Sometimes We’ve Just Got to Learn the Hard Way

by Marcus Sheridan

LarsenIt’s the weekend, and as such, I’d like to take a break today from ‘biz’ stuff and relate a little experience I had the other day with my daughter, Larsen, who is 3 years old.

You see, I’ve got four kids. They’re all unique—special in their own way. Larsen, though, is the most ‘determined’ of my children. And when I say ‘determined’, I’m actually thinking ‘stubborn’ but ‘determined’ sounds much better. ;-)

A Trip to the River

A few days ago, Nikki, the kids, and I jumped in the minivan and took a short drive to our family home on the Potomac River so as to visit my father and his wife, who had stopped in for a few days. On our way to the ‘cottage’ (as we call it), Larsen spoke excitedly about ‘putting on her bathing suit and playing in the water.’

Enjoying her visions of sandcastles, my wife and I had to sadly inform Larsen that because it’s winter time (about 39 degrees that day) it would simply be too cold to play on the beach.

Upon arrival, just to make sure Larsen understood what I had tried to explain to her in the van, I took her outside and walked to the end of our dock. Within 60 seconds, she told me how cold she was and that she wanted to go inside.

Case closed….or so I thought.

Time for the Beach

About an hour or so later Larsen went up to her mother and told her she was now ready to put on her bathing suit and play on the beach. Having a mother’s wisdom and understanding just how ‘determined’ her daughter is, Nikki smiled and told her to put on the bathing suit.

Larsen immediately began jumping up and down and proceeded to proclaim to anyone who was within shouting distance that she was putting on her bathing suit and headed to the beach.

Within 60 seconds of receiving her mother’s permission, Larsen had bolted out the door (in full bathing suit gear) and frolicked joyfully straight towards the river.

Nikki gave me one of those ‘looks’ that only mothers can and I hurriedly followed after her, grabbing my blackberry on the way so as to possibly take a quick photo of her reaction to the freezing water.

Just thinking back to this little experience as I write brings a smile to my face. As soon as Larsen hit the water, she froze, almost as if she suddenly understood what her parents had tried (and failed) to help her understand in the van on the way over—It was cold, really cold.

After standing still in the water for about 3 seconds (as shown in the photo) Larsen did a 180 and bolted back to the house, just as fast as she had exited it only 60 seconds before.

To no one’s surprise, Larsen didn’t discuss going out to the beach the remainder of the evening.

Life’s Lessons

I mention this little story because I think there is a little bit of Larsen in all of us. And to tell you the truth, that’s a good thing. Sometimes, no matter how many people are there to guide us and give us proper direction, the only way we are going to learn life’s greatest lessons is through experience. Sometimes we’ll fail, sometimes we’ll succeed, but as the famous quote by Emmerson goes:

Life is a journey, not a destination…

Have a great weekend everyone.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia@lavenderuses January 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

How true is that Marcus. Some of us learn our lessons the hard way eh??!! As an old proverb goes; A fool learns by his own mistakes, the wise by the mistakes of others :-)

You can excuse it in a 3 year old, but hopefully those of us serious about our blogging journey need to wise-up and learn from experienced bloggers/marketers mistakes. I for one want to be wise this time round ;-)

Patricia Perth Australia
.-= Patricia@lavenderuses´s last blog ..Are Your Goals Attainable In 2011 =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

Dang good proverb there Patricia :-)

You bring up a really good point about learning from ‘wise’ bloggers. There are a bunch of good ones out there. In reality, all the information one needs to be incredibly successful at blogging and content marketing is free, available to anyone and everyone.

And that’s what you’re doing Patricia. You’re going about it the ‘right way’. You’re learning, applying, performing, producing. Very well done and I’m sure your 2011 is going to be exceptional.

Thank you for stopping by Patricia!

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Stuart January 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

Well Marcus, Larsen has more courage than me, that’s for sure!

This reminds me of a story I once heard about a young boy who was told by his mother not to touch the stove. He wouldn’t listen, still intrigued, and then burnt his hand. Needless to say, he stayed away from the kitchen.

Thanks for sharing; looking at your rotating photos as I type this, I can see you’ve got a beautiful family.

Take care :-)

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:29 am

A good day to you Stu. Hope your weekend was a good one.

