My son is seven years old, and like many kids, he is advanced in some ways, and cautious or slower to develop in others. In his case, he has a significant creative mind, loves numbers, loves words, and loves to build things… with Lego, sticks, anything he can get his hands on.
He loves to play, and he loves games. But when it comes to certain physical activities (swimming is at the top of this list), he has been a really cautious child. We have family friends whose kids have been swimming since the age of three. Zach has just, and I mean JUST, gotten comfortable with swimming this summer. And he is almost eight. Like many parents, my wife and I have looked for the happy medium ground on how to push, when, how hard, etc. We want to challenge our child, but not scar him. Push not enough, and perhaps he gets into a comfort zone and learns to stay safely inside that cocoon. Push too hard, and perhaps he gets scared and turns away from the activity forever.
We have spent hours thinking and talking and getting aligned around this issue. How hard do you push your child? It depends, of course, on a few variables. No two children are exactly the same, so you really have to know your child. With our son, we decided to play the long game, and build his confidence over time. But while we didn’t push hard, we developed a dialogue with our son, where we made it clear to him that part of our jobs as parents is to push him a bit so that he learns. We wanted him to understand that pushing, a little, was part of our love for him, and part of our desire to help him grow. And he seemed to understand that clearly. He never seemed to resent our pushing, and we always let him have a voice about when was “too much.”
Obviously, this style of parenting requires a great deal of trust on both sides. He has to trust his parents that when we push, we are pushing out of love. And we have to trust him when he says he has had “enough.”
You can probably see where I am going here. This is a business blog, and the corollary to my story above is our relationships with our colleagues, that the ways in which we all deal with our colleagues in the workplace will always be a constant push and pull. Good colleagues will push and challenge each other, not to embarrass or corner them, but rather to make them better. Good colleagues will have clear and open communication, in both directions… when to push and when to back off… when to listen and be coached, and when to speak up and set a limit.
I like to surround myself with people who challenge me, but also are sensitive and aware enough to realize when enough is enough.
But all of this requires a high level of trust and respect, in all directions. I am more likely to accept coaching and pushing from someone who has my best interests at heart. And I am more willing to coach and push someone who will receive my prodding in a healthy way.
We have so much ability and opportunity to make each other better, every day. Don’t waste those opportunities. Let’s help each other fly… or in my son’s case, swim.
Have a great day.