Every Day Dad-the Guide to Become a Better Father


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Every Day Dad-the Guide to Become a Better Father

  1. 1. SCOTT HAMMOND2 Every Day Dad: The Guide to Becoming a Better Father WRITTEN BY SCOTT HAMMOND Copyright © Scott Hammond, 2010. All rights reserved. ISBN: 978-1450-5366-46 Notice of Rights All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the publishers and copyright owner. Limit of Liability / Disclaimer of Warranty While the author and publisher have used their best efforts in preparing this publication; they make no representations of warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of its contents and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the author nor publisher shall be liable for the use or non-use of the information contained herein. The fact that a website or organization is referred to in this publication as a citation and/or potential source of further information does not mean that the author or publisher endorses the information that the website or organization may provide or recommendations it may make. The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this publication via the Internet, or via any other means, without the permission of the publisher, is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
  2. 2. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 3 “Scott Hammond empowers Dads to step up and overcome the negative influences in their lives. Read it. Live it. It’ll help you become the man your children will forever be proud to call ‘Dad.’” — Richard Paris Borough, Ph.D. ”If you want to leave a positive, lasting legacy for your family, read this book. Scott’s straight forward style gives you the tools you need to succeed. As one whose life was shaped by an awesome dad, I know how powerful these truths are!” — Glenna Salsbury, CSP, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Professional Speaker and Author of The Art of the Fresh Start and Heavenly Treasures ”Children benefit the most by having two involved parents — not just mom. This book will help all dads step up, have fun, and enjoy their role as a parent.” — Marjorie Brody, CSP, PCC, CPAE, Founder & CEO, BRODY Professional Development ”Some dads are so busy taking care of business that we forget to take care of our families. In this wonderful, heartwarming book, Scott shows you how to apply those great business skills to being a fantastic father. A must-read, and the sooner the better.” — Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Proud Father ”We are a society in crisis and the root cause is parenting. This book will give you great tools to become a better parent and a better person at the same time.” — Larry Winget, Television Personality and New York Times Bestselling Author, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide For Raising Responsible, Productive Adults ”For every man who wants to have more impact and influence on a daily basis with the people who matter most in his life.” — Mark LeBlanc, Author of Never Be The Same and Growing Your Business!
  3. 3. SCOTT HAMMOND4 “It’s about time! What a wonderful concept and hats off to you, Scott Hammond, for bringing the extremely important, long overdue issue of fatherhood to the forefront. With shifting roles, two working parents, and changes in the world at warp-speed, we need fathers more than ever to help the women in the world with our shared bundles of joy. To enjoy the laughter, joys, tears, and milestones, there couldn’t be a more important role for the men of this day and age and for the children of tomorrow!” — Karen Simmons, CEO, Founder, Autism Today “Modern fathers have a tough job. They have to be powerful at work, share the responsibilities at home, and be a loving attentive role model. The news headlines tell us what happens when men do not understand “The Business of Fathering”. Scott Hammond gives you the guide.” — Patricia Fripp, Past President, National Speakers Association “Fathering is a business that you do not want to fail in. Some men are great leaders in their business and not so great at home as a Father. Scott has written a great book here to help Dads become successful in that important business as well”...” — Dr. Keith M. Jowers, Founder, Dads 4 Life, Inc “With so many families at peril, this book is needed right now. I strongly recommend it. No matter what kind of a father you are, you will be empowered by this book to become a better father.” — Dr. Alan Zimmerman, Speaker, Author “As a father, football coach, and mentor, I am blown away by the invaluable resource Scott Hammond has delivered in this book.” — Chris T. Vitale World Class Football Coach “My kids wish I had read this book many years ago - but heck, it wasn’t even written way back then. Do your kids a favor (before they become adults) and read Every Day Dad.” — Michael Benidt Speaker, Consultant
  4. 4. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 5 “These days most careers require four-year college degrees. Training to become a medical doctor requires years of medical school, internships, and residency. Government heavily regulates licensure of those who wish to offer any type of personal service. However, two people who are old enough to procreate (too young to drive, in many cases) can make a baby. Unfortunately, children do not come into the world with a set of instructions clutched in their tiny hands. Scott Hammond provides great insights into what it really takes to be a dad — a father. This book is a must read for any man with or contemplating having children.” — Michael Roby Speaker, Trainer, Author, Consultant “When I became a father, several decades ago, I wanted to be the best I could be. After all, that’s what I wanted to do in all the (work) jobs I had. There was no book on all that it takes. Now comes along Scott Hammond’s book with lessons that, with effort (yes, it requires EFFORT) puts fatherhood in excellent perspective for your success.” — Jim Tunney, Ed.D Author, Educator, Former NFL Referee “Scott Hammond’s book, Every Day Dad, is an encyclopedia for being a Dad. He understands the business of being a Dad and he communicates it extremely well. This book is a must for every Dad.” — D.J.Young, www.Wisdom4Dads.com “An inspiring story of renewal and introspection, this book will make you think deeper and on a more meaningful level about one’s purpose in life.” — Dr. Nido Qubein, President, High Point University Chairman, Great Harvest Bread Co. “Become the dad your kids will look up to and the father your boys will strive to become themselves. A must read for any dad.” — Stacy Tetschner, Author Windows Into Heaven: Stories Celebrating Down Syndrome
  5. 5. SCOTT HAMMOND6 “Scott Hammond blends practical advice with expert storytelling on one of the most important (and often overlooked) issues of the day: Being a better father. By combing practical advice on how to accomplish one’s goals with down-to earth insights on what it means to be called “Dad,” he shows the “every man” that he doesn’t need to be a “super man” to be a fantastic father. If all men man read this book before deciding to have children, I am not exaggerating when I say our world would be a better place.” — Scott “Q” Marcus, Speaker and Recovering Perfectionist “Scott has hit the jackpot! Where else can you find 35 useful, realistic strategies to help you solve a problem which has plagued all fathers since we left the cave? Thank you, Scott, for a practical, workable tool to help us better respond as fathers to the world around us, both on a global level and in our own homes.” — Gary Minor, JD Executive Director, 21st Century Leadership Institute and Executive Coach
  6. 6. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 7 Dedications: To my wife, sister, friend & lover, Joni Hammond – without which I would not be a father 9 times! And to my father, Bob Hammond, (1921-2004) who taught me the value of the love for God, nature, and people by his kindness and grateful heart. Acknowledgements: A big thank you to Jesus of Nazareth, Joni Hammond; Bob Hammond; The Hammond Kids (all 9); Scott “Q” Marcus; Dr. Richard Borough; Liz Casey; Yvette Troyna; Barbra Browning; Chris Crouch and the GO System; Mark Smith; Rev. Scotty Miller; Michael Lee; Rebecca Kimbel; Ron Pileggi; Shannon Stoltz; Kathy Ortiz; Amy Miller; Toastmasters Intl.; National Speakers Association; Business Networking International; … and many more friends, loved ones, and colleagues who’ve invested their lives in me and formed life-long relationships. I am truly a blessed man. I love you all. Scott Hammond
  7. 7. SCOTT HAMMOND8 Table of Contents DEDICATIONS: ................................................................................................................................7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:.................................................................................................................7 TABLE OF CONTENTS.......................................................................................................................8 FOREWORD.....................................................................................................................................9 UPDATED FORWARD FROM SCOTT.............................................................................................10 PREFACE........................................................................................................................................11 CHAPTER 1 PROBLEMS/DYSFUNCTION — GOT ISSUES?..........................................................12 CHAPTER 2 STRESS/ ANGER — GOT ATTITUDE?........................................................................17 CHAPTER 3 LIFE CRISIS — GOT PROBLEMS?.............................................................................29 CHAPTER 4 CHANGE — GOT TRANSITION?..............................................................................40 CHAPTER 5 BE PRESENT NOW — GOT A MINUTE?...................................................................46 CHAPTER 6 VISION AND MISSION — GOT PURPOSE?.............................................................54 CHAPTER 7 GOAL SETTING — GOT A PLAN?...........................................................................61 CHAPTER 8 TIME MANAGEMENT — GOT THE TIME?................................................................68 CHAPTER 9 LEGACY — GOT A PLANNED HERITAGE?.............................................................74 CHAPTER 10 SPIRITUAL LEGACY — GOT GOD?.......................................................................81 CHAPTER 11 COMMUNICATION — GOT THE WORDS?...........................................................91 CHAPTER 12 MARRIAGE — GOT A SOUL MATE?...................................................................102 CHAPTER 13 PARENTING — GOT THE GOODS?.....................................................................112 CHAPTER 14 RELATIONSHIPS — GOT A FRIEND?....................................................................122 CHAPTER 15 LIVE A GREAT LIFE — GOT A CLUE?..................................................................132 APPENDIX A................................................................................................................................136 APPENDIX B................................................................................................................................138 EPILOGUE...................................................................................................................................144
  8. 8. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 9 This book is about hope, renewal, and Life Renaissance — about what is possible. I’m writing this as a result of loss, death, and personal depression, all of which have resulted in a personal Midlife Renewal and Renaissance. The deaths of my father, Bob Hammond, and my friend, Dan Gunderson, caused me to think about how I live my life and what kind of legacy I am leaving behind for my children, wife, and friends. The deaths of two people very close to me made me realize the fragility and temporal nature of our existence. Life really does go by quickly and must be cherished and relished. My love for God, people, and especially parents and families has resulted in this work. It presents the possibility of incremental, practical, and a workable personal healing and change. It also presents methods for getting back on track as both a parent and as a person of value. My goal is to help people avoid a midlife crisis and, instead, have a Midlife Renewal and Life Renaissance — a restoration of hope. I’ve made great effort to avoid being glib, trite, or theoretical. Rather, I offer realistic, practical solutions, and strategies to live life on purpose and with passion. This book is about the ability to do the desires of your life, to live life on purpose with intentionality. This is about practicality and giving you the tools to take compelling action as you move forward. This book will help you: • Have pride in your life, marriage, and family as you define them. • Discover satisfaction as a person. • Find hope, by helping you create a workable life and plan for living with purpose, joy, and wisdom. • Save you time, energy, hassle, and money by being direct and compelling in content. My hope is that the content that I present here will result in an incremental, workable, personal parenting/life plan that will enable you to leave a positive and lasting legacy. This will require of you a willingness to be incremental, honest, and courageous. You will need to persevere as you break through into your own Renewal/ Life Renaissance. I pray that your personal passion in leaving a living legacy through your relationships results in an awesome heritage to all whom you ever know and love. May this book’s content be a signpost along your way. God bless you on your Hero’s Journey. Scott Hammond, FO-9 www.BecomeaBetterFather.com McKinleyville California Foreword