I think we are all kinda like the kid at the stove, what makes us different though is just how many times some of us get burned compared to others. Just how quick are we able to learn and absorb? (which, btw, I’ve noticed you’re a quick study Stu ;-) )

Thanks for the kind words regarding my fam. They’re amazing. :-)

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Daniel Sharkov January 9, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hey Marcus,

Great story mate! Sometimes the only way to understand whether something is good or bad is by trying it out. If it turns out bad, you will at least know that it’s not a good idea to repeat it.

Of course for our own good it is better to learn from others’ mistakes. There’s no need of reinventing the wheel, especially when it comes to blogging. There are tons of information and you can easily get to know at least the basic things to avoid.

On the other hand no matter how much you read, making mistakes is not out of the ordinary. It has happened to everyone. You just need to learn from them. That’s what it matters.
.-= Daniel Sharkov´s last blog ..5 Networking- Traffic and Content Truths You Should Know =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:34 am

Hey Daniel! I like your attitude here– The idea that ‘hey, sometimes we’ve just got to be willing to fail.’ That’s right man, and as the saying goes–To increase our successes we must first increase our rate of failure.

Yes, the wheel has been invented already when it comes to blogging. Might it be refined? Sure thing, but most of us never grasp the essentials, as we often times looking, as you said, to ‘reinvent’.

Great perspective Daniel and I very much appreciate all your RTs and comments. :-)

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Bryan January 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

Marcus, laughing my tail off. I have a little 3 year-old (as of yesterday) and she is just as stubborn as Larsen. She gets an idea stuck in her head and it’s almost impossible to let go of. No matter how hard her mom and I try, we can’t shake the idea, and she’s had to learn a couple of tough lessons through it.

You bring up some good points about how stubborn we can be. But, that same stubbornness and decisiveness can also be cultivated to make Larsen a powerful leader! I’ve heard it said that our greatest liability can also be our strongest asset if cultivated the right way!

But the stubbornness can still drive us crazy as parents, right? :)
.-= Bryan´s last blog ..10 Lessons from Mr Rogers That Can Help You Have a Fantastic Day =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:47 am

Ha Bryan! I see you and I have more in common than I realized :-)

Stubborness can, like you said, be harnessed for some pretty amazing things. That’s why I’m so curious to see Larsen in 20 years. She’s either going to be a major leader and innovator, or a nut-case ;-)

Life is full of lessons. I guess the biggest key is that we, as people , embrace those lessons as they come along….and remember them always.

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Bryan January 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

Marcus, let’s hope for the “major leader and innovator.” There are too many nutcases out there. :)
.-= Bryan´s last blog ..10 Lessons from Mr Rogers That Can Help You Have a Fantastic Day =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:19 am

Agreed brother. :-)

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Crystal January 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

Too funny! Reminds me of a early-20s gal from the Midwest who came to visit us several years ago. She wanted to dive into our beautiful swimming hole. No problem with the idea but it was spring and our river (fed by snow melt here in the Trinity Alps) is pretty darn cold until late summer. I warned her it would “take her breath away.” Anyone from around these parts knows what that means but I guess it had no meaning to her . . . until she emerged unable to breathe, that is:)
.-= Crystal´s last blog ..The Guardian of the Gold Mines =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

Ha Crystal, great analogy! I think I’ve done a couple of ‘Alp Lake Dives’ since I started blogging a couple of years ago….but hey, I’m starting to learn and listen to the Crystals of the world. ;-)

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Julie Weishaar January 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Love it Marcus! Your wife is a wise woman and you are a wise man to recognize this :). Your story supports what I have always tried to teach my children about life’s “natural consequences”. Notice I wrote “tried” LOL

If you apply this same principle to marketing, this is why potential clients and customers will get a better idea and appreciation for a company’s product or service if they can actually SEE for themselves how it works or what it does.

Thanks for sharing :)
.-= Julie Weishaar´s last blog ..Triple Threat =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

LOL, she is a wise woman Julie ;-)

As a video guru, you make complete sense in terms of ‘seeing is believing’. I think one of the greatest mistakes we make as business owners is that we don’t ‘show’ what we do. In terms of branding, videos I’ve done on YouTube have had as much if not more impact on my brand than all my blogs combined.

Sometimes people as me what they should ‘show’….My answer is simple: If your company does it, it’s worth showing….Broad enough for ya?? :-)

Very much appreciate your upbeat comments Julie, it’s a pleasure having you here.

