Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Stay-at-home moms—a worthy job not for the faint of heart

Stay-at-home moms—a worthy job not for the faint of heart
Darrel L. Hammon

Not long ago, I was talking to Trisha, a good friend who is a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) with a master's degree and now writing a book about being adopted. We talked about the "job titles" and skills SAHMs need to have to survive while being stay-at-home moms.

Consequently, I asked this question of my followers via social media, some of them SAHMs: "If you were to build a résumé for a stay-at-home mom what components, skills, experiences, etc. would you include as part of this overwhelming job?

My asking the question and ultimately writing this article was/is not to “glorify,” or even “hero-i-fy” SAHMs. Rather, it is to acknowledge and validate their enormous contributions and talents and give them credence for having chosen to be stay-at-home moms in their own homes when they could have easily been out serving as leaders in corporate America. As Trisha so deftly stated, “I have chosen Motherhood as my career, but it is exhausting!”

SAHM Trisha, master's prepared Early Childhood Development

The responses to my question were overwhelming, the majority coming from SAHMs. They were diverse, funny, professional, profound, exact, insightful, inspiring, practical, and awe-inspiring. Their answers made me tired just reading all the things that SAHMs do every single day.

Think of this partial list and not in any particular order or hierarchy:

Counselor/Therapist—How many times have we talked to our mothers about everything and cried on their shoulders over breakups, bad test scores, and pets and animals dying?

Healthcare provider—It’s a wonder children even survive from bike wrecks, skinned knees, broken legs and arms, falling off swings, and a host of other accidents.

Gardner/landscaper—We have all wanted to plant something, and then mother had to take care of it and not because she wanted to do it. She just hated for something green to die.

Chef/restaurateur—So many of us may have complained about what our mother made or created for meals, but I suspect most of us have called home for the recipe of something she had made or craved that special dish that only our mothers made.

Entrepreneur—How many little businesses have mom helped us with? I know my mother helped my siblings learn how to be lawnmowers and nightcrawler sellers, and lemonade stand operators.

Caregiver—Moms are caregivers to everyone—family, neighbors, cats, dogs, piglets, calves, and anyone who needs help.

Teacher/tutor/mentor—Moms have become teachers of every subject in school. Often, she would study harder than we did just so she could help us with some esoteric problem that we need to do.

Motivator/cheerleader—No one can count the number of ballgames, soccer and tennis matches, speech and drama events that our mothers have attended, no matter how boring, no matter the weather, no matter the place, and she brought treats for everyone.

Chauffer/taxi— Our mothers log thousands of miles in taking us everywhere we need to go to help us participate in and attend activities. Most of the time, we are just in the back of the car, doodling, singing, playing, listening to music, reading, and probably not paying attention. Yet, our SAHMs safely maneuver our vehicles through rain, snow, sleet, and dreary days.

Entertainer—My mother was an entertainer. She danced. She laughed. She sang. She even did yoga. Plus, some SAHMs read bedtime stories as if they are performing before a large audience. That’s why kids love to be read to. It’s entertaining and soothing simultaneously.

SAHM Amanda with her young family

Mediator/arbitrator—Good thing moms know mediation and arbitration. They all should receive honorary law degrees and mediation certificates for all of the challenges and hot water she got us out of, and that was all before dad arrived home.

Handyperson—Plumbers, electricians, sheet rockers, home repairers, etc.—Have tool kit, and SAHMs are in their element. I suspect most of them did not realize what they were up against when they first had children. But, alas, they had to become fix-it-everything. Instead of Disney calling it “Fix-it-Ralph,” they should have named the movie, “Fix-it-Regina or Rachel.”

No walls? No problem!" said SAHM Sandra Dee

Performance reviewers—From piano, cello, and violin recitals to plays to dance festivals, SAHMs have always had to review how everyone did. As you watch children greet their parents after they have performed, their first words are, “How did I do?” usually looking directly at their mothers.

