Disenfranchised parents, leaders, and teachers are often those who walked into the experience expecting 1-way growth. 1-way growth is when your world view revolves around the idea that you have plenty of wisdom to pass on. And, your kids/subordinates are will now be delighted to benefit from your experience. Sure, they may teach you a few tricks. But, how many new tricks can you teach an old dog? Beside, will the old dog really have time to learn given how much old dog wisdom there is to pass down?
As you might imagine, this affliction hits families a lot harder than in the workplace. As parents, it is tempting to think raising a child, who starts off entirely dependent on you, is all about passing on your wisdom. It is hard to imagine that a little human being can have an agenda or path of his/her own.
Khalil Gibran in, “On Children,” puts it beautifully –
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
It all comes back to the idea that love is the willingness to extend oneself for your own and another’s growth.
Demonstrating true love as a parent, teacher or leader is primarily about caring enough to learn and grow through the experience. True teaching doesn’t occur when we set out to teach. True teaching occurs when the recipient is willing to learn and be influenced.
And, it is only when you are willing to be influenced do you have a shot at influencing others.