Kids and Cooperation

I’m a big advocate of cooperation. In the process of encouraging cooperation, one demonstrates many other skills too: politeness, negotiation, confidence, courage, clarity of desire. And besides, isn’t life just one big stew of opportunities that require cooperation from others in some way? 

Creating a cooperative environment is a multi-pronged process. Seeing cooperation in action and practicing daily yields many benefits. It’s surprising how many other facets of personal integrity are demonstrated alongside striving to operate in a cooperative mode. Below are a few starter ideas

  • I’ve laid a strong foundation for cooperation as a family and why I think it’s important. I tell the kids “I cooperate with you, and you cooperate with me” and ”you cooperate with me, and I’ll cooperate with you” quite often.
    • I’m sure to not just say it when I need/want them to do something for me in the moment but also when I do something for them that they asked for help with (for example I’ll say, “I’m happy to do this for you because you so nicely did that for me”).
    • I did it lightly in a sing-song voice when they were little. Now that they are older I do it more in a we-are-two-individuals-making-a-deal-that-will-be-good-for-us-both voice.
    • I also do it as a 30 sec value statement periodically when we are just sitting around together. I reflect out loud: “I’m so glad our family cooperates so well. We get to do so many awesome things together, and that’s cool. I’m lucky you are my family.” To which they will invariably say something like “You’re awesome too, Mom,” which is fun.
  • I do a lot of “thinking out loud” when they ask me for something (especially when they were younger), “Well, this is an inconvenient time for me to help make that happen for you but since you were able to blah, blah, blah for me earlier I can change my plans and make an effort to do this to help you now. Give me 30 minutes to wrap up here.”
  • After laying this foundation is when they heard their first “no” from me about things they really wanted. I felt justified in saying, “Remember when you choose not to do blah to help me yesterday? Well, you didn’t cooperate with me, so I’m not interested in making effort to help you with this now.” Very quickly they saw why it was worth it cooperate with me. I only had to do it once maybe twice per kid. Now we talk it all out and come to terms we can all agree with and follow through on.
  • When they were very young I made certain to never deal with a fit thrower. I would say, “Are you throwing a fit? Because if so, the answer is absolutely no. I don’t deal with fit-throwers.” When we were playing somewhere and they didn’t want to leave I would say, “You can cooperate with me now or I for sure won’t want to bring you back next time you want to come here.” Then I would cheer them in the moment telling them they are doing a good job settling down and how that is not easy and how I’m real proud of their effort and that I’ll be happy to blah again if they would like. Also, if they could calmly ask for more time, I would make a deal with them. I might say, “What do you still want to do?” or “How much more time do you need?” and come to an agreement. It’s fun to restate the agreement, tell them they have a deal, and “shake on it” too once they are used to the process.
    • First couple times, my girl would take deep, dramatic breaths and have difficulty getting words out but she kept trying and I kept waiting and supporting. Now that never happens (she is 8). She can say what she needs to say. She can even say, “Well, I really want to blah but I can see you don’t really want to so it’s okay.” Then I can say, “We could blah at such and such a time” or “how about blah instead?”
    • My boy was never so dramatic. He was (and still is) more likely to lapse into angry silence. In our house, it has been established that angry silence and dirty looks and silent treatment are also variations on fit throwing (aka immature communication that one can learn skills to improve upon and thus learn to “use their charm” with much success instead). So in the case of quiet/introverted fit throwing, I still approach with “are you throwing a fit?”
    • For my son, I try to coax him out of it the same way, “Calm yourself and say what you need to say. I’m listening.” He might say, “You will be mad about what I say” then I say, “Give it to me straight anyway, talk with a kind tone and phrase it as nicely as you can while still giving it to me straight and I’ll do my best to keep my cool.” Another thing he might say is “I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” To which I say, “Thanks for letting me know. When you are ready, I’ll listen.” These days, he’s often able to say, “It’s okay, mom. I was mad a second, but I’m getting over it.” To which I say, “Great job!” without asking for further detail because that’s his way of saying “I was mad, but I realize now that it really is no big deal.”
    • I talk to both my kids a lot about how important it is to keep their cool and I hold myself to that standard. When I do loose my cool, I apologize as soon as I can do it sincerely. I also “think out loud” about how it is difficult sometimes. “Ugh, I’m just so frustrated this or that person was rude. Guess they were having a bad day. I’m glad it’s not contagious! I don’t have to be upset too.”
  • As a parent, identify areas of no compromise. For example, one no compromise area for us is about safety gear on bikes and scooters because my son is a daredevil. All I have to say is, “That’s a safety issue.” Then off the kid goes to get his helmet.
    • Another example might be about attending church. If going to church is a family value that you need to be upheld, then you tell your child, “You can go with a good attitude, or you can go with a bad attitude, but you’re going. This is an issue of such importance to me because blah, blah, blah. I appreciate it if you choose to go with a good attitude.” If you need him to go whether he wants to or not, then you are asking for cooperation from him to have a good attitude.