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Julie Weishaar January 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Aha Marcus, you have just PROVED that you need to get moving with more videos :). Sometimes things are common sense right? If you have it – show it! I like that!

My pleasure being here – your blog is awesome.
.-= Julie Weishaar´s last blog ..Did You Eat Your Frog This Morning =-.

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Keith Davis January 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi Marcus
Lovely little story – if you were in Australia, you would have said that she soon discovered that there were crocodilews and snakes in the river. A bit of cold is not so bad.

Not sure what the cold river equivalent is for a blogger – perhaps signing up to one of those “Make $750 a day” blogging scams. LOL
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..A splash of colour =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 9:01 am

Make $750 a day blogging, I did it so can you!!!

What’s crazy is that type of junk copy works Keith….boy are there many hard lessons learned by those persons looking for the instant online get-rich strategies!

Thanks for visiting and commenting Keith, I’ll be sending you my guest post idea soon. ;-)

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Danielle and larsen January 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm

haha i love that girl i read the bolg to larsen and this is what she has to say about it nbvgyhuuu5567890000000 we love you!

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 9:01 am

I see you’ve got your sister blog commenting already Danielle. Very nice….never too early to start networking!! :-)

Dad

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Christina Crowe January 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Lol, I love it Marcus! And I love what this story symbolizes. Your daughter sounds adorable. :)

I also like how you let your daughter figure out that it was cold by herself, rather than just telling her, “No, you can’t go outside and that’s the end of it,” like many parents would do. You let her realize her mistake herself – and you let her understand for herself how cold it really was.

I love her determination though. It will do amazing things for her when she grows up and starts building a career of her own. :)

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe´s last blog ..6 Questions- 6 Answers – Happy New Year! =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 9:05 am

Aww, thanks Christina. I love her determination too. It presents challenges but also truly gets me excited to see the potential she has to make positive change around her as time goes by.

I think parents too often make a mistake by simply telling their kids ‘no’. Assuming it’s not a life or death matter, I try to ask myself this question: Will the results of the bad decision lead to a memorable lesson? If the answer is yes, I lean towards letting them fail. After all, what kid ever learned anything from ‘Because I said NO’?

Thanks for commenting Christina. You’re a superstar. :-)

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Leon Noone January 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

G’Day Marcus,
I too am a four child parent. Three are girls. When they were little, I was absolutely besotted by them.

One day a dear friend, noting my besottedness said,”Remenber Leon, they’ll grow up to be teenage daughters.” They did. Now the eldest has teenage children of her own.

Well, Buddy from Burgess, let me assure you, there is justice in the world.

On your more serious point, I’ve just finished reading an autobiography of a Vietnamese refugee who’s been very successful in both life and career in Australia.

He often refers to one of his father’s favourite sayings: “There are only two times; now and too late.” You may end up with very cold toes, but if that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you……….

Maybe Larsen’s a lot smarter than we grown-ups! Just pray that she doesn’t work that out for herself.

Regards

Leon

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

Ha! That was one long smile on my part Leon, friend from ‘down unda’ , you never disappoint. :-)

But I have to say, what exactly is the definition of ‘besotted’. I’ve not used that phrase so I’ll chalk it up under my ‘new words learned from Leon’ list. :-)

Love your perspective, it never grows old. Thanks for taking the time to stop in Leon.

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Jk Allen January 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Marcus – thanks for sharing that story. Those 3 year olds are amazing and I’ve learned so many life-lessons from my own kids.

Larsen’s story speaks the following to me…

We all have an inner pull (following the heart / intuition…something like that) – sometimes in directions that don’t make sense…but still the pull exists. Some are innately strong than others, so they must gravitate towards their pull, for it’s natural to them. Sometimes upon arrival, it’s a failure…but other times it’s a success that could have never been met if they didn’t gravitate towards it. And the failures, while only temporary, yield some of the greatest lessons that life can teach.
It’s courage, I believe that allows us to follow that inner pull. I think we all have an equal amount of courage in us…but like the mind, we all don’t use it to it’s maximum ability – I put myself in that category.

BUT kids…they just lack the fear that most adults can’t shake. They never think failure first – they think success first…and if failure happens to occur – they quickly transition into plan B…even with tears in their eyes.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the brilliance of children…I study the traits of my own kids and I find my self thinking: “if I only didn’t care about ___ as much as she doesn’t care I’d be doing big things”. Well, knowing this, I’ve made it a goal of mine (a life long goal – not new years resolution) to continually reach to be more kid like. With it, I will become more bold, less focussed on failure, much more focussed on success, keep things more simple, amongst many other things.

