2010-11-19 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Raising the Bar
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

It is time to raise the bar. Across the board. Raising the bar across the board means that we all have to collectively step up to the plate and create a new paradigm. The new paradigm must include appropriate behavior toward one another, reasonable expectations of success, measurable outcomes, consequences for your actions and responsibility for yourself.

Oh, and raising the bar means that children should address adults by their surname. I believe this to be one of the areas that led to the degradation of manners and respect. I am not certain when that custom began, but I do remember shuddering at the implied intimacy of a 10 year old calling me Nancy.

When the bar is held high, it takes effort to reach it. Making a concerted effort to achieve takes focus, concentration, goal setting and defining tasks to complete the process of achievement. Accomplishing your goals is a process that takes guidance and mentoring. Instilling a spirit of pride in personal accomplishments is the parent’s job.

Raising the bar in this way requires vigilant parenting

Spending quality time with your children, identifying their strengths, developing strategies to build on those strengths as well as keying into areas that need to be enhanced in personality and behavior along with academia, are the stuff of which good people are made. And parenting in this way does not stop when your child becomes a young adult. Although tweens and teens may eschew a parent’s advice, this is a time when they are watching you carefully. Role modeling is at its peak during the adult formative years. Developmental milestones continue through college years, well after the teething, walking and talking phases have ended. It is tempting to think that the hard work is done when you don’t have to check homework anymore. In fact, this is when the hardest part comes into play.

Walking the walk. Showing your children how to act as adults, with peers and in business. Modeling respect in relationships and integrity in business is a lifestyle. Holding the bar high is a life journey to personal excellence. Being present, being a witness to the growth of your children, your partner, your friends, your family and yourself is character building. It takes courage to be fully present to another.

It takes strength of body, mind and soul to be a witness to growth as it entails all the “sausage making” of failure and defeat along with the successes.

Raising the bar is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, perhaps we have a culture of confused, apathetic, bullying, greedy, disrespectful people simply because we have a dearth of those prepared emotionally and psychologically to step up to the plate and hold the standards high. Perhaps, we actually bought into the idea that we don’t have the time for this.

Time is the operative word here. That commodity which we have precious little of these days. We are all victims of the 24/7 internet/technology era which seduces us to be “on” all of our waking hours. My call to action is centered on parents for several reasons.

Teachers have been disempowered from offering their unique personalities in their teaching styles. Teachers are disabled from mentoring and role modeling and enabled only to teach to the test, leaving children to fend for themselves in the world of academia, and gauge their worth on a score of 1one to four.

At least that is the case in our fair city’s public school system. Business leaders, formerly thought to be models of integrity and success, have demonstrated remarkable greed that led to a severe economic downturn. Our representatives in government are reported with increasing frequency to be examples of infidelity and abuse of trust.

Who will raise the bar? Who will be the standard bearer if not the parents? We have the responsibility to raise people of quality, character, integrity, honesty and truthfulness. These are virtues. I can’t remember when I last heard any emphasis being placed on virtues. I can’t recall any parents telling me that they have scheduled a character building class in between swimming and soccer.

I know one thing for sure. It’s a long and winding road, this adventure called Life. To be healthy, you must be happy. To be happy, you must be fulfilled. To be fulfilled, you must actualize your own potential. Creating and sustaining relationships is key to happiness. Look around you. Who is your hero? Who is your mentor? Who have you modeled key aspects of your life on? Bring those people into your mind’s eye and share the vision. If no one fits the bill, imagine the person who does. Create a character and “act as if.”

It is time to raise the bar. It is time to create a new paradigm shift in the way we conduct ourselves as social beings. All it takes is a commitment to excellence. And that resides in all our hearts. Take a peek inside and see what I mean.

May The Blessings Be!

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