Other personal values are easily demonstrated and practiced alongside focusing on cooperation so intensely. Things such as honesty and the importance of keeping your word and how trust builds from that and the benefits that come from being trusted.

  • For example, a kid says he wants to go to the movie with the family when plans are being made then he wants to back out at the last minute.
    • If he didn’t want to go in the first place but didn’t say so when you were planning then he is not being honest. Being honest about whether he wants to go is important for planning purposes. Does he want you to be honest with him? Then he should be honest with you. So give him an example, if you tell him you will take him somewhere that he really wanted to go but then at the last minute you decide you don’t want to, then how would he feel? Would he feel like you were honest? How would he feel?

Practicing cooperation is valuable. Kids learn to listen closely while at the same time checking in with their own wants and desires. They will be more present in their communication in general. They learn to speak up for what they want in a way that helps them be heard better and have a better chance of getting it.

031-istock-origAstrology is a tool that offers leaps in understanding when embraced as a symbolic language. I look at it as one tool in the toolbox. Like, “I’m gonna pick up my screwdriver now and work on this project.” Or for astrology, “I’m going to pick up my natal chart now and see what insights I discover.”

I’m not a fan of using astrology for every single question. It is wonderful for seeing potential life lesson insights, though. It can help bring clarity quickly. As Steven Forrest wrote, “Astrology’s principle advantage is speed.” Astrology offers a way to focus on insights for certain areas of life and help you problem solve at any given time too.

You are probably familiar with your Sun sign even if you haven’t ever done much work learning the symbolic language of astrology at all. For example, you most likely know you are a Pisces or Taurus.

Sun sign descriptions are a nice way to open the door to a little bit of the language and symbolism of astrology. There are a lot more pieces that can be added to tap into the useful information to consider for practical relevance to your life. Whole paragraphs can be added such as, in general: how others tend to see you, what you are best known for, how you learn best, how to best nurture yourself, what makes your heart soar, what you are spontaneously willing to take action on, information about your life purpose, and many other useful pieces of information to consider.

Astrology can reveal new ideas for solutions that you have not thought of before. Then you try the new approach in your life and find out for yourself if the idea worked. I love to use astrology in this very practical way.

Because of the law of attraction, always take descriptions offered to the high side for ideas to consider going forward. For example, low side keywords to consider for Aquarius include detached, unpredictable, and arrogant. Whereas high side keywords include visionary, altruistic, perceptive, funny, and unique. You can find many more examples of keywords for all of the 12 signs to consider online. There are multiple potential interpretations for every piece in astrology. Remember to focus on the positive as you go.

The place to start is to get a copy of your natal chart. It is all done by computer software. You can get a free natal chart online at astro.cafeastrology.com. Just click on “Birth Chart” once you get there. You will need your birth date, birth time, and birth place to generate a chart.

Then you can look at a cheat sheet such as this one or, my long-time favorite, this one.

One of the first things I look at when I look at a chart is the placement of the north node by house and sign. Which gives the big picture idea of hints into life purpose. North node placement can help you sync up with a way of being that can help move you forward towards everything that you want in life. It’s a very big picture view, and it’s a lifelong journey. But you can know that as you lean in the direction of that north node, you’re heading in a good direction for personal growth. The insights and clarity from taking a look at that north node can be priceless.

Next, I often look for the Sun and Moon sign and placements. Just these bits of info provide inspirational ideas to consider and synthesize for self-growth.

Did you know that there are things to look at in your natal chart that can give ideas to consider for career too? At the top of your chart will be a sign that indicates what others quickly recognize about you. When you combine that info with your moon sign and your Mars sign you can gather some helpful ideas that can point to practical steps to try in your career.

And you can gain insights about yourself in all kinds of relationships too. For important partnerships, such life partners, look at the 7th house cusp. So, if you have Aquarius on the 7th house cusp of partnership and identifying with others, lean into being altruistic, perceptive, and funny in relationships…or any of the other high side keywords for Aquarius that resonate with you. Consider that might be the type of person you attract as well.

Now if you want to take a look at how you can take it to the high side as a parent, look at the 5th house cusp and see what sign is there then take the keywords to the high side again, see which ones resonate with you. With siblings look at the 3rd house cusp. With co-workers, look at the 6th house cusp.

I truly believe positive astrology work can result in clarity and life-enhancing ideas to try as well as a deepening of self-understanding.

