This afternoon, The Daily Beast ran an edited version of the following piece on its home page. Here’s the unedited version, with plenty of Kentucky political color.
I used to be Jack Conway.
Well, to be more precise, Kentucky’s incumbent Attorney General and I used to occupy the same crowded political space: two young, big-city, over-educated, well-connected, center-left, aspiring pols, each trying to elbow out the other for the chance to grasp the political brass ring that was the opportunity to be anointed the next great hope for Bluegrass State Democrats.
Our journeys finally came into direct conflict when, in 2007, all of our political mentors withdrew their names from the gubernatorial hat, compelling Jack and I to engage in a hyper-awkward, Elaine Benes-ian dance to explore teaming up as a ticket…which ended, of course, when both of us insisted on leading. I ultimately plunged into the seven-person governor-wannabe scrum from which I never emerged, while Conway found open daylight running and easily winning the state’s top law enforcement position.
In the intervening years, as I have found a permanent seat on the sidelines as a recovering politician, I’ve watched Jack’s career with consistently wistful cognizance that “but for the grace of God go I.” During his 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate — a race that had our paths been reversed, I undoubtedly would have run…and lost — I saw Jack pilloried in much the same way I had been skewered for my own policy-wonkish, retail-politics-averse approach to campaigning. And when his ultimate undoing came at his own hands — the ill-advised decision to run the now infamous “Aqua Buddha” ad that challenged Rand Paul’s faith, I could see myself succumbing to the same pressures, within the oxygen- and rationality-deprived political bubble, to employ a desperate, risky strategy in order to stop an “dangerous” opponent with a diametrically-opposite ideological worldview.
When Conway later admitted his mistake — arguing that the ad was “the only time in my political career I’ve gone against my gut,” I recalled my greatest gut-check regret. In the 2007 race for Governor, I was questioned by a newspaper’s editorial board about how I voted in the 2004 statewide referendum over what I felt was a pernicious constitutional amendment that would not only ban gay marriage, but anything that looked like it, such as civil unions. Privately, I’d supported marriage equality — strongly — ever since Andrew Sullivan introduced much of the country to the possibility in his historic 1989 essay in The New Republic. But while I had openly supported anti-discrimination laws, and was especially proud to have been the first gubernatorial candidate ever to pursue, secure and embrace the endorsement of gay rights organizations, marriage equality was a third rail that I was still too timid to touch — the amendment, after all, had passed statewide overwhelmingly just three years earlier, with 74% support.
So I did what I had done my entire political career on the issue: I lied to the editorial board. And I didn’t come out of the political closet until I had formally renounced politics a few years later.
Today, my former political doppelgänger faced a similar challenge on this very same issue. When federal District Judge John Hayburn’s recently ruled that the Commonwealth must recognize lawful same-sex marriages from other states, Conway was confronted with the decision on whether to appeal the decision — on behalf of the voters who had so overwhelmingly voted for the ban a decade ago.
For some of Conway’s Attorney General colleagues in blue states who encountered similar circumstances, this may have not been a difficult decision. But here, in an inner notch of the Bible Belt, marriage equality is still quite an unpopular position. A few brave Democrats had stepped out months earlier — including, most prominently, Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, and State Auditor Adam Edelen – but general election voters, who Conway will likely appeal to in a 2015 gubernatorial run, still oppose the practice by a 55 to 35 percent margin in a recent independent poll. (And today, a GOP candidate who had donated. $20,000 to support the constitutional anti-gay effort in 2004 just announced his entry into the 2015 governor’s race as the standard bearer for social conservatives.)
Worse yet for Conway, his client, the popular Democratic Governor Steve Beshear — who won statewide liberal plaudits for vetoing an Arizona-like anti-gay, “religious freedom” bill in 2013, and national progressive celebration for successfully implementing Obamacare in the state — wanted to pursue the appeal.
