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,

Scott

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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,
Scott
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,

Scott

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,
Scott
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,

Scott

Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

FIT@50 / week 74

FIT@50 / week 74

Let Your Word Be Your Bond

Liliana Hart posted something this week that really hit home. I like to share lessons learned from boyhood. My dad wasn’t a talkative man, but when he did, his words were considered carefully and held the weight with which delivered.

It’s an embedded core value. I had a practice with every command position I held, including Chief of Police. I made two promises to everyone I supervised. First, I’d never curse them. Second, I’d never lie to them.

You’d think that would be a given in life, but unfortunately, it isn’t always true. Too often people feel a need to placate others, even at the expense of the truth. Maybe it’s not technically a lie in their eyes, but the slanted reality never serves anything other than an escape hatch away from responsibility.

As a young officer, my zeal to enforce the law caused a lapse in protocol. The Sheriff came into my office, which usually signaled trouble—big trouble. I saw the seething just below his surface, and with good reason. I think we’d stuffed thirty something drug dealers into three small holding cells while we continued an arrest operation.

“I’m sorry. It’s my fault,” were the most sincere words I’d spoken up to that point in my career. I watched the red drain back below his collar until a natural pallor returned. When I said I messed up, I honestly meant it. When I said I was sorry, it was soul deep – I promised to do better and I meant that too. He knew my words were my bond. We shook hands as he walked out. It defined my career.

Integrity extends beyond law enforcement. It should be a cornerstone in the way you treat others. Whether it’s a customer, a criminal or your kid. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your word be your bond.

I’ve had to ask and sometimes teeter on begging people, “If you don’t know the answer, just say so.” Giving empty words to spare yourself the blackeye or grazed ego seems to have become a standard social practice.

When and why have some people in business and public service become so fragile in their foundations, that a lie is preferred to earning someone’s trust for truth telling. I thought it was simple, but even giving truthful bad news is better than offering a pretty false picture.

If my dad said we were going to get the belt, you could bank on it that we’d get our little butts spanked. Maybe if customers learned to “spank” unethical practices with their discontinued spending, that false prophets of capitalism would either cease to exist or change their deceptive practices.

Uh, oh – is that the crisp crack of a belt I hear?

Do Good,
Scott

FIT@50 / week 73

FIT@50 / week 73

Kinda Weird:

We came back to Louisiana for a few days while the kids were tucked away at summer camp. There were things left to do right before school resumed. Had it been notebooks and rulers, we would’ve knocked out quick. It was more involved – it’s always more involved.

Thanks to an unscrupulous builder (much more on that later) we’ve no base camp with Max heading back to the grind next week. With the helpfulness of our community, finding digs was no problem.

For now, Liliana Hart and I are checked into a hotel. It’s nice, but it’s a local hotel. One night we decided to walk across the parking lot to the Sonic for a snack. A big cup of ice cream type of snack.

It was super humid with the stale scent of impending rain wafting through a windy night. I walked to the big order screen and mashed that iconic red button. Soon we were recipients of late-night goodies.

As I looked around the parking lot, it fell over me like a moist sheep’s skin just out of the microwave – Reality.

“You know, it’s kinda weird.” I mused.

“What’s that?” Liliana replied with the expectation of never knowing what I’m about to say.

“It wasn’t long ago that I was the Chief of Police here. Now, I’m living in a hotel room and walking across a vacant parking lot for ice cream.”

She huffed, “True. I bet people would think, man, the Chief fell on hard times.”

Walking back while wishing I’d worn a tugged down baseball cap, I thought about how different my life is versus the way it recently was. Then I thought about why it mattered if people saw me walking back to a hotel room in my own home town. I was with my wife after all.

About half way through the rain puddled parking lot, and just as I fished out the last pieces of Snickers topping my ice cream, the realization returned.

I really didn’t care.

I was in a city I love, with the woman I love, eating the snack I love. Matter of fact, even the late summer’s humidity was nice to soak in once again as we kicked through warm rain water.

Come to think of it, it really doesn’t matter who you were or what you did or where you did it. What really matters is that you did your best while doing it, and now you get to enjoy life because of the effort once given. Even if it means walking from your hotel room to push the red Sonic button.

Do Good,

Scott

Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

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