The wisdom of children’s books

March 13, 2021

I was recently in a local gift shop with my wife and saw two children’s books by Kobi Yamada

What do you do with an idea?


What do you do with a chance?

Yamada is an award winning author with several children’s books to his name. He also wrote What do you do with a problem?

As with most children’s books, Yamada took a lesson that we all can learn from and reduced it to the simple language and pictures that a child can understand.

I have written here several times about dealing with problems, so I won’t repeat myself on that (see this post ) ; however, the topics of dealing with ideas and chances (opportunities) is one that deserves some thought.

I did not read Yamada’s books while standing in the gift shop. I just opened to the first pages to see how they started. Both books started out the same way, with the child trying to get away from the idea or the chance – but it followed the child around and would not go away, just like the problems that Yamada also wrote about, I suspect.

Trying to avoid dealing with problems is easier to understand than trying to get away from ideas or chances; but all three reactions are based upon the same thing – fears. The fears that cause us to avoid the three situations are only slightly different across all three and have their base in our fear of failure. With problems we often cannot see any good solutions or we  imagine all sorts of bad outcomes. New ideas that pop into our heads also bring that same fear of failure because, well, they’re new – they represent the unknown and our imaginations tend towards bad outcomes when facing the unknown.

Chances (or opportunities), when we are given them always come with imagined outcomes that have both good and bad endings. Which do you think our imaginations often choose to focus upon? Perhaps that is something that separates successful people – they tend to focus upon the good outcome and work towards it. Successful athletes often use a visualization technique that helps them “see” the success that they desire.

Underlying the actions of successful people is the positive attitude of “I think I can”. They see the positive outcome, rather than being frozen by fears of the unknown (and unknowable). Keep in mind that every failure that you may have just means that you ran into one of those unknowns and now you know. You can do better next time because you know to avoid whatever it was that tripped you up – you will forge a different path to success. Persistence and perseverance are as important as perspiration in achieving success.

The key to success with all of these ‘What do you do with” questions is taking action and not to run away from them but to deal with them. What do you do with a problem? You solve it! What do you do with an idea? You implement it! What do you do with a chance? You take it!

So, maybe the Nike people have the most childlike and valid answer to all of the “What do I do with” questions in life – Just Do It!

Make the choice to stop today – stop what?

May 22, 2015

Tammy Flowers recently posted this quote on the Highland Matters Facebook group page that she moderates –

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  – Eleanor RoosHenry Thomas Buckleevelt. The quote although widely associated with Eleanor was actually made much earlier by the English historian Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862).

So I wondered, if I’m discussing ideas for people to use when coping with events in their lives, what does that make this blog? Hmmm. Maybe it’s a greater than average blog about small things. No. Maybe it’s an average blog about great events in the lives of small people. No. Perhaps it’s about ideas on how to deal with average things so that they remain small and don’t become too great in our lives. That’s getting closer.

The thing about Eleanor’s quote is that that we (people) are impacted in ways by the events that take place in our lives and the ideas that we have or ideas that others have about us. I get that there it is a higher level of thinking required to discuss ideas and abstractions and the ability to do that with more complex ideas does seem to demonstrate a higher level of intelligence (hence a greater mind); however, events happen all the time around usgossip and to be oblivious to them and not react to them through discussion would seem abnormal, not average. As for discussing people, there certainly are things one should not do and most of them are hard to avoid for long when the discussion turns to discussing a specific person. It is a small mind indeed that allows prejudices, hate or judgements to color the discussion about a specific person. That is a pitfall that is as hard for many to avoid as a Michigan pothole.

So, perhaps the best thing to take from Eleanor’s quote is that if you can’t think of anything other than ideas or events to discuss you are better off keeping your mouth shut. We often associate the word gossip with discussions about other people and there are no good things to be said about gossip. One quote that I saw about it seemed to ring particularly true –

gossip2“Gossip is never fatal until it is denied. Gossip goes on about every human being alive and about all the dead that are alive enough to be remembered, and yet almost never does any harm until some defender makes a controversy. Gossip’s a nasty thing, but it’s sickly, and if people of good intentions will let it entirely alone, it will die, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.”  ― Booth Tarkington, author – The Magnificent Ambersons

So, focus instead on thinking and discussing concepts and ideas or about the events of the day and how they might impact you. Talking about a fellow worker or someone in your family or, worse yet, someone that you don’t really even know is not only a waste of your time, it serves no good purpose. Passing on or engaging in discussions that might impact the reputation of someone else is just wrong and something that you would not want others to engage in about you.

Perhaps this final bit of advice that I found about gossiping might be a good guide –

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”  ― Steve Maraboli, author of Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Make that choice today and be free. Have a great holiday weekend.