Tag Archives: dreams

Losing Hurts and that is Good

A last second basketball shot

The photo above is a last second game winning 3-pointer in the championship game… for the other team. My second son is number 15 in the red uniform. He has never lost a game like that before.

Teen performing a speech

The picture above is my oldest son, performing serious prose for Speech. At districts he got third in one round, but got sixth in another. He didn’t qualify for finals.

As a dad it was hard to lessen the pain my sons felt after each of these moments. Even harder to explain the benefit of losing (blog post from 2011). I want them to know that character is built on both sides of the coin, winning and losing. I want them to know that it is important to feel the pain of defeat because it means that their heart was in it.  And honestly, I think that is the most important aspect to success.

Anyone can participate in a sport or activity. Some are even successful without ever putting their heart into it. I mean that they can win on talent alone, but that isn’t the only reason to be involved in an activity. Finding out who you are and expressing yourself through that activity is the greatest achievement.

No matter if we win or lose we have moments that reveal who we really are in our pursuit of our goals. Putting our heart into an activity allows us to become ourselves, to understand who we are. To be great as a person. I know I am their dad, but I am proud of the men my sons are becoming.

My oldest son got his first main role as a third grader. He was Charlie in Willy Wonka Jr.

Boy performing as Charlie

This year he choose to perform Sweeney Todd, one of his favorite plays, during Speech season. Next year he hopes to perform an original piece, plus compete in Poetry. I am proud of his strength to perform pieces that are true to his heart and not sell out in hopes of winning.

My second son started playing basketball in first grade.

boy dribbling ball

He has worked hard, from that first game when he would not move from his spot on the court when he was on defense, to playing with the NBDA Bison Green team. I am proud of his work ethic and focus on achieving his goals.

I am most proud of both of them for feeling the sting of defeat, because it means their hearts are in it, win or lose. And if they keep pursuing their goals with their heart, I know they will succeed, especially in life.

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2010 National Honor Society Speech

Person at Podium I discovered a draft of my speech for Centura’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony in 2010. I, also, had this photo from that night. As I read over the speech I could imagine me writing this same speech today, of course I would be older. I would have more failures and more successes to share…  Anyway, I thought the message was worth sharing. Enjoy a small trip back in time to when I was 38…

Centura National Honor Society Speech

Good evening… I am honored to speak at such an important event in your lives.  I stand before you at the halfway point in my life, I am 38 years old.  In those 38 years, I have failed many times.  I lost my last high school football game in 3 overtimes, and then would quit playing football after my freshman year in college.  I let my first true love leave me and never got her back.  I technically do not have a mom or a dad to help me through life.  In high school, I dated a girl my best friend liked.  We did not speak to each other for 6 months.  I have yelled at my children only because I was having a bad day. I have had personal dreams die. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels taped together.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Uhmm Mr. Boelhower this is suppose to be a happy occasion…”  Hold on, give me a moment.

I stand before you at the halfway point of my life, I am 38 years old. In those 38 years, I have succeeded many times.  I was selected to play in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl, one of the few players to be selected from a losing team.  I would compete in track and field at Hastings College and continue as an assistant coach.  I am married to a wonderful woman and have five beautiful children. And yes, it was true love at first sight, at least for me.  My best friend was my best man at my wedding, and I was his best man.  Just last night at the dinner table, we laughed as we made-up the shortest “Once upon a time” stories.  I have succeeded at dreams I never knew I had. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels so much love it could exploded.

Now, why do I share this with you, because you will someday stand at the halfway mark and find that life has been nothing like you thought, and that is the beauty of it, both the pain and the joy.  But to get to that point, to be able to embrace the complexity of life you need a strong foundation, which brings us to this moment.  Why we are here.  Tonight is a moment that symbolizes the foundations you build your life on, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character.

Each of these foundations is important to life.  Let us take a minute to redefine these foundations with real world definitions.

Scholarship:  It is not just about the grades.  Scholarship is discovering and sharing the truth.  The truth of what works in this world and what works in your own life. It is learning from your mistakes and your victories.

Service: Is not just volunteering.  Service is Love in action.  Love of family and friends, of your fellow humans, of a better tomorrow.  Service is the opening of your heart to see others succeed.  The cool part is when you do this; you start to see your true self.