  9. 9. SCOTT HAMMOND10 Updated forward from Scott In order to help dads and all parents more joyfully participate in family life, we revised and polished this new edition. This newest edition is chock full of new ideas, content, and laid out in a more user friendly format, sure to be visually pleasing. In hopes of helping all parents and grandparents, we made the type and formatting larger to make it an easier read, especially for those on the go. Most of us are so busy that an “easy read” is more apt to grab and keep our attention as opposed to some thick and arduous book which requires more than we can give on the fly. To this end we give you Every Day Dad Edition. It is a complete encyclopedia for all parents who want to get better at their parenting game, joyfully participate in family, and take their parenting skills from Good to Great to Absolutely Awesome. Enjoy and become a better parent—Everyday. Warmly, Scott Hammond
  10. 10. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 11 Imagine, if you will, writing a full-length book with less than 30 minutes a day and being interrupted by kids, life, and poopy diapers. Seems like as soon as I am in a writing groove, I am interrupted for the 17th time with a crisis, poopy diaper, or other distraction guaranteed to throw me off-track. When I write about focus and time management it is because I have paid my dues and have lived what I write! This has been my odyssey in attempting to write the “Great American Novel-¬Bestseller.” The core of my motivation and intentionality is to tell my story and share what I have learned about fathering and how you can leverage good business acumen to be more fully engaged as a dad. The 3 takeaways of this book are simple: • Know exactly what you want, • Clearly put it on paper and to top of mind awareness, • Really DO your intentions with appropriate accountability. Sounds easy doesn’t it? My passion to “expertise” myself in the Fathering field and to grow my speaking business as a result came from the discovery of my real passion: my family. It is through this key passion-discovery that I have found my “voice” and have been compelled to tell my story via the written word. Undaunted by interruptions and life happening all around me, I have finished my work and hope you will find your voice and the ability to joyfully participate as the father of your family. Everyone loves a good deal, so we decided to give you a three for one when you bought this book. Why buy three books when one will do? Here are the benefits: Three distinct sections cover all specific topics so you can start wherever you feel is appropriate. Just start where you wish: • Dysfunction/Life Challenges • Goal Setting/Vision/Planning • Relationship Development/Leaving a Legacy Pick up or start where you want and when you want. The choice is all yours. You will not get “out of order” or miss something key. You can simply pick back up where you left off or start a new section. This is by intention. I wrote this book under pressure with my attention spans curtailed by life and its practical demands. It really is like having three books in one and they all work together to help you become that proud parent you want to be. We all want to take pride in our families and give ourselves to them in a consistently compelling way. It is my hope this book will offer you the tools to go forward in the journey we call life. Scott Hammond, www.BecomeaBetterFather.com www.EveryDayDad.com Preface
  11. 11. SCOTT HAMMOND12 DYSFUNCTION, PROBLEMS, CHALLENGES, AND ISSUES OF FATHERING “Because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.” –Unknown WHAT: Fathers are in crisis of purpose, character, and being equipped as dads. SO WHAT: Awareness of this “Fathering Epidemic” and its results. NOW WHAT: Learning to apply quick-relief practice, application, and implementation of proven parenting solutions. Name the three great examples of fathers in current culture. But, here’s a trick: you can’t say Bill Cosby or the guy on the show Father Knows Best. Go ahead, we’re waiting. Can’t seem to find three? How come? Where have all the good dads gone? What is it with us guys? We can build societies, cities, economies, entire countries, but we can’t build relationships? What’s up with the dads? As I see it, dads are in trouble. Fathers are an Endangered Species! Everything assaults us: society, work, appetites, pressures, time management, busyness, etc. We have no training, no schools, and no classes on how to be an effective father. Men are dropped into Fatherhood without a clue, a plan, or a prayer! Secrets to Effective Fathers Men tend to be great planners, movers, shakers, project managers, people managers, but we are often horrid at building relationships with those we love. Why is that? Men can run businesses and governments, and even societies, but we often lack at running a family. The family, our wife and children, often get the leftovers of our minds, bodies, and emotions at the end of the day. Several of the reasons, the issues, problems, and challenges that men face are part of what we call modern life. For empire builders and government runners too many of the skills in our toolbox begin with the prefix ‘poor’: • Poor time management skills — being too busy and not managing time well enough. • Workaholism, perfectionism, poor skill sets with fathering. • Poor fathering examples — no fathermentors to speak of. Buying, owning, and maintaining too many possessions and having “stuff” plus a thousand other distractions — including low-priority activities such as: computer, TV, gaming, hobbies, sports, and illicit activities — all vie to drain our time, attention, and energy so that, at the end of the day, we have little enough to invest where it counts: our family. When men get stuck, they never ask for directions. How can we possibly admit weakness, vulnerability, or just being generally lost? This all makes for a very sad situation. Dads are not picking and living their priorities. Dads get lost, and they never ask for help. CHAPTER 1
  12. 12. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 13 Slumping Fathers Webster’s defines the word “slump” as “to drop or sag heavily”. What do Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds have in common? They’ve both experienced slumps in their crafts. (Especially Tiger as I write this.) You are likely either coming into or going out of a parenting slump. We all have them. Webster’s defines the term dysfunction as “Possessing or having an unhealthy response or approach to life challenges or issues…” Research is very clear. The American family and fathers in particular are in trouble. For example, Pop’s Culture survey of U.S. fathers shows that over 91% of families are dysfunctional. There is a “father-absence” crisis in the United States today according to the 2004 Fathering Attitudes Survey: • 43% of marriages dissolve within 15 years and 60% of divorcing couples have kids. • The average dad spends only 10 minutes a day with their kids. • Over 50% of all parents feel guilty for not spending more time with their children. Dads are in trouble; 91% of us suffer from various internal dysfunctions, responses, behaviors, and practices. What is your primary area of dysfunction — that thing you never think or talk about? And don’t make the mistake by instantly going on the defensive and denying there is an issue, you’d be lying to yourself. This book is not about blame, it’s about answers. Top Mistakes Parents Make Not Making Family as #1 Priority. Dads fail at keeping family relationships at the top of life’s priorities. They fail in identifying and making their wives and children the focus of their life and existence. The benefit and responsibility of having and raising a family is self-evident. The joy and the hard work of nurturing a solid family with contributing members is one of life’s true joys in that it adds richness and meaning to our existence. No Alignment With What You Want And What You Actually Do. Dads lack time management skills, and reacting to what’s urgent is not quite the same as really living and investing your resources (time, money, focus, gifts, and life units) in family life and relationships which really matter. We allow the perceived urgency of life and emergencies to really squeeze our time, energy, and focus. We allow the urgent to dominate the truly necessary. No Accountability or Responsibility. Answering to no one. Not arranging for someone to hold you accountable and ask you the hard questions about living and fathering priorities and the demands made upon you by family means that you are setting yourself up to fail. Without checks, controls, and balances, you cannot spot blind spots before they become gross errors and, by then, it is too late. Failure and Stress. Failure, stress, pain, discomfort, hurts, wounds, problems, challenges, obstacles, and so much more. The list sounds horrific and I know from experience that most dads have them all and many more in abundance.
  13. 13. SCOTT HAMMOND14 Money Start With The Provider Role: The Bread Winner. All parents, and fathers in particular, feel the pressure, stress, and angst of being the sole or primary provider. Continuous stress and pressure to make a living despite inflation and increasing energy prices can be a real source of stress for any parent. Financial struggles are the number one cause for divorce. All the studies on divorce indicate money problems are definitely a root of all marital evil. There are more scriptures in the Bible about money and the handling of resources than anything else. There are literally hundreds of scriptures dealing with money and wealth; more than any other Biblical subject by a long shot. Parents — especially fathers, given their longterm dysfunction in financial matters — can truly grow tired, exhausted, stressed out, and burnt out, exhibiting a spirit of defeat and exhaustion. That’s just the money provider part of being a dad. And, unless it’s managed properly, it takes its toll. Many dads are not living lives of congruity and balance. As dads, we forget to live our priorities and we lose our way. If you ask most fathers, they will tell you they wish for more hours to accomplish all of what needs done including personal priorities which never get addressed for lack of time, money and fatigue. This means that things are continually so out-ofwhack that the common obstacles, roadblocks, and challenges of life can really tip us over. Life issues, problems, challenges, and trials are all part of the package. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has said we are either coming into or coming out of life challenges. Challenges are a part of life. Period. The trouble is, many times challenges come in rapid succession, often in groups of three. Dads get buffeted from all sides. Over long periods of time, the hurt and stress can result in tangible life pathology and actual illness. Real life problems and ways of dealing with its challenges manifest in tangible and dysfunctional behaviors such as anger issues, depression, and other anti-social behaviors. This discomfort turns to pain, which turns to hurt, which turns to long-term deep wounds. TRUE STORY: BEN AND JERRY’S THERAPY This is a true story. We had just had our seventh child, Gabriel, when it happened: depression. My wife had been in bed rest for the last 30 days of the pregnancy with Gabe and things were really stressful. I was doing it all with all my good intended heart. It was not enough. Gabriel was born with Down syndrome and we were lost in an uncharted world of special needs and barely maintaining our own composure in survival mode. This is that mode where you simply exist and try to do the next thing in your long list of responsibilities as dad, husband, and provider. One night I found myself at 10:00 pm in the kitchen, burnt out and completely whipped, carving out and leveling craters with a spoon in a half gallon of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream tub! With spoon in hand and a blank stare in my eyes I went after the frozen nectar with a vengeance. It was then, as I carefully carved and rounded the edges in order to keep level the precious prize, that I realized my plight.
