FIT@50 / Week 82: Custom(er) Service

FIT@50 / Week 82
Custom(er) Service

While this week’s FIT@50 arrived a day late, it was also the article’s motivation. Max and I flew back home to Dallas late last night, and after a few days away from everyone, I decided the welcome backs were more important than the writing.

I make no secret that I believe in old-school American values. That particularly applies to the way you treat people. That of course, transcends to the way you conduct your business—both personal and professional.

Liliana Hart and I have chronicled our trials with the despicably unethical home builder, and both look forward to writing very candidly about who he is and the facts of his less-than-legal accounting and accountability. Our hope would be that our house would be the last house he’d be contracted to build.

But, we were blessed to recently sell that home and are grateful that it will bless another family. This of course brings me back on track about placing value in the values we hold dear.

People seem to always find a way to interact with Max. His friendly, whole-face smile disarms most, and his energetic enthusiasm for everything from muddling through the TSA screening process to ordering a NOLA Lucky Dog attracts positive attention from others.

We like Southwest Airlines for our every week and a half flights back and forth between Dallas and Louisiana. It’s a casual flight, and although I’m not a big fan of competitive cattle-call seating, the one hour and fifteen minute flights whiz by.

What also makes them our favorite carrier is the way their employees seem to enjoy being there. Southwest Airlines has a storied past about the way they bucked the traditionally rigid airline business model to become the only major carrier to have not filed bankruptcy, merged and consistently posted profits for the last 43 years.

They empower people—their employees.

This was evident Friday as Max and I boarded and the pilot immediately greeted us. Max’s usual smile was on display as he returned the hello. The pilot invited Max into the cockpit. Max hesitated. The pilot asked again with an even warmer welcome.

Max was invited to sit in the giant captain’s seat while the instrument panel popped alive with brilliant lights and buttons. His face brightened even more as he repeatedly mouthed, “WOW.”

After a fun, casual chat and a few pictures, we headed back to our seats. Immediately, I tweeted the picture of Max with his new friend and tagged @SouthwestAir. Their top-notch public relations team quickly responded and sent a direct message to my account thanking me and asked for a flight confirmation to thank the pilot and crew.

By the time we deplaned, the pilot told Max good-bye. He shook my hand and said, “Thanks Brother. I appreciate the good word over Twitter.”

Talk about custom, customer service!

While it may seem to be a promo for Southwest Airlines (it is a little) it’s more about an appreciation for a company that started and still values their core values.

Their company values include:
Live the Southwest Way
– Warrior Spirit
– Servant’s Heart
– Fun-LUVing Attitude

They came through last night and made a sweet boy who already flies often, an even bigger fan of the friendly skies. They did good.

Do Good,

FIT@50 / Week 81 – The Tie

FIT@50 / week 81

The Tie:
This is my first season of Texas high school football. I’ve not been to a high school football game since I last felt the sharp crack of my left tibia and fibula in 1982.
While much less painful than that October night, I’ve enjoyed becoming a drum-line booster for our 14 year old. I love sports. I don’t care if its pee-wee football or senior citizens Bache ball, I enjoy the skill but more importantly, the heart of the competitor. It’s why I will not watch the NFL or any other team endorsing a disregard for America’s principles over the purpose of turning a profit.
When high schoolers kneel during the National Anthem to protest social injustices, just what injustices are they protesting? Maybe they are protesting the fact that over half of children their age live at or below the poverty level, and instead of getting to stay after school to play a game, they leave for work.
Maybe they protest that while Nike, UnderArmor and Riddell adorn their prepubescent bodies, kids from families who cannot afford socks will drop out of school at a rate 7 times higher than those who kneel while our nation’s anthem is played. And I’ll end with the fact that less than 30% of students to busy working afterschool jobs to feed themselves and their families than to play a game on Friday night will enroll in college. Oh, and of those that do, less than 50% will graduate.
Protesting an unspecified purpose is no protest at all—it’s imitation. I’ve yet to have the term “social injustice” operationalized. The only specific point of clarity is the name of a football team’s second string quarterback.
The ignominy of social imitation without fully understanding the implications is that only .04% of high school students who qualify will enlist in the military. Those 2 players out of a 54 person roster have already illustrated behavior non-conducive to military eligibility.
While I’m sure the back-up QB they pretend to understand appreciates the disregard for their yet undetermined futures, please accept that he’s fully enjoying the fruits of his one or two good seasons that netted him millions more than their relatives combined will have earned over multiple generations of living in a free nation.
So back to Texas high school football. Our 8 year old likes a girl from his class. A few weeks ago, I jokingly suggested he wear a tie to the game to impress her. He balked at the idea. Tonight, we pile in to drive to the stadium. It’s a chilly fall evening, so lil’ dude has his Harley Davidson jacket zipped up tight.
He flashes a smile and yanks down on the zipper. Yep, he’s got a tie clipped to his t-shirt. He seals up the surprise until they meet. Unfortunately, she didn’t show. Heartbroken, we return home and he sighs, “I wore this tie for nothing.”
I thought about it and understood it wasn’t for nothing. Although he didn’t like the look or idea of that checkered polyester tie over his school spirit t-shirt, he wore it for the right reason—respect for someone/something he cared about.
That’s much more than I can say for those children on their knees surrendering the honor of having the freedom to play games on Friday nights in the name of social injustices while 51% of their peers cannot afford the cost of a stadium ticket.
Do Good,
Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

