A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Kick the Ends Out

As a man beginning the second half of his life, and as the father of young children, I’ve come face to face with the fact that some of the things I’ve been led to believe and live simply aren’t true. A couple of concepts have become a part of our culture in the last century and it’s time to call them what they are: Irresponsible.

Both adolescence and retirement have become twisted bookends on what should be a responsible and productive life. They make living a lot like preparing porridge for Goldilocks. This one is too young. This one is too old. You can’t be trusted with responsibility and freedom unless your age is juuuust right.

…we view young people through a lens that didn’t exist back then – adolescence – a relatively modern invention that establishes teen years as a moratorium on responsibility and prolongs childhood indefinitely. When a young man is passive and irresponsible, he greatly limits his freedoms, opportunities, and successes.

Stephen & Alex Kendrick, The Resolution for Men

My son will be 11 years old soon. I’m faced with the fact that in five years, he could be learning to drive a car. In ten years, he could be ready to be completely out from under my care and guidance. How can I guarantee that he’ll be ready for these challenges, and so much more? By having vision, and remembering the big goal when it comes to his life. I’m raising a young man, not an older boy.

Adolescence tells us that we need to protect our growing children from the risks and dangers of life before they’re ready for them. The problem is, that as we add more and more things to the ‘unacceptable risk’ pile, we necessarily cut our children off from the opportunities and rewards that come with those risks. Our spirit of fear keeps them from achieving their full potential. Our young men and women are capable of so much more, and we should be encouraging them and guiding them to assess and accept risks.

In addition to paying the bills, funding education, paying down debt, we also have the stress of squeezing out the funds to maximize our pension plans so we can quit working as early as possible. In reality, retirement is a twentieth-century phenomenon that has added stress to our lives. And it starts early.

Russ Crosson, The Truth About Money Lies

In 24 years, I will be 65 years old. That’s become a magic number in our society. Retirement. When you get there, you’ve worked long enough. You’ve paid your dues. It’s time to slow down and enjoy the good life. That’s what we’re told.

I don’t understand that. You’ve spent decades amassing skills and knowledge about your field. You’ve created a network of people whose expertise you can call on. All of that doesn’t become obsolete just because you’ve turned a certain age. What does the “good life” have that makes it worth leaving all of that investment behind?

This is a rejection of long-term vision and responsibility. Don’t spend every day struggling at a job that you don’t even like because they pay is great and you can quit sooner. Look further than that. Your time is limited and your life is worth more. Seek out work that fills you with purpose, and it will offer you more life than the “good life” of retirement could ever weakly prop up.

George Washington was appointed an official surveyor at the age of 17, and was paid well for it.

Colonel Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken national chain after opening the first store at the age of 65.

Don’t let the ends of life go to waste. Kick out the stops. Raise your children to be responsible risk takers early. Look to your future with purpose and a plan. Start strong, finish stronger.

Questions: Do you think adolescence is good for children? How are you encouraging your kids to be more responsible? Are you planning to retire some day? Do you have a plan for those remaining years?

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question

Sometimes when I’m listening to Dave Ramsey’s show as I’m working through my day, one of his listeners will ask him about his reading list or what books he recommends. I’m always looking to expand my own reading list, so I take notes. QBQ! by John G. Miller is one of the many books he’s spoken about on more than one occasion.

QBQ! is about personal accountability. Miller believes that one of the most powerful and effective things we can do to improve our organizations and lives is to stop asking the wrong questions when we encounter a problem. Our questions usually focus outwards and on affixing blame, rather than inwards and on resolving the problem. According to Miller, the easiest way to change that is follow a few simple rules when forming your questions, thus turning them into better Questions Behind the original, and more negative Question (QBQ).

To form a  QBQ:

  1. Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or “Who”).
  2. Contain an “I” (not “they,” “them,” “we,” or “you”).
  3. Focus on an action.

So instead of asking:

“When is that department going to do it’s job?”
“Why doesn’t he communicate better?”
“Who dropped the ball?”

we should be asking ourselves:

“What solution can I provide?”
“How can I better understand him?”
“What actions can I take to ‘own’ this situation?”

The result moves us away from victim thinking, procrastinating and the cycle of blame. There are always going to be obstacles to success that are outside of our control. We can’t change that. Turning my focus inwards puts the responsibility and power over the situation back on me. Making a solution my goal gives me a course of action I can take, and action is almost always a better choice than inaction.

  • Action, even when it leads to mistakes, brings learning and growth. Inaction brings stagnation and atrophy.
  • Action leads towards solutions. Inaction at best does nothing and holds us in the past.
  • Action requires courage. Inaction often indicates fear.
  • Action builds confidence. Inaction, doubt.

Now, if you are longing for a long treatise on the ins and outs of personal responsibility, (waves hand) this is not the book you are looking for. QBQ clocks in at 115 pages, and there’s still plenty of room for notes in the margins. I read it twice in my spare time over one weekend, and I wasn’t skimming. It’d be great for the plane ride between Phoenix Sky Harbor and LAX.

What I’m trying to say is that the book is short.

However, that means it’s easy to return to on a regular basis. QBQ! has a positive and important message and can be applied to most aspects of your daily life. I recommend picking it up.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Read and Reviewed, Work and Money | , , , , , | 1 Comment