Remembering Stephen Hager

I recently lost a dear friend, Stephen Hager (opens in a new link) whom I remember as much for his kind, generous, encouraging nature as his neuroscience work.

Stephen, along with his wife, Deanna Phelps, made neuroscience understandable, practical and useful to we lay people in our daily lives.  They developed  tools that enable us to gain a greater understanding of our natural styles so that we can better position ourselves for greater success in whatever we choose to do.

What I remember most is that his and Deanna’s work was merely an extension of their nature…natures that desired more than anything to elevate all whom they met. People fortunate enough to meet Stephen and Deanna came away with the sense that they were okay just the way they are and confident in their ability to achieve whatever they desired. 

In a world in which we experience too much rigid, inflexible thinking, too little respect for one another, for differing beliefs and the divisiveness these attitudes engender, it’s refreshing to have these powerful examples of what can be…of just how joyful, encouraging and supportive life can be if we choose to make it so.

Here are some simple ways in which we all can follow Stephen’s and Deanna’s examples and make this world a much more enjoyable place in which to live.

For you

We may not be able to control what comes our way, but we have the ability to choose how we react to what life presents. When life presents a challenge:

  • Pause to realize that the judgment you’re experiencing is an emotional reaction that often results in choices we later regret.
  • Recall other instances in which you were faced with challenges that felt overwhelming, but which you overcame. This will boost your confidence.
  • Remember that you learned something from every previous challenge that helped you grow in both confidence and capability.
  • Realize that what you learn from this experience will enable you to help others through their difficult times.
  • Recall the joy of having helped others.

What you’ll discover is that solutions to your challenge come more quickly with this mindset.

When encountering others’ in need, the steps are similar:

  • Pause to realize that the judgment you’re experiencing is an emotional reaction that often results in choices we later regret.
  • Recall similar feelings you’ve experienced.
  • Share your experiences with the person including the challenge you faced and how you overcame it. It helps them realize that they aren’t alone, that they’re not victims. Instead, they are one of many who have similar experiences.
  • State your belief that they have the capacity to deal with anything that comes their way. Ask them: “When in your life have you faced a situation in which you had no background or experience and failed to deal effectively with it?” This question helps them realize that they have always succeeded in dealing with life’s challenges. It boosts their confidence.
  • Let them know that you’re there for them as they work their way through their challenge.
  • Experience the joy of seeing their fears, anxiety and frustration fade in front of your eyes.
  • This joy will create a desire in you to replicate these joyous feelings daily, multiple times a day.

These simple actions will assure you a life filled with a sense of purpose and the joy your purpose affords.

For our kids

Live the message above. Kids mimic our behaviors, especially when they see how joyful we are in living this way.

When your kids feel overwhelmed with a challenge they’re facing, share the steps outlined above.  It’ll help them develop the habit of looking at challenges as learning opportunities and an enhanced ability to help others.

As the kids in your life struggle in their dealings with others, use the steps outlined above to help them develop the habit of being less judgmental and more encouraging in their dealings with others. They too will experience the joy of helping others and a strong desire to do so more frequently. 

These simple steps go beyond remembering Stephen’s legacy, whether you had the good fortune to meet him or not, to creating a world filled with love, generosity and encouragement. A world, I’m certain, in which we’d all like to live.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your memories of Stephen in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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4 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, What a wonderful tribute to Stephan Hager. He was a truly remarkable man. Full of love and hope! His presence will be sorely missed.

    • dfurtwengler

      Indeed, Bill. An amazing role model for us all as he lives on in our memories of him. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  2. Sharon Wingron

    Beautiful tribute, Dale, and sage guidance. Sorry to hear of Stephen’s passing. He was a bright light. I hope Deanna is doing well. Hope you are doing well, also. Take care, and thank you for sharing this.

    • dfurtwengler


      So good to hear from you. It’s been awhile. Stephen evoked the best in all of us. Deanna is doing as well as can be expected with the loss of a loved one. We, at the Furtwengler household, are doing well. Hope you are as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and kind wishes with us.

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