So Conway chose the route he had abandoned in his U.S. Senate race: He went with his gut. In announcing his decision to refuse to pursue an appeal, the Attorney General stated that ”in the end, this issue is really larger than any single person and it’s about placing people above politics…I can only say that I am doing what I think is right…I had to make a decision that I could be proud of – for me now, and my daughters’ judgment in the future.”
Conway’s decision will not have a significant practical effect: Governor Beshear announced a few minutes after Conway’s press conference that he would hire outside counsel to pursue the appeal. But for a populace desperately seeking politicians who are authentic, who lead from their heart, even at great political risk, Conway’s choice may instill a small ray of hope that even in this most cynical of times, conviction can sometimes trump politics.
And for this recovering politician, who has forsaken the arena for many of the same reasons that so many Americans hate politics — as well as for the chance, finally, to live a life when I can always be true to my most passionate beliefs — it’s great comfort to see my former political frenemy take the kind of brave, selfless action that I would have loved to put on my political resume.
As I wrote today in this The Daily Beast cover piece, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway took a very courageous stance today by refusing to appeal federal District Judge John Heyburn’s decision that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Here’s an excerpt:
For a populace desperately seeking politicians who are authentic—who lead from their heart, even at great political risk—Conway’s choice may instill a small ray of hope that even in this most cynical of times, conviction can sometimes trump politics.
And for this recovering politician, who has forsaken the arena for many of the same reasons that so many Americans hate politics—as well as for the chance, finally, to live a life when I can always be true to my most passionate beliefs—it’s great comfort to see my former political frenemy take the kind of brave, selfless action that I would have loved to put on my leadership resume.
Click here to read the full piece.
Do you, like me, agree with Conway’s decision?
If so, please join me in saying thanks. Sign the petition below to let Attorney General Jack Conway know that you are with him as he stands for equality and fairness:
Thank You, Attorney General Conway for Supporting Marriage Equality
Read the petition
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|436||Jennifer Smith||Paducah, KY||Mar 09, 2014|
|435||Lucy Yang||Lexington, Kentucky||Mar 09, 2014|
|434||Gwendolyn Haver-Davis||Clay City, Kentucky||Mar 09, 2014|
|433||Gayle Smith||Louisville, Kentucky||Mar 09, 2014|
|432||Gary Nutt||Cub Run, KY||Mar 09, 2014|
|431||Ashley Bland||Mount Dora, FL||Mar 09, 2014|
|430||larry johnson||russellville, ky||Mar 08, 2014|
|429||Rebecca Wilson||40517||Mar 08, 2014|
|428||Randall Eades||Danville, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|427||tana wright||louisville, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|426||Debbie Tucker||Tampa, Florida||Mar 08, 2014|
|425||Richard Naas||Hopkinsville, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|424||Michaela Stanley||Lexington, KY||Mar 08, 2014|
|423||April Bowman||Pikeville, KY||Mar 08, 2014|
|422||Anita Whelan||Mar 08, 2014|
|421||Victoria Harbin||Whitehouse, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|420||patricia case||louisville, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|419||Sheila Collins||Canada, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|418||Brandy Smith||Elizabethtown, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|417||Richard LeMaster||Ashland, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|416||Beth Thorpe||Louisville , Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|415||chrystabelle lambert||somerset, Kentucky||Mar 08, 2014|
|414||Nicole Lally||Lexington, Kentucky||Mar 07, 2014|
|413||leigh pridemore||louisville, KY||Mar 07, 2014|
|412||Tina Morris||Ky||Mar 07, 2014|
|411||Gina Phillips||Ky||Mar 07, 2014|
|410||Anna Lee Adams||Louisville, Ky||Mar 07, 2014|
|409||Sherry Zilinsky||Covington, KY||Mar 07, 2014|
|408||Linda Leeser||Louisville, KY||Mar 07, 2014|
|407||Korey Houska||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Mar 07, 2014|
|406||Sandra Rippetoe||Mar 06, 2014|
|405||Alyssa McAlister||Phoenix, AZ||Mar 06, 2014|
|404||Frank Schwartz||Louisville, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|403||Elizabeth Tremayne||Prospect, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
|402||L.A. Watson||frankfort, ky||Mar 06, 2014|
|401||Tara Gilland||Lexington, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|400||Susan Nash||Louisville, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|399||Isaac Carter||Mar 06, 2014|
|398||Brandy Reeves||Lexington, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|397||Joanne Brown||Lexington, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|396||Emily Duncan||Lexington, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
|395||Suzanna Stammer||Lexington, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
|394||Diana Ratliff||Midway, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
|393||Angela Henson||Lexington, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|392||Gayle Stockdale||Lexinton, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|391||Cheri Mullins||Covington, KY||Mar 06, 2014|
|390||Jewell Livers||Tubac, Az||Mar 06, 2014|
|389||Walt Barlow||Lexington, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
|388||J.D. Craddock||Munfordville, Ky||Mar 06, 2014|
|387||Mary Walden||Boston, Kentucky||Mar 06, 2014|
I started seeing a new dentist today.
