This post was written by Brady several years ago. It continues to be a reminder of how to see things through the eyes of a child. It is also a celebration of great dads. Happy Father’s Day!
I once trained members of a large manufacturing company in the southern United States in how to reach their goals by understanding one another. Their goals had for some time eluded them, as departments bickered, wasted time and created roadblocks.
After I had worked with the company for about two months, Rick, one of the machinists, told me a story of how the training had saved him from blowing it with his son, Cody.
Like many of the other machinists, Rick had been skeptical about this touchy-feely conversation stuff. He was a nuts-and-bolts, give-me-results- now kind of guy. He had neither the time nor the stomach for sitting around and yakking.
But the Pull Conversation concept stuck with him and followed him home.
One weekend, Rick’s eight-year-old son Cody cut the lawn by himself for the first time. It was a hot day. Through the window Rick could see Cody pushing hard, sweat trickling off his chin, the dust and grass flying around him.
Forty minutes later, Cody burst through the door, stopped abruptly as he remembered to take off his grassy shoes, then ran down the hallway.
“Dad, Dad!” he called, “Dad! Come and see. I finished it. Come and see the lawn!”
Rick grinned at his son’s glistening, grimy face as they headed outside.
But once they were in the yard, Rick was shocked by what he saw. All across the lawn, straggly uncut grass marked Cody’s wayward path. The lawn was going to have to be mowed again. Rick was annoyed. Didn’t Cody know better than this?
Just before Rick was about to lay into his son for doing such a shoddy job, a small memory pulled at him. It was a story that I had told about stepping into my son’s world to pull out his reality, to see and feel a situation the way he saw and felt it.
Rick’s instinct was to push a good piece of his mind on Cody, but to his credit, he turned toward his son and chose to first pull out his reality. He tried his best to step into his son’s world, looking at the lawn through an eight-year-old’s eyes. What he saw through those eyes was a great job. He also got in touch with Cody’s need to feel approved and valued.
“Good job, Cody,” he said, giving him a big hug.
There would be plenty of future opportunities to coach Cody on the subtleties of mowing. For now, Rick’s split-second insight had transformed the possibility of alienation into the actuality of celebration.
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