We had the pleasure and opportunity to check out a new children’s book, because one of my best friends is the author. Lilies for Looper, by Rachel Foster Stuart is a very cute, well-written book for young kids. The illustrations are out of this world! Mary Belcher did an amazing job of illustrating the creative thoughts and beautiful words in this book.
The book has messages for kids on adventure, taking risk, and exploring the world around you. It’s about feeling wonderment. It’s a short read, and perfect for young readers. With pictures that help keep them engaged, it’s a must read for toddlers and kids. My kids are older, and read chapter books, but even they enjoyed reading it, reading the book to others, and it was fun to watch.
You can win your own copy of Lilies for Looper, just enter to win by leaving a comment to this post — answer this: When did you recently feel wonderment – please share your experience with us. Thanks for entering and good luck! I will pick one winner on July 14. Happy reading!
*Disclaimer: the tile of this post is copyrighted by the author Ken Blanchard. This post is a book review and the author of this post does not claim copyright or creative rights in the phrase “Whale Done!”
My husband checked out a book at the library and I did not think much about it until he told me some of the concepts in it. So, as an example, I would say “ugh, what are we going to do, our daughter is being very difficult.” His reply, “well, we need accentuate the positive and redirect her energy. That is what I read in this book….” Needless to say, after several more conversations about different scenarios like this, I felt I needed to read Whale Done! This book is not just about positive relationships at work and home but daily life. It can help improve just about all relationships.
This book by Ken Blanchard is a quick read and explores “the power of positive relationships.” What does this mean? What exactly is a positive relationship and how do you go about implementing it? The key concepts of this book are to focus on the positive in all you do and in everyone you encounter. This really struck a chord with me because that is my resolution for this year- being more positive, and trying to stay on a more positive track- at home, in my career (all the jobs I have), and with life in general. This book is written based on the concept of management in line with the style of training the whales at Sea World. It addresses the basic concepts those trainers employ, and applying them to human interaction. The biggest difference between whales and people: We have the advantage because we can talk to one another. The basic concepts are the same: “Build trust, accentuate the positive, and when mistakes occur, redirect the energy.” (Blanchard, p.19)
One of the concepts in the book is accentuating the positive and redirecting when someone is on the wrong track. For example, every day at home if I yelled at my husband about the dishes, or making the kids’ lunches, or dinner, or picking up his clothes off his home, will he want to be home with me? There is a good chance that he will want to come home late, stay at work late longer, or just not want to be at home at all. Who could blame him? I would not want constantly want to be berated after a long day at work either. Anyway, it is about expressing positive things about each other, in front of the kids, and to one another. Instead of saying “this is the wrong bread- you always buy the wrong bread,” you might try, “wow, hon, thanks for getting the groceries again- you are so kind to do so but remember, this bread is too thick for me so I generally buy X brand. I am not clear on which brand it is and I know I never told you so I will get it tomorrow and show you the labeling for next time.” There are essentially four kinds of responses to almost all actions: “No response, negative response, redirection, and positive response.” (Blanchard, p.30). Sometimes, sharing in the responsibility on why someone did something “wrong” or incorrectly helps the situation. Also, don’t accuse, put down, or blame the person. This would also not be a good time to bring up past issues. Focus on the thing that was done incorrectly and move on. The no response one is interesting- it is just ignoring the action you wish to not be repeated and a response is not really warranted. So, when the 6 year-old throws a fit, promptly moving her to her room without a word and ignoring her whining would be one example.
Some of the examples in the book are with teenage kids, but you can apply almost all the lessons to any age. For younger kids, you want to catch them doing something right and recognize right away. So, when they are being quiet and reading, doing puzzles, join in and hug them and say “wow, you guys are really doing great… can mommy play too?” My 4 year-old for example does not need much to know I am accentuating the positive. When she puts her toys away, I give her a huge hug, high five and say “OH MY look at this great job – you put your toys away! Wow! High five and good job!” This and a hug will make them realize that they get attention for doing the right thing. Now, conversely when she does not put her toys away, then what? Well, perhaps the approach would be to redirect her to the time when she did it right, instead of yelling at her which is negative. Constantly picking on the negative and only criticizing her when she is doing something wrong accentuates that behavior and after awhile, you are just a mouth piece and no one listens anymore. Trust is lost and the relationship suffers.
Obviously with my daughter, I do need to talk with her and address the behaviors that I want corrected, so the better approach may be to say, “hey, let’s put these toys away together so we can find them when we want them again… yeah I will help you and show you where they go, so next time, you can do it all by yourself and earn a high five and a hug.” This response also takes responsibility for showing her in case she did not know where to put the toys back. All of these same principles apply at work too.