Audience—“Mom, watch this!” And then our SAHMs would watch whatever “creative” thing we showed her, usually without rolling her eyes—at least that we ever saw.

Art critic/reviewer—SAHMs have seen more art on paper, on the sidewalks, and on the walls than real art critics and reviewers. I wish SAHMs had taken photos of their fridges over the years to validate all of the art we did have. Ironically, my mother saved a few of my art pieces that I now cherish but never show anyone.

Laundry specialists—My own mother, a SAHM, had eight children. She even had a clothesline outside that usually had some type of washing hanging from it. And they smelled so good. Now, the smell is Downey or some fabric soften. I think I prefer the outdoor, wind-driven smell. Sometimes I wonder how many batches of laundry SAHMs do per week. Countless!

Researchers— SAHMs spent too much time trying to find things for all of us. Think of the reports, papers, and speeches that she helped you with throughout your schooling. Now with Google and other search engines, how much time does she spend searching for less expensive things or of better quality?

Preachers/clergy—Ah, the confessions our SAHMs heard from our repentant lips, knowing all along we would repeat the infractions the very next day, if not that very afternoon.

Vet techs—Animals get sick, and SAHMs know how to heal animals.

Probation officer/police chief—Yes, we all were on probation, time out, or grounded at some point in our lives, even for weeks and months. It was our SAHMs who had to endure the clanging of the jail cells and the moans from our lips that she wasn’t being fair. But she was persistent and consistent in metering out the punishments.

Problem solver—Are there books out there written by SAHMs for other SAHMs? They just seem to know how to solve every single problem that arises. Mostly, though, they help us solve our problems so that we can become better problem solvers in the future.

Crisis and conflict management consultant—During our growing up years, crises seem to pop up every single day, and usually, the first person we approach to help us is our moms. When moms are SAHMs, they have to deal with every crisis, large or small. Amazingly, they guide us through them. That’s why SAHMs are crisis management consultants. They know how to help us manage the crises in our lives.

Lifelong learners— Most SAHMs never quit learning, no matter how much education they receive before coming mothers. They have to keep up with the times and help their children with the never-ending newness that seems to emerge every year. One such mother is Sandra Dee. She stated that she “didn’t quit learning.” Rather, she learned how to fix computers, frame closets, hang sheetrock, renovated rooms, install electrical outlets, change the oil in cars, and a host of other trades. She ended with “I have learned that being a full-time mom isn't always appreciated, but I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world.” Her daughter followed in her footsteps.

SAHM Sandra can fix or repair anything
with the help of classes and YouTube videos!

Computer technologist—This is a new one. Some SAHMs do not have this skill although the last couple of generations of SAHMs are much better because they have learned technology in their youth. I believe, however, that the best thing they could have done is taken the devices away for a while.

Planning and activities specialist—Party planner, soccer and basketball practice planner, test planner, food planner, birthday party planner, and host of other event planning. SAHMs know how to plan.

Organizer—How many of you could ask your SAHMs where something was, and she knew exactly where it was at any given time? She probably knew where everything was because she was the one who had to finally put it in a safe place, instead of having it scattered throughout the house.

Chief executive officer (CEO)—In several homes, the SAHM becomes the CEO because she is also a single parent, trying to manage the entire household, delegating chores and responsibilities, and teaching her children how to do so many tasks that children need to learn to become viable citizens in the future. Her family is her team and organization. 

Chief operational officer (COO)—Literally everything that happened in our house, my SAHMs seemed to be in charge and guided us in getting things done. Our garden was huge, and at harvest time, she seemed to know everything about canning, bottling, cooking, preparing, and harvesting.

Chief financial officer (CFO)—Most SAHMs seem to be in charge of everything dealing with money and finances, even figuring out financial aid for college, helping set up saving accounts, and creating jobs to help us earn money.

