Sometimes, Nice Sucks

In an earlier blog, I shared about Garry not being nice in the business world. To draw from our personal lives, our children don’t think we are nice either. In this spirit of not being nice, this week we spotlight parenting and the importance of leading children to become their best selves.

Such character training is not nice.

Ironically, the school mantra in our county is “Be Nice.” I get the point: don’t be a bully and show others some respect. It’s simple, but its simplicity undermines the importance and hard work of training children’s inner motivations to instill the character needed to make kind and important behavioral choices. Such character training is not nice.

William’s antics and Rogie’s patient response

At a parent teacher conference a few months back, the administration told me they can no longer discipline kids with reduced play time, privilege reduction, or timeouts. They only could use positive reinforcement for my acting-out child. As a parent, I was horrified at the lack of consequences for such unacceptable behaviors. My kid knows better- and I want others to expect them to live like the people they can become, not who they are right now.

How did we get here, where bad behavior isn’t called out? When did honesty become a terrible thing? When did we decide that excusing poor performance and mediocrity would make us better people? And how do we, as parents and business leaders, change our culture?

Our 12 children love us and know they are loved, supported, and accepted—but they also recognize that my and Garry’s job as parents is to prepare them to be people who make the world better.

That means they first must learn to take care of themselves, and then–they can excel in changing the lives of others.

When did we decide that excusing poor performance and mediocrity would make us better people?

This two-step process isn’t complex, but lofty, and demands that we—as their parents–call out mistakes, train character, speak truth, and inspire them to try and try again. It is not usually what they want to hear–of course, and it is a tougher way to live. Such aspirational training proves its wisdom over the long course.

It’s not that everyone needs to be perfect or even the same level of ability as this would be unreasonable. However, everyone can strive for their own highest skills, greatest efforts, and noblest selves. It is the responsibility of any parent and leader to exude vision and expect greatness. And that’s the stuff that makes for inspiring stories, awesome companies, and phenomenal humans.

Do Good,


Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas

Previous Post
The CEO Playbook
Next Post
Untold Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed