Look for the Good
Most of us tend to find what we’re looking for. When you’re dealing with people, here’s a key thing to look for that will make all the difference.
This week I would like to share with you a lesson I learned from my 8 year old son. A number of years ago, he came to me and told me that he was going to go on a trip to the Yukon. Now we were big fans of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbs at the time, and Calvin often went to the Yukon, so my son decided that he wanted to do that also. So one day, I think it was a Saturday, he came to me and said “Dad we’re going to the Yukon”. He had talked his sisters into going with him, and ok I said “well that’s fine, have fun”, thinking they were going to go do something in the backyard or something. He said “No we’re really serious, we’re really going”. I said “Ok great, have a good time.”
But what I did not know is that he had figured out that he could get to the Yukon from our home in Chicago, by going one block North, one block West, one block North, one block West, and if he did that long enough he’d eventually get to the Yukon. So they made lunches, got on their bikes and then they headed out. A couple of hours later, I got a phone call, they had stopped at a drug store a few miles from our house and one of his sisters convinced him that they should call home and check in and give us a progress report. So they went into the drug store, they convinced the cashier to let them use the phone, this was before cell phones were around, and called to give me an update on their progress.
I was so mad. You’re what? You’re where? What are you doing? You stay right there, I’m on my way, I’ll get there, I was fuming. So I hop in the car and I raced over there and then I made them ride home, ok one block South, one block East, one block South, one block East until they got home, and they were pretty tired then. But all the time I was trying to figure out, now what do I do with this? Because he hadn’t really done anything wrong. He had asked for permission, and I gave it, totally not understanding what I was doing obviously. I couldn’t just let it go, it had to be corrected. But how do I do that without squashing him? So I thought about it a lot and prayed about it and I said you know what I am going to affirm and redirect.
So we got home and we sat down and I said “Joshua, let’s talk about this for a minute. You showed some real leadership in putting this together. You had an idea, you put feet to it, you recruited other people to be part of it, you made your plans, you initiated them, you executed those. That’s all really good leadership, you obviously, even as an eight year old, have some leadership ability and that is a wonderful thing. But then I did the redirect, with Leadership Joshua, comes responsibility, you have to think through, you have to realize that taking your five year old sister on trip to the Yukon might not be a good idea. And you need to go the extra mile to really explain to the people around you what you are talking about. You know, so we had a good conversation about it and it was a powerful one that did not crush him, but really began to shape his understanding of who he was, and to shape his thinking, about how God had made him. It was a powerful time, it is one of those stories that has been told in our family for many, many years, many times over the years.
Now fast forward to today, my son is grown and he is a good leader, he is involved in leadership and he is a really good one and he is living out what we saw on his trip to the Yukon, but on my end, I realized that shaping how people think about themselves. Shaping their self awareness, and showing them how to express that in a very powerful and healthy way is one of the best things you can do as a leader. You’ll have one of the biggest impacts on the people around you and it will release them to fly, to function in the way God has made them. So I want to encourage, you when you see things, even problem things, or people doing things wrong, look for the good, look for the thing you can affirm, and then try to redirect it, rather than just squash it. You’ll have a powerful impact on the people around you.