Life Improved: Career

Want to feel good about your career? Many people desire a satisfying career, and with good reason. A career that fits well is a luxury that enhances life overall. In addition to monetary resources gained through work, a good-fitting career fuels self-development and self-confidence. It is a main avenue for continued learning and development. Through the work you do every day, you demonstrate where you are willing to focus. Finding work to focus on that meshes superbly with your inner nature and what you want to experience maximizes your personal power, creativity, and freedom.

Sometimes people are surprised to realize what an inside game career development is. Magic happens once you plan ahead to feel good about your career and begin to include your work seamlessly into the fabric of your life experience. Building a satisfying career begins with knowing it is possible and believing you can tap into that kind of abundance.

People who have found their perfect work are passionate and proud of the work they do. They exude a special type of joy and zest for life. I wish that for you. Dive into your career development one optimistic step at a time. Follow what appeals to you now as an indication of your intuition at work.

A career is more than one job, a progression of jobs, or even a certain task or title. It’s your life’s work and may include many areas of focus, some paid, and some not (such as schooling, volunteer work, or being a stay-at-home parent). Finding a larger perspective like that can make the significance of the immediate day-to-day more palatable, especially if you are currently in a job you hate. The job doesn’t feel so bad when you take the bird’s eye view. What you are doing now is just one step on the path.

If you can find a big perspective and lean positive with your outlook for the future, you suddenly find yourself with more patience and room to maneuver. It starts to feel like it is possible to make small changes that get you closer and closer to discovering the sweet spot where work feels like play. That’s what happens when you find the flow. You realize you are working on something or for something that feels significant to you personally that uses your best skills and provides the right amount of challenge for development. Add to that the feeling that your work fuels you with purpose and your career begins to feel very sweet indeed. Below are a few ideas for your to consider as a basis for creating a career that you love.

Be selfish. Embrace and pursue your own path.

Sometimes people feel pressure to choose a career based on what someone important to them expects. Often it is easy to turn away from our interests because of what those around us would think. But remember, you are the one putting in time and attention to whatever you choose for your career. You are the one noticing every day how you feel about your work. So be selfish in your career development planning. Intend for your work to enhance your life. Those you care about will be glad that you are happy in the end.

Building a career is an ever-evolving process, not a one-time choice. Each day you learn and gather new skills, meet new people, and gain important insights and info about yourself and what interests you. Through self-analysis and experience, you become more knowledgeable about yourself, what it is you do best, and how to present that to others. You learn more about what is a good fit for you and you become better able to match up with opportunities.

Follow your interests without concern about what other people think. It doesn’t matter if others notice what you are doing or what you are interested in, but when you fully engage with your work without the need for their attention, everyone will notice. You can feel confident knowing that people recognize you for what you do best as soon as you own it and keep working on it.

Begin by focusing on how you want to feel about your work. How does it feel when your work is easy and enjoyable for you? What feeling are you mainly wanting from your work at this time? Feel it now. Feel what it is like to do what you want. Make it a daily practice to visualize and feel that money comes to you without struggle and that your work is a joy.

A fulfilling career is built upon natural strengths that enable you to work with ease and to gain expertise faster. Strengths are activities that you enjoy doing, that you do well, and that you don’t mind doing repeatedly, as defined by Marcus Buckingham, one of the first strengths researchers. Once you find your top 2-3 strengths, I suggest you build your career around them ruthlessly. Work with a career counselor or coach to help make them the hub of your life’s work. Use them to communicate what distinguishes you from others in your cover letters and resumes and in important conversations with hiring managers, bosses, colleagues, and mentors.

Build on your career keyword and your strengths.

Your career keyword can provide clarity in understanding what you want recognition for and likely what will be easily recognized in you by others. Once you have it, you can integrate it with your strengths to use as a guiding light in your career decision making.

Identifying a career keyword is an exercise in big picture thinking. It is kind of like choosing a theme song, but in this case it is one word that describes what your career is about at its core. What is your career keyword? Get quiet for a few seconds then ask yourself, “what is my career about?” See if your intuition supplies an answer. If not, choose one for now and change anytime you find a word that fits even better. Your career keyword will resonate with you. You might feel proud, excited, or confident when you hit on a good word for you. Here are some example keywords.

administrating • art • beauty • bravery • building • challenge • communicating • compassion • competing • cooperating • creating• dancing • defense • diplomacy • efficiency • empathizing• enforcement • exploring • fashion • foreign travel • harmony • hedonism • healing • honesty • images • imagination • independence •
innovation • leading • movement • music• negotiating • nurturing • perfecting • performing • persistence• philanthropy • philosophy • physical stamina • power • problem solving • protecting • relating • religion • research • sales • science • self-expression • service• social reform • spirituality • storytelling • teaching • team building • technology • transforming • writing

Plan ahead to enjoy and focus your mind as you go.