FIT@50 / Week 80: Being Human

FIT@50 / week 80

Being Human:

I’m going to take a breather on this one. This week’s FIT@50 is probably best spent just being human. I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to just be human. That being FIT@50 means it’s alright to chill out every once and awhile, and allow life to be just so.

Of course, as I say this, it’s on the heels of another fast-paced week of networking and meetings for Liliana Hart and I. But just like the week before and the month before that and the year preceding that, we promised each other we’d slow it down.

Honestly, I don’t know that slowing down is an option.

It’s called being human.

If I could show you, right outside our suite window is an amazing sugar-sand beach with warm crystal waters. We’ve yet to stick a toe in either of them since we arrived on Monday.

Why? I’m really not sure why, but neither of us are complaining. We’ve been blessed to share this week catching up with friends and meeting new people who are as passionate about business as we are.

One of the best parts of this week has been how many people have taken the time to express their condolences for the loss of my dad. I mentioned that our circles on social media allow us to get to know so many people on a personal level. I’ve appreciated everyone who has made the very real effort to pay their respects.

It’s called being human.

Speaking of being human, I got caught up earlier with the reality that it had already been a week since my dad’s passing. I had that brief moment of chest compressing panic, but quickly tapped my heart with the tip of my middle finger to reassure myself it would be okay.

It’s a habit I picked up years ago while still in law enforcement. The bulletproof vest I wore on duty had a heavy plate covering the heart. It’s called a shock plate, or trauma plate. I’d tap that plate with my finger as a reassurance reminder that my heart was covered by a metal shell.

I didn’t realize it was something I still did. Although, having matured in my needs for reassurances, it’s not the steel plate that protects my heart from the trauma of grief. I have God’s reassurance that I’m protected, and blessed with a wonderful wife, family, and friends who care about what that heavy steel plate once protected.

It’s called being human.

Do Good,


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FIT@50 / Week 79 – Tough Guy, Soft Words

FIT@50 / week 79
Tough Guy, Soft Words:
This week has been a trial. Liliana Hart and I received the phone call every child dreads. My dad had suffered two strokes and a heart attack. He was in the hospital and I should head home immediately.

Problem was, we’re 8 hours away. I drove with the burden of racing life’s clock ticking against me. To tell you I didn’t keep it a bit over the posted speed limit would be to not tell you the truth.

We screeched into the hospital parking lot late that night and rushed to his bedside. Unresponsive, but alive. I’d come in under the wire, but the race to life’s end was still running.

The next day, along with my brothers and sisters, we made the decision to remove life support and entrust him to hospice. The doctor assured us he wasn’t going to wake up and if he did, it would only be incoherent glimpses.

Contrary to their best guesses, my dad woke up three times that day, and with great clarity to speak with us in short replies. It allowed us to share a precious last few moments with him.

I believe God allows mercy for both family and the dying to make peace before their passing. It was a blessing to experience those moments.

My dad was a tough, silent guy from Philly. Typical of his generation, the son of an Italian immigrant, he showed his love for family by providing more than by speaking. I can say that never once did my dad say he loved me.