Communication specialist—Who taught us to talk, speak on the phone, talk politely to our neighbors, say kind words to our siblings (or at least how we should do it), say the right words at the right time, slow down when we talk to fast, not talk with our mouths full, and more communication nuances.

Homework reviewer
—We all had homework. Someone had to review it, whether it was math, language arts, reading, science, social studies, history, or whatever, SAHMs reviewed it and even taught maybe a more effective way although our teachers didn’t like it.

Jack of all trades—Overall, SAHMs know how to do everything—or so we thought and keep sacred in our minds and remembrances. Now, we wish we could have been like them in every way.

One SAHM Sandra added the rock tiles; tiled the floor and stairs; sheet rocked, insulated and painted the walls; and finished the stair railing.

And many, many, many more titles!

Tana, a master’s prepared speech therapist with several children, many of them adopted from various countries, described SAHMs in such an elegant and factual way: “So I think most SAHMs could probably describe themselves as able to respond gracefully to unwarranted criticism. We could also pretty much universally say that we work well under pressure from internal and external sources, adjust quickly to changing responsibilities with little or no notice, and are excellent prioritizers. I want people to understand that I made this choice because it was what I wanted.”

Family of Tana, a master’s prepared speech therapist

At some point, may SAHMs want to return to the workplace. Tana penned a message for Human Resource personnel: “For a former stay-at-home mom getting back into the workforce, it can be really tough to get employers to take these skills and abilities seriously, and that's a travesty. Yeah, the woman may not be up on the latest version of Excel or may not have a thousand LinkedIn connections, but so what? Her abilities are time-tested, HONED, and she is battle-ready. She knows how to WORK, and even better, she knows how to get results. Give her a chance, Ms. Human Resources, and let her do her thing!”

All you SAHMs, you are the best, you are phenomenal, and you are inspiring to all of us, and we thank you for being so wonderful for what you do as stay-at-home moms. We are just happy that you choose to do all things—all the while smiling and being positive! We believe in you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

“Leadership: Today and Forever in Haiti"

“Leadership: Today and Forever”
May 18, 2022

Leadership happens around the world because people want to become better and more effective leaders at all levels. Just a week ago, I utilized Zoom to “go to” Haiti to meet with over 50 participants in a leadership seminar titled “Leadership: Today and Forever.”

But the idea for the training didn’t start in Haiti.

Almost two months ago, my wife Joanne and I flew to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, for the first leadership class at the Dominican Starfish Foundation’s Community Center where 40 participants participated in “Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre” (“Leadership: Today and Forever”) along with another 90 at a local church. We discussed leadership on the fundamental levels, what a leader is or should be, the role of a leader, leadership styles and characteristics, values, and principles of leadership.

Just after I arrived home from the Dominican Republic, I received an email from Mackenson Noël, a good friend and colleague from Haiti, who said, “When are you coming to Haiti to teach us the same leadership principles that you taught to our Dominican friends?” 

We decided that it might not be physically conducive to go to Haiti at this time, but I could come via Zoom. We agreed that would be the best option. So, we began planning for the training.

A few challenges arose: I don’t speak French or Creole, so the seminar would need to be in English; and would the technology be sufficient to do it? Ever positive and willing, Mackenson was sure that it would happen. 

Challenges are meant to be overcome. Mackenson secured a local church, gathered up the best techno-people and equipment he could find, created a learning opportunity for English-speaking Haitians, and invited them to come to a leadership training.

Over the next few weeks, I developed the flyer in English, sent it to Mackenson to review, and then he sent it out. Soon, a self-selected group of leaders and emerging leaders enrolled in the leadership seminar. 

The day before the event, we tested the technology and the Zoom link to make sure that all systems were a go. True to his word, Mackenson did a wonderful job of organizing everything, and the technology, including the speakers throughout the chapel and the Zoom link, was working beautifully!

When I asked Mackenson what additional things he was expecting or principles he wished to be taught, he confidently said, “This is going to be a historical experience for us. We have high expectations for a wonderful leadership training from you.” That caused me some anxiety.

