l was enjoying dinner with a friend yesterday and discussing her 9-year old daughter, Alison. I asked "how's Alison's friend Tulula?" (mainly because I like saying Tulula!).
It seemed Tulula was no longer Alison's friend, because, a couple of weeks before, at Alison's birthday house party, Tulula had accidentally kicked her plate over, but more importantly - had not apologised, nor made any attempt to clean up.
This morning, this incident came back into my mind.
Before I became a coach, I was fascinated and somewhat dissatisfied with who I was - and why I was that person. It's what drove me eventually to coaching. Coaching is all about understanding what a human being is, and why they do such odd things - especially given their ability to think better than anything else on the face of the planet. We then use that understanding to help people move to better places in their lives.
I learned that it is not our intellects which drive behaviour, but our beliefs - and that is a very powerful insight. It's not my own, but one I use every single day in my coaching practice.
We view the world through the lens of our beliefs
Beliefs are grown largely in childhood, when our young minds are ravenous for new material. We are without the experience it takes to critically assess incoming messages and filter out the dross, and we believe adults know everything. What a frighteningly risky time to grow the beliefs which will drive our behaviour for the rest of our lives!
This is why parenting is so crucial to the healthy development of happy children who will go on to become happy grown-ups. We can be the gatekeepers of our child's growing beliefs, exploring our children's growing belief structure, weeding out the false conclusions which will grow into life-long problem-thinking. We must be extremely careful, though, not to implant our own inadequacies - a tall order because most of us don't know we have them.
Here's what I wrote to my friend.
I was thinking about Alison and Tulula, and our chat about what coach-perspective can do for parenting.
One of my problems as a 50 year old man is my fierce judgementalism.
This is driven largely by my strong sense of right and wrong, but I've over-baked it and over the years it's ruined many friendships. I learned my lessons late.
As a parent, I would try to encourage proportionate forgiveness, and letting go of resentments.Tulula was and probably IS "rude", but that's a function of being (a) human and (b) not being civilized out of your native rudeness yet - i.e. it's down to parenting, and not Tulula.
It's possible, and wise to dislike behaviours without disliking the people who behave that way. There are other strategies which are better than cutting Tulula off as un-worthy - eventually, everyone is un-worthy and so this is a recipe for bitterness and solitude.
Instead you might have a word with her, or her mum, or avoid putting her in situations where she can do the same or similar again, or simply accept that Tulula is sometimes thoughtless and will kick stuff over. But she has other attributes which, for a time at least, seemed to keep Alison happy enough.
Don't throw the Tulula out with the broken plate.
I would try to encourage in Alison a spirit of forgiveness. Invite her to enjoy what people are, rather than lamenting what they're not. Leave as many doors open, for as long as you can, consistent with your personal integrity and happiness.My friend's response was to fault me on putting my nose where it's not welcome and we're no longer friends.
If she can do that, she will be able to enjoy so much more of what the world has to offer from an early age - and not spend so many years rejecting people as I have done.
No, I'm kidding, but you get my point!
Well, it's never too late to start, so if your judgmentalism shuts your life's doors, you might want to re-examine your strategy - and it is a strategy - albeing one you probably operate un-consciously. It's not about compromising your personal integrity - it's about accepting that which is - i.e. imperfections in all of us, and not discarding the whole person.
If you are a parent, encourage this in your children from an early age. Since I'm talking about parenting, and how important it is, I thought I'd mention this book from my online store.Doctor Steven T. Griggs has a numbe of them there. I've read them all and they are great. Here he brings you the benefit of his 20 years of clinical experience on the thorny topic of how to civilize your children.
Click the image to learn more.
How to Change Children