It wasn’t the way in his time, but I knew he loved me. He was fiercely loyal to my mom and all 7 of us kids.

This week in his last moment of clarity, his eyes were open and he was responding to our questions and comments. Dementia had robbed him of most memories. But he was with us.

We all told him we loved him, and each hoped to hear him repeat those precious three words. But he didn’t—he was a tough, silent man, who showed love instead of expressing it. We all laughed that he was stubborn to the end.

Then one of his grandchildren asked if he wanted us to pray. He said yes.

Holding his hand, I pressed my face near his to hear that sweet, innocent one-word reply to an offer for genuine prayer—Yes.

This was the most soft-hearted word I’ve ever heard him speak. It would appropriately be his very last spoken word. I was able to lead my family in prayer, while my dad watched and listened with a gentle reassurance.

This week at his funeral, as a line of former students and football players lined up with community and family friends, a gentleman offered his condolences and spoke to Liliana and I about how much he enjoyed the way we share our lives on Facebook. Then his words struck me as he leaned in closer.

“I can’t believe such soft words come from a rough, tough police chief.”

This good guy could’ve never know how significant his words were. Unbeknownst to him, he had just delivered God’s message. It was a message that I needed to hear.

I’ve always delighted in looking like my dad, taking after him in so many characteristics and mannerisms. I’m happy to emulate his love for family and wife, but always wanted to make sure I was more vocal with the way I felt.

I understand the value of listening instead of speaking, but I’ve also tried hard to speak when appropriate with words that have meaning.

Like my dad’s final “Yes” to prayer, I think I’ve also become a tough guy, with soft words.

Do Good,
Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

FIT@50 / week 77

FIT@50 / week 77
It Just Is:
Ever notice when you’re questioning one of the kids about something, they stick to one reply, “It just is,” like a politician testifying before Congress. Chat with the youngster long enough and you’ll find yourself under a barrage of questions. To which you’ll default, “It just is.”

This week has been extra busy and stressful in the household. Leah has a huge book deadline, kids are in full school swing, I had a flight, and then a flight and then a flight to do everything from a tax meeting to pick up Max before heading back to Dallas.

Leah posted to social media about how great I’d been this week. My first reaction was “it just is.” As in it’s what you do for family, and then I pounded my chest in the sport of manly points earnings.

But her post didn’t stop there. More important than all of the nonstop get and go was that it was Leah’s dad’s birthday. He’d passed away a few years back.

I was busy out of state and was floored when I read her post thanking me for being there to pick up the slack while she focused on meeting her deadline. She also posted, as she’s said before how she wished he and I had known each other.

I felt like a heel. Sure it’s easy to get on a plane, and shake a few hands, and sign papers and be here and there and anywhere whether it’s teaching the boys how to freestyle, or picking one up after band.

What I should’ve come through on was remembering it was her dad’s birthday and the way it devastates her each year.

We started an outreach about a month ago for divorced folks, single parents and remarried couples working to make it work this time around. First marriages are tough. They fail over 50% of the time. Subsequent marriages fail about 63% and fail exponentially greater as they go.

What I’ve learned as I’ve grown FIT@50 is that communication is key. But there’s more to it than waiting for the other person to stop talking, so you can start. Active listening is a better term. While I tuned it to the task list of what to do, I should’ve sought her heart’s beat for the list of how she feels.

Well, her book’s almost done, the kids are in class and at least one little boy is happy to be away from his other Louisiana home near the Gulf of Mexico. As for me, I’m still learning. Maybe we all should keep an ear out for each other’s internal voice.

Do Good,


FIT@50 / week 76

FIT@50 / week 76
Not There:

I’m prompting Max to prep for bed. While it takes a little longer, he eventually gets there. I finally warned him with a stern wag of my finger to wrap up the tub time. I came back in his bathroom after sorting his school clothes and he had a head of hair slathered with Old Spice body wash.

I grunted, “No. Not there.”

He proudly continued to rub it over his head. It never registered with him that what he was using was body wash and not shampoo.

“See.” He proudly held a bright yellow hand towel up and ran it through his hair to rinse it. “I wash.”

