What is your life’s purpose?
I am focused on teaching the value of kindness to young children—hopefully helping to stop bullying before it begins.
How are you living your purpose?
Growing up on a dairy farm in Kansas, I thought I would never want to see a cow again in my life. But here I was, in 1998, launching a nonprofit, the Children’s Kindness Network (CKN)—with Moozie the kind cow being the Ambassador of Kindness. Today we have a team of volunteers who further our mission to build a culture of kindness and reduce bullying among young children.
CKN reaches children with our message through school presentations, family events, and kindness teaching materials for the classroom. At school presentations, Moozie comes either as a robotic or a costumed cow that talks about kindness. In the classroom, Moozie comes as a puppet; the children love it. Moozie puppet becomes a helper when there is a disruptive behavior; the teacher is heard asking, “What do you think Moozie would do now?“ or “What would Moozie say?”
Using Moozie puppet, teachers can also read from Moozie’s books: Moozie’s Kind Adventure is the charming story of Moozie saving three ducklings from a stampeding herd of cattle—thanks to her kind attitude. Moozie’s Orchestra Adventure is about a little triangle that wants to join the big orchestra but doesn’t know what sound it will make—plus being afraid because of its small size. Moozie introduces the triangle to all the different instruments. The children learn about the orchestra as well as kindness.
For the CD version of both books, we commissioned a composer to write music backed by an 80-piece orchestra and narrated by Larry Gatlin. These two musical pieces also are played at children’s family orchestral concerts; the audience gets to hear great music interwoven with a kindness message.
While our mission is to teach children kindness, Moozie also has some wisdom for adults through three mini books: Moozie’s Cow Wisdom for Life’s Little Beefs, Moozie’s Cow Wisdom for Grabbing Life by the Horns, and Moozie’s Cow Wisdom for Loving to the Uddermost. The whole family can now discuss Moozie around the dinner table!
How did you find your purpose?
I believe in the power of kindness, which has always been a part of my life, starting with a strong faith-based background. As a child, whenever there was another child whom no one was playing with, my mother would ask me to play with him or her. Even today, when someone looks left out at social events, I feel compelled to go over and talk to them. In later life, feeling there might be fewer wars if we knew each other better, I spent three years teaching math to school children in Malawi Central Africa.
For the bulk of my career, I spent 27 years hosting customer relations seminars across the US—reaching over 140,000 participants in all 50 states—working with adults on “being nice.” During this period, I developed the LEAR Approach for working with irate people (LEAR stands for Listening, Empathy, Ask, Respond)—an audio/video program sold nationally in the ‘80s. I published over 80 customer relations articles for state and national trade publications. Additionally, I was a mediator in Dallas, working on cases related to business and domestic issues.
At age 50, I wrote a book,Take Your Life Off Hold, which was inspired by my wife and me simplifying our lives and moving to Breckenridge, Colorado. Many who were caught up in the “rat race” commented on our having the “guts” to do this. Seeing people living lives of “quiet desperation,” I interviewed over 80 people who made similar changes in their lives. This book opens the eyes of readers to have a look at the “rat race” they might be caught up in.
So how did CKN come about? In my late 50s, for some reason, I decided to see if I could build a cow. After puttering around in the garage for a few years, Moozie, a talking robotic cow was born. A Head Start School in Denton, Texas heard that I had this cow and asked if I would bring it by since they were studying farming. I combined the cow with a message of spreading the milk of human kindness. These wiggly kids, group after group, were glued to Moozie. We could not believe their attentiveness! The teachers were amazed.
In the days that followed, teachers wrote how they heard Moozie’s name being used on the playground. “Moozie wouldn’t like you to say that,” or “Moozie wouldn’t want you to do that.”
That’s how at age 60, I stepped back from the corporate world as a public speaker and committed to a new chapter of my life by launching CKN. Another factor that influenced this decision came from our church’s jail ministry, through which I visited a young man in jail weekly for 18 weeks. This experience convinced me of the need to teach the value of kindness to young children and sealed my decision to start CKN.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
After my mother died, as I stood at her gravesite during the burial, one person after another came up to me saying such things as, “I will never forget your mother when she taught me in the 2nd grade,” or “I will never forget what you mother told me when I was in the first grade.” Hearing all these uplifting comments made me realize that my mother was still alive in this person. I thought when we die our body is dead but we can still be alive in those we helped. Today, that thought motivates me to see how I can reach out to make a difference in others’ lives.
When I think of finding one’s purpose, it is doing something that goes beyond one’s self. It’s not for pay. It’s not for recognition. It is for making a difference. Finding your purpose may come in the most unexpected ways. My puttering around in a garage for two years making a talking robotic cow and being surprised by kids listening to Moozie’s message of kindness is what launched today’s purpose in my life. I never had any intention of doing what I am doing today when I started this project.
Be aware of what you enjoy doing and see how it might be an asset to help others. Maybe you like playing tennis; how can you use your love of tennis to help an underprivileged child learn to play tennis and keep him/her from becoming part of a gang later on? Or maybe you love sewing or cooking; how might this passion help someone else or make a difference in a child’s life? You will live in that child long after you have left this planet.
Throughout his life Ted Dreier has been an innovator and a creator. He is an accomplished international speaker and the author of Take Your Life Off Hold. He formed a public speaking business in 1971 hosting programs in all 50 states to over 140,000 participants. He is the founder and former owner of Feedback, a national mystery shopping service that now has grown into the largest such company in the U.S. He developed the LEAR Approach for working with irate people – an audio/video program used in the 80s (LEAR stands for Listening, Empathy, Ask, Respond). And, he has published over 80 customer relations articles for state and national trade publications. Today he is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Children’s Kindness Network.