Fairmont, MN: A Top 20 Community

Down in the south-central heart of Minnesota sits, far from idly, a community watching their own potential explode! Top 20 Training has been training school faculty/staff, principals, students, parents, hospitals, businesses, community leaders, and many more throughout the nation for 12 years, but we’ve never hit each of those groups with one fell swoop, in one town,…until we met Fairmont, MN. Fairmont is the first community in the nation to take on an endeavor so big and with such promise and determination.

Led by the enthusiasm, positivity, and insights of Police Chief Greg Brolsma and his committee, Top 20 Training has spent many, many days training throughout Fairmont. We have now trained students, teachers, parents, business leaders, senior citizens, and various community members. The continued relationship between Top 20 Training and Fairmont is one that is truly cherished and valued.

May 2014: The Last Parent Session of the Season.

After announcements we began with the Magda Gerber quote from chapter 7, “One should not make sweeping statements about children (or a particular child)….one should only make statements based on observations of reality.” I shared my experience with Magda Gerber, and my admiration for how she viewed and treated children. I was glad to see her quoted in the Top 20 book. Candy stated that how you are feeling definitely affects what you observe and how you interpret it. We looked at the developmental news flashes, for the reminder that our children do things for a reason, and they are learning about the world, and how to get their needs met, and we need to view it as such, and not feel that they are out to get us.

Most of class today was spent reviewing points that we learned and used from our Top 20 study. Susan shared letting people know “you matter”. We talked about the importance of words and actions to help other people know that they matter. A visiting grandmother talked about a time when her daughter was in junior high, and had a rainy blustery track meet to attend, and she brought in a care package with rain gear, jackets, snacks, etc. The daughter commented long after the mother had forgotten, that that day she had felt that she mattered. Often it is little things that we will not remember, but our children will.

Marlys shared that she has been strengthen by the “keep your day” motto. Kari mentioned that recognizing when she was above or below the line, helped her adjust her perspective. Susan shared her experiences with having the power to “trampoline”. She shared some of the ways she does this, talking to a friend, going for a walk, starting a fun project, looking for solutions, making an effort to be happy.

Another point that came up was “see the problem, own the problem.” Teri shared an experience with her son who forgot a hockey assignment, and how he had to own it and not make excuses, and mom stepped back to let the child handle it. We often want to intervene, to help our children out of life’s little messes. In was brought up that we are preparing our children to handle the bigger problems that happen later in life, not protecting them. Candy shared that a mother shared with her that she thought her job was to prevent her child from experiencing pain of any kind. We all disagreed. That is not our job at all. Sometimes we need to walk away, sometimes offer direction, but we must allow them to experience life, and learn from it.

Our visiting grandmother shared that she was raised by a wonderful women who lived by the motto “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”. She still thinks of her mother when a group she is with starts to “dishonor the absent”. She says she doesn’t participate, or changes the subject, but wishes she could speak-up. That is hard to do, but her example of silence is good.

Janet said she had read a quote, “Develop from the negatives”, and this is the place from where growth takes place. Another concept that was brought up was “confusion rocks” and the learning that take place from not knowing. Great group, I will miss the many things they have taught me.

October 2013: The Fairmont, MN Top 20 Parent Group

We met together after two weeks of not having class! There are things that happen every week that have the potential to put us Below the Line. Candy shared a story about a time when her lights went out; her husband was at a meeting and the girls had been using the flashlights for play. Her oldest daughter is afraid of the dark and started to go into a panic. She thought about where she was according to her Line, and decided to handle it calmly (from Above the Line), though her first thought was to scold the girls for playing with the flashlights for not being able to find them, yell at the oldest for scaring the younger kids, and bemoaning that her husband was at another meeting. Another example was shared of driving assertively, and talking to the other drivers, and then hearing the children respond in the same negative way to the “other drivers.” She realized how her reaction impacted the kids. She has practiced saying “less’ in those situations.

We talked about some of our Trampolines (ways to Bounce back Above the Line) – going for walks, bible study, going out with friends, heading to Target in the next town over (alone of course), and just taking 20 minutes by ourselves to think our own thoughts. We pondered what our “own” thoughts might be, if we took time to clear our minds. On the board was printed “Children’s needs are best met by parents whose needs are met.” We talked about needing to be mindful of our own needs and to give ourselves the time we need to recharge.

I brought out my buttons from trainings and talked about each before I put them on. (Keep Your Day; Live Above; Confusion Rocks; Be Curious).

Jennie shared an example of when she was nursing her baby and how OPOs (Other People’s Opinions) had a negative effect on her thinking. We shared ways we fail to “Keep Our Day.” I shared that WE have the power to choose how we handle life when we don’t let life’s experiences handle us. The parents liked the idea that confusion rocks, that you need to be confused in order to learn.

Next week we will start with looking at The Frame.

October 2013: The Fairmont, MN Top 20 Parent Group

The Fairmont Top 20 Parent group starting meeting again! We started with sharing ways that we help others succeed. This is the Top 20 theme for the Fairmont Schools for this fall. Suzy brought bracelets for each member that says – “Help others succeed.” This is a fantastic, tangible way to incorporate Top 20 into day-to-day life. Ideas were varied and inspiring. It was brought out that giving another person a leg up or helping with his/her goals in life is very rewarding personally. Other ideas shared touched on helping and encouraging with homework, providing support for a family member doing elder care, recognizing a co-worker’s efforts, giving your spouse a “way to go” instead of “helpful criticism” that we women can be good at, sending a note to someone about a success he/she had experienced, a simple thank you, and noticing another’s input.