I dropped to my knees next to the tub in half prayer / half guilt for over reacting to the infamous Old Spice mix up. The thing was, it wasn’t a mix up, and it wasn’t a big deal. It was Max doing his best on his own to scrub up for another day at school. He was not only proud of his accomplishment, but also boasted a savory scent of grandfatherly masculinity.

After he was tucked in and off to sleep, I joined Liliana Hart in the living room to catch up on writing. I began to think about what I said to him, “Not there.” With my one year anniversary of my retirement as Chief of Police, I mused over that comment.

What if I’d listened to that same comment at times in my life? Admittedly, there were occasions that I should’ve known and heeded the warning, but we’ll save those for another less-public forum. I’m talking about people in your path, that for the sake of conformity or custom, tried to divert your direction in life.

What if I listened to the “voice of reason” when I wanted to enroll in graduate school in my forties after having been away from college for twenty years. What if I listened to the “friends” who thought I should’ve stayed in my position before becoming Chief of Police because it was safe and protected. What if I listened to a room full of “detractors” laughing at my first attempt to publish a book, and not because of the content, but that I’d dedicated it to my best friend who had always encouraged me during graduate school although he’d dropped out in eighth grade.

Finally, what if I listened to myself when God said it was time to retire. He didn’t mince words. It was clear, but I rationalized by looking at retirement and saying,
‘Not there,” for almost a year. What if He’d listened to me and said, “Okay, you’re on your own.”

While there are wonderful people offering wise counsel, do yourself a favor and weigh what they have to offer by what is right, what is important and what is yours. Even if the person you should ignore is you.

Being FIT@50 means I get to sit here in peace without the world’s problems being my problems, and Max gets to go to class with magnificent smelling hair.

Do Good,
Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

FIT@50 / week 75

FIT@50 / week 75

Just Look Up:

I was back in the pool this week. It was incredible, and although the skills had diminished over a few years, I was still able to comfortably crank out laps. Except for when I crashed into Liliana Hart because she decided to stop and fix her hair in the middle of a lane. Though I think it was on purpose for both of us. I’m going to do a short-course triathlon later this year with our 14 year old daughter, and needed to get back to my own training to teach her.

If Michael Phelps and USA Swimming inspired me to do anything recently, it was to enjoy the training and fun of swimming, and to never be ignorant enough to make up a story about being robbed by cops.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was always weary of water. No, not drinking water or bath water, but big bodies of open water. Sure the movie Jaws contributed to it too, but other than the dog paddle or treading water, I swam like a block of led.

Therein lied the dilemma. For many years, I thought about completing a triathlon, but since swimming was like the first one-third of the event, there weren’t many ways of getting around it. And unlike the one person who actually walked on it, I wasn’t getting away without swimming through it.

Something about having nothing to touch just below both feet while my body tentatively bobbed atop shifting currents bothered the bejesus out of me. I wasn’t going to be limited by this fear. So, I did what any motivated person would do. I YouTube it, and then I bought a book on swimming.

I began swimming before and after grad school classes and work in nice four foot deep lap lanes. I was able to breaststroke over one mile without stopping, so I entered my first triathlon. Guess what? Whitecaps, other swimmers and a pool-only breaststroke resulted in near open water disaster. But I lived to bike and run and was hooked.

I had great friends teach me but the freestyle swim stroke still eluded me. I dedicated one year to swimming four to six days a week. One night in a YMCA pool, I grew agitated and slapped the water in defeat.

My training partner asked what was bothering me. I confessed that while I could do the technique, I still couldn’t rotate to catch a breath. I’d panic, or swim with my face buried until lifting my head for air while both legs sunk and stopped my forward motion. I’d read the books, watched the videos and practiced, but I still had that gnawing fear reminding me that if I stopped, or grew tired or sucked in water instead of air, that I’d find myself where the deep, dark waters waited.

All I ever focused on was what was below. My friend asked what did it matter how deep the water was? We’re up here on the surface. Then he pointed to a pipe running across the ceiling’s peak. He said when you need to rotate for air, just look up.

That night I swam two miles without a single break. I did it freestyle the entire time, and had a blast skimming across the surface while rhythmically doing what I should’ve been doing all along – Looking Up.

Being FIT@50 has taught me that even the things we may want most can have the potential for adversely focusing our attention on the deep, dark negatives of obtaining the goal. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly reminder to Look Up.

Do Good,


Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.