Leadership: is not just being the head person in charge.  Leadership is the courage to serve and to learn.  We are all leaders at some point in our lives, as a mom or dad.  A coach, a friend.  Many people “talk” about what should be done, few do it.  It takes courage to get things done; it takes courage to do what is right.  It takes courage to open your heart, to love those around you.

Character: is not just principles of morality and ethics.  It is your everyday life, lived.  It is the choices you make, mixed with the things you say, combined with the attitude you express.  It is you, everyday.

These foundations are strong; these foundations allow you, us, to handle the darkest hours.  They give us something to land on when we are knocked down.  And they provide the support to pick yourself up, to not shy away from the pain, but build and learn from those moments.

These foundations are good.  They allow us to bask in the sunshine, to truly experience love, joy, and life.  They lift us up.  They connect us to others, friends, family, and community.  These foundations give depth to our lives and fuel us to pursue the dreams we choose.

Life is complex, and that is the beauty of it.  Be confident in your foundations.  Stand tall, even when you feel down.  Love when your heart is broken.  Live everyday by what you know is true.  And live a life of greatness, everyday…

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What I Learned from My Students

It has been an interesting year for a number of reasons. But this post is about what I’ve learned from my students over the past year. Some background information, last year was my first year teaching a regular lecture college course for Central Community College (CCC). This semester I am teaching an online course for CCC. In the past I have taught the early entry courses for seniors taking dual credit courses through CCC. Even though I taught a college course, my everyday teacher life was centered in the high school routine. There is a difference between high school students and college students at CCC. This is what I’ve learned.

Education Matters

Even though I lost students over the year to a wide range of issues (I’ll talk about that in a few lines), students understood that gaining an education was important for them to reach their professional goals. I had one student who used her lunch break to attend my class. She would arrive a few minutes late, in her nursing outfit from work, and was raising a family. Another student had worked construction for almost two decades and loved it. But an accident kept him from returning to that job. He was studying business in hopes that he could return to the company in a new position.

My students understood that getting an education was going to help them reach their goals. But it is not easy.

Life Can Be a Hurdle

In high school, life is school. Football games, dances, school, they are all part of the everyday experience. For many of my students at CCC class was just a section of their life. I had students in class that ranged from 18 to 63 years old. I have a student right now who is traveling the world and taking my course online to get some general education credits handled before he comes back to the States. I had a young man at the age of 21 who had already gone through rehab twice.

I am proud to be a part, however small, of their lives. But life did cause some hurdles that challenged my approach to teaching. One aspect was the workload I expected from them. It made me think about what was really important for them in my course. This was hard for me because I love sharing extra material, to try to foster learning beyond the curriculum. I had to consider what I asked of them regarding assignments and homework. Not that I took it easier on them, but it forced me to align my course work according to importance and expected time spent on it. A simple example is that I used class time to handle small assignments and tried to give feedback on those right away because many of the assignments connect to their essays (which are the major assignments for the course). This allowed my students to work on the essay at home with more confidence in their ability to accomplish the writing.

Education versus Learning

This area is still challenging me, and maybe it always will. But not in the way you might think. I know many of my students only take my course because it is a general education course that all programs require. I actually lean on that idea to emphasize the importance of taking the course. I repeat, over and over, and over, that the number one goal is to help them become better writers for this course, for upcoming courses, and even for life. I present them with a WHY. Many of my students just want the credit, I know this. But their learning is their education which is their life, their goals. My battle is in creating a course, an assignment, or developing content that aligns to that WHY. And yes, I believe it matters.

The student who used her lunch hour to attend my class has two children and she revealed why it matters. During one session on writing with tone/voice, I was discussing how this characteristic of writing was the reason we like certain books, songs, and other media. I continued to expand on how important word choice  was in creating that tone or finding their own voice. Unbeknownst to me at the time I connected the WHY to her life when I lead a discussion on how hard it can be to write a personal letter to someone expressing our feelings (word choice/tone). I shared a personal example of writing a card for my son, and even how hard it was for me to get that card right. I happened to then share that that type of writing was just as important as an essay for my class, which I believe. At the end of that semester, which ended in December, that student sent me an email to tell me that she was excited to write a Christmas letter to her children and husband sharing how much she loved them. She wanted to make these letters a new tradition for her family.