  14. 14. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 15 I was in shutdown, survivor-man mode. Everything in my world was out of control. I understood my hurt and poor response, and how I was reacting to my family and circumstance. Something had to give or I would simply snap. I was angry, frustrated, and not my usual chipper self. Pessimism ruled the day and negativity the night. That night was pivotal because something clicked. I knew that I could not keep going like that and unless I sought help from loved ones and those who could help us process and get through the difficult time I was in, I would not get through it. It was here when faith, friends, God, and good process helped me get whole again. I learned a valuable lesson: I can be severely hurt and not know or see it. We need help as fathers just to see, admit, and cope with the reality of our situation and plight. Many of these wounds have to do with the sheer leanness of spirit which ongoing stress, prolonged burnout, sleep deprivation, and sheer physical and emotional exhaustion can cause. The personal challenges, problems, and hardships that life deals up simply augment and add to this overarching dysfunction. The concept or vision of living life with congruity, balance, and centeredness becomes distant; even unimaginable to many people in this paradigm. When we are not living our values, we reflect this disconnect and become disconsolate as a result. This non-parity in our lives adds to the downward spiral of our own personal dysfunction and failure. We become selfcondemning and our self-image suffers which then causes a self-perpetuating downward spiral into deeper and more serious problems. This is a core challenge for fathers to overcome as it can lead to sickness and disease of the body, soul, and spirit, and even death. What is the answer? I think it’d be way more poignant and relevant to ask, what are the questions? What Causes “Father Failure”? Dads have no real Strategic Parenting Plan with a schedule, measurement criteria, and accountability. They lack the resources to get a decent result from their fathering investment. They also suffer from poor follow-through or not enough follow-up in their efforts at parenting effectively. Many dads are poorly organized, have poor planning, or poor time management, and they get caught up in the Tyranny of the Urgent vs. the truly necessary. Poor communication skills in speaking and listening combined with laziness, apathy, and denial all play a part in lackluster parenting. A Plan Of Action In other words, what we need, as dads, is a plan of action — a Strategic Parenting Plan, if you will — which will enable us to cope. Dads require job clarity to know and function in our roles as well. Dads need fathering accountability to themselves, their families, the community, and God. This really leads to the questions: Is it possible to cultivate a culture of celebration and learn how to have fun at home? Can we learn to recognize and strive for success with great vigor and consistency on the home front and still make it a fun and even joyful experience?
  15. 15. SCOTT HAMMOND16 The answer is YES. By being dedicated to a consistent course of methodical action which aligns us with our values, we can bypass the parenting failure so prevalent in our culture. ACTION POINTS FOR COMMITTED FATHERS • Recognize and consider your parental failures. What are 3 you can work on? • Identify what has to change: who, what, where, when, why, and how? • What is working? How can you leverage your strengths and resources? • Talk to your children about how you are doing as a parent. What ways you can work together to be more intentional in planning time together? • Make contact with a parent-mentor who has good parenting skills; what works? • Talk with your spouse about any marital tension and challenges you are facing. • What can you change in your role as a healthy person, spouse, and parent? • What are your top three parenting challenges today? What will you do to overcome them? A Personal Strategic Planner (a $50.00 value) to get you started is available for free as my gift to you at my website: www.BecomeaBetterFather.com/planner.
  16. 16. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 17 CHAPTER 2 STRESS, ANGER, AND DEPRESSION “If you don’t have health, then what do you have?” — Unknown WHAT: Stress is the silent killer of dads and fathering. SO WHAT: Awareness of the “Fathering Stress Epidemic”. NOW WHAT: Apply quantum leap proven stress reduction solutions. Stress is the modern day Black plague. It is viral and it is ubiquitous. You could say that it’s sometimes slippery, hard to identify, subtle, or cunning, but it is not understated. Stress is blatant and we all know about it. It is often the elephant in the room of life. Stress is an inevitable part of the human condition, and despite all the bad press over the last decade, stress has its redeeming qualities. Stress can be a motivator, helping us to prepare properly for that upcoming exam or important business meeting. Stress helps us to stay focused on an issue demanding our immediate attention. While stress is normal, and it can even be beneficial in the very short term, if not properly recognized and managed, persistent, high levels of stress, especially emotional stress, can lead to both physical and emotional problems. Medical researchers have linked stress to hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, and many other physical ailments. In addition, chronic, persistent stress and tension can interfere with our emotional wellness, leading to persistent worry, irritability, and even depression. Stress becomes a problem when we fail to recognize unhealthy levels of stress and ignore our bodies’ warning signs. It is important for us therefore to identify the types of stress we face. External Stress External stress is caused by something tangible and real. It can be brought on by something as dramatic as someone trying to physically hurt you or by something as simple as watching a disturbing television program. Marriage, low self-esteem, career change, or having a baby, are all good examples of external stress. In other words, there is a valid reason for the stress. However, you can control your response to the cause of the stress. You can respond by conscious choice to external stress by employing behavioral strategies such as exercise, walking, counseling, healthy diversion and more. Internal Stress Internal stress can be generated by your own concerns about external stressors and life situations. It is self-imposed stress; you only experience the stress if you choose to. Internal stress is based on your emotional response to external events. Normal, everyday stress can bring on body symptoms — racing heart, dizziness, trembling, anxiety attacks, and other problems. The anxiety-prone individual will experience internally generated stress on top of an already uncomfortable external situation. We engage in self-talk like, “What’s wrong with me? Am I going to faint? What if I lose control and do something stupid and embarrass myself? I’m so dumb? Why did I let this happen?” It is often internal stress that gets dads into trouble. It’s from this internally generated anxiety that we get obsessive and carried away, scaring ourselves with untrue thoughts and imagined scenarios,
  17. 17. SCOTT HAMMOND18 which only add to our worries. Most of what we negatively imagine never actually happens and studies confirm this. This is the reality of an anxiety suffer. Anxiety disorders commonly include: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Negative Self Speak Negative self-talk is not helpful. In our minds we are all prone to creating false scenarios in which negative outcomes dominate. We can learn from the Masters in sports, business, and art. They are masters of rehearsing in their minds their positive outcomes in the art or sport which they are engaged in. Think of a P.G.A. golfer or an N.B.A. player setting up for their next shot. They imagine the optimum outcomes and literally see them happen in their minds. They do it so precisely and with such great intent that they leave no room for doubt in their minds. This is the positive use of the gift of imagination and it can be leveraged by us who suffer from “the sky is falling” syndrome. We needn’t always imagine the worst. We have terrible crystal balls and most of what we negatively imagine actually never happens. It has been studied and the numbers reveal that 98% of the negativity we anticipate never actually occurs. We sometimes live in imagined fear that rarely manifests. None of this negative thinking is necessarily created by conscious choice. People are trained and indoctrinated from childhood toward a negative way of thinking. We don’t always realize that we are doing it. Simply telling someone that they are doing it is not enough. These thoughts that they have are not “untrue”assuch.Thoughtshavethepowertobecomereality.It’sbeenprovenbypsychology.Thoughts are what create reality down to every little detail of one’s life. These thoughts are not untrue. They are very much true and that’s why people continue to have them and they, in turn, manifest themselves into unwanted aspects of life in physical form by way of circumstances and bodily ailments. They think these thoughts and they lead to even more thoughts like the original ones which are then generated and feelings get all bottled up in there, then manifestation happens. The human mind is a powerful tool capable of affecting us both positively and negatively. How Stress Affects your Mind and Body Here’s a thing about stress you need to bear in mind. The basis of your stress is usually temporary. The physical effects however are far longer lasting in their impact. This means that the longer you are stressed, the longer your physical reaction to the stress remains activated. Extended stress can alter the body’s immune system in ways that are detrimental. Stress is even associated with premature aging. Feelings of despair that accompany extended stress can easily worsen and become chronic depression. This in turn can put you at greater risk for heart disease, obesity, kidney dysfunction, and other problems. Stress can even complicate your ability to recover from a serious illness. Stress management training is a proven method for helping people combat the effects of stress and is even used to speed up patient recovery following a heart attack. When you deal with stress effectively, it is a worthwhile effort; even if you already consider yourself capable of handling anything life sends your way, it’s important to recognize and effectively manage your stress. This means that in order to do this we need to see just how it is manifested and how we can recognize it.
