Achieving Life-Long Potential
Kids Under Construction
A Toolbox for Parents, Coaches and Educators
By Ronn W. Langford
Conclusions and Next Steps
“There’s nothing like a newborn baby to renew your spirit – and to buttress your resolve to make the world a better place.”
– Virginia Kelley (1923-1994)
Falling Short of Potential
Most kids are falling far short of their potential. In fact, I don’t believe that most kids even think in terms of their potential.
If a child has a problem with visual spatial awareness, or visual tracking, or coordination of right to left side of the body, or multitasking, or psychomotor response time, just “talking about it” will not make a change. If they do not do something to change their functional systems, they will fall short of their potential.
An example of a great metaphor:
None of these concepts and strategies will have value, or be effective UNLESS – there is implementation. It seems at times that we read about how to improve our golf swing, or how to lose weight and get in shape, or the 10 easy steps to become a healthier, happier person. And yet, after reading the book, even if we actually finish the book, we don’t do anything about it.
There are many potential reasons for not implementing. Lack of motivation. Not having enough personal confidence in our ability to understand what to do and how to do it. It could be a lack of commitment. Or that we don’t have the time. Lots of “good” excuses. The biggest thing that holds us back may be that we just simply don’t have the tools to use or a blueprint to follow, and therefore are not comfortable starting down that path.
If you, as a parent, coach, or educator, will implement the strategies and concepts that you are the most comfortable with, you WILL find that they will be effective. There is no way that you are going to be perfect in the evaluation and implementation steps. But it does help to commit to an intention and create a well conceived plan!
Transition for Transformation
There is simply no way to get everything you want to accomplish with a child in one or two steps. It is a process. A transition. There is no magic pill.
When working with kids in our programs, we often use a formula that seems to help. One … Two … Three … Too Many. That is, we try to limit the number of new specific strategies at any given time to about three or less. More than that will lead to overload. For some children, especially those with a learning difficulty, the limitation may be one or two at a time.
Also please understand that there is no way to implement all of the concepts with a child at one time. You will be tempted to do this. Don’t do it. There will be a limitation of what you can implement based upon each individual child and their specific situation and functional state. And it will be a lot less confusing to everyone.
1. Take An Audit
If you are a coach of a team, the first step is to take an audit of each member of the team. Not just what you are going to need to do to work with your entire “defensive team,” but each individual. Where are they? What do they need to change? Decision making? Quickness? Response time? Do they need to be faster? Are you just accepting the status quo as to how fast or slow they are? What can you do to get them (each individual) to be faster? Quicker? Not just attempting to use punishment as a strategy, or running wind sprints, or running laps. But strategies. Hint – more work on R/L and L/R integration (i.e., cross crawls) will help them become quicker.
When I speak of an audit, let me give an example of what I do with a race driver.
First, I want to know what their objectives are – for this test session, for a race weekend, for this practice session, for a qualifying session, etc. It is simply not enough to just define that he wants to “go as fast as possible,” or to win a pole, or to win the race.
I attempt to get a driver to think in terms of the objective instead of winning, or getting a specific (speed) time, or qualifying in the top 3, etc. Not that those things aren’t important, but those things are the result – the effect. The objective is to do what causes that result. That is, the objective is performance – specific performance strategies. Performance is what causes the result.
Therefore, the objective really is the performance in relation to specific areas of the track, and the execution of specific skills such as corner entry speeds, the way the driver rotates the car smoothly, the recognition of the change in dynamics of the car, the ability to carry an additional ½ mph through a turn, etc. Depending upon the highest priority of change or execution needed, we can then define a plan.
Let me give you a real life example. I worked with a young man who eventually became one of the best race drivers in North America. One of my primary objectives with him was to help him with one of his highest skills.
The engineers could make a set-up change in the car, and within a lap or two, he could literally adapt his program to “drive around the change.” At that level of racing, it is critically important for him to be able to communicate to his engineer exactly what the set-up changed in the behavior of the car. After a while, he became extraordinary at communicating with his engineer, and the result was a championship. In a very competitive racing series.
2. Develop an entire Blueprint
If you are a parent, coach or educator, I urge you take the time to develop an entire map of the journey you want to take with your children. A Blueprint. A Plan. To do this you will need to ask yourself a lot of questions. What are your objectives? Where is your child at the present time? If you are starting with a brand new baby, wow! … what an exciting time you are going to have! What are the most important or highest priority objectives, and therefore, what are your specific strategies? What do you think is the cause of some of the challenges?
Remember, we are looking for causes and not just the effects. It would be very valuable to complete a comprehensive audit of where your child is and what you want to accomplish.
3. Current Point in the construction process
Have the flexibility to do a reset if needed. Make sure your plan is flexible. Be sure to stop the process periodically and note WHAT seems to be working effectively.
Ask yourself if it would be better to do more of “this” and less of “that”? Would more time spent in a specific area be good at this point?
That is – Have the flexibility to do a reset, if needed, and make sure your plan is flexible.
4. Take an additional audit periodically.
As you are working with each child, take the time to notice where you and the child are in the construction process. Even houses that are completely constructed need maintenance.
At the end of the book The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch talks about the process he is going through with cancer. And that although his body at that moment “looks” healthy, he has just a few months to live. Then, he talks about the “head fake” at the closing of his “last lecture” to define his underlying objective. A head fake is where a running back or a basketball player attempts to fake out the opposing player by moving his head in one direction while the player goes the other direction. Hopefully, the opponent reacts to the “head fake.”
I would like to ask you to treat this entire book as a “HEAD FAKE.” Sure, it’s about kids and how to work with kids more effectively and specific strategies and tools to use in working with kids so they can Achieve Life-Long Potential.
But my secondary objective is really about … YOU. For you to have an opportunity to develop these strategies. For you to be able to create new perceptions, perspectives, responses, emotions, belief systems and new tools, for your own life.
To become more confident and comfortable and effective in working with kids, you may need to “reprogram” some things that you have always wanted to change about YOU.
“When I started the company, I was 52 years old. I had diabetes, lost my gallbladder and most of my thyroid gland. But I was convinced that the best was ahead of me.”
– Ray Kroc
Founder of McDonald’s
What if YOU could do that? What if you could do the work within yourself? Do you believe that you could become a great parent … a great coach … a great educator? How valuable would that be to you?
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. My personal approach creates the climate. My daily mood makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool for torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor. Hurt or heal. It is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated; and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
– Haim Ginott
What is your potential? Are you really a mentor? Do your kids know that you love and care about them? Do they know that you have their best interest at heart? Do they perceive that you are doing something very important for them? Will they place you on that very short list of people who have impacted and inspired their lives in a most important way?
As a parent, or a coach, or an educator, is it all about YOU … or is it all about THEM? The answer to the question is obvious. YES!
The most important thing in life … is to decide what is most important!
Just imagine the Potential.
Imagine and enjoy the experience!
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