What my students taught me was that education matters, for their goals, for their life.

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Greatness

Good morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. I don’t know when you might come across this post, but I wrote it for you.

Let’s cut to the chase, we need you to be great today. No, seriously. We need you to be on your game today. We need you to be a great mother or father, a great friend, a great person, a great writer, a great YOU.  Here’s why.

The world has enough average people. The world has too many below average people. The world has enough hate, disrespect, and coldness. What we need is you to be great.  To be strong. To live your life to the fullest at this moment.

I can hear some of you, life is too hard to be great. Thank you for proving my point. How is being less than your best helping make your life better? It is not. I know that it can be crazy getting the kids ready for the day. But being average, being rattled, being short and snippy at the kids does not make the moment better. Being at your best is not a guarantee that getting the kids ready in the morning will not be work, but it sure makes the moment better.

Life can be hard. I know that.  Which is even more of a reason for you to be great, to live your life to your greatest potential. Your life needs you to rise up to a higher level.

I can hear you, too. I’ve tried being better but it didn’t work. Yoda was right when he said:

Do or not do

The word TRY gives us an excuse not to succeed. To not be our best. It deflects the responsibility of our lives to an abstract idea or worse to another person.  You either live to your potential or you don’t.  Stop trying. We need you to BE GREAT. Your family, your dreams, your life needs your greatness. I know you you know it. Now live it.


Share this with anyone you know who might need a reminder that we need their greatness.

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2015 Reflection

Another year has started and it always give us a chance to reflect. To consider what we have learned and how we can do things better.

What I learned from 2015

I’m not sure I can articulate the lesson I learned from 2015 in a way that clearly shows the depth of the concept, but I will try.

No one really cares if I succeed. Or fail, for that matter. That doesn’t mean it is a bad thing, but understanding the concept helps set my perspective and expectations. I have discovered that the number of people truly concerned with your success is few. There are a number of reasons for this. First, people are striving for their goals, living their own lives, fighting their own battles.  In most cases they just don’t have the time or energy to spend helping you achieve your goals.  The second aspect is that finding someone or being in a situation that someone else will help you achieve your goals is rare. There will be people who care for you and support you, but to have a relationship with someone who is working with you to achieve your dreams is rare. Being in a situation or job where everyone is working for the same goal is also just as rare. Again, it  doesn’t mean there are not good jobs or situations, but when everyone is aligned with a meaningful vision it is life changing.

It hurts, and it sounds jaded, but I know that most people don’t care if I succeed (or fail). Understanding this lesson has had an impact on how I will strive to achieve my personal goals. It has changed my expectations of others. I will not expect them to spend time or energy on my goals. It doesn’t mean I won’t ask for help or seek their support. But I won’t be delusional that others are going to sacrifice for my goals. The other change is that I will appreciate those rare people and situations that help me reach greatness. One way to do that is to help others, when I can, to reach their goals.

Happy New Year. I hope you achieve greatness in 2016.

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Time to Give Up

I am going to go against the grain today. I am going to ask a hard question. And I ask you to not jump on the inspirational bandwagon.

When do you know it is time to

I can predict your answers… at least the first ones that flood your mind. Don’t give up. Follow your heart or dreams. Stay the course. We can’t forget the Thomas Edison quote, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

But I ask you to think about this question for a minute.  To consider some ideas before answering the question about giving up.

The first concept to consider is Passion.

Jon Acuff in his book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters brings up an interesting question regarding this idea. Does your dream get you up early? Here is his blog post on the idea.

If you don’t have the passion to actually go after something, then it is time to let the dream go. There is no use in working on a dream with minimal effort. It is a waste of your time.  Spend that time on something else.

Another concept to consider is the Cost.

Achieving anything has a cost to it. In the example above the cost is time (and sleep). But don’t take time lightly. We can not do everything. If we spend time on something, that means something or someone is not getting that time. And Time is not the only cost. There is also the cost of money, energy, and relationships to highlight a few.  If you are not willing to pay the cost of achieving a dream, then it is time to give up.

The hardest concept is Failure.