  18. 18. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 19 How Stress Manifests People suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, and other disorders related to external and internal stress often complain of the following: • Strong anxiety episodes/racing heart • Chest discomfort and trembling. • Nausea • Hot and cold flashes • Feelings of unreality and disorientation • Dizziness • Scary and uncontrollable thoughts • Panic episodes • Muscle tension • Migraine headaches • Numbness in various parts of the body • Strange aches and pains • Apprehensions about dying, illness, etc… • Depression • Fatigue • Feelings of helplessness • Extremely analytical thinking and/or obsessing • Low self-esteem • Perfectionist tendencies • Inner anxiety • Obsessive behaviors • Guilt ridden thoughts • Emotional Hypersensitivity • Hypochondria • Worry/Angst • Unrealistic expectations What’s The Worst Kind Of Stress? The most harmful form of stress is not the result of a major life crisis, the death of a spouse, divorce or the loss of a job — as once believed. What scientists now theorize is the chronic, uncontrolled low- level tension caused by our responses to the pressures and irritations of everyday life ARE far more dangerous. For example, difficulties at work, home, school, finances, deadlines, and more are all examples of on-going, low-level stress inducers. Each little frustration that occurs throughout the day speeds the heart rate, dilates the pupils, and floods the bloodstream with powerful hormones. In the long term, this uncontrolled low-level tension forces the body to go into overdrive, sapping energy and damaging physical and emotional health. Our immune systems eventually suffer as a result and this decreases the body’s ability to fight diseases, infections, and allergies. The good news is that our responses to a given situation determine whether we are feeling stressed or not. Stress is not something external, but a product of the mind and therefore something that each of us can control. Before WWII the concept of Stress as it relates to a mental condition did not exist. The
  19. 19. SCOTT HAMMOND20 common conception of being “stressed out” was not existent. While we have a lot of control over the kinds of thoughts we think and our responses to life’s events, we can’t zlways control every aspect of stress we experience. Stress is immediate and lightning fast. It comes on us in a split second. What we can do is pay more attention and take steps to eliminate our knee-jerk responses. We can control our responses to life, but for that to happen we need to be intentional and purposeful and disciplined. Anger, anxiety, stress, depression, and incapacitation all add up to poor mental health for much of our society, especially for parents and, in particular, dads. Managing this stress takes a reasonable plan that’s realistic, incremental, methodical, and sequential. Time and space are often limited in people’s lives for digging into the source of depression, anxiety, and anger. Many of us have developed issues in these areas and require help to overcome the problems and gain more healthy living. We really do need a plan to deal with stress. Work, Stress, and Marriage Stress is contagious. In this age of high expectations and long work hours, it’s easy for a man to bring his worries and frustrations home and spread them all over the household. A dad might treat his family like his boss treats him, which can be very destructive. Or some men might start resenting their family responsibilities, and expect to just relax on the sofa when they get home. Of course, that’s an insult to their wives, since they have stresses of their own after a day corralling the kids or working somewhere else. So the question here really is what can we do? There are some techniques designed to help you out here and we need to detail them for the sake of clarity. First, recognize the value of “decompression time.” Take some time in the car or in your first few minutes home to adjust your frame of mind. Exercise, read the newspaper, shower, or change clothes. After a few minutes alone, you can shift gears and be ready for family time. Second, keep communicating even if it’s just about the stress you’re facing. It’s easy for a spouse to feel like she’s going through the stressful work situation with her husband. But if she is informed about your work situation and she believes in the value of the work you’re doing, that will be a positive factor. Communicating will help both of you to stay aware of the stresses each is involved in, and can make you both more forgiving when one of you is in a bad mood as a result. Third, realize that sometimes bigger steps are necessary. If you’re stressed out or are blaming your family for your tension, or if there’s a growing distance between you and your wife, it may be time to start thinking about a job change. Have a heart-to-heart about your true values and priorities and reach a decision which will better suit you and your needs. Looking for a less stressful, more flexible position may cause more stress for a while, but you know you’re doing it for the right reasons. Even if the new position pays less, that’s an adjustment that most families can make. And isn’t your marriage worth it? You know, there are a lot of divorced men and fathers right now still working in high-stress jobs who regret not making changes sooner to try to save their families. As a father you owe it to yourself to not
  20. 20. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 21 let a stressful job slowly erode the foundations of your marriage and family. Take steps to protect it, starting today. So, what’s the plan? — What you can do about stress today: 1. Identify the causes of stress in your life; you may find those stresses which arise from something that’s relatively easy to correct. 2. Monitor your moods; If you feel stressed during the day, write down what is causing it along with your thoughts and feelings. Again, you may find the cause to be less serious than you at first thought. 3. Take time for yourself at least two or three times per week; even 15 minutes per day of personal time can help you freshen your mental outlook and slow down your body’s stress response systems. Turn off the phone, spend time alone in your room, go for a walk, exercise, or meditate to your favorite music. All of these are good ways to take time for you. 4. Walk away when you’re angry, before you react. Take time to mentally regroup by counting to 10. Then, look at the situation again. Walking or other physical activity will also help you work off steam and give you a new perspective. 5. Analyze your schedule; assess your priorities and delegate whatever tasks you can. Eliminate tasks and projects that are low priority. Separate the urgent from the necessary. 6. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others; don’t expect perfection. You are not perfect. Others are not perfect. Do yourself a favor and stop trying to be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Join the human race. Get on the bus and drink the Kool-Aid with the rest of us bozos. Dysfunction and How to Deal With it Many of us get stuck in dysfunctional patterns of acting and being. Much of it is dictated by the fact that we simply give up and let go. We give into our moods, tiredness, burnout, and stress. We get snarky and we stop caring how we are impacting on those around us. We sometimes just quit. When we get stressed the tendency we feel is fight or flight. We tend to want to give up when faced with persistent stress and challenges in life. Sometimes the “fight” is a good thing in that at least you are still engaged, vested, and are continuing to make an effort. If you are still “fighting” you are at least still engaged and vested in the outcome. Let’s Fight Right! Many of us are comfortable fighting: literally, fighting. When the stress of life becomes too acute, many of us, seeking a way out for the stress we feel, begin to fight life and those around us. The resulting anger, abuse, and violence (both verbal and physical) become part of a chronic pattern of behavior which leads to a constant, low-burning anger inside us. Our level of anger often stems from childhood abuse, rage, and dysfunction often suffered at the hands of parents, siblings, or other guardians. The resulting mental and physical abuse from such a raging personality harms everyone around us. Personalities like this need help. They need to see the damage that they are causing to others. They need to own up to their anger and then be supported in methods for translating it, expressing it in a safe and healthy way, and letting it go. When we do not fight the only other alternative is flight and flight seems to be the choice of our culture today. People change relationships, marriages, churches, and jobs like changing clothes.
  21. 21. SCOTT HAMMOND22 Many people really live in a disposable society as far as relationships are concerned. We are far too ready to bail out of circumstances and relationships we deem too hard or too challenging. Many of us are comfortable walking away from a family, a relationship, or even a marriage. These all become disposable and interchangeable in a culture of relational dysfunction and chaos. Many of us are in the early stages of the above described dysfunction and have the opportunity not to repeat mistakes or become anything like the above. We simply need to assess honestly where we are, reach out for help, and really make incremental and sequential changes in our life responses. Our being stuck in poor ways of response can take many forms such as poor time management, burnout, light or severe depression, poor sleep, poor health habits, ‘stinking thinking’, and general malaise. There is too much pressure on parents to allow ourselves to get sidetracked from health and well-being, get stuck in a depressive rut, or become disqualified from life on any level. Healthy living has to do with healthy goal setting and strategic planning. Got (healthy) Goals? We need to know where we want to go, who we want to be, and what we want to do before we know if we’re on the right track or not. We need to be fit, to exercise, receive proper nutrition and allow for quality rest so we can adequately recover. If our minds and bodies are not in reasonably good shape, how can we possibly enjoy healthy thinking or even healthy relationships? We must see that this disparity of discipline vs. reality of practice does not really add up. We are trained to do too much for too little and for way too long. The result is illness on a grand scale, physical, spiritual, and relational. To get past this, to overcome, we need to learn how to let small stuff go and surrender things that we cannot control so we can begin to focus on getting unstuck in our personal lives. We need to correctly manage our stress, both practically and realistically. This requires a Personal Strategic Plan: • Recuperating • Setting goals • Physical and mental fitness • Getting proper nutrition • Getting adequate sleep and rest • Practicing healthy thinking, • Time management • Drinking enough water • Practicing deep breathing • Taking walks • Creating small breaks during the day • Having fun on purpose • Breaking routines • Identifying and rooting out dysfunction and poor habits • Becoming intentional about goals and plans and a personal mission
  22. 22. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 23 Living And Thinking Healthy Everybody wants health and well-being, but few of us are willing to pay the price for it. Managing stress, anger, depression, anxiety and everyday life is a pretty steep task. When you consider all the components and pieces of life that we’re expected to stay on top of, we have a pretty complex society. Healthy living has to do with the whole self: Spirit, Body, Mind, and Soul. If any of these are out of whack, so are we. Other people are likely riding on your success and well-being. Why is it that it’s considered selfish to take care of yourself first in order to take care of those around you, especially in the long-term? What good are you to those you love if you have a stroke, heart disease, cancer, or mental illness? You cannot fail to plan in the long term and see the whole picture. You must take care of yourself. It’s all up to you. Plan Your Work And Work Your Plan. The Importance of Physical Activity Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. Physical activity also decreases the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It helps control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces falls among the elderly. Exercise helps relieve the pain of arthritis, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications. It really is that great. Why Fitness Is Important The following are other benefits associated with a good level of physical fitness: • Reduces stress and all of its health risks. • Allows you to do and accomplish more. • Builds lean muscle, which lowers your body fat percentage. • Reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. • Boosts your self-esteem in how you look; it increases your overall well-being. • Changes you from being an observer to becoming an active participant. • Provides motivation to stay consistent with diet and healthy eating goals. Fitness: Focus On The Big Three Cardio — Conditions your heart, lungs, and muscles to work stronger and longer. Cardio builds endurance and burns off calories. Strength training — Builds muscles and increases endurance. With leaner muscles, your body turns up the heat and burns fat much faster. Not only that, but when you’re stronger, you simply last longer and you get more out of your exercise sessions, thus burning even more calories. Stretching — Helps you to do your cardio and strength training safely and without pain. Loose muscles perform at a higher level and reduce the potential for injury.
