Okay, you tell us to honestly tell our kids about the tough times and include them in the resolution process. Now you ask us to share the successes? Won’t they just automatically see the successes? Won’t they just naturally be happy about those?
Not necesssarily. When you reach a goal; when you overcome a major obstacle; when you take one small step toward a pre-determined resolution, take the time to rejoice and celebrate. Does this mean that you will “brag’ in front of your kids–talking about how great you are? No. It means that you will give yourself an internal pat on the back and you will speak to the kids about the way you feel.
Ken Blanchard, in his wonderful “One Minute Manager” series makes note of how easily we “catch each other doing something wrong” and how often we do the same thing to ourselves–“catch ourselves doing something wrong”. He encourages his readers to “catch each other doing something right and to catch yourselves doing something right”.
That’s easier said than done. I am harder on myself than anyone else. Are you? Even if the vast majority of people think I have done a good job at some task, if one person is critical or not pleased–I am devasted.
Does that make any sense? Not really. But, that has been my way of processing for a long time and I have had to work very hard at listening to the good–not just the bad. I have had to make myself realize that I cannot please all of the people all of the time.
Father Arlen Fowler, priest, caregiver, friend, teacher and confidante says to me, “Cathy, if you were lecturing for 100 people and 99 people benefited from your presentation but one person didn’t, you would stew and fret about that one, wouldn’t you? ”
“Oh, yes.” I reply. “I would be distraught if someone didn’t like me and my presentation.”
“Well,” he responds, in his infinite wisdom. “You can give that up. You are not perfect, you know. There has only been one person who has been perfect, and look at what they did to Him! You continue to go out and do the best you can possibly do each and every time. Know in your own heart that you have done the best you can do. If someone doesn’t respond to you, brush off the dust from your shoes and go on to the next town. But be sure that in your own heart and mind, you know that you have given the very best you can give.”
Now, that’s advice to live on, wouldn’t you agree? I have come a long way since the day he delivered that bit of wisdom to me. I used to expend all of my energy on the one rather than become nurtured by the other ninety nine. Even though I go into every relationship–every event–every consult–every lecture with the intention of meeting the needs of every person in attendance, I know that I cannot please all of the people, all of the time. I try. But, for numerous reasons–some mine, some the recipient’s, we do not mesh.
I used to crucify myself over this–and still do to some degree today. But Father Fowler’s words of wisdom provide comfort when, in my heart I know that I have done all that I am capable of doing with my available resources.
This understanding has helped me to “pat myself on the back”–silently and internally. When I began learning how to acknowledge even the smallest of victories to myself, I found that more victories came my way. I have learned that I will become all that I think about. That’s a fact of life as Napoleon Hill says in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, so shall he achieve.” You will do the same thing. You will become what you think about. And your children will do the same.
Therefore, begin with yourself. Look for your strengths and maximize those. Pat yourself on the back when you take even the smallest step forward. Then, do the same for your children. Catch them doing something right and acknowledge that. Teach them–through honest example the power of believing and of positive concentration.
When you begin thinking about success in all aspects of your life and when you begin visualizing that success and receiving positive reinforcement from the world and from yourself, you will begin repeating the behavior that accomplished those successes. It’s the old “self fulfilling prophesy” theory. If you believe you will become successful, you will do so. If you believe you will fail, you have set yourself up for just that.
The challenge, then, as parents, is to not only begin believing in your own ability and your accessibility to success, but nurturing that within your children. Remember, always that you are a role model for your children. When you work at developing your own confidence, you will be teaching your children to do the same thing. When you develop confidence and begin accomplishing success, know that you are teaching your children more than they will ever learn in any textbook: one of the greatest truths of life, “You become what you think about.” (Earl Nightengale, Lead the Field.)
Share your own joy for your own successes. And, be sure to stimulate and share joy in each and every accomplish that your child may have–no matter how large or how small.
