It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Grow People!

Jim Gentil, my speaker friend in Austin, sent me this one. Interesting, isn’t it, how most Chinese proverbs can cut to the chase and deliver a potent message. 


James Sutton, Psychologist


If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people,
– Chinese Proverb

December 30, 2006 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, Inspirational, Parents | 1 Comment

It’s a Privilege

I was home watching a Bob Hope special that heralded his entertainment of the troops at Christmas time. He did it for so long. What a tradition.

When the discussion came to the USO and what they provided for troop morale, there was a feature on actress Ann Margaret. She was, hands down, a favorite of the troops in Vietnam (and I’m speaking from experience here).

What touched me was Ann’s discussion about a worn, old black and white photo she still carries in her wallet. It’s a picture of her and soldier, taken in Vietnam at the soldier’s request. Tearfully, she explained that she carries the photo to remind herself that it was her privilege to be there for those men and women in uniform. She went on to explain how it was a blessing for her to be there; they lifted her up, not the other way around. 

Her words reconfirmed to me how it is indeed a blessing and a privilege to work with young people.

James D. Sutton

December 27, 2006 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | 1 Comment

21-Gun Respect

Today I was an honorary pallbearrer at the funeral of a friend. He was definitely “old school,” born in 1906. That’s right, he lived to be 100 years and 6 months old. He was married to his sweetheart for 68 years (which would have been 75 years had she outlived him). That’s definitely “old school.”  

 Career military, he joined the Army in the 20’s during post-WWI. He because part of the Air Force when it broke away from the Army Air Corps, then retired in 1956. That was over 50 years ago. He saw action WWII and Korea. The pallbearrers were all VFW members; the youngest one of them was a Korea vet. Among the active and honorary pallbearers there were a number of WWII and Korea vets, and one Vietnam vet … me.

He was buried with full military honors, in a downpour. The Air Force NCO who played “Taps” stood at attention in the rain and played it masterfully. I couldn’t tell you if there were any dry eyes left in the crowd because mine weren’t. How anyone could experience that and not feel it deeply would be a mystery to me. 

I stood directly behind this man’s son and daughter (both in their 60s or even early 70s) and witnessed the folding and the presentation of the flag to the family. I could hear the airman clearly: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Air Force, and a grateful nation …”

Moving. No, MORE than moving.

In times where our young folks often see someone like this man as just a “funny old person,” it’s important that we let them know that it was men and women like this who earned for us the freedoms we enjoy today.

 James Sutton, Psychologist  

December 21, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | 2 Comments

Dreams are Built on Hard Work

“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.” Richard Bach

Dreams can be troublesome things, especially when the only thing we want to do is dream.

 Dreams are wonderful action plans that require just that … ACTION!

 I remember one young lady, about 15, telling me she was going to be a rock star when she grew up. I asked her how that was going to happen.

“Well, I’ll be at the house, and a limo will drive up. Someone with a big singing contract will knock on my door and sign me up as a rock star!

“So what is your plan? I asked.

 “I’ll just wait for the limo.”

I did suggest that, while she was waiting, she might want to think about what she could DO to be one day closer to being a rock star. She looked at me like I had just grown a third eye.

I just saw a great, great movie, although most of it is sad and difficult. It was The Pursuit of Happyness (a true story) with Will Smith. He plays Chris Gardner, a homeless man trying to raise a son and get a chance at becoming a stock broker under incredibly difficult circumstances. He certainly had a dream, but he had also had tremendous resolve.

He achieved his dream.

 James D. Sutton, Psychologist

December 20, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | 1 Comment

Too OLD to Teach?

I was reading a friend’s blog today, and my mind captured a thought. Of course, it was the eve of my birthday, where getting older is always on one’s mind anyway.

Frank, my friend, teaches emotionally/behaviorally disordered students in high school (that’s a TOUGH population). But he is good at it, as evidenced by his students and their regard for him that goes on into life after public schoool.

He asked his students to lay out the qualities of the ideal teacher, and what they shared was pretty good. One student suggested that teachers should not be allowed to teach any more when then become “too old.”  Frank suggested that he would be on the streets under that stipulation (he’s in his late fifties), and the student granted him a “special” license to continue teaching.

What do kids mean by “too old?” I think they’re talking more about attitude than actual age, a attitude that is critical of young people, or tends to throw all youngsters into one big bag labeled “trouble.” They can pick up on that attitude pronto.

Question: Would a person who would get bent out of shape from such a statement from a young person actually be demonstrating their own shortness of vision going in the OTHER direction?

My wife’s father was an exception. Young people in his church loved him, so much that, on any given weekend, they went by his house to visit and play dominos with him and his wife. They did it because they wanted to. Of course, he started a relationship with all of them when they were in my wife’s 4&5-year old Sunday School class. It grew from there.

Age has nothing to do with the condition Zig Ziglar calls “Hardening of the Attitudes;” it can happen anywhere and anytime. Then there are other “conditions” like insensitivity, indifference, apathy and rigidity … things that can sour the Milk of Human Kindness.

But, of course, those conditions have never been limited by age in either direction.  

December 13, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | 1 Comment