  23. 23. SCOTT HAMMOND24 Physical Exercise In Mental Health Stress Relief A variety of studies over the last decade are focused on the effects of exercise on the mind. These results been remarkably similar in showing that exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety. It also can increase short-term memory and improve intellectual function. This means that including breaks during your day could lead to enhanced productivity, greater time efficiency, and increased ability to handle stress. Apparently more of these feel-good hormones help stimulate our bodies and gives us a natural high. Runners have reported this for years. It is high time the rest of us took advantage of this knowledge and did something which gave us the benefits we need. The following are some tips about starting and maintaining your own exercise program: Start with walking. Walking is free and easy. In addition to the mental health benefits, walking is a weight bearing exercise and it strengthens bone and burns fat. Running does the same. You must walk before you run…really. Look for a nearby fitness center or community pool and join it. Make a three time a week workout part of your personal schedule. Replace your Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunch with a one-hour workout. The point is scheduling it. Just do something - Even if it’s for 10 minutes. Use the 10 minute rule to get started: do 10 minutes of exercise, take a 10 minute break, and then do 10 more minutes of exercise. Get support - working with a personal trainer or friend who works out - This may provide the support you need to keep going. Develop a friendship around your workouts. Set exercise goals for yourself - Be sure the goals you set are realistic, measurable, and more importantly, attainable. Achieving a goal can make you feel better about yourself and give you the incentive to continue your efforts. Ways To Control Your Stress Whether it’s coping with a rapidly approaching deadline, adjusting to organizational changes at work, or dealing with a difficult co-worker, we can choose our responses. The challenges you face at work can seep into other parts of your life and the struggle, always, lies in compartmentalizing this. Unwinding and enjoying time with family and friends can be an antidote to work stress. What can you do about it right now? Use the energy produced by stress to solve the problem of stress itself. This is basically the strategy of turning around the problem and making it part of the solution. Developing a sense of control over your responses to stress means the difference between feeling anxious or competent. When the effects of stress begin to negatively impact your personal, family, or work life or cause those around you to express concern, it indicates that the tools you’ve been using to combat stress are insufficient. The guidelines which follow are designed to help you develop a personal stress-coping strategy.
  24. 24. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 25 33 GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR ABILITY TO MANAGE STRESS 1. Planning your action. If immediate action is impossible, ask yourself if there is something that you can do about it in the future? Write an action plan with a script and goals. Be sure to put this on paper. Any effort to make the problem manageable is useful stress management. Once you take care of the part you can control, you’ll feel more in control overall. 2. Letting go. If you’ve exhausted your options in the situation, relax and let it go — you’ve done all you can. You can train yourself to tune out stressful thoughts. Remember that obsessing over the outcome of your efforts is a waste of energy. Learn to let things go. 3. Living at ease. Decide if you want to be contented and avoid being constantly on edge. It’s much easier let go of minor disappointments and even major setbacks. It’s about verifying how you want to move on with your life and not place major emphasis on the minors of life. It’s all about not sweating the small stuff. Set goals for yourself, but also hold that vision of yourself approaching life in peace, acceptance, and joy. Don’t major on the minors! 4. Learning when to let go. Every day, you face plenty of stress that you can’t do anything about — from loud noises outside your window to the state of the economy or the coffee spilled on your new shirt. While it’s frustrating to accept that you cannot always call the shots, raging against the inevitable can take its toll on your system — not to mention the people around you. If you find it impossible to go with the flow, look at the evidence and make a pragmatic choice: Ask yourself: “Do I want to keep trying to control things that I can’t control and let it break down my body or ruin my relationships? Or am I going to let go of that and have a healthier, happier body and life?” 5. Keep hope alive. Shaking it off is not always the best option. Often our current situation is so stressful that we can become hopeless. Do what is necessary for you to keep hope alive when you may believe and feel and think otherwise. Pray, rest, get good counsel from trusted advisors — do, in short, whatever it takes to keep a healthy perspective. Many times we need just a good night’s sleep! 6. Take the long way home. Don’t race home from work. Stay in the slow lane and unwind a bit. Put some time between your office experience and the rest of your day. Pray, meditate, listen to soothing music, call the kids, whatever it takes to unwind and decompress before you get home. 7. Give yourself 15 minutes off. When you arrive home, the last thing you want to do is to dive into a new set of problems or challenges. Make an arrangement with your family and spouse that the first 15 minutes of you being at home is your downtime. Then, go to your cave, hot tub, garage, or wherever you can throw off your day and unwind. 8. Learn new time management skills. Find the most efficient ways to spend your time on the job and at home. Learning how to better manage your units of work and play time will make it easier for you confine your work problems to the office hours and create a separation between your family and home life from work and business. 9. Set goals for yourself. Understand what you want to accomplish to make your life worthwhile and meaningful to you. Plan your work and work your plan. Be intentional, methodical, and sequential in all that you do. “Fail to plan and plan to fail” as the experts say. 10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn what’s really important in your life and keep other problems in perspective. Is it really worth the time and worry and stress to let an irate boss or an unrealistic deadline infringe on your personal or home life? This isn’t to say you should ignore those problems — just deal with them at home or at work as appropriate. Don’t make the mistake of carrying over problems into the wrong venues. 11. Take time to relax. Take a deep breath and let go of tension after work. Read a book, watch a funny movie. Go for a quiet walk or choose whatever therapy works for you. Change your focus and you will soon find that stressful problems fade into the background.
  25. 25. SCOTT HAMMOND26 12. Watch your diet and exercise. Proper nutrition and regular exercise, coupled with adequate rest, will help you manage your stress better than just about anything else. 13. Get good rest; go to bed early. Get up early. Get started early and you might find that things just run smoother, because you are well rested and no longer running behind and constantly anxious. Your world will be easier if you are well rested and have enough energy to work and cope with your home life at the end of the workday. 14. Identify the causes of stress. Closely identify and evaluate the causes of stress in order to manage your stress more effectively. It’s important to identify those things that are causing stress and find ways to minimize or eliminate them. Identify, access, and then be incremental in the addressing of your stress “triggers”. 15. Identify the negative effects of stress. Just as important as identifying the source of your stress is being able to identify the negative effects of stress on your body and life. Take inventory of how you are feeling. Do you have fatigue, insomnia, headaches, back pain, nausea, worry, anxiety, fear, depression, irritability, increased eating, or other symptoms? If so, make note of them. Make a vow to reduce your stress as much as possible. 16. Practice the following anti-stress tips. Try deep breathing in a quiet place where you can close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly for a few minutes at a time. Try breathing in and out for a count of five seconds, and then do it for ten seconds. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothes and shoes; let your body breathe. Practice simple stretches several times per day. Take your breaks and enjoy them. Walk outside. Read something non-work- related. 17. Have a laugh. Look for the humor in stressful situations. Laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and eases mental tension. Researchers find that laughter can also reduce our levels of hormones and diminish stress responses that suppress immunity. 18. Communicate artfully. Although many people avoid conflicts, it’s better to express your feelings and openly discuss the situation. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to others in your environment. Take a few minutes to talk with someone in your workplace or home and to be willing to communicate first. 19. Make realistic plans. Think ahead and adjust your plans and try to avoid triggers of stress such as overbooking your day, too closely booking appointments, and generally maintaining a crazy schedule. 20. Get a miracle massage. Ask a friend or spouse or hire someone. Massage slows down the heart rate and relaxes the body. Massage actually increases alertness and well-being. Treat yourself. You may find that you are even relaxed prior to the massage because just the anticipation of getting the massage can be soothing. 21. Count to 10. It’s good to acknowledge your anger. But, cool down before you yell, rant, or rave. Venting your anger impulsively or keeping it inside increases stress and all of the physical symptoms that can lead to illness and early death. 22. Enlist the help of your friends. Friends can be good medicine. Daily conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of our thoughts and feelings can reduce stress quite nicely. Your friends are there for you; talking to them helps them de-stress too. 23. Accept that nobody’s perfect. Don’t demand absolute perfection of yourself or others. Set realistic and attainable goals. While there are some areas in your life that you’ll always want to keep to high standards, it’s a fact of life that sometimes we miss the mark. 24. Don’t procrastinate. Loose ends, whether with family, friends, or at work, can cause stress. Make a list of the things you have to do. If the list is too long, prioritize tasks that are most important. See if there’s anything on the list that can be dropped or delegated.
