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during the year i collect bits and pieces of information that i think might be helpful to share with my kids when the school year fires up. marty's insistence on a no-exceptions family dinner table makes for a perfect platform for me to subject enlighten my children with my sage counsel. a few examples.

we have been long told two things. one, that we have a certain potential for knowledge and two, once you pass a certain age your potential to learn new things decreases sharply. new studies, namely by a professor dweck out of stanford, show us that the capacity to learn is more of an attitude than an ability. if you want to learn, and try to learn, and push yourself to learn, you will learn. furthermore, it proves out that the brain more resembles a muscle than previously thought. work it and it will get bigger. never take it out for a jog and watch it wither on your brain stem. in demonstrating this principle during one of my week one lectures, i raised my fork multiple times like it were a dumbbell asking the kids if i did this hundred or thousand times a day, if they thought my arm muscles would grow. in unison, they said no. i set the fork down and with greater effort, raised the pot that held our dinner a few times and asked them if doing this several times every day would give me bigger muscles. they agreed it would. i explained that this was also how their brains worked and if the the teacher gave them easy stuff to do in class or for homework, like lifting a fork, they needed to find something heavier to lift that day, else they would come out of school with puny brain muscles which would kind of suck.

another dinner table talk came from my new favorite speaker, eric thomas. in one of his talks he describes how the modern golf ball came to be. at their start golf balls were smooth, which i reckon is predictable enough. as the developers tested these early models on the driving range, they found that the balls that had been hit a few times travelled further than the new balls. in studying this, logic quickly revealed that the balls with dents had different, better qualities to travel so they engineered a ball full of dents. eric thomas went on to liken humans to these golf balls. he said when you're born you're a perfectly smooth surface and as you experience more, especially trials, your smooth coating gets a few dents and divots and it these imperfections that allow us to weather more in life and thus travel further. i then went around the table and connected this to one struggle each of the kids were working through (e.g. tough teacher, new school, fear of a subject).

one night a few weeks after these talks the boys and i were doing battle at bedtime. the battle was this: i wanted them to go to bed and they wanted to do anything but go to bed. as they finally got closer to sliding into the sheets anthony asked me if i would read them books. i said i would not. when anthony, age six, asked why not, i told him it was because they did not get ready for bed when i asked them to and were instead playing in the shower and goofing off. after hearing my no-books proclamation, anthony paused and then stammered out the following retort, "dad ... dad ... dad ... you just put a dent in my golf ball!"

i think we're going to need a bigger ball.

SEP2012

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