We visited before my check-up and it turns out we know some of the same people and spent time in some of the same places when we were kids.
We seemed to hit it off and I think he felt like I was pretty solid guy.
And then he looked for the first time into my mouth. When he came up it was as if there was a sign in the… back of my throat that said “This guy makes lots of bad choices about what he eats and has been lying to dentists about flossing regularly for nearly five decades. You shouldn’t trust him –unless you want to end up like his right third molar. Once upon a time that molar trusted him and look at it now.”
I wanted to explain but didn’t want my new dentist to know I knew what he was thinking.
So instead I changed the subject to something more positive and forward looking: teeth bleaching and the best toothpaste brands for sensitive teeth. And, yes, I sucked up big time by asking his assistant (where he could hear) for a recommendation for the strongest dental floss available as I tried to create the impression that I had, in fact, always been a serious flossers who simply needed better guidance —and now I was finally getting it.
When I left we shook hands and I felt I had rehabilitated myself in his eyes—but only partially. He didn’t base his entire opinion of me on my lowly right third molar. He realized there was more to me than that one poorly cared for tooth and it was just one of 31 total teeth in my mouth (I had a wisdom tooth extracted last year due, in part, to negligent dental hygeine. But there were mitigating circumstances that are too complicated to rehash here). My other 30 teeth weren’t necessarily impressively maintained–a basis for trust and respect —but at least they were good enough to buy me a second chance to make a better first impression.
It’s too bad because I think had my new dentist at “Hello. I really needed to get my teeth cleaned today and am glad you could fit me in.” But then I had to go and open my mouth wider…and let him look inside. That was where things went all wrong –and I now wish I had been more reserved and selective about the teeth I showed him on our first meeting. But then again, I am quickly reminded, it is the dentist office and it is hard to show only the teeth I want him to see without coming off as a tease– or a complete and utter idiot.
It is just important to remember that for most people you meet for the first time, they view our eyes as the windows to our soul. But with dentists it is several inches down and only after you open wide. Our teeth, viewed in this way, are a kind of Rosetta Stone of who we really are as a person. Are we responsible? Do we have our priorities right? Do we plan ahead? Do we do daily maintenance work for the things that matter most in life? Can we be trusted with the health and welfare of 32 permanent adult teeth? And how do we manage decay and tooth desertion (or extraction) ? None of us can, if we are really honest with ourselves, answer every question “yes.” But we can try.
And let us not forget that no matter how good we pretend to be on the outside, a dentist peering into a new patient’s mouth is like a seasoned and street smart pastor who has seen it all staring into our flawed, and unflossed souls.
We hope when meeting a new person that they will see us as we want to be seen. But when that new person is a dentist that hope is short-lived. As soon as the dentist comes up from glancing into our mouths that first time, we can be sure– that at best –they will sadly see us as we really are.
