When Life Smart was first published, the publicity tour found me in all sorts of cities and towns talking about life skills and life tools for teenagers. One Saturday morning, I found myself with a group of men in a shed somewhere on the road from Labrador to the Gold Coast. This men’s group would meet monthly and talk about their issues and their families on the first Saturday of the month.

Affable men, with a keen interest in making themselves better parents and husbands. It was my honour to sit on the bench and talk with them about their teenager children.

I asked for question or comments. The man who had asked me to speak at this meeting, had already bought the book at the launch party two weeks before. He said that he had done what I had suggested and read the book himself first. Then he left the book on the coffee table in the lounge room for his son to pick up if he was interested. It sat there unopened. So he decided to re-read the book and highlight in yellow marker, all the things in the book he thought his son should do. Again, he left it on the coffee table. Again, it was untouched.

His mates from the shed had lots to say about this. Eventually after much discussion he decided what best to do next. He is now using the book as his handbook and he is focusing on doing all the things he wants his son to do… himself. The rest of the  blokes were pretty happy with this action plan and book sales from the shed were pretty high that morning.

A great leader was uncovered in that hot little shed that Saturday morning in south-east Queensland.

People ask me ‘How can I help my son or daughter to have high self-esteem?’ My answer is always, ‘Cultivate your own self-esteem. Our children don’t necessarily do what we tell them to do, they do what we do.’ Become the self-assured child you always wanted yourself to be. Develop and display in your behaviour the self-esteem you want to encourage in them. As Tom Robbins says ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

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