Finally, the day came, and we gathered together with entrepreneurs, an area seventy, the Haiti mission president, other church leaders and employees, and community leaders. Many of the 50 participants were scattered throughout Haiti and attended via Zoom with a few participants at the Church near the temple. 

When asked why they had come to the seminar, they replied:
  • “increase capacity,”
  • “learn the role of a leader,”
  • “lead better and follow vision,”
  • “understand the difference between management and leadership,”
  • “learn how to continue to practice when I fail,”
  • “gain the ability to lead,”
  • “find the right solutions,”
  • and many, many others.
When I initially asked them why they wanted to be a leader, many participants said, “I want to make a difference in the lives of my fellow Haitians.” 

Some of the challenges they were currently facing were:
  • “feeling comfortable directing the work of others,”
  • “working through conflict management,”
  • “learning to lead in chaos,”
  • “helping people feel confident in their job,”
  • “procrastinating completing goals,”
  • “not concentrating on the right things,”
  • “developing staff development programs in their organizations,”
  • and several others.

We worked on personal leadership plans after understanding their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). We discussed the characteristics and values of leaders and how they were going to continue obtaining these characteristics. They all desperately wanted to succeed as leaders, personally and professionally.

One of the quotes from President John Quincy Adams stirred several questions: He said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” One participant, Shelsea, said, “After listening to this quote, I have to ask myself, ‘Do my actions inspire others? Do I inspire others to learn more, dream more, and become more’?” 

Throughout the leadership training, they learned about themselves and what additional skills they needed to obtain—all the while doing and becoming the leaders they want to be. Randy learned some ways to enhance the way she “directed the work of others.” Spencer discovered that “learning is about others and focusing on them.” Another participant, Roy, decided she had three things to do: “1) upgrade myself, 2) develop more skills, and 3) learn how to develop solutions to overcoming my challenges and problems.” 

After the training, another participant, Ania, wrote to me and said, “I could understand better the sense of leadership, and I’m working more on myself now. I’m devoted to helping people more than before, so I’m on my way to change to become the best version of myself.” 

Three hours are not enough to learn the fundamentals of leadership, The training instilled in the participants a sense of wanting to inculcate these principles in every aspect of their lives, now and forever.

To help continue the training and learning, we all decided we would re-connect in a few weeks. They were hungry to learn more about leadership. Their leadership plans showed many excellent goals to become better leaders and individuals, knowing that when they do complete their goals, they will increase their abilities to lead in their organizations, create opportunities for others to grow and develop, and enhance their own futures and the future of their country.

Warren Bennis once said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” and these Haitian leaders and emerging leaders are on their way to translating their vision into their leadership reality and ultimately making a difference in the lives of their fellow Haitians. 

Isn’t that what leadership is all about? Knowing and showing the way? Following a vision and inviting others to come along and participate vigorously together as a team? And helping people feel confident about themselves and others?

Ultimately, then, to become a leader, we must learn what a leader is and does, and then begin to apply those principles in our daily lives. Once we start the application process, we will see gradual changes in our behavior, our values, and our principles.

Thank you, my Haitian friends and leaders! And on you go! See you in a few weeks!


Thursday, April 28, 2022

"A Vision of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning"

"A Vision of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning"
Darrel L. Hammon, Ph.D.

Continuing education and lifelong learning foster the “building, challenging, strengthening, and enlarging” of oneself to do things never done before, accomplish goals and tasks set previously but never fulfilled, prove that you can do something despite the challenges strewn along the way, rise to a challenge that seemed way too hard at first, change the way you look at the world, commit to the philosophy of lifelong learning, and widen your vision so that you can see afar off.

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning focuses on the 78-year-old GED graduate some years ago who said, “I am getting my GED because I know I will be a good example to my grandchildren.” Donned in a traditional cap and gown, she received a standing ovation as she walked across the stage and waved to her family before she took her place among her fellow graduates.