  26. 26. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 27 25. Make sure your values are in syncopation with your lifestyle. If your values are out of sync with your lifestyle, you may experience greater internal stress. A firm understanding of your own valueswhat is most important to you, lets you set priorities and manage time more effectively. 26. Avoid stress-promoting ways of thought and speech. Identify the ways in which you think yourself into higher stress levels, including catastrophic thinking, over generalizing, dichotomous thinking, and perfectionist thinking. Find ways to manage yourself out of these mental ruts. 27. Avoid big changes, whenever possible. Avoid having too many big life changes come in at the same time. In other words, is your daughter getting married at the same time that you planned to sell your house? Are you vying for a big promotion at work while caring for someone with Special Needs ? See if you can apply better scheduling tactics to lessen some of the demands on your time and comfort level. This foresight can save you lots of angst, stress, and anxiety. 28. Work on your marriage, friendships, and spirituality. Studies show that people who are satisfied with their marriages, friendships, and spiritual feelings are better at coping with stress and live more fulfilling lives. Research shows married people have a plethora of mental and emotional benefits including the ability of dealing with stress. 29. Eat three to six small, balanced meals per day. You’re much more susceptible to stress when you’re hungry and lethargic than when you’re wellnourished. Take nourishment and be well supplied in mind, body, and soul. 30. Decrease or discontinue the use of alcohol and caffeine. Drinking these substances to relieve stress often works in reverse. Turning to alcohol to reduce stress actually increases the amount of stress on the system. 31. Use your imagination. The mind’s ability to dream, visualize, and imagine is a very powerful stress reduction tool. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine situations as you want them to be. See the positive outcomes in your mind. Athletes use this power of imagination to picture themselves doing a routine perfectly before the competition begins. It works for reducing stress and living more pleasantly, too. 32. Learn to simplify your life and prioritize. We cannot do everything at once. Let go of some of the things that you tell yourself you must do. There are some tasks that do not really belong to you and others you need to learn to say “no” to. You can learn to prevent stress rather than just fight it by simplifying your life. 33. Get to know God. Really dig in and get to know what it means to have faith and trust in God and his plan for you. Become more of a God-oriented person and find out what it means to really let go, trust, and live in true mental peace. Tips for Dads What will you do to recognize your own personal dysfunction and become intentional as to what needs to change in your life? How will you increase your life fitness to deal better with stress? How can you increase your mental fitness? Fun? Mental discipline? • QUIET breaks and rest. • Walks. Go outside. Go Inside. • Close the door. Time out. • Forgive with intentionality. • Really release it and forget it. Move on… • Let it go. Stop your mind from negatively replaying what you cannot control. • Move along. Look to the next thing. Get over yourself. • Operate from the concept of a universe of abundance. There is more than enough for everyone.
  27. 27. SCOTT HAMMOND28 • Relax at work. Take a daily walk. • Breathe deep. Fill your lungs with air so that your stomach expands. Do this each hour. • Totally trust God and pray. Learn to reach out to God in personal prayer and really speak with Him. Tell Him how you feel. He can take it. • Take vacations. Schedule in advance, save the resources, plan with gusto, and just do it. • Stop the self-beatings. As you have the inevitable setbacks of life, simply resolve in advance to not add to the disappointment by adding self-deprecation of any type. Make it a point to stop negative self- talk. • Monitor and question moods and attitudes. Practice selfcontrol and be aware of your personal emotional cycles and weaknesses and adjust your perspective from there. Know yourself and adjust accordingly. • Surrender and accept what is. It is what it is…and it can be better if you are willing. ACTION POINTS FOR COMMITTED FATHERS • What specific result do you want regarding your own stress? • What are you doing now, and how are you being prevented from having that result? • How are you behaving when you are being stressed out? • Is that way of being or behaving giving you what you want? • How invested are you in finding acceptable ways of dealing with stress? • Are you willing to do the work? Pay the price? Take the steps?
  28. 28. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 29 CHAPTER 3 LIFE CRISIS “Do you like your pain, or are you ready for a change?” — Terg Furguson WHAT: Fathers are in crisis of life and experience. SO WHAT: How you can see and re-frame your crisis and know how to get help. NOW WHAT: Apply equipping tools and implement proven solutions to come through crisis better not bitter. TRUE STORY — MY 1ST DATE WITH DEPRESSION …it was April 2, 2004. I was standing in my kitchen staring down at the parquet floor; it was a late evening. The sun was setting in the west. Being a really optimistic guy it was really out of character for me to really be this down and dark. I hated my life! I had lost purpose, passion, meaning, and I’d lost my way. I was fed up at work, home, life, and myself. I was mad at everyone and God was next! I was probably in some measure of clinical depression. I went through a process to identify my personal dysfunction, get connected with my life purpose and meaning, and translated those passions to get back on track. Again, I got help with counseling, faith in God, and I connected to my passion like never before. I’ll share the evolution of how I got back on track and how you can, too. What Do you Find Satisfying in Life? Sometimes we don’t like our pain, dysfunction, and we want to change our priorities. So let me ask you a question. Pretend with me for a moment you’re up 50,000 feet in a jet airliner and the captain comes on and says, “Ladies and gentlemen. We have a problem; you have 30 seconds to dictate a message to a loved one- your meaning of life and what you find important. It will be saved in our black box for posterity. Ready… begin now!” • What would you write? • Who did you write to? • Are you living it now? • If not, why not? • What do you find satisfying? • What is really important? • And what is a waste? • Are you now doing what you find satisfying? If not, why not? We can identify our passion. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. What fills you up? What gives you meaning? What does it for you? What is that one thing for you? How does it feel to not be doing it? What is getting in your way? Why are you not effective in this area? Are you busy, lazy, or just procrastinating? We become lost, busy, confused. We live in the fog of war, and we fail to identify what’s truly important to us. We need to go to 50,000 feet and take a look at our lives. It’s easy to get off track living life,
  29. 29. SCOTT HAMMOND30 paying bills, raising a family. That which fills me up helps me to help and serve others. You cannot pour from an empty jar. We all have tried to help without the resources for ourselves or others. When I realized I didn’t like the pain and my path to dysfunction, and I could change, I did! You can, too! We all can! We can all identify and partake of that which gives us life. We need to be attentive to personal responsibility, positive attitude, accountability, and taking control to live an intentional life. We need a plan of action, goals, and intention to live a life on purpose. Once we connect with our passion, priorities, and purpose we will be happier, more joyful, and fulfilled. We can leave a heritage and a legacy for those we love. We can make a difference and live life on purpose! Hardship and Challenges Have you ever got that phone call? You know, that one that comes at 4 a.m. when you’re half- asleep. We have all received that phone call that informs you of some disaster or tragedy or loss of a loved one. We have all received that phone call at one time or another. Some of us have received several of these calls informing us of loss, death, cancer, sickness, or like tragedy. It’s what we do with the phone call, and how we respond, that will define us going forward. Obstacles, hardships and challenges are part of life. To say that they shouldn’t be is silly. They just are. I got one of those calls when my Father Bob Hammond died in 2004… My brother Jeff called one morning at 6:30 and simply stated: “Dad is dead.” This shook me to the bone. I was close to my father who had modeled such a compelling love and life. It took me 18 months to finally process his death in a bed of tears and snot. I finally broke down one night as I was tucking in my two young sons into bed. I came out of the bedroom a new man—much better for the grief I had just processed. My 16 year old daughter saw and asked me if I was OK-- to which I replied: “Really never better!” The human condition of weakness and protection can hide itself for a long time. Our weaknesses are exposed when we encounter the helplessness, hopelessness, and with frustration during a life tragedy. Coming to the tipping point of really processing hurt is the key to the healing and wholeness we all want. Life tragedies take a variety of forms, such as cancer, death, depression, financial disaster, chronic sickness, divorce, and more. It’s how we move through these difficulties and challenges in tough times that define who we are and how we will deal with human weakness both in ourselves and in those who are victims of such tragedy. We’ve all felt the frustration and helplessness of not being able to help others. This frustration and hopelessness during times of tests, trials, tribulations, and troubles can take its own toll on us. Sometimes, we could or should be in a supporting role, but instead are dealing with our own reactions to the hardships around us. This internal response doubles the negative impact in dealing with hardship around us. We are so busy dealing with our own responses and reactions and emotions, but are not much use to those in need during times of loss. How can we not fall into this trap and build ourselves up with the reserve of strength for hard times? It starts with being real, honest, transparent, genuine and human.
  30. 30. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 31 To get in touch with our humanity and to admit our weaknesses and imperfections is the biggest key to moving forward and surviving hardship and thriving on the backside. We can just gut it out or we can contrive a new approach for the next obstacle in roadblock or challenge that comes our way. Whatwoulditmeantohavefullreserves,courage,boldness,andstrengthandenduranceinemotional, spiritual, physical energy? As opposed to simply getting out of your next obstacle or hurdle in life, what if you had a full tank of “life gas” and were able to overcome in the midst of total tragedy? What if you were the one who was strong and able to offer strength and hope and faith to those around you who were melting down in the “Tyranny of Tragedy”? Could you conceive of yourself being the one who offers courage and boldness and endurance to both yourself and those around you during an otherwise tragic event? Hardship And Opportunity Not living our core values result in a life disconnect, which makes us dull, apathetic, and results in merely existing. The challenges of hardships, problems, and life’s trials present new opportunities for personal transformation if we will let them. Personal transformation requires an openness to evolve and change. To reconnect to life values require several things of us: • Surrender • Acceptance • Letting go of control • Being in the moment • Being honest with ourselves and others, and God • Being truly open to change • Being intentional Connecting to core values and developing a life vision requires intentionality plus work, faith, and hope for something better in the future than what we are currently experiencing. We all get stuck in life, and the key here is honesty, soul-searching, reflection, and then a determination to move forward, let go, and move on into personal renewal and Personal Renaissance. Can you go with the flow, be in the moment, surrender, and release control, whilst developing a new intentionality that connects to what you’re truly passionate about? It’s not easy, but it’s well worth it and it can bring a healing and restoration long-overdue. Rediscovering Passion The idea here is to reconnect with your life purpose, to look for and find your gifts, skills and the things that make life fun. You are designed with gifts that are to be used for the betterment of those around you. The hard thing is we often have to hit bottom, some of us harder than others, to look up. Hitting bottom then becomes a good thing. Problems become opportunities for change. Difficulties become challenges for growth. Challenges, problems, and hardships can all be catalysts for positive personal change.