Here is an example. My boss in one of my jobs this past weekend gave me my mid-term feedback, and it was super positive, and uplifting. He followed the book without even knowing it by providing words of encouragement, words accentuating specific examples of all the things I am doing right in the job. With that, he also gave me some things I needed to improve on but did it in a manner to say, “maybe we can both learn together because this is a new system.” I got it. The next day at the job, I learned that new system inside and out. He had motivated me and energized me so much this past weekend, it spilled over into my life, and other job too. And, he does it every weekend I work with him- he accentuates and points out positives right when he sees them instead of waiting for a feedback. Until I read this book I did not even realize it. I just know that despite it being work, and being away from family, this job energizes me. As a result, I feel needed, and indispensable to the organization. And it’s not just me, he does it for every person in our organization. I am not even sure he has read this book but, wow! What an attentive boss who catches his people doing things right and saying something about it. Now, keep in mind that one method to accentuate the positive will not always work with everyone. Each person speaks a different language, so Whale Done! talks about finding out what motivates each individual. What motivates employee X to do better will not be the same factor that motivates employee Y. One employee will react better to words of affirmation, while another may need monetary recognition, while another may need you to “show them” through your actions. Also, remember to give people specific examples of what they are doing right so it does not appear you are just being manipulative. So, say to your teenage daughter, “when you cleaned up your room and the loft without being asked to the other day… wow, thanks so much – you saved me time and really helped me out a lot- I REALLY appreciate that – why don’t I go ahead and take your chores for Friday so you can go out with your friends that evening.”
This book goes on to to state that the traditional work environment is one in which a boss generally says nothing when things are going right [ignores you] and only talks with you when something is wrong- i.e. criticizing you, or stating the negative. How nice would it be to get feedback early and often – at the moment you are doing something RIGHT. How nice would it be to hear from your boss on more than the occasions in which you are doing something he or she perceives to be “wrong.” Anyway, this book calls that system the “GOTcha” system. In this system, all people want to do is do their jobs and not be bothered because they are afraid every time their boss speaks to them they are doing something wrong. Wow! Tragic. I am so lucky to not work (in any of my jobs) in an environment like that. That would not be fun at all.
Is all this a bit touchy feely for you? Well, yeah, this book was a bit of that too. But, great especially as far as my personal life is concerned because it is so important to build a healthy relationship with your spouse, a partnership rooted in love and respect, rather than one rooted in fear, anger, and discord. The chain reaction is that when kids see a healthy, positive relationship between the parents, they themselves feel more loved, respected, and model the same respect for others and each other. Whether you want to apply this all aspects of your life or not, I think there is a lot of value in recognizing the positives all around you and in the people in your life. Simple concepts of accentuating the positives, recognizing that progress is a moving target, and just recalling the principles from this book when you are about to fly off the deep end with your kids and spouse can really help your relationships. That is what the power of positive relationships is all about.
Whale Done! is a quick, good read. Along with The Fred Factor, Lincoln on Leadership, and other self-improvement motivational books, I definitely recommend this one for all facets of your life to create positive relationships.
Please note – copyright disclaimer: I am writing a post from my personal reading experience and journey from Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor which has influenced and changed the way I view the world around me. I am not claiming authorship or inventorship for the concept of “Fred” nor am I writing this for profit or any incentive. I am writing to share with you what a life-changing book this truly is, authored by Mr. Sanborn who resides right here in my wonderful state of Colorado.
I recently read the book, The Fred Factor recommended by my former boss, and it has really impacted me in a positive way. He recommended the book to me along with another Sanborn book, “You don’t need a title to be a Leader.” For some reason this one impacted me more because the concept is so simple: A guy named Fred, who was Mr. Sanborn’s postal carrier in his Wash Park subdivision, really went above and beyond in his job, and made an impression on the author. The question is, are you doing everything you can in an extraordinary manner or are you failing and unhappy in your work and life? It was eye-opening because I could not have read this book at a better time in my career. Personally, I felt like a failure as a mother because I had taken on new responsibilities at work and sadly, people issues dominate work more often than they should. Although I have to say I am lucky that in my industry, the people are generally all professional, very intelligent, and honestly want to be there and do good things. However, as a supervisor sometimes it can be tough to sort out those issues that vex the soul whilst still maintaining a normal work load and balancing family and life.