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning highlights the 30 or so more mature adults who all trundled to Lewiston, Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College to participate in one of the many available Elderhostel activities. These adults, many of them 60 and over, came from across the country and participated in a week-long course that introduced them to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Their education might have ended several decades ago, but their learning never stopped. Instead, they sought opportunities because, as one of them commented, “I love to learn.”

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning touches on the woman who, after her experience with BYU’s Bachelor of General Studies program, said “[it] opened doors and gave me confidence…. in what I can accomplish at this later stage of my life….given me new skills to work with. And it has reminded me that life is a continual learning process.”

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning finds many people going from their day jobs to a class at their local college or university to enhance their skills or take a class in coding, leadership, nursing, property management, web design, creative writing, and a plethora of other educational programs that propel them toward their education and life goals of learning something different so they can become someone different. They will succeed and then continue forward, improving themselves at every level.

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning expounds Jaime Escalante’s phrase, “Free, free, free, knowledge; bring your own containers.” Continuing education is all about that phrase. Knowledge oozes out of every corner and crack of life. Often it just seeps by us or hangs from luscious baskets within our reach, but sometimes we do not take advantage of the proliferation of knowledge around us. Or we fail to pack around our own containers, our buckets. Or worse, just the bottoms of our buckets are covered, and we say, “I’ve got all the knowledge I want.”

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning connects people with educational opportunities, develops programs to meet the demands of the swirling marketplace, and prepares students to live and work in a global society, no matter how old they are, where they live, or what modality they are utilizing. The vision is to help people learn what they want and need to learn and then develop programming to meet their educational needs. Isn’t that the essence of developing the whole person and how they can leave their imprint upon the world, their workplace, their families, and themselves?

The vision of continuing education and lifelong learning is about access—to distance and online learning; to youth and summer camps, independent studies, study abroad programs; to language programs such as Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese; to evening and off-campus programming at various locations; and to a cadre of incredibly focused programs and courses for youth and adult learners.

Continuing education and lifelong learning advocates—yes, even educational entrepreneurs—are asking the right questions: Is what we are providing meeting the needs and desires of our constituents, students, educational markets, and even beyond? What does the growing community want and need? And finally, what more should we be doing to extend our college or university experience beyond the boundaries of the physical campus?

In essence, learning through continuing education and lifelong learning are inextricably linked to investment, an investment in ourselves and our families that yields high benefits and interest, maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will yield—intellectually, spiritually, and mentally. We may have to bend our backs, stretch our minds, work amidst wind and snowstorms and tauntings of others, and maybe even make a few sacrifices. But that’s the vision of continuing education and lifelong learning: providing opportunities to learn and gain experience, helping others become better people, enlightening their minds, and establishing a true house of learning because, in the end, it’s all worth it.

Thus, invest now and often and keep your educational and learning bank account growing and your buckets filling up.

Monday, April 4, 2022

“Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre”: Visita Humanitaria/Educativa a la República Dominicana

Visita Humanitaria/Educativa a la República Dominicana
“Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre”

Joanne y yo acabamos de regresar de Puerto Plata, República Dominicana, donde pudimos participar en una visita educativa/humanitaria fenomenal en apoyo de la Fundación Dominicana Starfish (Estrella de Mar).

Algunas de los participantes

Louise ZoBell es la Directora Ejecutiva de la Fundación Dominicana Starfish, con sede en Sterling, Canadá, con dos grupos hermanos: “PAL Humanitarian dba Dominican Starfish Foundation” en los Estados Unidos (Utah), y la “Fundación Amor, Estrella de Mar, es Amor” en la República Dominicana.

Jack y Louise ZoBell de Alberta, Canadá

En los últimos años, la Fundación Estrella de Mar Dominicana ha construido o renovado más de 160 viviendas en el área de Puerto Plata. También han construido una escuela y han ayudado a numerosas familias proporcionándoles ropa, zapatos, comida, juegos infantiles y muchos otros artículos.