LivingIF is filled with “world’s ____” sights. We’ve covered the superlatives and self-professed rankings time and again, highlighting local pride points, and sometimes even writing about the world’s largest something, just to visit an even larger one somewhere else (i.e. the 17+ world’s largest Buddhas we’ve seen). Most of the time, these sights are pretty impressive, even if they are not as world class as they claim. The lucky few are actually the world’s biggest/tallest/deepest/highest-altitude and beautiful enough to write about. The Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt flat, does not disappoint in size, spectacle or superlatives.
EPIC. Situated on the Bolivian side of the Bolivia-Chile Border, the vast Salar de Uyuni separates more than just countries. It separates cultures, with progressive and relatively-rich Chile on one side and indigenous, impoverished Bolivia on the other. It also separates geology, with the world’s driest desert on the Chilean side and the rugged crest of the Andes on the Bolivian side giving way to the Amazon Basin. Due to the location, geology and history, traveling through the salt flats, usually en route from one country to another, is an epic 3-day trip.
UNIQUE. Having seen photos and heard stories from friends that had visited previously, I thought I understood how unique the Salar is. Seeing it was another matter. I really don’t think there is anything quite like it. From the size to the surprising variety of colorful sights, I was thoroughly in awe. Arriving from Chile the first days are spent crossing the high-altitude Atacama Desert. This area is one of the world’s richest mineral producing regions with copper, silver, gold and lithium deposits, creating unexpectedly colored lakes and rock formations. The uniqueness of the Salar will cause those who think geology is boring to rethink their disinterest.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Superlative-Worthy Salar de Uyuni
When I am trying to express myself but can’t find the words I need it usually isn’t because there aren’t enough words to go with my thought. But rather because I don’t have enough of a thought developed for any words to attach to.
Being articulate, it seems to me, isn’t so much about knowing lots of words as it is about thinking clearer thoughts. And then the words will fall into place….rather than forcing words around an incomplete idea until it sounds like you understand something you really don’t.
Thomas the Teenage Engine
I miss Thomas the Engine. Not personally. But as a parent.
I wish there were a Thomas the Engine for teenagers to help parents teach teens important life lessons.
Just not sure how to make an animated series about locomotives teen-friendly.
I feel a lot… like
A spinning top
Before it hops
And starts to flop
Careening to its final stop.
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire” W.B. Yeats
Excuse the rant but I am outraged by the state of the U.S. education system. We have let the pilot light go out and we are failing our youth. Particularly egregious is the way we are failing our urban youth.
We must refocus our national and regional innovation conversation on how to solve real world problems. Job number one is to design a better education system that lights a fire for every youth, creating lifelong passionate learners. It is time to move beyond public policy debates and institutional rugby scrums to try new solutions. What we are doing now isn’t working, and far too much of the federal stimulus investment in education is being spent to sustain the current system.
A report last year from the nonprofit network America’s Promise Alliance showed that 1.2 million students drop out of high school each year. Only about half of the students served by school systems in the nation’s 50 largest cities graduate from high school. The U.S. public education system, especially in the country’s urban centers, must be transformed.
Only about 40 percent of the U.S. adult population earns a college degree. That may have been fine in the 20th century when an industrial economy supplied good jobs to those without post-secondary education. It is not fine today when a college degree is a necessity for a good job.
Our education system was built for the 20th century.
Everyone loves to point fingers at other players in the system as the cause of the problem. Observing our education system today is like watching an intense rugby scrum that is moving in slow motion hoping the ball will pop out. We have finger pointing and incessant public policy debates galore. We love to admire the problems: It’s the unions that are getting in the way. Teachers are resisting change in the classroom. Administrators don’t understand what is going on in the classroom. Parents are not engaged. Public policy makers can’t make up their minds. If only private sector companies were more engaged. Students are unruly, undisciplined and disrespectful. Everyone gets blamed and nothing changes.
The simple idea of “lighting a fire” expressed in Yeat’s quote says it all for me. Teaching is an important means to an end. Creating passionate lifelong learners is the objective of education. Content, subjects, jobs and requirements, will all change over time. The pace of change is accelerating and the half-life for assumptions and usable knowledge is decreasing. It has become a lifelong challenge to stay relevant. The only thing that is sustainable is a fire inside to keep learning.