I read this book when I was traveling to and from my second job in California and I have to say it really made me look all around me. My “fred radar” was on the entire time. It was heightened in fact. All around me, there were freds doing fred-like things and I was actually able to notice and appreciate it. But, I was able to make a list of the fred-actions in me too. From helping an elderly man with his bags to just saying something kind to an employee who showed kindness to others, all of these actions make a seemingly uneventful trip quite extraordinary. The same principles can be applied at work and at home and throughout your life. Being positive is at the heart of being a “Fred” and wanting to do the best job possible- trying your hardest. Being a “Fred” is the concept of practicing daily to be extraordinary, from simple acts to bigger acts. And, as Mr. Sanborn stated in his book, it is even more challenging to do these things to those who have been unkind and unpleasant to us. Those who are the biggest challenges in our lives offer us the greatest opportunity to be excellent because it is tough to be good to those who are back biting or are unhappy to the core. But, in the end, the reward is to feel positive in all you do which can’t be bad at all. The same goes for home- being kind and doing acts of service even amidst tough times and above all, being positive.
The key concepts of this book are listed here and basically are: “(1) Everyone makes a difference- the question you want a positive answer to at the end of each day is what kind of difference did you make; (2) Everything is built on relationships and building them can either bring small rewards or huge ones especially in business- the examples he uses really are enlightening; (3) You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny- this is broken down further into four parts for how to create value for others without spending a lot or any money; and (4) You can reinvent yourself regularly.” [Sanborn, copyright]
The last one struck a cord for me too. It is recognizing that you are human, and improving yourself and trying to learn from others around you that is so important. There are those who never see their faults, never admit they are wrong, and continually blame everything and everyone around them. The true problem is not all the external factors or others but the problem is the person. So, the person who can ask “how could I have handled this situation differently” will be on better track for success than the person who refuses to reinvent and change but blames others and the environment.
All of this was very eye-opening to read and I am actually excited about the possibility of attending a Sanborn workshop to learn even more. I think everyone can grow and learn something new- whether that be coping skills, or how to look within to make change. Being a “Fred’ is more than following a checklist or spending money to make people feel valued but rather, seems to be a way of life- the practice in becoming a good, decent person. And to be a “Fred’ you have to value yourself first. You can’t really see value in others until you perfect the art in seeing it in yourself. I also learned that being a “Fred” means that you cannot be hard on yourself. We are not perfect – no one is (although some in their minds may think they are). The point is to see that and to learn from our mistakes and move on.
This book was a good read, and for me, career and life-changing. I highly recommend it.
Warning, this is not a movie review but a book review of all three books. I have not seen the movie yet so I am not yet repulsed by how different it is from the book. But, I do plan to see it someday. I also hear a rumor that the guy who played Peeta in the first Hunger Games movie may not re-appear in movies 2 and 3. In any case, I finally finished reading all three books in the series. It was not at all what I expected when I first started. It was an easy read because the books are designed for teens or tweens but a warning for younger kids is that there are some disturbing concepts in this trilogy- alcoholism, cannibalism, death and despair, and killing others out of a forced desperation- a real-life survival, not just of people who live in the districts but the kids who are selected for The Hunger Games.
The background of the book is essential before you watch the movie. People who do not know the background tend to not like the movie. So, here is a brief background. Out of the wars and all the issues that the world faced, a new world of sorts emerges- a country called Panem – it is in the region formerly known as North America. As opposed to utopia, the type of future depicted by Panem is dystopian which is defined as: “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, and overcrowding.” The Government of this country called the “Capitol” is a totalitarian form of government. It is ruled by one dictator through a police state and is tyrannical and oppressive. The country is divided into 13 districts. However, as we are told in Book 1, District 13 rebelled and to quash this rebellion, the “Capitol” claims to have destroyed all of District 13. This was a measure used so the rest of the Districts would not join the rebellion or “get any ideas” While the Capitol has no resources of its own and essentially feeds, clothes, and shelters itself as a result of items produced in the districts, they still have control through brute force and a police state. The districts grow crops, hunt, mine, provide clothing and supplies such as oil, and provide police force known as peacekeepers, and the Capitol repays them by teaching them a lesson to never rebel again. The districts cannot keep their own crops or supplies, and to get food and rations, they have the possibility (in each district) of sacrificing their children every year to something called the “reaping” which precede the HUNGER GAMES. Most people live day to day, there is no waste, and there is no surplus except if you work for the Capitol. As far as the Hunger Games, the rich and well-to-do fare well and their chances of not going are better than those are barely making ends meet. In sum, the less you have, the more you give up, the less chance you have of ever escaping. All of the lottery entries for the hunger games are based on how much food your family needs and again, it is a game of life and survival in each district unless you are in the Capitol or part of the Government. Each district is required to provide 2 kids between the ages of 12 and 18, a male and female. The concept is really quite barbaric but allegedly is done to keep everyone in line. Once in the arena, the children have no choice but to try to survive against one another and all the booby traps, mines and other things the Capitol itself throws into the mix. The entire thing is televised all day and night, with each district’s members being forced to watch their own die. Some people put wagers on who will survive and are into it while others are outraged and repulsed but cannot say or do anything about it. It’s disgusting and makes you ill until you realize there is hope. Yes, HOPE!
