What were you thinking?

What were you thinking? You weren't were you.

What were you thinking? You weren't were you.

What Were You Thinking?

Years ago after a business meeting I hopped into my car to head to my next appointment. The phone rang. It was my wife. She told me that our 16-year-old son had just been in a car accident. I quickly asked, “Is he OK?” She said yes. I asked, “Was anyone hurt?” She said no.

After a sigh of relief, I asked what most any insurance premium-paying father would ask: “How bad is it?” She said he had hit the curb so hard that the rear wheel came completely off.

Well, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but Continue reading “What were you thinking?”

Did You Hear What I Said?

Years ago on a Saturday morning I was sitting in front of the television, working my remote control while my six-year-old son was in the kitchen working on his oatmeal (which he called “eatmeal”).  After a couple of minutes I caught him out of the corner of my eye hopping down from his seat and headed over to some cars on the floor.

Based on my years of experience as a parent, I knew he couldn’t have finished his breakfast that fast, even if he had used one of our big spoons.

“Hey, buddy,” I said, “make sure you eat all your oatmeal.”

There was no response.  He just kept on with his two-handed, two-car drag race.

I took a moment to decide on a channel, then spoke again with clearer direction: “Make sure you eat all your oatmeal before you play with those cars, buddy.”

Still nothing from him but revving engine sounds.

Well, that was it. I had asked two times, and he was clearly ignoring me. Time to demand some respect. From my cockpit seat, remote in hand like a king’s staff, I hollered, “Did you hear what I said, son? Finish your oatmeal!”

He looked up at me as if he had never heard a single word and replied, “I don’t want any more eatmeal. Did you hear what I said?”

Are you serious? I thought. Did I just? You little. Did I just hear what I thought I heard?

I stood up and pointed to the stairs and said, “Head up to your room right now, son!”

He looked up at me, stood up, put his head down and went upstairs without another word. As he got close to the top step I added, “I want you to think about what you just said.” He turned the corner and vanished down the hallway.

What the heck just happened? I swore I’d taught him better than that.

I sat on my throne for a few more minutes, stewing over how kids these days watch too much TV, learning sarcasm and lack of respect for their parents. Eventually the thought of him being up there alone, wondering where he and I stood, got to me. I love him. He was only a little boy. I still had plenty of time to reprogram what some Disney show might have taught him.

I headed up the stairs. Slowly, I opened his door and found him sitting on the edge of his bed.  I walked in and sat next him. His cheeks were still wet. He was staring down at his little hands.

My heart ached. I wanted to do this the right way, from ground zero. So I started with a simple question.

“Son, who taught you to talk like that to me?” Without hesitation he looked up at me and said with a soft voice, “You, Dad.”

My mind raced, searching for clues. Suddenly my own words echoed back at me: “Did you hear what I said?”

He was right. He was simply being a mirror of me.

I got down on my knees and hugged him while I tried to release the awful pain in my gut. I asked for his forgiveness and promised I would try to speak more kindly to him in the future. I also apologized for unfairly sending him to his room.

More than a decade has since gone by, but I’ve thought about that lesson more than a hundred times. I wish I could say I’ve been a perfect father ever since. I haven’t. Not even close. But since then I have stopped myself many times and asked, “Do you hear what you’re about to say?”

It’s a clue, a gift really, from a little boy sitting on the edge of his bed. I hope somehow, someday it comes in handy for you.

LLC

Bryan

Get on the Bike

When my daughter was little, she came to me one morning and excitedly told me that she’d just dreamed that she was riding her bike without training wheels.

“Do you know what that means?” I asked. “If you can dream it…”

“I can do it!” she chimed in.

So she and I went straight to the garage, and I got started taking the training wheels off her bike. Suddenly, my little girl got nervous. She said, “Dad, should we have a prayer?”

That wasn’t something I could say no to, so I asked her if she’d like to say it. She started to pray: “Heavenly Father, please bless my bike not to be tricky.”

Then she got on her bike. I helped her steady herself. On the second push, she was riding, just like she had seen herself do in her dream.

How often are we like that? There’s a vision of something we can see ourselves doing. We know in our gut that it means we can. And not far into trying, we get nervous.

That’s the point at which we have a decision to make. Do we go back to dreaming or do we get on our knees or reach out to a mentor to ask for help, then push through the scary part? (All big changes are scary, by the way.)

Here’s the thing. You’re going to crash. You might get it on the second push; you might not get it until the tenth or twentieth. No big deal. If it was going to be easy, everyone would have already accomplished it and it would be nothing to dream about in the first place. So don’t let the fear of falling or looking stupid or appearing not to have your act together stop you. Let go of who you think you are, and get on the bike. You’ll be just fine.

Oh, and one other thing. It’s important to take the training wheels off as soon as you think of it. I am certain that if I had put my daughter off and said something like, “Oh, we’ll have to get your training wheels off sometime this week,” it would have given her time to re-think. She may have easily convinced herself that her dream was only in her head and that now was not the right time. Seizing that moment while her vision was fresh was crucial.

We all have training wheels. We just call them things like a plateau or a comfort zone or “the way I’ve always done it.” We get so used to them that we don’t even realize they don’t have to be there. We may want them there because we know they ensure that we won’t fall. They also ensure that we won’t progress.

Right now is the time to get on that bike and leave behind whatever you’re doing or thinking that’s holding you back. If you’ve ever seen something different in your mind, that tells you that it can be. Jump into it right now, while you’re feeling it. Don’t wait for the perfect moment because there isn’t one. You don’t have to already be good at it or know everything. Drop what you’re doing, get out your wrench, and unbolt your status quo.

LLC

Bryan