Poosie Orr on Parenting (Traits #1 & #2)

Donald Van de Mark        March 22, 2011

“You want them to have fun! You want them to be able to do what they want to do.”

This is a quote from Poosie Orr, whom I talk about at length in my book, The Good Among the Great. Poosie is a mother to four children and a grandmother to six, all of whom are terrific, independent-minded (Autonomous) people. You could say she’s an expert in raising great kids.

However, Poosie’s parenting style is in many ways the opposite of what we so often see today. She didn’t micromanage her children or worry incessantly over their safety. In fact, when asked how she feels about today’s hovering “helicopter parents,” she responds, “Oh, it makes me cry! Oh, and then they go visit them all the time at college!” Later she goes on to say, about a friend who visits her daughter four times a year at school, “Oh, how awful–for the daughter!”

Here she is, sharing her feelings about modern parenting:

Poosie may be on to a trend.

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This Wednesday, March 16 I will be reading from and talking about Chapter 10 of my book, The Good Among the Great, at Books, Inc. in San Francisco. Joining me will be the beautiful and talented dancer Muriel Maffre, whom I profile in my book. We’ll be talking about Trait #10: Performance and Process-Oriented. Below is a video of Maffre performing the Dying Swan from Swan Lake (Natalie Portman, beware!):

Talk/Signing Details:
Books, Inc.
601 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, C.A.

If you make it, please say hello.

Cheers from Sonoma,

Donald Van de Mark

I want your feedback!  Which of the 19 traits are you studying, and how are you incorporating them into your daily life?  Connect with me on:
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To raise awareness of my book, The Good Among the Great (April 2011), I’m doing a Goodreads Book Giveaway. If you’re a site member, or even if you aren’t yet, you can register for the Giveaway by clicking the button below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Good Among the Great: 19 Traits of the Most Admirable, Creat... by Donald Van de Mark

The Good Among the Great

by Donald Van de Mark

Giveaway ends March 30, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

If you win, let me know and do share your comments with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the 19 Traits.

Cheers from Sonoma,
Donald Van de Mark


“Love liberates,” declares the great octogenarian poet, Maya Angelou.  In two words, Angelou articulates the second trait of the most admirable, creative and joyous people—whom I call the good among the great.

The trait is to be loving; and to have deep, long-lasting loves; and for those loves to be highly respectful of the person adored.  These are loves that don’t smother or bind, even when between parent and child.

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battle-hymn-of-the-tiger-motherOnce in a while, I will publish a Guest Post from a fellow blogger, examining a particular Trait or highlighting an individual who is deserving of special attention. The following book review was contributed by Mary Dodd.  As she says, it’s “A moment of reflection from a mom in the trenches….”

It is a cruel irony that parents of small children have the greatest need for advice about parenting, but have no time to read or reflect on any of it.  I consciously took time out of my day (out of my sleep, to be honest) to read two books this week in an attempt to remedy that situation.   In a study of contrasts, I looked at both Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Good Among the Great.

[Below is a video of Poosie Orr of Pittsburgh on “letting kids do what they want to do…” And her comments on helicopter parents.]

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Gratitude is the heart’s memory.
–French Proverb

“There’s always something to be grateful for.” So says Rachel Walton, a hospice nurse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s a remarkable statement coming from a woman who is around death and grieving all the time. “Sometimes I think about the fact that I can see. It opens me up. It opens up my vision. I realize all the beauty around me. And when you have that kind of awareness, you start tapping into the heart.”

Being appreciative or “tapping into the heart” is another way that exceptional human beings steer and enrich their own lives as well those of others. With Walton’s help, we can understand the real power of appreciation.

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If you missed it, there was an extraordinary showcase of Traits of the most admirable, creative and joyous people on television this past Sunday morning (Nov. 28, 2010). ABC’s Christiane Amanpour spent an hour with five of the best human beings in America, talking about tackling some of our most vexing global problems.

The show was This Week, which is typically dedicated to political discussion and debate. But this episode focused on billionaires who have pledged to give more than half of their many billions to tackle the toughest problems we face. Four of the five are familiar faces: Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and Ted Turner. The fifth was Tom Steyer, a hedge fund mogul and founder of San Francisco–based Farallon Capital.

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If Abraham Maslow is correct and only 1 percent of us are truly healthy psychologically, then we have to be alert to those who are.  Once you’re familiar with the 19 Traits that he identified, this 1% of extraordinary people are quite easy to spot.

For an example, you need look no further than a November 6th New York Times profile of Deborah Cavendish, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.  It’s titled “A Duchess With a Common Touch,” and with that title alone you know that this person has at least one of the 19 Traits– she is egalitarian.

We quickly learn that this 90-year old aristocrat “transformed Chatsworth, one of the grandest of England’s grand houses from a museum-like relic into a family house and a self-sustaining business.”  Which of the Traits does the old Duchess exhibit?

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In “Blowing Smoke,” the latest and second-to-last episode of Season 4 for AMC’s Mad Men, Don Draper throws a curve ball, not only at the public and clients, but at his own firm, when he writes a full-page ad in the New York Times divorcing himself and his business from big tobacco. He faces ridicule from competitors, skepticism from clients and hysteria from his own partners. (More Information about “Blowing Smoke”)

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Intuition Versus Analysis

In his best-selling book “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell makes a very strong case about the value of intuitive reaction. But what most people forget is that this kind of reflexive analysis has its own shortcomings. One of them is that our minds are hard wired to categorize everything. Meaning we organize new information into little mental boxes. The new people and events that we come across are instantaneously categorized into profiles that we’ve set up to make sense out of all the data that comes at us every day. This can lead to cruel and serious mistakes. Over categorization is the ground from which the “isms”, such as racism and sexism spring.

Use your intuition but don’t blindly trust it. Stop yourself and think more like a pollster. Give weight to data only if the quantity and quality of that data reaches a certain threshold. Otherwise, actively suspend judgment and be open minded. That means actively listening to the people you encounter and quieting the chatter in your mind. This takes active engagement with others–being outwardly focused. The rewards are enormous because you can expand the quality of the people you meet and the information you learn.

Some of the information you may start gathering may not be what you want to hear. On a personal front, you might learn that you’re not quite the husband or wife you thought you were. Or, that you have a way of being that turns people off at work. But, if you surround yourself with people who are also wedded to reality, who also want honest feedback on their behavior, you will all improve your way of being and ultimately, your performance.

Remember the joke: If one person calls you an ass , brush it off. If a second person calls you an ass, take a hard look at your behavior. If a third person calls you an ass, guess what? You are an ass.

Coming Up: Part 4 of Don’t Kid Yourself, Destiny Control

Cheers from Sonoma,