  31. 31. SCOTT HAMMOND32 This is the tipping point. Can you identify your passion and really connect to your passion in a way that is compelling for you and those who benefit from your passion? This connection to your gifts and talents and passions is the door through which we can pass and come out not only better but with a compelling life message for others. You have a voice and a unique experience which, if given a voice, can transform your hearers forever. You can reach people who are literally “dying to hear your message.” The Progression Of Stress We get stressed out, angry, and then depressed. We become down in the dumps, frustrated, stuck, and find ourselves in no-win scenarios. In comes guilt, feelings of failure, seething anger…whether overt or covert. Then comes the overt anger, rage, malice, and slander. We wake up one day with the full realization of our imperfection. If we get stuck in this state, we are screwed. This hitting bottom is the tipping point, if it allows the connection with our imperfection to become a catalyst for rediscovery of passion, purpose, and meaning in life. Therefore imperfections become our friends. Our lack is a tool for learning. Our guilt is an opportunity for growth. Our depression is an opportunity for discovery and a Midlife Renaissance. We have to decide to frame life and see it accordingly. It is a choice of perception. Connecting to our hurts and wounds in honesty and authenticity is the key to healing. This takes genuine authenticity and honesty with ourselves and others. It requires complete disclosure and ownership of our issues, problems, and poor responses. Moreover, this all requires a singular grace to forgive ourselves, others, and the world. If we can show our wounds and share our hurt, and others can do the same, then there is an authentic connection and the possibility of healing. There is then a genuine camaraderie and fellowship which builds lasting relationship. The will to overcome and to choose to hope is the key. Moving Forward, We Need A Plan. There is no quick fix here. The mere realization or your issues is not a panacea or a microwave solution to years of dysfunction. We need a new guide, a Life Plan, if you will, to guide us going forward. A Strategic Life Plan needs to be incremental, habitual, sequential, and one day at a time. A Life Plan executed with consistency and discipline can open the door to reconnect to passion, joy, life, healing, help, and hope. Midlife renewal and relocating or rediscovering passion and purpose can lead to complete life restoration, a Midlife Renaissance. Discovering a Midlife Renaissance or simply having fun again become a possibility. How do we choose to get unstuck, back on track, and reconnected to ourselves, God, and those around us. How we get through a midlife crisis? What does it look like? What are obstacles that can lead to the discovery of midlife imperfections, to pain, and wrong responses?
  32. 32. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 33 TRUE STORY….GABRIEL HAMMOND’S BIRTH This is our true and heartfelt story of turning pain into passion. This is a true story of our beloved son, Gabriel Hammond. It all started with the ultrasound at the local Mad River Community Hospital. The ultrasound revealed the possibility of Down syndrome. Gabe (our unborn son) had a one in three chance of having the condition. Did he or didn’t he? That question haunted us until Gabe’s birth. My wife Joni was assigned a month’s bed rest and then gave birth to a mostly-healthy baby boy. Joni and Gabe were flown overnight to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where Gabriel was to have surgery to correct an intestinal blockage. After the surgery, both mother and son were fine. The two-dollar question was did Gabriel have Down syndrome? Meeting with the doctor, she told us that yes, Gabe did have Down syndrome and that we had less than one year left in our marriage. Her point was that parents of special-needs kids have huge marital challenges. The doctor was not very delicate in the way she told us. What a great nugget to drop on a couple in such a vulnerable time! No one prepares you for the disappointment, loss, fear, and many of life’s potentials forfeited when you learn that you have a baby who has Down syndrome. The feelings of new parents of kids with Down run from anger to depression to frustration to resignation. It is like the six phases of grieving. It feels a bit like a death within the context of birth in that it is a death of a vision. A parental hope and dream of what could have been most likely will not be now with this new twist of having a “special need”. It is a feeling, ultimately, of being lost in a world of unpredictability and not having a map of where you are going. This is truly “uncharted water”. That feeling of fear and sense of loss will be forever ingrained in my heart and mind. We knew nothing of Down syndrome or specialneeds kids. To this point, we’d had six healthy children and had never met anyone with Down syndrome or any similar disability. As we learned that our Gabriel had Down, we really had to dig deep and see if we could find the upside of Down syndrome. But, fear ruled the day. Who is our boy? What will he be when he grows up? Can he play football? Will he go to college? Will he be “normal”? Will he get married? Will he have children? Will he have to undergo heart surgery? These and other questions raced through our minds as we try set about discovering who it was we were dealing with and what his needs would be going forward. The initial sense of being lost without a compass or any bearings is truly an emotion to which words cannot do justice. When advised of our Gabriel’s condition, the well-meaning but blunt doctor told us that most special-needs parents divorce within the first few years. Well, she just added to our devastation. On a subsequent trip back to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, years later, that sense of being lost is what I remembered the most. That sense of not knowing what to do, where to go, or who to turn to, other than God. We made the decision to learn to love and raise Gabriel and come to terms with what, or rather who, we were given. How did we move forward? What were the metrics of measuring progress with Down Syndrome? What will Gabe’s needs be? How different will he be? How can we get help and resources? What
  33. 33. SCOTT HAMMOND34 about school? The darkness, disbelief, and doubt that swirl around new parents, who discover their child has Down syndrome or any other lifealtering disease, birth defect, or condition, are real and profoundly devastating. Not having a map or a compass to consult, not knowing which steps are needed is truly a frightening, debilitating process. Faith in God becomes paramount at the moment and going forward. It’s a hard thing to realize and come to grips with the disappointment of a loss of a child diagnosed with something as long term and lifechanging as Down syndrome. Down syndrome is not “cute” as some blithely observe. Kids with Down syndrome, while they are special, are still a challenge, especially for the parents upon first discovering their own child’s special needs. The unknown twists and turns, trials, stress, surprises, fears, and heartbreak are all part of what it means to be a special needs parent. The ensuing questions, heartbreak, prayer, and walks around the UC Davis campus, crying out to God, will always be etched in my memory. After days of genuine soul searching, I decided to dedicate Gabriel (and our raising him) to the Lord. Although he would never be a professional football hero or a brain surgeon, his life would be both personally fulfilling and enriching to those around him. We were ready to move on and raise our son no matter what! The shame, embarrassment, and guilt that parents of children with special needs share is one of life’s dirty-little-secrets. Although not rational, logical, or reasonable, these feelings are very tangible. The feelings of sadness and gloom often come at unexpected, strange times. Perception is reality. The pain is real. In addition to this we discovered Gabe had autism as well. This was a family shock to say the least. Now our son had a double challenge…so did we. The times of reality hitting home when the Costco gawkers stared at us and our son Gabe only served to remind us of our frustration, pain, and anguish. Every so often, the reality check of Gabriel’s special needs of Down syndrome (and now, autism, as well) come crashing in on us. Gabe’s episodes of dysfunction or meltdowns pull us out of our times of denial, where we have to admit, acknowledge, and again decide to go forward as parents. We have learned to be honest with our feelings and with each other. We’ve chosen to redeem benefits from all the pain as a couple and as a family to achieve love regardless of the “return on investment”. The lessons learned have to do with my deciding to have the right perspective, attitude, actions, and behaviors. The decision to love unconditionally is ours alone. This unconditional love, stemming from the decision to love Gabriel, has transferred some of my pain into a long-term perspective which is surprising, refreshing, and very interesting.