Social media has helped spawn rebellions in a few countries recently which were former dictatorships. One word, one voice, one action can lead a country to revolt and revolutions can be brought overnight by the thoughts which are brewing for years, or even decades or centuries. A simple act of defying the Capitol, or doing the right thing can spawn change forever. The concept of always striving to be free is very prevalent in this series, and it’s not just about hope, freedom, and wanting more, it’s about love and sacrifice. In the end, the story ends just like it begins -with hope and love. The trilogy keeps you hooked and while it may make you sick at times, that is the whole point. If you got sick at the theater or wanted to stop watching or thought you wasted your money, read the entire series first. It may make it easier to watch — or, not.
But for me, it did get me thinking — think outside your own neighborhood to what happens in other countries still to this day. Yes, outside your own backyard, there are still, to this day, tyrannical, oppressive governments and/or dictators who still treat their own people poorly. Dictators who lie, steal and cheat or use their own people as human shields- or use their people as pawns in world politics. The poverty level may be high in these countries and while most people live day to day, without wasting a drop, the government lives in a lavish manner without regard to its people. Many of these governments believe there is a hierarchy, they believe in a concept of a class system and “survival of the fittest” and that the poor do not deserve to get more than fair share to survive daily. Health conditions are very bad, and black markets flourish so people can survive and help each other through an underground system. The Government, if they catch these people will publicly hang, flog, maim, kill, or stone them for deeds that go against its rules and regulations. There are no constitutional rights nor trials, other than public ones convicting them without any due process. Yes,there is a good possibility of why we do not like these books or this movie… because it’s true. It could be happening right now to children, to women, to men, to soldiers. And there is nothing you can do about it. The survival game? Seems very reality-TV-like – people made to watch these gruesome activities in large squares, some of them their own children and if they do not show up to watch, the guards kill the families? It is retribution from the tyrannical government saying, “we are in control and we will take your children and sacrifice them- so stay in line.”
Is it sadistic and sick? Yes, but that is what a totalitarian dystopia is. And now begins my commentary. I know this may sound extreme considering the books are fiction but even fictional countries like Panem are not formed overnight. You can just look at certain issues in our society today and how things are handled and see some similarities. For example, the issues I think of today which Panem reminded me of are an increasingly growing class system, a call to end all social programs of assistance, a “survival of the fittest” attitude among many in our country, and people not wanting to pay for things like education, food programs, and health care, while condoning tax breaks for those who make the most, and beefing up our defense. But the Hunger Games are so barbaric – that can never happen right? Why yes, it is barbaric, but then we are the same people who enjoy our reality TV while we push our government to be less, for lack of a better of word, “socialistic.” There are those who could argue on the other side too – too much government is what created Panem to begin with – its involvement in the districts, the brute police force, control, and taking from the districts (akin to States). I suppose it’s finding that balance in society between both sides which is key. In any case, decide for yourself and again, I digress but honestly, all three books in the series are a good, quick read and I definitely recommend doing that before you head out and watch even the first movie. And as you think too much into the book like perhaps I did, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”
The movie was based on the first of the Larsson trilogy novels and true to the book, the movie follows the book almost exactly with a few deviations to condense it. But even condensed, the movie still ran two hours and 38 minutes. If you do not remember the book because you read it sometime ago, don’t worry, it will come back to you and if you never read a single one of the trilogy books, fret not- you will love it too but if you haven’t read the book, you should mentally prepare yourself for about two or three extremely graphic scenes including a few involving violence towards women. From what I noticed, these scenes are when a lot of the faint of heart audience members used the restrooms or left to refresh their drinks and popcorn. In any case, discomfort of these scenes aside, (which if you read the books you would understand the history from Larsson of Swedish society) you will definitely enjoy this American version of the Larsson trilogy and if you saw the Swedish versions, you will also notice the differences between the two. All in all, a definite watch and as always, I would recommend reading the books first if you can swing it. The movie has scored well among critics and is an 8.3 out of 10, and 70% on critic meters and a “must go” as well. Additionally, if you can catch a matinee over the weekend or a morning discount show, that may be the way to go!