Altman Leadership Center Speaking/Consulting web page
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Paste this link in your browser: https://vec.webex.com Then in the "Search" box type "Mark Altman" and you will see all the upcoming trainings.
I look forward to seeing you all there! Please tell your friends.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
With the holiday season behind us, children in nearly year round activities and bad economic news the leading story every evening on TV, marriages today are under a great deal of stress. Compounding the problem are our expectations from marriage and our attitudes toward marriage. The availability of information can be both a challenge and an opportunity for marriages.
On the one hand, media messages remove the stigma associated with divorce and provide an overall attitude that if a person is unhappy in a relationship you end the relationship and find another; much the way one might replace a worn out toaster. On the other hand, the media provides more marital help than at any other time in our nation’s history. Advice improving our communication skills, information for abused and battered women, parenting tools, and of course the near constant attempts to improve our sex lives, just to name a few.
Because as of 2004, Idaho tied Alabama for the sixth highest divorce rate in the country; over the next three weeks, I will try to provide help for couples starting with recognizing when your relationship is in trouble, followed by resources to get that help, and then as a last resort how to plan for and carry out an amiable, healthy-as-possible, divorce. Before we start, let me say the most obvious sign your marriage is in trouble is if you are suffering emotional or physical abuse. In this case, get help immediately. The Women’s Center is available for help 24 hours a day at 208-664-9303; but if you don’t want to call them then talk to your Pastor, a friend, or your family. The bottom line if you are in an abusive relationship: get help and get out.
Other reasons to consider getting counseling help are:
If either of you has been unfaithful, your level of intimacy is low, or you are suspicious of your spouse.
If you don’t respect each other, teasing has become hurtful, you don’t fight fair, you bicker and snipe at each other constantly or you don’t have fun together any more.
If you can’t or don’t talk to each other about your problems, you are happier if your spouse is away, you find yourself withdrawing from each other, or you can’t seem to agree on goals and priorities.
An early indicator of abuse, before actual abuse starts is if a partner begins to isolate you from family and friends. This should prompt a call for help from one of the folks listed earlier.
Early recognition and treatment of a problem is always the easiest, cheapest and least painful way to solve a problem. This has been true since Ben Franklin admonished us, “A stitch in time saves nine,” to the modern observation, “Bad news doesn’t get better with age”.
Prior planning, commitment, hard work and constant communication are the best way I know of to keep a marriage healthy, but when these tools begin to breakdown, checking your pride at the door and getting some help to put your marriage back on firm footing is called for. You may have to communicate and compromise, change your behaviors, and engage in hard work but you just might save yourself the financial and emotional costs associated with divorce.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I provide this progress report because it is my hope that more families will become host families; we are getting so much out of the experience. This is our first experience hosting foreign exchange students, but we certainly hope it is not our last. The very few hiccups we have had stemmed out of miscommunication due to language barriers, although both of our students speak English well and are very well behaved. Learning about a culture very different from ours has been a great learning experience for our family.
Exchange students are typically Juniors or Seniors in high school, however, our students are fourteen years old and in eighth grade. We have not found this to be a challenge, and while both come from happy homes neither have had homesickness. They have not been very picky eaters and have been open to trying new foods. There are a couple of restaurant chains here in America, that have opened in Korea that the kids are most anxious to try. Seeing places we take for granted through the eyes of someone who has never had the experience has been a real treat for all of us.
We are treating them as a part of our family; they help the kids with their chores, they follow the same rules our kids do with few exceptions, and of course, they are included in all family activities. While we all eat dinner together, and therefore we provide their meals, they were required to bring their own spending money for the times they are on school field trips for example. The students brought calling cards to call home and they email their families often.
Because the exchange program we’re currently part of was started by a couple of local, very hardworking volunteers, the children in this program all come from South Korea. However, if your family is interested in a particular area of the world, you may well be able to host someone from that area. Most families maintain close relationships with their exchange students for years after the student goes back home, even visiting each other again.
There are a number of organizations that run student exchange programs and the local High school counselors can provide you contact information to a reputable one. The students are screened by the placement agencies and usually arrive with fairly solid language skills, however one of the reasons they are here is to become more like native speakers. Most students stay for one year, however our students will unfortunately only be here for one month. My family would tell you that is eleven months too short.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This year we are fortunate to have our children watch us vote for our own national leaders while at the same time, we can juxtapose our political system against the troubled areas of the world such as several African nations, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We are also fortunate to show our children a historic Presidential election. We have taken a huge step toward true political equality to minorities and women, as we have a very viable female candidate, and a minority candidate that seems to be gaining momentum every day.
