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My Blog:

A Dose of Insight

I was asked to deliver this talk for a professional group in The Netherlands to support parents that will be translated into Dutch.

I felt compelled to prepare for this talk a bit differently than other talks because there are very few materials translated into Dutch that represent the body of work my talks and programs are based on.

Parents in The Netherlands can’t access my other talks or materials, or those of my colleagues.

So I asked myself: If I had to pick one essential to share with parents, what would it be?

After several weeks of consideration, today’s topic became the clear front-runner:

Parents don’t need to have all the answers in order to lead with confidence.

I picked this topic because I find that the challenging part of parenting is not the specific problems themselves, or even how big they are.

The part of parenting people struggle with the most is that people don’t like being lost as a parent.

When it comes to raising a kid, parents often have the idea that we need to have all the answers.

But the truth is, there are countless areas in life where we don’t have all the answers.

We have a rotating stock of problems around our physical or emotional health, our finances, our relationships, for example, and we understand we don’t have all the answers.

We may not like it, but we’re relatively ok with it.

We do the best we can with what we have.

Yet for some reason, when it comes to challenges around raising kids, when parents get stuck and don’t know where to go, they get caught up in a pressure-cooker of judgment, insecurity and fear, to name a few.

They lose their bearings when they don’t have answers.

It’s completely understandable, and I’ve fallen into that very trap myself.

But it’s also optional.

Yet more importantly, when we lose our bearings, we cut off our connection to the creative process, to persistence, and to hope and love.

And those features represent our biggest strengths as parents, and the most profound legacy we can pass down to our kids.

That’s what today’s talk is about.

Click below to watch.

Today’s interview was hosted by an organization called the Dutch Three Principles Global Community. To learn more about this inspired organization and the work they do, click here.

When I was 16 I got fired from my first job. I was hurt and ashamed. I briefly considered keying my boss’s car in that long walk across the parking lot.

What made it worse was the two guys I worked with not only didn’t get fired, but they were given business cards that same day.

A few years later I looked back and remembered what a terrible employee I was.

I wore cropped shirts, talked constantly, distracting people that were doing actual work, and flirted with two co-workers.

I was inexperienced and had no idea what professionalism was.

I share this embarrassing story because when it happened, I didn’t understand why they didn’t like me. And why they clearly liked Arnold and Jon (the business card guys) so much more.

And when something bad happens, and you don’t know why, your mind gladly fills in the blanks.

When people are upset, and their imaginations start working, things get ugly so fast.

I’d only been at that job for 2 months and yet I was convinced it was personal.

I started thinking there was something wrong with me, maybe I’d never find a job I could do, or maybe I just didn’t get it. They figured out I was weird or didn’t bring any value.

I doubted myself as a person and felt the truth about me had been revealed.

And yet those bosses were basically strangers to me. I don’t even remember their names.

So when it comes to heavier things like handling a breakup or rejection from friends, our imagination can get pretty dark.

Our thoughts take us places that look and feel real and true, but aren’t.

Fortunately what we can also rely on is that with a little time, our minds recover and straighten out all by themselves.

And with that recovery comes answers and new truths we can trust in the form of clarity, wisdom, and greater perspective.

Through experience comes a progressively deeper understanding about life – jobs, relationships, and whatever we go through.

The upset is just the growing pains.

What follows is a new and wiser outlook, replacing our old outlook like a snake sheds its skin.

At some point, I was reminded of how immature and naive I’d been and was honestly surprised I’d somehow lasted 2 months.

Sometimes we see how we could have done things differently.

And sometimes we see that things just happen and there are no clear answers. Yet there’s a coming to peace.

We all go through things, and we’re never really ready for it.

And in the wake of life going wrong, in that freefall, we have some degree of influence over where, and how far, we let our thoughts go.

We can use our thoughts to try and force answers we don’t have yet.

Or we can do our best to find patience and trust that we have no answers yet, but we will at some point. We always do.

For me, that was a revelation – that I could have problems and things go wrong – really big things that go really really wrong – and not know why. Or what to do.

Sometimes when we really need it, we have no direction, no way of making sense of things, no explanation for what just happened and how to avoid it happening again.

That is a normal, survivable, and universal human experience. Nobody is exempt.

And in those moments, all we have is trust in ourselves and life.

It might not sound like much but for me, that trust is my lifeline.

It gives us hope, grace, and the strength and endurance to wait out the storm.

That’s what today’s video is about.

Updated: Apr 6

Last month my 15-year-old client perfectly described a scenario that I think we all grapple with at some point in our lives:

“I have these moments, whole days sometimes, when I feel amazing and I do amazing. On the (tennis) courts, I’m in the zone, beating players way better than me. When I’m studying I manage my time so easily, I’m totally motivated and disciplined. When I take tests I’m calm and focused. And then it’s gone, and I’m back to overthinking, being avoidant, psyching myself out. I wanna be amazing all the time. Can you fix that?”

Human beings are so fascinating because we’re evolved enough to know that amazing is possible, and that we’re the ones that get in the way of being amazing all the time.

And yet we’re not capable of fully getting ourselves out of the way. Because it doesn’t work like that.

Part of the human condition is that we get in our heads.

We experience life through thought, and we get lost in it.

We over-analyze. We doubt and second-guess. We get distracted by what just happened or what’s about to happen, which takes our attention out of the moment.

The truth is that humans don’t have the capacity to be amazing all the time. It’s not built into the design.

Our psychological and spiritual lives are made up of energy in the form of thought. And energy moves up and down all day.

If something strikes you as funny, you’re amused, and then you move on. You don’t stay in that state.

Our moment-to-moment experience of life is fluid. It moves and changes just like the rest of nature.

Which is good because as this teen described, our thoughts absolutely work against us sometimes. We get distracted or frustrated and lose a game to an opponent that’s worse than us.

And yet moments later, our thoughts work for us. We BS our way through an essay or an assignment and get a better grade than we deserved.

We get lost, then find our way. It’s a system that self-corrects.

So being amazing all the time isn’t on the menu.

And fortunately, that’s not what ultimately matters when it comes to our true quality of life.

It turns out that our happiness, peace of mind and fulfillment in life isn’t tied to how amazing we are at ‘doing’ life.

In fact a little bit of insight into how the whole system works provides instant relief from the pressure to be amazing all the time.

Everyone has the potential to have more feelings of peace and contentment no matter what kind of person they are.

That’s what today’s video is about.

Click below to watch.


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