“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb
My son came home from summer camp this week and complained about another boy in the group. It was the same conversation we had every day when I picked him up.
After dinner, we went for a walk and he brought up the little boy at summer camp again. I asked him to tell me something nice about this boy. He thought about it for a moment and told me that he was kind to a girl who was sad. After a few moments, he added a few more things to the ‘nice list’.
I asked him how it felt for him when he talked about the things that were wrong with this boy, and alternatively how it felt when he talked about the things on the nice list. He told me it felt better when he thought about the nice list. I explained that was his inner wisdom guiding him, showing him that focusing on the good things was much better than focusing on the bad. There is so much information in a feeling, not just for children but for all human beings.
We all have this wisdom. Some call it intuition, some call it a gut feeling or reaction, a sixth sense, or their guardian angel. It’s a gentle nudge (and at times not so gentle). It is our innate wisdom guiding us, like a lighthouse. Shining the light to guide us to wisdom. When we get quiet, that wisdom speaks to us, guides us. It’s a fabulous thing to teach our children. It’s a fabulous thing for all of us to understand.
Have you ever felt that gentle nudge? Often we will try and rationalize away the wisdom. But just like my son, the right decision came with a good feeling.
As a parent I want him to learn about this wisdom now, to tap into it and listen to it as he goes through his life. Particularly as he approaches the teenage years when he will be faced with many challenging decisions. I don’t want to give my son a fish, I want to teach him how to fish.
Thought Bomb Moment: is there a conversation you have had with your kids where you could have pointed them to their wisdom? It’s never too late. Keep talking to them, keep listening to them. Keep pointing them to the lighthouse within. Our innate wisdom is always with us. Maybe there is an opportunity for you to listen to that gentle nudge. It’s never too late.
Be well. Be present. Be You.
Unmet expectations are the root cause of so much conflict, disappointment, anger, and the reason for failed relationships – both personally and professionally. I have seen this with business leaders, parents, couples, and individuals I work with. What sort of expectations do you have of your partner, your children, your friends, your employees, your employer…yourself? Maybe you aren’t even aware of your expectations, but as humans we all have them.
Expectations quickly become problems when we hold ourselves, and others, to them without a clear understanding of what those expectations are, and both a clear understanding and agreement of all parties involved. I call this the expectation box.
Much conflict and broken relationships could be mended with the management of expectations, both of others as well as ourselves.
“Expectations feed frustration. It’s an unhealthy attachment to people, things and outcomes we wish we could control, but don’t.” Steve Maraboli
The reality of life is that we see the world through our own filter. No two filters are the same, there is a layer of personal thought and experience in between our personal lens and reality. No-one is immune from this.
When we understand the power of our own lens, and that our thoughts about how someone should be, think, or act is based on our own personal thinking life becomes easier. We are the creators of our individual reality. Expecting others to see life through our lens is setting ourselves up for disappointment and conflict.
This might be hard to hear, but you can’t change someone with your expectations. When we drop the expectation box and replace it with connected conversations and realistic expectations relationships become so much more real.
When we accept others for who they truly are, we also are more likely to show up in a more genuine way. Accepting people for who they are – embracing who we are.
It’s empowering to take responsibility for our own lives, our own choices and give those around us the opportunity to do the same. This is where life becomes fun, challenging, playful, frustrating. We are the creators of our own reality.
I love when my clients see this. Parent-child relationships, couples, personal and professional relationships all benefit when they stop trying to ‘change’ the other person, ditch the assumptions that the other person should know what they are thinking, expecting, etc. It also diminishes the notion of blame or responsibility on others.
What about you? Do you have an expectation box – with yourself, with your partner, with your children, friends, etc? Are you comfortable having a conversation with them about what you expect, a clear understanding of what that entails and agreement on their part?
The reality is that conflict, frustration, anger, hurt, etc. could be drastically minimized if we exchanged our expectations for an actual agreement. An agreement creates clarity, a common ground, and understanding of expectations.
Thought Bomb Moment: Think of a person or relationship that is causing you to feel unsettled, angry, judged, wronged, etc., ask yourself, what’s in your expectation box? Do you think the other party clearly understands your expectations? Are they in agreement? If not, maybe it’s time to ditch the box. Trust me, life flows so much easier when we let go of the box.
Alternatively, you can take your expectations and turn them into agreements. This is a fabulous way of taking relationships to a deeper level, one based on clarity, a common understanding, and agreement. The conflict, hurt, anger, and resentment will be replaced by clarity and a commonplace to move forward from.
Be well. Be present. Be you.