The objective of education is to light a fire for learning in every single youth. When the pilot light is on, everything else is possible. For starters, let’s recognize that individuals have different learning styles. One-size industrial education models are not working and must be transformed. We have the enabling technology available today to create and scale an education system that provides access to killer content and experiential learning opportunities tailored to individual learning styles for every student. It is time to demonstrate that we can and will change our education system. Our country’s youth is waiting.
We need actionable platforms to enable real world experimentation for new education systems and solutions. We need to bring the voice of the student and student experience directly into the education innovation conversation. And we must create a purposeful network of innovators motivated to explore and test new system solutions. Join the conversation. The water is fine.
Let’s reignite the pilot light and demonstrate that there is a better way to light a fire for life long learning in every youth.
I think we could use a few new curse words.
We hear the same four or five over and over again.
“Trog” seems to have some potential. As in “Trog you” or “Trog it.” Or “What the trog?”
And maybe “Blat.” Like “Oh blat! I am in trouble now.” Or “He is a real blathead?”
I think “Constantinople” would make a killer new curse word but it is apparently being used for something else. I could really put my heart into that one.
Oh well… I mean…blat!
What a troggin’ waste!
A lot of guys have a “uniform” – something they wear throughout the year, no matter what the weather is. I know one guy (not a Rath & Co. client) who wears the same logo’d windbreaker everyday to work over his dress shirt and keeps it on all day. On really cold days, he wears another jacket over it. Oh, and did I mention he even wore it to a holiday party I attended at his home — with shorts and flip-flops? He’s evidently missing the chip that handles distinctions for situational dressing.
To say the least, the “uniform” of the guy described above has room for improvement. However, in some cases, having a set look serves a positive purpose and is even desirable, but only if it’s well thought-out and well-executed. I get requests for this quite often from prospective clients – they want their own personal, iconic look, à la Steve Jobs. I get the appeal of this. First of all, it streamlines their getting-dressed routine. Also significant is that it can help cement one’s identity and give a solid sense of self both internally and outwardly with others. My only caveat here is that this needs to done in a way where a) it’s not boring (perhaps there are slight variations within what you wear each day – black v-neck sweater vs. black turtleneck sweater), and b) even though you’re sticking with the same theme each day, it shouldn’t look sloppy or as though you don’t care about your appearance (think Mark Zuckerberg’s hoody).
Matthew McConaughey in his signature fitted Dolce & Gabbana suit (he appears in their fragrance ads).
How to develop that look? Well, that’s easier said than done and, I’ll be honest, you may need help from a professional. But I’ve outlined four steps below on how to move toward creating your own.
1) Make a list of words that describe the look you’re going for and how you want to be received by others. Then narrow that list down to three or four. If you’re not a wordsmith, spend quality time on Google looking at images of other guys who embody what you’re going for. Then describe that look verbally. You may also want to consult the thesaurus for ideas once you come up with an initial word or two.
2) If you haven’t already found visual examples of others who give off the same vibe you’re looking for, do that now. Then ask yourself, what are the identifying characteristics in those outfits that create that sensibility? It may only be parts of different looks (the shirt fabric, or the way patterns are combined, as two examples) that resonate with you. Make a list of those items. This is the source list that you’ll be pulling from when you test things out.
3) Using the list above, test each of these things out one at a time. If your financial resources are limited, you can do this in a dressing room without purchasing items. Ask friends whose opinions you trust and who you know will be honest whether the look works for you or not. (Generally, this is not going to be a store salesperson.) Doing this will allow you to narrow down your source list to your final choice(s). A word of caution: if the elements you’re trying out make a really bold statement, like brightly colored bracelets or socks with a standout pattern, limit yourself to a max of 3-4 items along these lines per outfit.
4) Whatever you go with, have CONVICTION about it. This is important because if you don’t feel confident about your appearance, most likely others won’t either. And remember, everyone looks at himself more critically than other people do (honing in on specific perceived flaws like a thick midsection or short legs – which others might not notice as acutely as you do), so try to take a more macro approach as I mentioned in this article on defining your personal style.