If you are not making progress on your goal, it might be time to give up. This is a tricky concept because we all do hit a wall, which I discuss at Stop Doing Nothing blog. Failure alone is not a sign you need to give up on a goal. And I can’t give you a time table to follow so that after six years you should quit. I do believe failure tells us that something is wrong. It could be timing, our approach, or a simply a bad day. But it can also be the wrong dream. If nothing is working. Failure is all you are experiencing. It might be time to let the dream goal.

When do you know it is time to give up?

If your goal doesn’t drive you.  If you are not willing to pay the cost of achieving your goal. If you are experiencing nothing but failure. If all three of these concepts ring true. Then it is OK to give up on a dream because you can go accomplish another goal that has been waiting for you to achieve.

 

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A Spark

From a Spark

I was a boy scout in elementary school in Minneapolis, Minn. We went camping once every month. Yes, even in January. We had to plan our meals, decide on job duties, plan a route for hiking, not to mention build a fire. To build a fire properly takes the right environment.  A clean level spot. A ring of dirt or stones was advised in my day.  You will need the correct wood, tinder, kindling and fuel wood. There are a number of ways to arrange the wood. I usually used the lean-to arrangement. But most importantly you need a spark. Nothing works without a spark.

Everyday I see articles and inspirational photos about finding your passion. The messages from these post are great. But they set an expectation of going from nothing to a full fledge fire. It doesn’t work that way. You have to have a spark. And once that spark is alive, it must be nurtured or else it will be extinguished before it can ignite a fire.

I have seen this human spark start a change in people but falter before it could make a lasting effect on their life. I have seen it in the classroom. I have heard it in colleagues voices. There are things that start a spark in all of us. But instead of fostering that spark to a raging fire, the spark flares up for a day or maybe a week and is gone. Until something ignites the spark and the cycle continues.

There are some things I learned as a boy scout that might get that spark to catch fire. I wish I could guarantee you will find your passion and life becomes one of those inspirational photos, but I spent enough time trying to get a fire going in the winters of Minnesota to know that nothing is guaranteed. But I hope I can share some ideas with you to make a positive difference in your life. Let’s see if we can get that spark to a fire.

Work and Patience

The first aspect is patience and work. You can build the perfect lean-to, have dry, combustible tinder and the first spark doesn’t catch. Maybe it was the wind. Maybe it burned the tinder too fast.  Maybe it started to rain. There are too many external factors to name that have the power to extinguish a spark. Same holds true in our life. I love to write, and I have so many ideas (sparks), but life just gets in the way.

If the first spark doesn’t catch, you try again. And again. And again. Even when a spark catches the tinder you have to work at keeping it burning until it catches the kindling. I remember huddled down around the small flame, hands spread out like bird wings trying to protect the flame from the wind. Sometimes gently blowing onto the flame so it would catch another twig on fire. It takes patience and work to get that spark to a level that it is ready for fuel wood.

Whatever sparks your heart, if you are not willing to work at it, you will never reach that level of passion in your life. You have to work and you have to have patience. You have to make time to work at that spark.

The Right Fuel

Once that spark has become a fire, it needs the right fuel. You would think any wood would work for a fire, but no. Each type of wood has their own properties for factors like heat, smoke, and coaling. Some are better for cooking, while others create a great campfire mood with intense flames and sparks.

There is not an easy answer for what fuel you need to make your spark into a fire. Factors to consider regarding this include time, finances, a mentor, and schooling. The hurdle for many people at this stage is the What now? question. No campfire keeps burning without someone looking after it. Nobody succeeds alone. Take the time and be honest in considering what or who you need to succeed. What will it take to keep the fire burning? Then collect the right fuel to keep your goals going.

The Fire is Out

Someone might be thinking, ‘I had the passion, in fact things were going well, but I still failed. The fire is out.’  I understand.  Believe me I know the feeling. But don’t just throw away this post just yet.

Every morning we would start our breakfast fire from the coals left over from the night before. It would take a little work and patience but in no time we were cooking eggs and bacon. The embers of our failures can be the “spark” to new adventures, new goals. Those new goals still need work and patience. They will need the right fuel. But you can take those coals from a past spark to start a new fire.
Share with me how your spark became a fire.

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