Larsen followed her heart, learned a lesson and acted upon it. Sure it didn’t seem logical to us adults – but logic is what we create – not what’s innately in us.

I don’t know how to tell a 3 year old that they inspired a 30 year old hustler…but please try.

Peace
.-= Jk Allen´s last blog ..Do You Hate Your Job =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:28 am

Dang brother. This was awesome. I seriously think you should post it as an article on your blog. Really man, with the title: ‘If we only had the mind of a child’….or something to that effect.

In fact, I’m not asking you to post this as an article, I’m making it an official declaration! :-)

Where you talked about inner pull and how children just naturally have an ‘it can be done attitude’ really got me thinking. And man isn’t that true!

So to each and every one of us finding our inner child…..

Thank you JK.

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Peter J January 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hey Marcus; That was a great story. When we try at something and fail, that’s usually when we start looking over what we were doing wrong.

Everything comes down to the individual and if they are willing to try take someones advice first hand, before anything bad happens.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

Peter, a pleasure sir! So glad you found the story interesting and very much appreciate you stopping by the Lion’s Den ;-)

Like you said, ‘failure’ makes us think. It makes us better. It makes us stronger……and it makes us who we are.

Hope to see you again Peter.

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Dia January 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Marcus,

Very nice story :) Exactly many times if life, we don’t learn from the ones who are more experienced or who have more knowledge in the specific subject. Some times it is good to let the individuals experience themselves so they know how it feels. Thanks for sharing my friend :)
.-= Dia´s last blog ..What is unconditional love =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hey Dia, my dependable friend, so nice of you to stop by and leave a comment.

Experience is the ultimate teacher. There is no substitute. This is why, as you mentioned, sometimes we’ve just got to let ourselves allow others to trip and fall. It’s simply a core to life.

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Tristan January 10, 2011 at 12:11 am

Awesome story, Marcus! I had a smile on my face as I read it, too :)

You make a great point. I’m probably more “determined” than even your daughter, and I do end up learning the hard way a lot of the time. But just as often I end up proving everyone else wrong! Sure, I have failures, but my successes are greater (in number and size) because of them. If I try 20 times and fail 10 times, that’ s still 10 successes. I’d much rather have that than try 10 times and fail only twice.

Again, great story, and a great message. Thanks bud.
.-= Tristan´s last blog ..The Blogger’s Guide to Writing and Selling Your Own PLR Products =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

Thanks Tristan. I’m not surprised to hear you say you’re a lot like my daughter. There is just something so ‘spunky’ about your style and habits that makes such a claim rather believable ;-)

But your attitude on failure is what I think is key here. You obviously embrace it. You know it comes with the territory. And you also don’t make it your focus.

Well said my friend….Keep up with your world domination over there on BB ;-)

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phil January 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I dont’ know Marc but sounds like some pretty progressive(aka liberal) child rearing to me….

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rob white January 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm

So many great lessons in this anecdote, Marcus. I often talk about the “60,000″ No’s” we receive during childhood rearing. We all begin to bury our unlimited potential as we grow up and bombarded with harsh “no’s” from the world-voice. A harsh “no” could have easily discouraged your daughter and dampened her naturally soaring spirit. Instead of leaving her feeling like she has something to hide about herself… she is left feeling she has something to discover about herself.

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Marcus Sheridan January 11, 2011 at 12:49 am

Is it really that many Rob?? Geez, no wonder everyone walks with their head down…

I hope to never be the cloud that rains on my children’s parade.

‘Soaring Spirit’…really love that phrase man. And the idea of discovery versus closing up and shutting down is so incredibly true. How many geniuses have never reached their potential simply because of the hardened hearts and mind of others??…

So very much appreciate you coming by and leaving such a great comment Rob. :-)

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Niall Harbison January 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Nice little story. There really is no substitue for experience when it comes to the business world. We’ve all been in your daughter’s place running in thinking we know best only to look back a short while later (even a couple of weeks) and cringe and wonder what we were thinking! Still like you say it’s the only way you’ll ever learn!

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Marcus Sheridan January 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

Hi Niall, so great to see you on here. :-)

When I look back at the last 10 years I’ve had as a business owner, my little Larsen looks like a genius compared to some of the blunders I’ve made. You name it, I’ve likely done it. But looking back, it sure has made for quite a few lessons to write about here on this little blog-o-mine. ;-)

Hope to see you again around these parts Niall!!