Antes y después

Recientemente, construyeron un centro educativo en la comunidad de Javillar para comenzar a ofrecer un cuadro de servicios educativos y proporcionar lugares para dentistas, médicos y quiroprácticos para brindar servicios médicos y dentales a los más necesitados.

El Centro Educativo en Javillar (Puerto Plata)

A fines de 2021, me reuní con sus juntas directivas y les ayudé a desarrollar un plan estratégico para desarrollar capacidades y mejorar lo que estaba haciendo la Fundación.

Después de varias conversaciones, Louise y yo decidimos que sería maravilloso iniciar ofertas educativas brindando un taller de liderazgo para líderes emergentes y futuros en Javillar y Puerto Plata.

Algunos de los participantes

Me comuniqué con la directora dominicana de la Fundación, Amarilis Ureña, y otras personas acerca de la capacitación. Estaban entusiasmados con el potencial de tener seminarios de liderazgo. Muchas personas fueron fundamentales en la planificación y el desarrollo de la capacitación. Muchas gracias a Amarilis y su increíble equipo y Louise, Lorenzo Castillo, Eddy Morrobel, e Immanuel Rosario.

Amarilis y Louise

Para nuestra primera clase en el Centro Educativo de la Fundación el 22 de marzo de 2022, más de 40 participantes participaron en “Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre”. Discutimos el liderazgo en los niveles fundamentales, lo que es o debería ser un líder, el papel de un líder, estilos y características de liderazgo, valores y principios de liderazgo.

El segundo día de la clase, desarrollamos un plan de acción sobre lo que iban a hacer para implementar algunos de los principios que habíamos discutido en la clase. Me impresionó lo emocionados que estaban por completar esta tarea. Trabajaron diligentemente solos y en grupos para desarrollar su “Plan de Acción”. 

Una empresa en particular había enviado a cinco de sus empleados a participar y aprender. Se fueron con un plan personal y un plan para ayudar a la empresa. 

Los jovenes de la empresa/asociación

Al final de la capacitación de liderazgo, la Fundación Estrella de Mar Dominicana y yo habíamos preparado un certificado para entregar a cada participante que completó el evento de dos días. Se inspiró en una ceremonia de graduación, en la que cada persona se presentó, recibió su certificado y se tomó una fotografía.

Disfruté mucho estar allí con ellos y enseñarles los fundamentos y principios del liderazgo, todo en español, ¡lo cual fue un placer! Probablemente lo más divertido fue sacarse fotos con todos los participantes. Muchos de ellos querían fotos grupales con varios estudiantes y conmigo. ¿Cómo puedes decirle que no a eso?

Uno de los participantes

Algunas de los participantes

Además, hice una versión nocturna recortada del seminario de liderazgo de dos días con un grupo de 90 personas: miembros de nuestra iglesia, miembros de la comunidad, y líderes de la ciudad. Fueron tres horas increíbles de conversación, preguntas, aprendizaje, intercambio y elaboración de sus propios planes de acción.

Nuevamente, tuvimos una ceremonia de graduación y entregamos un certificado a cada persona que había participado. Muchos de ellos se acercaron y me agradecieron por la capacitación que habían recibido.

Joanne y yo disfrutamos mucho de nuestro tiempo allí con nuestros amigos dominicanos, nuevos y viejos. Hay algo acerca de compartir principios y valores de liderazgo con otros y verlos agarrarlos e inculcarlos en sus vidas. Tendremos conversaciones de seguimiento de Zoom con los participantes, a pedido de ellos.

Nuestra caminata en la mañana!

Si alguno de los que leen esto desea participar en una experiencia educativa/humanitaria en la República Dominicana con la Fundación Dominicana Starfish, comuníquese con Louise ZoBell en dominicanstarfish@gmail.com o conmigo en darrel.hammon@gmail.com. Su experiencia será bien recibida por estos líderes emergentes y muchos otros. Si se pregunta qué se necesita, comuníquese conmigo para analizar las posibles necesidades educativas.

