I am not very original with my Ho‘ohana for November. (Ho‘ohana is our monthly theme, and my work’s intention.) I am not very creative, and feel no need to be. In fact, I will steadfastly resist any urge for newness, and will firmly quiet my muse should she feel particularly rambunctious and defiant.
Yes, my muse is indeed a she, and not given to quiet moments when I need her to be.
“We are very much alike.”
The value I celebrate this month is always the same one. In my mind, it is the right one, and the only one. It belongs to November, and November belongs to it.
I bow my head gratefully and humbly to the wisdom of the season, and throw my arms wide open to welcome in appreciation, gratitude, and living in thankfulness for all the elements which make our lives so precious. This is the month for our Hawaiian value called Mahalo.
Thank you, as a way of living.
Live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious.
With Mahalo, we give thanks for every element that enriches our lives by living in thankfulness for them. We relish them. We celebrate them joyously. Mahalo is the value that gives us an attitude of gratitude, and the pleasure of awe and wonder.
Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness. People need to hear it from you: “Mahalo nui loa” thank you very much.
—Managing with Aloha, Chapter 16
However this month,
“However? Did you say ‘however?’”
“Shush, please don’t interrupt Ms. Muse.”
This month, I am willing to focus in a slightly updated way. I would like to suggest that we come together in our community’s thankfulness with something in particular; with stories of how the parenting we may have received has shaped us into the people we are, and why we are grateful. I believe that we are in great need of good parenting today, and I am confident we can share some terrrific examples we can learn from and duplicate.
“Yes, hmmm. Just hmmm.”
“Hmm… I think the phrase wicked smile must have been first used to describe the delightfully calculating expression on the face of a writer’s muse.”
“You’d best continue. Everyone is waiting for you.”
My muse has had quite a bit of competition lately.
Though he was not the first to lay down the gauntlet with me on this subject, Thomas L. Friedman and his book, The World is Flat will not leave my consciousness, and I have been taking up his banner for a few months now in particular to this:
“No discussion of compassionate flatism would be complete without also discussing the need for improved parenting. Helping individuals adapt to a flat world is not only the job of governments and companies. It is also the job of parents. They too need to know in what world their kids are growing up, and what it will take for them to thrive. In short, we need a new generation of parents ready to administer tough love: There comes a time when you’ve got to put away the Game Boys, turn off the television, shut off the iPod, and get your kids down to work.
The sense of entitlement, the sense that because we once dominated global commerce and geopolitics —and Olympic baseketball— we always will, the sense that delayed gratification is a punishment worse than a spanking, the sense that our kids have to be swaddled in cotton wool so that nothing bad or disappointing or stressful ever happens to them at school, is quite simply a growing cancer on American society.”
“Compassionate flatism” is what Friedman calls his suggestions for moving us from a culture of lifetime employment to lifetime employability so we can maintain American competitiveness in a dramatically changing economic and global climate. (I first mentioned The World is Flat in this post.)
As a parent I must say, guilty as charged. If there was an annual prize for spoiling your kids rotten, I’d need a trophy case for my collection of winnings. In the last few months though, I’ve had an attitude of “It’s never too late to begin anew”” and have indeed gone the tough love route with my son and daughter on a few things.
As you can imagine, they do not care for Thomas L. Friedman.
Parenting well is difficult, as anyone who is one knows. The tugging of our hearts often does trump reason, and we parents give in when we know we shouldn’t. We think we love too much, but we may actually allow our actions taken to love too little.
Ouch. Yes, I know, I don’t like thinking about it either. Those very logical, very right thoughts of, “they will thank me for this in the long run” are just not compelling enough to cement our willpower. We waver. We hesitate. We cave. Friedman is right, we are horrible at delayed gratification too, no matter how much we believe that tough love works.
Someone else has been competing with my muse; Starbucker. Back in September, Terry introduced us to Brother George. He reminded me that there are those brave teachers who will do some of the parenting we may not be doing. Remember this?
“Brother George kept ratcheting up the pressure by piling on more and more homework and “pop quizzes” (not to mention putting folks on the spot in the classroom, very Kingsfield-like), and topped it off by saying that this Mid-Term was going to be a rude awakening for a lot of people. The thing that struck me about all this was that this was the first class in my scholastic career where I was being treated as a responsible adult, and in a very ‘business-like’ manner. This approach certainly was effective ”“ he never failed to get all of our rapt attention in class.”
Starbucker opened the floodgates to our memories of those teachers who didn’t go soft on us, and guess what we all said about them? That we were exceptionally thankful and grateful. That we’d been blessed to have them. That years later, in thinking about the habits they helped shape in us, like focus, diligence, self-discipline, and sacrifice, we weren’t scarred, battered and bruised. On the contrary, we were profoundly appreciative. They helped us be better.
These stories, your stories, are inspiring to me. Judging from what Starbucker started, I would say that they were inspiring to you too.
I am thinking that MORE inspiring stories of what worked well, would help spur us on to greater action as parents, coaches, mentors, managers and leaders.
Therefore, this month, I ask you to keep your stories coming. Would you share your stories of great parenting with us? I’m giving my muse the month off, and asking you to take her place.
Inspire me, and inspire each other, with the stories of how your parents did a great job in preparing you for this world we live in.
Tell them how much you appreciate that they didn’t go soft on you, and that they kept at it, working hard on their parenting.
Say thank you to them for believing in you, and for being willing to take whatever you may have dished out when you resisted and grumpily scowled at them, rolled your eyes to the sky, or said they were being mean.
Tell them, and tell us, how you turned out so well, prepared for this brave new world we’re in, and why it was because of their influence on you. Influence you would not have traded for anything.
Write something up for us, and email me if you’d like an invite to be one of my guest authors posting your story right here this month. If you had contributed to Joyful Jubilant Learning 2006, your guest author access to Talking Story has not been changed and is still active. Save something in drafts, tell me when you’re ready, and I’ll program the publishing. You can comment instead, or you can write it up for your own blog: the attitude of gratitude in November is big enough for all of us!
My own mom and dad shared a bounty of tough-love lessons with me, and I will tell you about some of them in the days to come. I wish I could say I followed their great example more than I did, but the truth is that I got lucky. Both of my children are making their way through our explosively changing world with smarts, tenaciousness, resilience, and their own expressions of charm and grace. They haven’t arrived where they want to yet, but I have no doubt they will.
They are 19 and 22, and I also fully realize that my role in parenting them is far, far from over. And for that fresh new chance I get every day, I also think, and say, mahalo.
As you have come to expect from me, I will also write about how good (and not so good) parenting affects the workplace, and how Managing with Aloha may have to step in to fill the void. Managing adults at work who are responsible for delivering the performance they are paid to deliver is a piece of cake next to the really hard stuff called parenting, right? You would think so”
November, you have an uncanny way of arriving at precisely the right time. Just when we need you. Mahalo.
Let’s talk story, shall we?
Oh yes, let’s. I can save my vacation for December.
I figured you’d say that. Pull up a chair and help me write.
Postscript: If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first weekday of each month to our email subscribers (You can learn more, and subscribe here). Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month.