We then moved on to an overview of TLC (Thinking-Learning-Communicating), and what functioning as a Top 20 is. We reiterated that we all have a Top 20 and a bottom 80 self. We need to recognize where we are at, so that we do our Thinking, Learning, & Communicating when we are functioning in our Top 20.

The next week, we generated phrases that we have used in the past, that are similar to operating in our Top 20. These were covered in class last year, but we have new members this year, so are doing a review. Phrases shared were, taking the high road, being your best self, upping your game, bringing your “A” game, choosing your path, and being most like Jesus. We generated lists on the easel paper of what we might be like in our Top 20 and Bottom 80. Lists resembled those in the Top 20 book. At the next class we will be looking at trampolines, submarines, and the frame (components of the Line). I asked the class to watch for things they found themselves using as trampolines and submarines for sharing at the next class.

October 2013

The following was sent from Mike Riley of Profinium Bank. Mike has been an essential piece of bringing Fairmont, MN: A Top 20 Community’s goal/vision to fruition. top domains . Read below to hear the current initiatives in the community.

“The whole Fairmont community is buzzing about Top 20 again. We just had a Top 20 committee meeting yesterday and exciting things are happening in the Fairmont area and Martin County:

  • We have been requested to go in to 3M for their employee meetings next week to explain Top 20 in 6 different sessions.
  • We’re putting up a Top 20 Facebook page for Fairmont area.
  • We not have a weekly Top 20 Column in Photo Press, a local community newspaper that only covers good news and goes to everybody. The top 20 committee is authoring the columns. Last week I did a meeting summary of the Paul and Willow show. This week Traci will cover our mission and direction of the Champions.
  • We had 25 new Champions sign up after your presentations, now totaling 85.
  • We’re thinking about creating a “Sponsors Forum” to network, share best practices and think creatively about additional ways to put Top 20 to work within the various sponsor companies and in the community.
  • We’re going to ask Champions (we need 40) to volunteer for “Cardinal Connections” to go into Home Rooms in grades 7 – 12 to help deliver the content that the teachers are covering.”

March 2013

Parent Talk: The following entries are from a group of Top 20 Parents that have been meeting and discussing the joys and challenges of parenting while incorporating Top 20 concepts along side their own wisdom. Please read and share their insights!

Fairmont Top 20 Parents discuss the power of the FRAME.

As parents, in the most trying of situations and circumstances, we naturally move to our comfort zone and react accordingly. Kristen, a Fairmont Top 20 parent, mentioned that “when we think we have tried everything, in fact we haven’t changed the way we VIEW the situation, or the person involved.” Recognizing how we SEE a situation or child can open doors to navigate our personal frames effectively. When we navigate effectively, we can have a positive impact on what we GET out of the situation. Cheryl, another Fairmont Top 20 parent she needs to remember that when she changes her approach it takes time for the children to adjust to the “new” way. The ‘old’ way was perhaps working for the child, or at least it was what they were comfortable with. She mentioned not giving up too soon, and going back to the old way.”

March 2013

Fairmont Top 20 Parents stay CURIOUS!

In addition to Fairmont Top 20 parents remaining curious, asking questions, and seeing things differently, Kristenmentioned that children don’t have any trouble asking questions, and “we can help them think by asking ‘what if’ questions, or asking the child, “What do you think?””

While discussing the power of CURIOSITY, an example of a conflict came up, and Marlys reminded the group that “we can only change ourselves, and the way we view things, another person needs to choose for himself.”

April 2013

Top 20 Parents are EFFECTIVE

This group of Fairmont Top 20 Parents discussed how understanding and acknowledging where their children are developmentally enables them to remain effective. The parents discussed how reminding themselves about their child’s developmental stage allows them to STAY ABOVE THE LINE while handling the various joys and challenges that come up. A main focus was on the word ‘weather’ and how if they are AWARE of changing climates in their children, they are more prepared and more effective in redirecting the storm! Through sharing stories of nose picking and the natural ways children want to help mom and dad (even though they are perhaps unable to due to their developmental stage), these Fairmont Top 20 Parents shared their success in navigating the changing weather in their children.

April 2013

Top 20 Parents utilizing the FRAME, staying EFFECTIVE

This group of Fairmont Top 20 Parents had an in-depth discussion ranging from child temperament, to moments of conflict with their children, to memories of conflict with their own parents, and everything in between. In hearing about their discussion, it is clear that these parents are truly Top 20s due to their natural instincts of navigation during times of conflict, misunderstandings, and relationships. We can see they know the power of how they SEE a situation and how it directly impacts what you FEEL, DO, and eventually GET! Without knowing it, they are pros at using the FRAME. Cherylmentioned that knowing her child’s temperament helps her to SEE what something is “like” for him. Kristen SEEs that her temperament and her son’s can cause them to bump heads. Ana said that she and her mother are much the same in temperament, which can result in them GETting both conflict and closeness. Marlys spoke about awareness and mentioned that some times we have a child that we just “get,” which makes it easier to parent that child and how if we can SEE clearly when parenting our children that perhaps we don’t “get,” we can remain effective.

-These Fairmont Top 20 Parents are incredible examples of reflective, effective, and inspiring community members. Their contributions and time spent with their children and each other are nurturing the seeds of POTENTIAL that will one day explode into beautiful flowers for their Top 20 community! We all have a lot to learn from them! Sadly, this group will not meet again until the fall; we look forward to continuing our learning with them when they meet again!