Para obtener más información sobre la Fundación Estrella de Mar Dominicana, visite su sitio web: www.dominicanstarfish.org.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Humanitarian/Education Visit to the Dominican Republic: “Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre”

Humanitarian/Education Visit to the Dominican Republic
“Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre”

Joanne and I just returned from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, where we were able to participate in a phenomenal humanitarian/education visit in support of the Dominican Starfish Foundation. 

Louise ZoBell is the Executive Director of the Dominican Starfish Foundation, based in Sterling, Canada, with two sister groups: “PAL Humanitarian dba Dominican Starfish Foundation” in the United States (Utah), and the “Fundación Amor, Estrella de Mar, es Amor” in the Dominican Republic. 

Darrel, Joanne, and Louise ZoBell

Over the past several years, the Dominican Starfish Foundation has built or renovated over 160 homes in the Puerto Plata area. They have also renovated a school and helped numerous families by providing clothes, shoes, food, playground equipment, and so many other items.

Recently, they built an education center in the community of Javillar to begin offering a cadre of educational services and providing places for dentists, doctors, and chiropractors to provide medical and dental services to those most in need.

Education Center in Javillar

At the end of 2021, I met with their board of directors and help develop a strategic plan for them to build capacity and enhance what the Foundation was doing.

After several conversations, Louise and I decided it would be wonderful to initiate educational offerings by providing a leadership workshop to emerging and future leaders in Javillar and Puerto Plata.

I contacted the Foundation’s Dominican director, Amarilis Ureña, and others about the training. They were ecstatic about the potential of having leadership seminars. So many people were instrumental in planning and developing the training. Many thanks to Amarilis and her amazing equipo (team), Louise, Lorenzo Castillo, Eddy Morrobel, and Immanuel Rosario. 

Graduation time

For our first class at the Foundation’s Education Center on March 22, 2022, over 40 participants participated in “Liderazgo, Hoy y Para Siempre” (“Leadership: Today and Forever”). We discussed leadership on the fundamental levels, what a leader is or should be, the role of a leader, leadership styles and characteristics, values, and principles of leadership.

On the second day of the class, we developed a plan of action as to what they were going to do to implement the principles we had discussed in the class. I was impressed by how excited they were to complete this task. They worked diligently by themselves and in groups to develop their “Plan de Acción.” (“Plan of Action”). 

Class members engaged in group discussion

One particular company had sent five of its employees to participate and learn. They went away with both a personal plan and a plan to help the company.

These five young men came from their
association to learn about leadership

At the end of the leadership training, the Dominican Starfish Foundation and I had prepared a certificate to give each participant who completed the two-day event. It was patterned after a graduation ceremony, with each person coming forward, receiving their certificate, and having their picture taken.

I thoroughly enjoyed being there with them and teaching them the fundamentals and principles of leadership—all in Spanish, which was a joy! Probably the most fun was taking pictures with all of the participants. So many of them wanted group pictures with various students and me. How can you say no to that?
Certificates for everyone who participated in the two-day seminar

Also, I did an evening truncated version of the two-day leadership seminar with a group of 90 people—members of our church, community members, and city leaders. It was an incredible three hours of conversation, questions, learning, sharing, and preparing their own plans of action.

The group at the stake center

Again, we had a graduation ceremony and gave a certificate to each person who had participated. So many of them came forward and thanked me for the training they had received.

Darrel, a city leader and her husband, and Lorenzo Castillo

Joanne and I thoroughly enjoyed our time there with our Dominican friends, new and old. There is something about sharing leadership principles and values with others and seeing them grab hold of them and instilling them into their lives. We will be having Zoom follow-up conversations with the participants—at their request.