Have you decided that work is a “grind?” Do you leave your workplace already dreading returning tomorrow? If so, it is no wonder work is difficult. When you notice and talk about what you don’t like, it is so easy to continue focusing in that way. If you want different results, then you need to establish a new thought pattern about your career. You simply must find a positive perspective about your work to ensure that your career enhances your life.

Even if you already think your job is good and you enjoy your work, you can give it more juice. Try this strategy. Go to work looking for something to like during your day. Maybe it’s a certain feeling in the air or special people you involved. Maybe it’s that you have a lot of time to think while you do a repetitive task. Maybe it’s that moment when you help a customer and they genuinely appreciate it. Maybe it’s noticing how someone else seems happy or is a pleasure to be around. Maybe it’s the precision with which things are getting done. There is always something positive to notice, find it. Then talk about it, and notice it again tomorrow.

Plan in advance to enjoy your work in the immediate future (as in today), short-term (as in this year), and long-term (ten years from now). What does it feel like to know satisfaction about a job well done, a position you are proud of, and a well-developed career? Feel it all now. Let your body feel the visualization as if it were the real thing. Use your imagination to your advantage to raise your vibe by intentionally feeling like you already have all that you want in your career. Do it daily and notice the differences. The positive differences you notice are your “wins.” Focus on them and make a big deal of it. Things are changing for the better!

On Interviewing, Part 4

Of course when you go into an interview for a position, you will have done your research. You looked into what’s going on with the company. You checked out their website. You prepared for potential questions. You have questions of your own. You reviewed your power stories.

Now realize that the people who are hiring, they have a problem. And they need to find someone who can solve that problem. So be sure you are aware of why they are hiring right now. Make that a part of your research. Begin to think in terms of how you can be a solution to that problem. That’s what they want to hear, and that’s what will make you stand out. They’re looking for a solution, and you can be that solution. Position yourself to show that you’re aware of what they intend to accomplish by hiring someone. Check in with them too. When you go into your interview, say, “I imagine that blah blah blah is a problem, and I think that I could contribute by blah.” Doing so will help you demonstrate how you want to be a solution to their problem. They’ll like that.

Much what goes on in an interview is the interviewer seeking to understand your personal brand. It is often an awkward situation because each question is basically, “What makes you the best choice for us?” And, that is such a mind trick of a question. You can get into this idea of, “Oh my gosh, is it okay to say that I’m special…that I’m the best one?” You know what, it’s okay. You have a personal brand, and they want to know about that to determine if you are going to fit into the company culture. Be okay with saying, “This is who I am. This is what I do especially well. This is how I contribute.” Take pride in that.

Prepare yourself by losing that awkwardness about how they’re going to ask you what makes you unique. What makes you better than the other applicants. Understand, that is your invitation to tell them about your personal brand. What you embody. Go ahead and be yourself and stand for something. Know in advance, who you are and what you are looking for and say it with calmness and pride. Question them too. It’s the only way to find out if the match is a good fit for you both.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

On Interviewing, Part 3

It is likely you may be fired at some point in the course of your career. This, of course, can come as a total shock but it is imperative to come to terms with such an experience so that you can recover quickly and be able to represent yourself well in upcoming job interviews.

Spend some time processing what happened and practice verbalizing the lessons learned in a non-emotional way. Keep a positive attitude that you are preparing to go on to bigger and better things. The reality is that even to employers these days being fired isn’t necessarily a mark against you depending on how you recover.

Many successful people have been fired at some point in their career before becoming a superstar.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Advance Your Image


I received a complimentary copy of Advance Your Image: Putting your best foot forward never goes out of style. 2nd Edition by Lori Bumgarner for review and wanted to share it with you because it is a good find and a timely topic. I received no other compensation for this review.

Lori is on a mission to propel people forward with poise and self-confidence and to bring the beauty within each person out in the best possible light. As a career advisor to college students turned image consultant to musicians, Lori has an excellent take on the big picture for how personal image plays into career development planning.

In this book, she points out the nuances of why and how to strategically manage your image for the desired result of connecting with the audience, be it a potential employer or your network of supporters. Lori champions work you can do to improve your image as a fast-track to improved self-confidence which then leads to making better first impressions and being received better by others…a win-win!

Lori also weaves together your in-person appearance with your job search marketing materials and online presence in a practical and easy to understand way. She outlines a helpful rule that I had never heard of before called the Rule of 12 within her powerful strategies for making a good first impression.

Learn more about Lori on her website, paNASHstyle.com.

Most people don’t land a great job or create a wonderful career by being open to anything, not at all. Instead, it’s done by checking in with themselves about what they really want and going for it a hundred percent. This focus makes them more attractive candidates, too. Think about it as if you were the one hiring. You have two people to choose from. One lady has done a job for several years and is keeping her options open. The other lady is committed to being the very best at the job she knows she wants. Who would you be more likely to make an offer to?

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5