Being patient is not easy. In fact for many of us, when we want something we want it right away and waiting does not see to be an option. But as we get older we soon understand that is not the way things work in reality and waiting for the right time to do something, say something or expect things to happen is an important thing to learn.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Judging the right time to say or do something in your life can have an impact. From a child’s point of view playing loud music in a house when others are trying to sleep is not a wise thing to do. From an adults point of view, waiting to speak to someone you are in a relationship with till the right time, is important if we expect to be heard the way we wish to be heard.
However we should never mistaken putting things off that require action as patience. Teaching our children the difference will help them to have a more successful life dealing with friends, employers and personal relationships.
This week we have been talking to our students about making choices and decisions. Making choices is based on what is best for the group or even for us as an individual is what leaders do. So how do the best leaders make their choices?
The simple answer is you need to consider what the results will be, the good and the bad that will come from the choice. One way of approaching that is to make a list of the “pros and cons”. Weighing the pros and cons, and I like to write them down, will help us to see the consequences – good or bad- that will result from either direction we may take.
Some choices may be very simple, while others may have more impact on our lives and our happiness. For instance choosing whether we get a pet or not get a pet, we will weigh out how much fun it will be vs how much work is involved. We may even weigh the differences and the affects of choosing a dog or a cat. It may be that an iguana might be the perfect pet for us.
Other choices may be more difficult. What if we had to choose between going out for a school play or spending more time on school work. There will be many things to consider both in short term and long term goals that we have. All leaders need to make these tough decisions and sometimes we are not really sure what to do. We want to remember that leaders do not have to know all the answers. They do need to have around them others that they trust though.
If you are a student you have your parents that you can go to and talk about your list of pros and cons to help you come to a good choice for you. You may even have other adults in your life that you may want to ask how they see a situation. Even your friends may be available to speak to, although you do need to be careful that you do not only seek out the advice of those that you think will agree with you.
If you are an adult it may be your partner or someone in the organization that you work for that may be there for you to bounce ideas off. It may be a trusted friend or an advisor or for many of us we may have a mentor that we can talk to. But in the end it is us as the leader that must make the final decisions. As a leader we do not want to “pass the buck” or even avoid risk-taking completely. We do want to make informed decisions that with all the information at hand will be best for those that are following us.
This is a great video for youth or adults. It will make you stop and think about why you are here on this earth. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. It truly makes me smile. I must give credit to Tom Callos for sharing it with all of his students too. That was very kind. It is important that when we learn something of value, when we are trying to practice something that we share it with each other. Enjoy!
We don’t always get it right. We do mess up. We say things we want to take back and do things that are not safe or fair and they do hurt others. We may make a big mess of things at times. Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Have you found yourself sometimes wishing you didn’t say something or do something due to momentary lack of self control? Of course – all of us have.
Just recently in a meeting of about 60 people I called out unnecessarily the faults of a group of individuals. I thought I was doing it in a kind yet reminding sort of way, only to realize as it came out of my mouth that it did not come out the way I wanted it to. It took me months to overcome that slip, to regain the confidence of the group. These things happen, but the question is what can and should we do?
Saying “I am sorry”, is so powerful when done in a sincere manner. When we say those words we are taking the responsibility for the words or actions that we took. Whether the act was by accident or a bad choice we must first take the responsibility and then make amends. To apologize can take a great deal of courage and self control. It could be that what we said was not wrong it just may have been “the wrong thing at the tempting moment”, and we may be embarrassed by our action. We may be scared too. If we are a small child and we know we have done something that hurt someone or that is not in line with our family rules / principles, we may be scared and it will take a lot to admit we are wrong and work on making things better.
I might suggest that how we do this is just as important as doing it. Whether we are kids or adults, looking the other person/s in the eye and admitting our mistake and then asking how we can make things better takes a great deal of strength – but in the end our ability to do so and to listen to the feelings of others will have a great impact on the relationship of all parties. Teaching our children how to do this by role playing and by example is key to this aspect of self control.
For us adults it may seem to be a silly subject to bring up about using manners requiring the use of self control. I have found though that listening very deeply is very hard to do. What I mean by that is that as our child, spouse, workmate or someone trying to help us in the store is trying to tell us something, that many times we are thinking about the point we want to make or what we want to say – while they are talking. This may lead right into interrupting them or finishing their sentence – so we can get our thoughts in to the conversation. Now while we correct our children for interrupting us while we are on the phone or speaking to another adult, they are watching us do the same to others. Oh how funny it is that the things that bother us about our children the most are the very habits and attitudes that we see in ourselves.
So here are a few things to remember when we may need to interrupt a conversation. Lets use an example of mom talking to a teacher with her child beside her. Lets say the child wants to ask a question of mom. (so many times the questions they want to ask are not about the conversation but rather about what they want to do now or later in the day) Of course it would not be self control to whine or just to blurt something out while tugging on the sleeve of mom. In fact as the child gets older they would want to learn what was appropriate to question at this time and what should wait.
The self controlled way of dealing with this is to (1) wait for a break in the conversation; (2) say “excuse me” and (3) ask nicely (one time, not whining or demanding) Now their may be times that waiting is notnecessary , and that would be in the case of an emergency. As our children get a little older we can help them to appreciate what asking nicely includes. Things like tone of voice, facial expressions and the words we say.
In my mind though it all begins with respect for the other persons thoughts and rights to express them. It begins with our being interested in how the other person feels about a subject and our willingness to ‘listen deeply’ to be sure we understand how they feel, with an emphasis on others.
One of the hardest things for all of us is communicating our feelings without blaming the other party for “making” us feel a certain way. Yet this is one of the most important parts of empathy. As someone trying to practice empathy we are not just going to let others walk all over us. We should not give up our own power and feelings just to make someone else feel good. That is not a win – win.
Finding a respectful way of expressing our feelings is key to maintaining this balance. One way of achieving this is to use “I” messages. Now we have all heard this before but putting this into practice whether as an adult or a child is difficult without taking our time to respond.
One suggestion that is key to expressing ourselves respectfully is to take 3 breaths prior to speaking. Consider quickly how the other person is feeling or what the situation is that created the feelings of the other person. Once we have done that the message we deliver should be on the lines of “I feel hurt when you speak to me in that manner.”
Now having the correct feeling in our mind may be the hard part and we may need to take note of what we are really feeling and why. So as we teach our children how to use “I feel statements’, we need to teach them feeling words. This will give them the vocabulary to use and not just use one or two feelings for everything. They should learn words like angry, frustrated, disappointed, happy, proud, left out, hurt, and how to use them.
Finally as parents we want to model this when we are talking about other adults, situations at work and especially when we are disciplining our children. These are teaching moments. Remember, our children learn more about how to handle things from what we do that from what we tell them to do.