Parents: A Lot Can Happen in 5-Minutes
Hi Linda, this is Daisy W. I’m the principle at E elementary…, and I’d love for you to be the speaker at our Character Counts Pillar Awards Ceremony next Spring… You’ll have five minutes to share inspirational wisdom with our students, parents, and faculty. I hope you can make it. Can’t wait to hear back from you.”
This is one of my favorite voicemails, or should I say, one of the most challenging.
I have no problem speaking to students, parents, or faculty; as a matter of fact, this is hands-down my genre of choice. Sharing an inspirational message or motivational talk, again a no-brainer. The catch is she only gave me 5 minutes! Really… give me 60, 45, or 30 minutes and I could offer up a knock-your-socks-off presentation, but 5 minutes? How could anyone disperse wisdom worth its salt to such a diverse audience in 5, count them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes? Well, I do like challenges. I accepted the gig.
As I contemplated the means in which I could present a platter of positive possibilities to the students, parents, and faculty at this school, a thought occurred to me. I needed to offer each group an easily digestible morsel of encouragement that made them feel lifted up, valued, and purposed. My biggest roadblock to making it so was time. My words needed to be concise but meaty… leaving them wanting dessert. A presentation that made a difference was required. I needed to take initiative and model excellence.
Can five minutes be enough TIME?
Perfection is not required for success, but we do need to aim for excellence. As parents, we choose either to set a standard worth following (excellence) or to just slide by in hopes that our child makes good choices on their own. It’s true that walking towards excellence takes initiative but so does putting on our pants. Success is a matter of choice, one decision at a time, forward motion… right or wrong. Here’s what I chose to offer in my five minutes.
[As I walked beyond the podium, my eyes searched out as many faces as possible in the time it took to speak truth into the room. When a parent’s eyes met mine, I felt a connect that would not have happened if I stayed immovable behind the lectern of wood positioned center stage.]
I’d like to thank you parents, for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here at school with your child today. Your presence in his or her life at this specific point in time says, ‘You’re valuable to me.’ Your presence helps point your child towards excellence… an achievable goal when they know you’re in their corner. Thank you.”
Teachers and faculty…”
I continued moving about, once again accessing the eyes of my targeted audience.
In keeping with my desire to connect as deeply as I could in such a short amount of time, I began walking in the audience and given the opportunity, I placed a hand of affirmation on a shoulder or two. Tender tears became commonplace on the faces of the adults; it took a lot out of me to hold my composure. Steady Linda, you have two minutes left, that’s all, two minutes.
Students, let me look at your faces!”
Eyes of every color shot a glance my direction. Eager anticipation of what they were about to hear filled the room.
Each one of you has given up a lot to be here today. You’ve chosen to work hard to achieve your goal as a Pillar of Character in your school. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to spend time on a project while your friends, brothers, or sisters were outside playing.”
Heads turned to one another nodding in agreement, they shared a common bond of due diligence and they seemed to enjoy being acknowledged for it.
[Moving back to the podium, I paused for just a moment…]
Your hard work paid off. Today you have proven yourself an individual of excellence in your category of character. Congratulations, I’m very proud of each of you.”
[My eyes moved ever so slowly across the room.]
“Ladies and gentlemen, students, Mrs.W. I can’t express enough the gratitude I have that you would allow me a few moments of your time and the opportunity to be here with you today. Be encouraged,…”
…as you take the initiative to model excellence every day. You’re not just making a difference in the life of the person in front of you, you’re impacting generations to come. And for that, I thank you. Thank you very much.”
What changes can your 5 minutes make?
Every moment counts, even five minutes.
Here are a few ways you, mom or dad, can do just that.
- Acknowledge your child’s abilities and thank him for it in 60 seconds or less.
- Is he a good reader? “Billy, you really bring the stories you read to life for me. Thank you.”
- Does she help in the kitchen? “Martha, I couldn’t have dinner ready on time without your help. Thank you very much.”
- Can he get dressed alone in the mornings? “Jeremy, that’s a kicking outfit. You really know how to match your clothes. Great job!”
- Ask your child to help you with a task. The more they do with you the better they get at it. Allow them to fail and encourage them to try again.
- Ask your child to show you something he or she enjoys doing. Let them take as much time as they want to explain it. Then offer a positive comment, using something they brought up, to show you were listening.
Share times when you struggled with getting something ‘right.” We can’t expect our child to succeed if we’re not willing to be transparent in our failings. You’ll be surprised; they probably think you’ve never made mistakes. You’ll both chuckle at this.
When you speak or listen… look into your child’s eyes – not freaky like, but enough to make sure they know you’re present with them.
Don’t let the principle of modeling excellence scare you. You’re not being asked to be perfect, just to be better at something tomorrow than you were today. I found out from future emails and phone calls that the words spoken out into the audience at E elementary over the course of
I found out from future emails and phone calls that the five minutes worth of words spoken out into the audience at E elementary, made a lasting impact. I praise God for that memory.
Be blessed and encouraged as you make TIME to be that parent, not afraid of aiming towards excellence.
Hugs in Him… Linda
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