Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Friend In Deed

I have been reading Tim McGinnis' StrengthsFinder blog and happened upon this Trombone Player Wanted film series. Marcus Buckingham creatively makes his point with a boy in the school band who is a natural percussionist but has been told to play trombone. Let this whet your appetite.

If kids instinctively know their strengths, then our role as parents is to enhance their pursuit of them. It may save their lives either literally or figuratively (keep reading about Nathaniel Ayers). Kids with autism, and reams of paperwork outlining their deficits (otherwise known as IEP's) and obstacles stacked against them, desperately need our support to affirm and articulate their strengths. Arguably, it will cost them more than the "normal" population to be settle for mediocrity or be misguided.

In an odd coincidence, another performance at the Walt Disney Performing Arts Center is pivotal in Steve Lopez' true story, The Soloist. His arduous friendship with a destitute homeless man moves him from being marginalized to heroic. Lopez unlocks this man's potential using his obsession with music as the key. I'll show you this trailer if you promise to read the book first.

John Donne said, no man is an island. As an introvert, I sometimes prefer being alone. During stressors in my life, including Reid's diagnosis, my tendency is to pull inward, resign, recoil, resist. (Recall the funny scene in Father of the Bride with Steve Martin and the guard dogs?) That retreat only serves me so long. After a certain point, it is not beneficial to be alone. I need others to pull me out of my own quandry and keep me moving. So, it is easy to understand how Nathaniel Ayers, after his mother's death, basically lost his marbles.

When I see homeless people, I almost always think of the words of John Bradford (and my grandmother) who said, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Knowing all the pieces that fit together for Reid to appear and behave as a functioning member of society, I can quickly imagine him (or any of us) in their shoes were the scaffolding to come down. What would it take for your life to come apart at the seams? A couple of "biggies"--loss of a job, the economy failing, death of a provider, hurricane, illness, a move--and any of us could be on the street needing a friend like Steve Lopez.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:16-18

Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man's friend deserts him. Proverbs 19:3-5

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:23-24

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp... Exodus 33:10-12


  1. Thanks for the trailer. And yes i do promise to read the book! :)

  2. Hi Andrea,

    I came across your blog while looking for people who are writing about kids with LD. Your posts are really terrific.
    Since you are interested in Marcus Buckingham's work and especially TPW since it relates to kids, I thought you might also be interested in the work of Jenifer Fox. Will definitely have personal resonance.

    Jenifer wrote Your Child's Strengths, (Viking 2008) with an introduction by Marcus Buckingham. She traveled with Marcus on his Go Put Your Strengths to Work Tour in 2007 to show the results a strengths approach can yield in a high school setting. Then she wrote her own book. I think the book is worth mentioning to others because it helps parent and teachers help kids discover their strengths before they get into the workplace and find themselves in jobs they hate. At the time she wrote it, she was running an all girls school that served primarily LD kids and some with Aspergers. Her thinking in part was that those kids need strengths awareness especially, since their attentions and intelligence can be so focused and singular.

    Since publication, Jenifer has been traveling the country and spreading her message to schools businesses and various organizations interested in strengths.

    I hope you will look at this book and maybe talk about it on our website. Maybe you would like a copy. Let me know. Thanks and good luck with your work.