I know this can sound like a big undertaking, but if you follow these steps above and get advice from a professional or people you trust, you can absolutely achieve it. If defining your style is something you’re working on, let me know how it goes for you. I’d love to hear about your hits and your misses.
Our family is comprised of my wife, Rebecca, our son, Johnny, our daughter, Maggie, and our two dogs, Macy and Winston.
But on Monday we had–not what I would call an actual addition to the family–but a temporary intruder that has introduced himself (or herself) into our extended family. After several hours of agonizing pain in my lower back a CAT scan confirmed I had given birth to a small calcium deposit more commonly known as a kidney stone.
The process of birthing a kidney stone is cruelly painful. It feels like a tiny army has invaded your body and is attacking your lower back with miniature jackhammers.
I have been told repeatedly that a kidney stone is the most painful condition a man can experience—”like childbirth.” OK then. I’ll treat that way. I’m going to give my calcium deposit (or kidney stone) a proper name while it is residing swimmingly in my bladder waiting to burst out into the universe.
Buster has a nice ring to it. And I think I’m calling it a he.
For real childbirth the gestation period lasts about 38 weeks –or 266 days, on average. But for a male to create and discharge a fully grown calcium deposit is much a much shorter gestation period—about 3 or 4 days. Tops.
A dog’s gestation period is 61 days. A cow’s 279 days. The only thing on the shorter end of the spectrum even close to a man’s incubation period for a calcium deposit is a fly. Flies have gestation periods of about 4 days. But it’s not really gestation because they lay eggs. But they get it all done in 4 days and the only thing close to what I’m doing now with my kidney stone. I looked it up on the internet.
So, back to Buster. Our newest family member, sort of. I’ll be giving birth to him shortly. I’m in Day Three of my gestation period. The doctor expects Buster to be birthed (or “passed”) tomorrow, provided I drink lots of water and take Flomax. The male/kidney stone equivalent of Lamaze.
How did I find out I was “with stone?”
It all started late Monday afternoon. Day One was just awful. I didn’t think I had done anything deserving punishment….but the nurse–trained to read the body language of patients– knew immediately something was wrong with me when she walked into my hospital room and I was screaming at the top of my lungs “Oh God. Ohhhhh God!!! Oh God! OH GOD!!! Please help! OH GOD!” She asked me to point to the pain and I pointed to my lower right back.
My wife was shushing me and I waved my finger angrily at her and said, “No! No! Don’t shush me! Screaming it the only thing that helps distract me from the pain!”
Admittedly, it was not my finest moment as a husband. Or hospital patient. And I later apologized to both Rebecca and the hospital staff.
As wimpy as I felt for making all that noise, I was grateful the nurse knew exactly what to do. She administered a pain medication that sedated me and then took me in for a CAT scan. A CAT scan sounds like it could be fun. Something with a small furry house pet like our dogs, Macy and Winston. But it’s not. At all. It’s really boring. They put you on an oscillating bed and slide you back and forth through this giant contraption that takes pictures of your insides. That’s it. There are no cats anywhere. I guess the main take away about my reflections on the CAT scan is that the pain medication was working well.
About 30 minutes later a doctor came into my room and told me that I was about to be a proud father of a small calcium deposit. (Those weren’t his exact words, but you get the idea.)
I asked how big was my creation. The doctor said 2mm. “Smaller than average” and it should drop into the bladder soon “because it’s so small.”
I felt slightly self-conscious and think the doctor was embarrassed for me not being able to create a bigger kidney stone.
Feeling relief from the pain medication I felt more like myself and asked the nurse if she’d seen any other men with kidney stones this week. She said she had several kidney stone patients recently. After a pause, I asked, “How big was my kidney stone compared to the others?” I blushed while awaiting my answer and explained, “It’s a guy thing.” The nurse said, my stone was “big enough to cause a lot of pain” but wouldn’t offer a comparative opinion. I took it that my kidney stone fell on the small side. Maybe the smallest. The “runt” of all the stones seen recently in this hospital.