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Jason January 11, 2011 at 12:41 am

Great one brother. That girl is definitely determined. That quality will serve her well in life. It’s funny how our character traits can be our greatest liability and greatest asset. Thanks for sharing that experience!

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Marcus Sheridan January 11, 2011 at 12:53 am

That she is my friend, that she is….and hopefully she’ll turn it into an ‘asset’….but I guess we’ll see ;-)

Excited to read the articles on your new blog bud. Come back and see us again, OK :-)

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Steve Youngs January 11, 2011 at 4:59 am

Hey Marcus!

I love how young children learn and discover how their world works. And as frustrating as it is at times, I love how they don’t take our word for it, but have to test everything themselves. One of the tough jobs we have as parents is knowing when to let them.

Sometimes, us adults could do a lot worse than to tackle some of our problems the way a small child would. Especially if we refused to give in and be as determined as them.

Kind regards,
Steve
.-= Steve Youngs´s last blog ..When The Universe Won’t Let You Die =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Well Said Steve…I can tell you’ve got some serious experience in this arena of parenthood. And like you said, we do tend to forget what we were like at one point in our life.

May we all learn from the example of our doggedly determined children :-)

Thanks for the comment Steve.

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John Sherry January 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

Aah, but you knew it was the hard way! How so? By doing it yourself once and finding out. No words of wisdom or warnings – you found out by doing and then realising. It’s the only way to learn and grow. Great family story Marcus with a sensible message attached. Brill!
.-= John Sherry´s last blog ..How Long Is A Truth =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Thanks John, very kind of you man, I do hope I’m starting to figure this whole parenting/life success thing out…. :-)

Appreciate the kind words and you stopping by John.

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Allan Douglas January 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

What a sweet story, and a great object lesson. I relate to it too… I was once told that I’m so stubborn (I like determined better too) that I’ll be dead a week before I admit to it and fall over. I’ve done a lot of learning the hard way.

Thanks for sharing!
.-= Allan Douglas´s last blog ..Pride &amp Prejudice in Family Communications =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hi Allan, nice to meet you and welcome to The Sales Lion.

Whoever told you that was pretty funny, and although you’ve learned your share of things the hard way, I’m sure the quality has also been your greatest asset at times.

Hope we chat again Allan. :-)

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Ron Barrett January 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hey Marcus!

My thoughts as I am reading through the post were:

1. Potomac River… hmmm this is January, isn’t it cold?
2. I had to scroll back up and double check the post date
3. Yes, thought 1 is confirmed

Almost as cold as a witches… frozen broomstick.

Keep up the good work! And keep the kidlets warm!
.-= Ron Barrett´s last blog ..Do you find this irritating Or is it just me… =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Well hello Ron, and thanks so much for coming by The Sales Lion!

I see you know the Potomac…Yes, it’s dang cold this time of year, clearly as cold as a witch’s …..broomstick ;-)

Thanks for your kind words man and hope to see you on here again.

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Jens P. Berget January 12, 2011 at 1:53 am

That’s a great story, and I can truly relate. I have kids myself and they’re just as determined as Larsen. My dad (their grandfather) has an interesting philosophy about life and learning the hard way.

No matter what they’re doing, they should be allowed to do it, because eventually they’ll learn what’s good and what’s not. My son is 4 years old, he loves to climb, and according to my father he should be allowed to climb to the top of all types of latters (or bookshelves), because when he falls, and he always falls, he’ll understand that it hurts and that he shouldn’t do it again. I’m a little afraid of people learning their kids through this types of experiences, because my kids can get really hurt (or even get killed) if they listen to my father :)

On the other hand, I learn a lot better when it comes to experience and things I can relate to (like your example).
.-= Jens P. Berget´s last blog ..Marketing Outside the Box =-.

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Marcus Sheridan January 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

It sounds to me like you’re saying there must be a balance Jens. I agree. There are parents (and friends) that let their loved ones just do whatever (like your semi-crazy dad ;-) ) and then there are the parents that are so over the top protective that the kids never develop their own foundation.

But I also think it comes down to customizing the needs of each child, and then adjusting as we go.

The same rules apply when dealing with friends, family, employees, etc.

Always am grateful for your comments Jens. :-)

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