This new chapter in American history provides a fascinating backdrop for parents as we teach our younger citizens one of the safeguards to our freedoms is the educated participation of all our citizens in the political process. Families can do several things to nurture a lifelong interest in politics, governance and public policy in their children:
Do your best to understand our political processes and the political systems of other countries. You can’t accurately explain what you don’t know. Be fair when explaining positions you don’t agree with, it will bite your backside if you don’t.
Encourage polite, open, and honest debate; especially if your children disagree with you. Your willingness to listen just might convince them you will listen if they need to talk to you about something really important.
If you don’t know the answer to something don’t fake it. Kids have a BS detector as sensitive as my beagle’s nose begging from the kitchen table. Besides they will probably be given the right answer next week in school, so don’t knowingly undercut your credibility. Far better is to sit down together with a book or at the computer and look up the right answer.
Talk to your kids about how various public policies affect your family directly. Make sure your children know you vote in every election. If you know a service member, talking about their service immediately personalizes much of our foreign policy and opens doors to a chat about domestic policy.
Encourage them to write their political leaders with polite questions or comments, most will write back with an answer. Take them to a city council, school board meeting, or a political event.
Ask them their opinions; they may surprise you with their insight. If they disagree with you, don’t shoot them down; ask more questions, eventually they will figure out the “right answer” even if it isn’t your “right answer”.
Political growth is a process like mental and physical growth. You don’t get angry with your child for being only four feet tall; likewise, don’t be angry when they disagree with your position on Darfur or abortion. With your help, they will come to their own truth on these and other issues; but more important, they will be ready and willing to engage in the debate as knowledgeable adults and take their place as citizens.
Tagline: Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. Mark has completed graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is working on a PhD in Leadership studies at Gonzaga University. He is happy to speak or provide a workshop for your organization and can be reached at email@example.com.
We have arrived at the end of another year. I hope that this year was as wonderful a year for you, full of growth and happiness, as it was for me. It is this time of year when we tend to assess the year behind us and reflect a bit on our hopes and aspirations for the year before us, for many this process is given a name, New Year’s Resolutions. At least I hope you will; I do, and I am encouraging you in the strongest terms to do so as well.
Without this reflection how do you expect to benefit from your mistakes and allow your blessings to buoy you when the seas get rough? You have purchased your experience with your failures, so use them! I am suggesting that you complete this reflection in a formal way, writing down the results so you can remember them and put a plan into action to capitalize upon them.
The challenge in successfully using a New Year’s Resolution to move you forward toward a goal in a meaningful way is in the planning stage. If you plan properly for success, you are much more likely to find success. Allow me to provide some suggestions to help you plan for success:
1. Spend an hour or two, a whole day if you can get it, by yourself in reflection. Ask yourself how the past year went, what could have gone better and what you most want for the New Year.
2. Write the results of your reflection down. Yes, write it down, it is very important to see it in front of you in stark black and white.
3. Begin to make a plan of how to get where your dreams and passions are leading you. You say you don’t have dreams or passions? The Swiss poet and philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel instructs, “Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”
4. Write the plan down. Yes, for goodness sakes, writing it down is important. You will feel more committed and you will have something concrete to remind you of your commitment.
5. Show those who care for you, your New Year’s plan for success. For one thing they will help hold you accountable, for another they may know someone who can help you be successful.
6. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones. When you have a setback examine what went wrong and how you might fix it for the future and begin again.
7. Live life with passion! The German philosopher George Hegel asserted, “Nothing great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without passion.” It has been my experience that not only is Hegel correct, life is bland, colorless and wholly without purpose without some great passion.
I wish to send you into the New Year to reflect upon the words of Denis Diderot, the French philosopher, “Only passions, and great passions, can raise the soul to great things. Without them there is no sublimity, either in morals or in creativity. Art returns to infancy, and virtue becomes small- minded.” For 2008, I wish for you to live fully, laugh much, and love widely and often.
Tagline: Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He has graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is working on a PhD in Leadership studies at Gonzaga University. He is happy to speak or provide a workshop for your organization and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.