Actions Speak Louder Than Feelings

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Yellow Car TagSeveral weeks ago, I was driving my sons, Austin and Adam, to school when I noticed that they were acting a little bit whiny. I quickly devised a way to demonstrate a little perspective and turn things around before we got to school.

“Guys,” I said, “Very quickly, look around and tell me everything you see that’s red.”

But why…” they started.

“C’mon! Quickly!” I insisted. “Adam, what red things do you see? Austin, what’s red around here?”

They began looking out the windows as we continued down the road.

“That stop sign’s red,” Austin said.

“The letters on the grocery store,” Adam added.

“Anything else?” I asked. “Hurry up, look!”

“Those flowers, that car over there, that mailbox,” they continued.

“Okay,” I said, “now I want you both to close your eyes. Got them closed?”

“We do.”

“Keep them closed. Now…I want you to tell me everything we passed…that was bright yellow.”

Do what?” they both asked.

Eyes closed! What was bright yellow?” I asked again.

For a moment, there was silence. Then, the beginnings of an excuse. “Well, dad, we—“

“Alright,” I interrupted. “Open your eyes and listen to me very carefully. A couple of minutes ago we passed two yellow school buses. We passed Sam’s Stop & Shop with a big yellow sombrero on top. We passed the Shell station with the big yellow sign. We passed several yellow cars. In fact, there are yellow lines every 20 feet on this road.”

“We passed yellow stuff like crazy!” I continued. “It was there, but you did not even notice it…because you weren’t looking for it. You were looking for red, and that’s the only thing you saw. So, you guys…here’s the deal: you can look up in the sky, and if you’re looking for rain clouds you will see them…but if you’re looking for the sunshine, you can spot that, too.”

I’m telling you this story because I’m asked on a fairly regular basis how to deal with children (and often adults too) who always seem to have a negative attitude.

It all comes down to the fact that, in just about any situation, you find what you’re looking for. If you look for opportunity when you walk in a room, you can spot it. If you’re looking for nobody to like you, nobody is going to like you because your body language is going to reflect your thinking.

In a world that has become overly obsessed with feelings, I am here today to tell you this—nobody cares how you feel. They only care how you act.

From a young age, it is important to instill in children the idea that they need to be focused on the type of life they want to be living 10 to 20 years down the road. Where do they want to live? Do they want a house? Do they want to own a car that’s totally paid for? Do they want to enjoy their job?

Once they have those results in mind, it’s very important for them to understand that, in order to achieve those results, there is a specific way they need to act…regardless of the way they feel.

Commit yourself to teaching your children this simple principle in some way every day. Show them you have their best interests at heart, that you love them more than they can comprehend. It’s not always going to be pretty. They’re not always going to want to listen to you. But stay the course…you have the opportunity to give them the gift of an incredible future. It’s your job to make sure they’re willing to accept it.

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