Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and provides you with helpful perspective.
Perspective, defined as “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something”, is so important in determining our actions. Perspective is the frame that surrounds the picture. Just like a frame can alter how we perceive a picture, so will our perspective help us react to a particular situation. Clearly, we are living during an extraordinary time, so much about our situation has changed so quickly, and of course significant change can disorient us.
I have encountered both those who have quickly reoriented their lives and others who have chosen not to- remember, we always have choices. Alexander Graham Bell said, “when one door closes, another one opens, but we look so longingly at the doors that close, we often miss the doors that open.”
What new doors have opened for you; are you noticing them?
What new windows have brought new light into your life?
My dear bedridden mother, despite her pain and anguish, chose the positive perspective: “Look, all I have to do is turn my head to feel the sun on my face.” Sometimes, it’s just that easy, other-times, we have to work harder at keeping a positive attitude and converting the “No” into a “Yes”.
For every no in your life, to what have you been saying yes?
The choices we make can affect not only our lives, but the lives around us. Are we living examples of what to do or what not to do? Anyone looking for a “why” to live by, need only consider the example they are living for others. Nietsche said, “with a Why to Live, we can bear almost any How.”
As a father to three amazing children: Gavin, age 19, Gabrielle, age 17 and Grayson, age 15, I am grateful for all the reminders I have received regarding how important it is that I live out an example for them.
Most every parent suffers from regrets: “should have’s” and “could have’s”. My mother used to say that if they laugh more than they cry, that’s a good sign you’re on the right track :-) I remember early-on in our parenting, my wife getting all these parenting books - while I am a fan of books, it occurred to me that our kids will learn more from how we live and behave than what we might say; that if I worked on myself to be the best person I could be, that it would likely improve my parenting if I had the right frame around MY picture, the right perspective, then they’ll grow up well. I also often remember the saying that what we actually do as parents speaks so loudly that our children can’t hear what we say.
As you consider your life and how you live it, whether you have children or not, your choices do make a difference for all of us. The more you focus on improving yourself, rather than others, the more likely others will follow your lead.
I’ll leave you this week with my favorite story related to living a life of integrity. As the story goes, there was a woman - who with her young boy, waited for hours under the hot sun in India, to see Gandhi. When she finally approached Gandhi, she said, “my son is eating sugar, it is not good for him, and I cannot get him to stop. He won’t listen to me, but I know he will listen to you. Would you please tell him to stop eating sugar?”
Gandhi thought for a minute and then said, “Please come back in thirty days”.
The woman thought this was strange, but agreed. Thirty days later, again after waiting several hours in the hot sun, she approached Gandhi with her young boy. “Sir, I don’t know if you remember me.” Gandhi said, “Yes, I do remember you, please come forward young man”. The mother repeated her concern: “Remember my son is eating a lot of sugar. “Yes”, Gandhi said, I remember, son, please come forward. And then Gandhi said these words to the boy: “Stop eating sugar, it is not good for you”.
The mother was perplexed, she said to Gandhi, “why didn’t you just say that to my boy thirty days ago? Why did we have to wait again in the hot sun?”
And Gandhi said, “because thirty days ago - I was eating sugar.”
Why practice what we preach? Because how we live our own lives is our greatest and most moving sermon. Cleaning our own room, making our own bed, walking our own talk and addressing our own weaknesses and short comings with the right perspective, that of improving ourselves, is how we best improve the world: one responsible person taking responsibility for their own life at a time.
Our part - to best help others and our community - is to first look in the mirror and ask, “am I being the best I can be, even in these extraordinary times, am I living the change I want to see?”
Thank you Gandhi for your example, thank you for inspiring great leaders and for being the person you wanted to see in others.
This week, consider all the more, attending to yourself and your own behavior - live more the example you would like to see in others - and no doubt you’ll make it a great week!