Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
When confronted with the possibility of failure, it is natural to hesitate. As parents, we spend a child’s lifetime reassuring. We seek to give them a safe environment in which to fail while encouraging and enabling them to succeed. Why is it so easy with our kids? We love them. No questions asked.
Time moves on. Our kids move from bikes, to tests, to cars, to relationships. Along the way, they fall. They skin their knees. They cry and we cry with them. Why do we fall? So we learn to get back up again. When they hesitate, we say: “Relax. You’ve got this.”
Our work mirrors our lives as the people around us struggle with their own hesitations. At work, we create monumental mechanisms for performance assessment, process improvement, and functional optimization. We present recommendations for improvement, counsel those who under-perform, and give pragmatic advice to those in need. In short, we work to fix things.
Someone recently asked me how I felt about my 22 year old daughter getting married in August. She’s so young, are you nervous? Since her engagement last December, the questions have reappeared. Do you like her choice? Are they ready? I only smile and remember a conversation I had with my daughter years ago when we were talking about a boy she was dating. I told her: Relax. You’ve got this. I believed it then and I believe it now.
The best gift you can give as a mentor, leader, coach, parent, or friend is the empowerment of encouragement. All of us hesitate. All of us feel anxiety. All of us doubt ourselves. The world seems bent on encouraging discouragement. There are so many places to fall, fail, and get hurt. There are so many people to disappoint.
Part of the issue is that we seek people to give us permission. We want approval. It is so much easier when someone else says it’s “ok.” Seth Godin would suggest that our industrial world has brainwashed us into compliance and taught us to follow the rules or else. If so, the only answer is to help one another with encouragement. Not just our kids. Everyone.
Look at that struggling sales rep or the student who doesn’t seem to get it or the line worker making mistakes. Rather than start with “how do I fix him/her,” perhaps we should start with “you’ve got this.” Very little of what we do on a daily basis is rocket science. I wonder what would happen if we looked at that person through “parent goggles” and engaged the mercy and empathy of parental instinct for their struggle.
Relax. You’ve got this.