Monday, February 14, 2011
LOOK (AND LEARN) BEFORE YOU LEAP
We often lose sight of where we are going because we focus on what we think we know. We make assumptions within relationships that tend to establish their depth and direction (whether they are personal, professional or parental). Some actions are nearly impossible to alter once set into motion so it might be wise to avoid forming opinions or setting sail upon a specific course without first thinking about what COULD BE rather than focusing only upon what we think IS or SHOULD BE.
Acting on available information without asking for clarification can often lead to disaster. Many years ago, my son found himself in a bit of trouble (after his first day of kindergarten). He had been sent to the principal’s office for “hitting another child with leaves” on his way to the school. My wife and he were discussing the issue as I came home. She could not understand why he had to go to the office for throwing leaves at someone, and he could not figure out why she kept asking him about the situation after he had clearly and concisely answered her specific questions. Her questions (and increasing frustration) focused upon the information she had available – that he had hit someone with leaves. My son was answering her questions without offering any more than asked – trying not to provide any more information than was requested. After listening for a couple of minutes to their exchange I looked at my son and asked him, “How big a stick were the leaves attached to?” Upon hearing the “right” question he brightened and made a circle with his fingers and said, “Oh, about this big, Dad…nobody asked me that!”
We often seek opinions meant only to validate our own thinking rather than trying to test and improve our thoughts. We assume that the information available to us is sufficient without seeking “the rest of the story.” We leap before we look – believing that any action is better than inaction – and find ourselves taking many wrong turns before arriving at our final destination. We could still much of life’s turbulence by digging deeper to understand more about what we think we know prior to acting – and by allowing the experience of others who already tested (and survived) our waters to guide our actions. Much can be accomplished through the collective reasoning of an invested group of friends!