nightingale and JFK (initials only!) carry their histories, too.  We feel something about these names. These identifiers elicit emotion and a reaction just by uttering them.

So, what does your name convey?  What goes along with this identifier that is tagged to you?  The Hebrew word for name refers to our reputation. Our names reveal our reputation.  When people think of you and your name, what goes along with it?  Do their experiences with you bring delight, fond memories, laughter, a sense of character or trustworthiness when they hear your name?   Or does hearing your name cause people to roll their eyes, whisper to others behind cupped hands, or distrust whatever might be said by you?

Proverbs of the Old Testament says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”  If we carry a good name, people will recall us—even in some distant time when we are no longer alive—with admiration and respect.  But if your name carries all that is unpleasant you will be labeled with distain regardless of what you thought about yourself (and it will last beyond your ability to make any changes to that perception).

“Your reputation precedes you” is a great movie line.  But it is a line that could be spoken every day when people met you.  What do you want to go ahead of you?  What do you want people to believe about you when they hear your name?  You can craft this in how you live every day.  If you want your name to be filled with integrity, character, delight, and a host of other identifiers you can choose to build that reputation by how you act in every encounter.

Silver and gold come and go; we know that in today’s economy.  Wealth is gained, lost, spent, and forgotten over generations.  But your name, your reputation, will be the record in someone’s memory of who you were and what you contributed to life.  What do you want your name to carry with it both now and into the future?  You can choose to create that legacy today; and it is a choice.

Blessings to you as you craft a reputation of joy, encouragement, and living well through the tag of your name.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 17, 2010

Behaviors Good Anywhere in the World

Filed under: Personal Leadership,personal mission — dlneidert @ 11:43 am
Tags: , , , ,

There are a gargantuan number of behaviors that are illegal.  It is easy to create a list of illegal behaviors, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, or theft.  If you were pressed, you could add to this list a host of additional violations, like espionage, fraud, abuse, or trafficking.  We might have a list of hundreds we could pen if we were given enough time.  But were you aware that the legal canon of the United States has over 260 volumes?  Additionally, there are over 16 volumes of IRS codes and 168 volumes of Supreme Court decisions.  Can it be any wonder there are so many lawyers (625,000 at my last check) for defending or litigating regulations?  Now, add to this international law and the laws of other lands.  And if you think those international laws don’t matter, read the fine print of your Passport which in essence says you are bound by the laws of the country you are traveling in.

There are behaviors, though, against which there are no laws, as the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians.  Personally adhering to these attitudes of the heart could actually make life more fulfilling and transforming.  Living with integrity, honesty, sound speech, gentleness, self control and others keeps us within boundaries that seek the best for all involved.  These attitudes, when lived out, do not intend to harm but rejoice in the good we can experience as human beings.  These behaviors not only enrich us, but they also invite others to measure themselves against universal principles of excellence.

I know we live in a social structure that tells us we have personal rights and no one can tell us how to live or act.  We make life relative to our own situation….our behaviors are determined by our decisions and what feels right to us.  But as a student of ancient wisdom, I know that some of the greatest literature in the world for 3,000 years tells us that personal character is not a license to freely live, but to live free.  These ancient voices beckon us to live nobly, civilly, and with self-control.  Living well means incorporating these universal principles of attitude and character against which there are no laws.  Living with a high sense of character not only has benefit now in how we live, but is replicated in the lives of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and the communities in which we live.

I am not naïve to believe there should not be laws.  They are essential for bringing some balance of justice in the world, as well as protection when necessary.  However, I do believe that the plea of ancient writers to live with universal principles of excellence could change most, if not all, of our personal, corporate, community, and societal relationships.  I have personally been told while traveling internationally by my hosts that I have a “heart for their land and people.”  While I do read extensively about cultures, customs, and history of the lands I visit before I travel, I also just try to live universal principles that command the highest good from me.  The combination of these two behaviors allow me to have a heart for all those I will encounter during my travel.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would unfold if we personally—and collectively—began living to the cadence of these ancient voices of civility and nobility?

In the blogs ahead, I will explore a number of character attitudes and behaviors that I believe can change us and infuse our relationships with hope, peace, grace, and living well.  Blessings for this day.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

January 19, 2010

An Invitation

Filed under: Uncategorized — dlneidert @ 1:12 am
Tags: , , , ,

Living well.  That is an ancient invitation.  Living well considers all life’s journey.  It sees life as a whole made up of our experiences, what we learn, and who we are becoming.  Living well means to live wholly.  My hope is that you will find words of wisdom in these posts; ideas and challenges that will help you live well, to live with purpose and intention.  That is my invitation….I hope you accept!

In the time ahead, I hope you will discover encouraging words and wisdom in the posts.  These are all things I have wrestled with and have found purpose in.  I do intentionally try to live well–wholly–every day.

There is a lot of frustration in the world and a lot of opinions.  My aim in these posts is to provide you materials that work…I know they work because I have trained thousands of people in them over the years, from civic organizations to the university classroom.  I hope you will try to live well through the comments and the suggestions made.

I am also looking forward to hearing from you.  What are your testimonials?  How have you tried living wholly?  Life is not for spectators.  It asks us to get engaged every day.  I hope you will live it well in whatever time you have been given.

So, here we go.  Blessings for each day of your life.

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