I was discharged with medicine, directions to drink lots of water and given a paper sifter to capture Buster when he was ready to meet the world. I returned Tuesday with no stone. The doctor wasn’t surprised and said it sometimes takes “several days to pass.” That’s all well and fine but I could tell he felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and should really try to put my heart into it more. I was a little depressed—disappointed in myself, I guess, for not delivering.
Then again I am 50 years old. Birthing a calcium deposit at my age isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I am proud but hope this doesn’t affect my diet. Because in a way I am eating for two now.
As the nurse checked me out for the last time, she said to me routinely “I hope you feel better.” I said, I “didn’t feel that.” And added, “I don’t think your heart was in it.” She laughed and tried again and I said, “Better…but ….no…not really.” The third time was a charm and I left with us both laughing….kind of cool way to end an awful experience.
And soon–maybe tonight—Buster will pass. Pass into this universe –ever so briefly—and then get flushed into oblivion. OK. I know. Buster is just a calcium deposit. But he is my calcium deposit. And as painful and miserable as a kidney stone is to experience, it is possible—if you try really hard like I am doing now—to find something positive in even the most miserable experiences. A silver lining, if you will—that is un-phased by the jagged edges of my little runt of a kidney stone that is about to be introduced, albeit briefly, to this amazing but sometimes very painful world.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
It is said that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. It is also common knowledge that there is a psychological effect to touching. In fact there are several scientific research articles stating that when a person is touched by a person they trust, it elevates oxytocin levels and decreases the stress related hormones. Touching has also been shown to develop relationships between two people.
It is the first language we learn,” said Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life” (Norton, 2009), and remains, he said, “our richest means of emotional expression” throughout life. One form of touching that is always acceptable and has the power to show appreciation, respect, care and develop the trainer/client relationship we are all after; the high five.
The high five, the same form of non-verbal communication professional athletes exude. The same expression we learn through pee-wee football and little league baseball to show praise for a good job. The high five is the ultimate trainer’s tool for relationship development and appreciation for a client.
Right, wrong or indifferent I touch my clients. I give them high fives to show they have done a good job; I give them a hug when I feel they need it and I tap them gently on the muscle being worked. The power of the high five allows me to do the following:
Develop a great relationship
When I give a high five to a client I show them respect and gratitude for the work they are doing. Sometimes that message is difficult to convey through words. For my super competitive clients this takes them back to athlete days and puts them in an environment they are use too. For everyone it shows appreciation for their work, something sometimes their out-of-the-gym life doesn’t supply. After a great set of bicep curls, supply a simple high hive to show you are paying attention.
Conveys to potential clients my relationship with my clients
In a gym setting, during a 60 minute session on average 14 people will watch at least 20% of the session. This is marketing at its highest! I want to produce the vibe that I care about my clients, especially for potential clients watching me. Post workout, end the session with a powerful high hive, someone on the treadmill above will notice.
The word fun is often not associated with exercise. People view working out as a chore or that it hurts. Add a few high fives and a smile and now it becomes a little more tolerable. Honestly, after a few sessions, people realize how fun this really can be! Not everyone is an athlete or will think exercise is fun, provide a high five during the session changes the feelings towards exercise.
Help carry the load
Performing a high five to a client, physiologically, signifies I am offering to “carry” their load. “We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.” Before a session, especially for my clients who come after work, provide that high five to show you understand their day and you are here to help “carry their load.”
The power of the high five is over reaching. It takes little effort but supplies dramatic reward. Personal training is all about relationships and how those relationships develop, no better way than to communicate through providing your client a simple high five.
Josh “JB” Bowen is an industry veteran, holding many positions within the industry and is currently a personal trainer in Lexington, KY and Quality Control Director for Compel Fitness. He was a global 2013 top ten finalist in Life Fitness’ Personal Trainer to Watch, and author of the 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.