If any of you reading this would like to participate in a humanitarian/education experience in the Dominican Republic with the Dominican Starfish Foundation, please contact Louise ZoBell at dominicanstarfish@gmail.com or me at darrel.hammon@gmail.com. Your expertise will be well received by these emerging leaders and so many others. If you are wondering what is needed, please contact me to discuss potential educational needs.

For more information about the Dominican Starfish Foundation, please go to their website: www.dominicanstarfish.org.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Still in Vogue: Setting Goals and Making Resolutions

 Still in vogue: setting goals and making resolutions!

Goals and resolutions are not passé.

Some years ago, CBS (2013) conducted a poll. The poll basically stated that “sixty-eight percent of Americans surveyed said they don’t make New Year’s resolutions — up 10 percentage points from two years ago.” Other research shows that making resolutions are still in vogue. In fact, resolutions can offer you a fresh start. In a December 2014 research article from the Wharton School, researchers Dai, Milkman, and Ri called the idea of making resolutions the “fresh start effect,” concluding that many of the fresh starts began at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of “temporal landmarks.” These landmarks can be birthdays, marriage dates, the first of the year, or any time the person wants a fresh start. Perhaps, instead of naming them resolutions, we should call resolutions “fresh starts.”

Resolutions propel us toward self-improvement.
Most of us want to improve our lives, one way or the other. What we need to realize the making and completion of resolutions help us improve our lives. During a leadership discussion, one leader mentioned that we should “accept the burden of self-improvement. In a Forbes magazine articleAshley Feinstein discussed some research Gail Matthews from Dominican University wrote about goal settings. Feinstein stated that “those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals.” Making and keeping resolutions help improve our lives.

Goals and resolutions lead to intentionally planning our lives.
Throughout history, particularly in recent history, people believe they should live spontaneously. One of the leaders in the discussion called this spontaneity “accidental living,” just doing whatever comes up and not caring for what comes after, causing us not to worry about the potential consequences. This spontaneous living creates challenges and maybe even life-threatening actions. Usually, somewhere along the way, people stop and confess that they have wasted their lives. Many work hard in making the appropriate changes through making goals and resolutions to change and then sticking to them. Making and completing resolutions lead to intentionally living well. We ultimately have the choice to do or not to do.

Resolutions help us answer the question “Where do I need to improve?”
Sometimes our boss asks us in our annual assessment or evaluation: “Where do you think you need to improve?” Our boss knows exactly where we need to improve because most good leaders do not ask questions they do not already know the answers to. They want us to be conscientious in acknowledging our short comings and/or our performance. Consequently, we create goals to improve our performance and then work hard so our next performance evaluation is a stellar one. Additionally, we also ought to do a personal periodic review to propel us to determine what we need to improve our personal lives.

Resolutions are what leaders do.
Great leaders make goals/resolutions, create objectives that are measurable, develop strategies to achieve the objectives, and then assess how they successfully or unsuccessfully completed their goals and objectives. Some years ago, the Holden Leadership Center at the University of Oregon wrote: “Goals help define your organization, give direction and avoid chaos.” Thus, leaders do not haphazardly follow a path. They know what they want and seek diligently in accomplishing their tasks.

Resolutions do not allow the status quo.
In reality, there is no such thing as the status quo. Either you are progressing or retrogressing. Most of us—thankfully—have to be doing something. Making and completing resolutions propel us forward for the most part. Granted, some of us do not keep our goals. In the CBS Poll, only “three in 10 Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions — but only about half keep them.” The challenge for not completing hinges not making obtainable goals or making too many. According to psychologist Dr. Lynn Bufka, “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Whether you call it setting goals, making New Year’s resolutions, creating lifestyle changes, or developing a fresh start, doing something to improve your life, health, attitude, eating habits, exercise, or spiritual being will eventually lead you to self-improvement. When we gang up on ourselves by making dozens of resolutions or changes in our life at the same time, we will melt into oblivion and pound ourselves for not accomplishing all of the tasks. The key is to do like Dr. Bufka counsels: You must take "one step at a time."