  34. 34. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 35 The lessons we learned include: • There is no one-time fix. This is a longterm issue, challenge, battle, and journey requiring a long-term mentality and approach. • A positive mental attitude and my positive confessions are not enough to get me through. • There is no “Bible bullet “or quick fix that is adequate to address my pain. • Whereas Gabriel may have a disability of his intellect, there is none of his spirit. • His worth has very little to do with his intellect or ability to contribute to society. • Societal worth is indeed a relativistic concept. • We’ve learned to give without expecting anything in return and we will love him unconditionally. • We learned to love freely, regardless of the payback. • We learned to value all people. • We learned that everyone has special needs. Some of us just hide them better! • We learned to decide daily how and whom to love. My commitment as a father begins with loving my son and equipping him by helping him receive the best care, therapies, and care givers available. In every way I am compelled to maximize his potential. I also need to maximize my potential to love, accept, understand, and help Gabriel where possible. My commitment is also to help my family to love Gabriel, to be patient with him, and to see past his challenges and focus on his many positive attributes. My Mission Statement is this: “To personally and practically love, accept, and go forward in raising my son to his fullest potential with God’s help”. As I do this, I know that Gabriel has the potential to teach us to look for the things in life that are truly important. May I be as good a student as he is a teacher. This is the quintessential embodiment of learning to leverage hardship, pain, and loss. We Discovered: • Love is a decision couched in the seat of our will. It is not based on emotion or feelings only. Love is often a choice of the will and heart, a decision. We must learn to love by deciding to do so. • God values people and loves us unconditionally. This love can and should drive us to accept and love and care for those who are less able to care for themselves. • The essence of who we are is not necessarily what we add to society. Yes; it’s something much more. • A person may have special needs in their body or mind, but not their spirit. Who they are at the core of their essence remains untouched. This is what we should honor and recognize. • The potential of people with special needs cannot be determined by casual glance, report, a cursory evaluation, or even by those who know them best. Potential is hard to read, predict, and determine, but it can be determined through time and effort and getting to know, on a deep level, the person attempting to reach their potential. • We must give ourselves time. To come to terms with our grief, anger, or frustration, and then on the other side of all of that, to really love those in our world who are “specially-abled”. • Resourcing, supporting, and advocating. This requires caregivers to support, resource, and help provide for those who cannot provide for themselves. This takes time, initiative, and advocacy as we learn to provide for those close to us with special needs. The disappointment and hardship I’ve had to go through plus learning how to really love and support my son Gabriel has taught me on many levels what it means to be human and to accept unconditionally those who are different. I am learning to be present, be in the moment, and really enjoy my son for who he is, not who I think he should be, or who I expect or want him to be. I received Gabriel just as he is, and I’m learning from him the unconditional love that he elicits from others and
  35. 35. SCOTT HAMMOND36 shows to others as well. This unknown twist in our lives created a hardship which we leveraged into a blessing. All this would have been lost without the hardship it took to get there. There are so many people in our lives which we as a family would not have otherwise been able to associate without Gabriel’s presence. Gabriel, therefore, has touched and continues to touch many lives. We hope to more than resource Gabriel; we hope to learn to love him and others that he brings our way. Life doesn’t get much better than that! The hard stuff of life becomes the leveragable tipping point to new vistas of blessing! Thisisawaymorethanapositivementalattitude.We’retalkinglifeandmentalparadigmtransformation. It’s a “paradigm transplant. Are you up for it? The Art Of Possibility — Reframing Hardship We can change our paradigm and how we see life and how we perceive our challenges. This is the stuff of being heroic, brave, and fearless. This courageousness and boldness opens us up to the art of possibility. This is way beyond a positive attitude mentality. This requires commitment, a network, positive and energizing thoughts, community, and relationships. This doesn’t mean we hide our heads in the sand and we’re not honest with our emotions and feelings and humanity. What it does mean is that we are respectfully open to the possibility of hardship creating and preparing us for lifelong contributions to the betterment of our fellow men and women. The lessons learned and takeaways from hardship that are turned into gold are the stuff of profound living. We get away from the idea of mere survival to that of thriving in moving forward, as we get out of being stuck in life. Tragedy, frustration, and helplessness transform into hope, faith, confidence, and bold fearlessness as we face life head on with hope and faith and love. The real question is how to see hardships as blessings in disguise…Can you? What is the tipping point in which to gain new insights into lessons which turn pain into passion? This is way beyond positive mental attitude stuff. This requires fearlessness, boldness and courageousness. It requires encouragement, commitment and consistency of heart and purpose to leverage pain and hardship into bona fide and genuine life-giving ministry for others. It requires honesty, focus, and respect for yourself, others, and the process of going through hard times. How will you take your pain, imperfection, humanity, and wrong response and attitudes and leverage them into a newfound joy and midlife renaissance? How can we make hardship and difficulty blessings in disguise? What do we do to create a turning point in our attitude and with new eyes see how hardship can truly be a good thing our lives? Can you leverage your problems into life opportunities? It starts with the following: • Courage. We need courageousness, boldness, and fearlessness in our approach to life. • Positive attitude. We need to receive life’s lessons with an attitude of love, humility, and meekness, knowing that we are loved. Remember that what comes our way, provided we respond correctly, can be a blessing in disguise, no matter how difficult. • Consistency. We need to be constant, consistent, and committed to God, family, and being overcomers. Much rides on us; we have no room for whining, weakness, or being given over to failure. We need to have a warrior mentality that truly puts others before ourselves and understands all that is riding on our success.
  36. 36. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 37 • Paradigm transformation. We need to see hardship through new eyes of opportunity for growth. Can we see challenges as opportunities for lifelong growth? • Honesty. We need to be real, honest, genuine, and transparent with our strengths and our weaknesses. We don’t understand our human imperfection and where we lack. This will enable us to see clearly where we need help and encouragement in the reality of frustration and hardship that land on our back porch. • Encouragement. We need sources of encouragement and to be a source of encouragement, strength and hope for others. We really do need each other. We do need a network and a community of people who will love on us when we’re going through the darkest moments of our lives. We need people who will truly be there when we need them the most, who will go the extra mile to be available with encouragement or whatever resourcing we need at the moment of darkness. • Thriving versus surviving. We need to see and live life as total overcomers versus those who just squeaked by and survive. We need to approach life as those who are victorious, successful, and energized. This is way beyond a positive mental attitude. Passivity has no place here. • Having God in your life. We need God at the vanguard of our life, and to living according to His purposes is certainly the key element to living the above. This can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Having a spiritual dimension and not denying its existence or the existence of God, but embracing a relationship with God is the key. Manifesting this paradigm of transformation in hardship overcomes difficulty during in tough times. Make A Key Discovery — Entering That “Passion Place” You can live your life the best you know, not perfectly, mind you, but the best you have to give, and it still can be not enough… meaning that you can still encounter very real obstacles, roadblocks, challenges, trials, tribulations, and extremely unfair responses from those around you. How do you overcome and move into renewal, restoration, and a time of refreshment? How do you rediscover that place of passion and connect to your mission, vision, and life gifts? How do you finally conceive of a life worth living where you could make a difference and be here and now and in the moment and have fun? How do you overcome? We are able to move through those rocky shores of dysfunction and move on into a growing and evolving place of personal passion, restoration, and healing. Some of the eventualities, realities, and solutions that you may leverage: • Getting serious about God and your relationship with Him • Allowing your church or spiritual community to love you and to return the favor • Getting serious about personal strategic planning and goal setting • Getting involved in a Mastermind group, Toastmasters, and other community networking groups or service clubs. Doing something positive, bigger that yourself. • Doing the work necessary to do a personal inventory and discover the incremental steps needed to move through this tough period of life. • Starting and being your own blog site. See: www.becomeabetterfather.com • Discovering and using your passion for writing whatever floats your boat! • Challenging your mind through good reading, education, speaking, and thinking. • Moving on and being willing to forgive the world, other people, yourself, and the past. Forgive those who’ve hurt you and most importantly yourself. • Having faith and trust in God’s love on a day by day basis. No magic pill here, no microwave oven, quick solutions, no magic fairy dust… just faith in God and doing the necessary work to move forward, incrementally: one day at a time.
  37. 37. SCOTT HAMMOND38 The Bottom-line Of Overcoming Hardship In Our Lives When we are grieving, bleeding, and our lives are ripped open by the reality of the tragic, What do we do? Where do we go? Whom do we seek for help in our time of need? To whom do we run when personal loss and tragedy have appeared up close and dirty with fear and doubt, and loss of hope has taken over? Tragedy has a way of hollowing out our souls, if we don’t get help. What is the tipping point that allows us as people to survive and thrive through tragedy and hardship? What’s the difference of those who come through tremendous loss, and actually become better not bitter? What do they possess that we need for the inevitable difficulties, challenges in tough times that lie ahead? IN A WORD: GOD. NOT RELIGION — GOD The idea of a relationship and friendship with a God who loves us tremendously and who wants our best, especially through life’s obstacles, is a paradox at best. Addressing this relationship with God and the mechanics of it are both tremendously difficult and simple. The net is this: begin to pray, seek God, read his Word. Enjoy fellowship with genuine believers; learn to walk in love and humility. In other words, learn to love God and people with all your heart. This relationship with God is the tipping point, paradigm transformation and the difference between becoming bitter or better. Obstacles, challenges, roadblocks, and hardships are often blessings in disguise. We must try to see with new eyes and not be blind when encountering hardship. We must try to see the possibility of good coming through hard stuff. Here Are Some Ideas To Leverage A Midlife Renaissance • Recognition versus denial. Recognize when you’re stuck or hurt or otherwise wounded. Look at the situation squarely and don’t give over to the luxury of denial. • Check your responses. Do you really want to get better? Will you give over to resignation and default to something lower and be baser in your response to your own hurt, hardship, or tough time? • Motivation. What is your life’s dominating motivation? What undergirds all that you are? What drives you? What is it that motivates you at the core of your being? Leverage this in your striving to move forward and to move on. • Find your passion place. Begin to connect with your life mission, vision, and gifts: “A life worth living”. Begin to make a difference. Show appreciation by being someone who’s part of the solution and not part of the problem. Get healed up and move on into the Art of Possibility. This is active, decisive, deliberate, intentional, and assertive. • Finding God’s heart for you. Rediscover what it is to walk with God and to connect to His love. Purpose to understand what it means to have a heart for yourself and others and live in the paradigm of love. This is a relationship that takes time and energy in total intentionality. • Let go and surrender. Really begin to live in the moment. You have to go and get reconnected, re- centered, be ready to take on new roles and loose fears of the past. Begin to live in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
  38. 38. EVERYDAYDAD.COM 39 ACTION POINTS FOR COMMITTED FATHERS • How do you find your passion if you’ve lost it? Where is it? • Where do you rediscover personal passion? • How have you handled the “Hard Stuff” of life? • How will you be dealing with the challenges coming up? • How will you connect to and implement a paradigm shift in regard to life, God, and yourself?