If your child is performing in their first piano recital or if he/she is playing that first game of T-Ball or if he/she draws their first picture in school–find something good about their performance and talk about it. So they missed a few notes –or struck out–or went way outside of the lines. Stress the fact that they memorized two whole pages of music and performed exceptionally well–or that they sat comfortably at the piano with poise. Or, stress the fact that they caught two balls and threw a kid out at first. Or that the painting showed originality and that staying in the lines doesn’t allow for individuality, anyway. And, that you really love the colors that they chose for the painting.
Look for the good and stress that. Don’t stifle your child’s growth and development by placing unrealistic expectations on their performance. Don’t expect them to act like miniature adults. Help them to be all that they can be–right from the beginning. Stimulate the “becoming” by nurturing and reinforcing each and every tiny step. Encouragement and reinforcement–positive reinforcement is the vitamin therapy that leads to future growth. Encouragement and reinforcement cultivate the confidence in self that is necessary to overcome obstacles and to go to the next level.
Your child must believe in themselves in order to go out there and do all that they can do. Even though they need to know that you are confident in their capability–they must have an internal confidence. You can promote and develop that by role modeling and by encouraging.
Sharing “The Goods”
In addition to sharing–verbally and emotionally–the successes of your life, and in addition to encouraging and nurturing the successes your children expreience, share in the material successes.
No matter how great or how small your financial successes, let your children know that the team–called your family–shares in those financial rewards. How would you share the financial aspect of your life? There are many ways. It doesn’t matter how. You have to determine what feels right to you and what works for your family.
We work together as a family to accomplish tasks. My children know that John and I work long, hard hours and that we have responsiblities to many people–clients and employees, as well as family. They see us willingly share the success of our business with our employees–our business team members. And, they see us willingly share the reward of our work with them.
We have been so open with Brett and Carrie about our work–it’s challenges and it’s successes that they feel a sense of co-ownership with that work. We have commissioned them as employees to work with us in our businesses. In order to feel and be successful, we must have their support to do all that we do. We have been clear with them about our goals and objectives. We have made sure that they are supportive of those goals and objectives. We would never have let any business issue get in the way of our family–and they know it.
I cannot tell you how many times we have sat together as a family and discussed new opportunities, problems, decisions. As a unit we have made decisions–decisions that would meet everyone’s needs. My children always have known that I would never put a business decision over them. They have been on my board of directors from day one.
Therefore, we joyfully share the financial benefits of our growing companies with these board members–in the form of educational funds, careful savings, travel, and comfortable living. They have earned much of their own educational funding through academic scholarship and have worked with our companies since they were small children–learning and applying communication, computer, telephone, proofreading, writing, business organization, and customer service skills. Not only have we benefited from their work–but they have benefited from this experience.
No matter what field of endeavor they pursue, these business skills will be an asset. And, as a family we have benefited because–everything, everything–has truly been built upon the concept of a family “team”. What a joy it has been to build a company with the support, input, time and effort of the entire family.
What To Do
1. Talk about your successes. Don’t do this in a bragging manner–but rather in terms of how you feel. What has worked. What plans you have made and what strategies you have applied to bring that plan into a reality.
2. Accept compliments. Don’t be totally hard on yourself and reject any compliments that come your way. Accept pats on your back as reinforcement–not as “head swellers”.
3. Notice even the tiniest of accomplishments that your children reach and give them some positive reinforcement. Do this sincerely. When they do something, don’t pick on the things that didn’t get done–stress the things that did get done. Remember–always–that positive reinforcement will encourage repetition of a behavior.
4. Enroll your kids in the business of your family and share the rewards–including the financial rewards with them. Don’t think, “I worked for that money. They didn’t.” Yes, they did. By supporting you and by being a part of a family “team”, they earn reward as well. Know that it takes each and every member of the family to make it work. There are large tasks and small tasks–but there are no important tasks and non important tasks. It takes everyone and everything to make it work.