I almost didn’t take this picture. I was coming home from dropping off my son at school when I saw how gorgeous the morning light was. I didn’t have my camera kit with me. All I had with was my phone.
You know how the internal dialogue goes. “Don’t bother stopping…you haven’t got your camera here. Not sure the picture would be that great anyway. Why bother?”
I decided to resist the negative voices and climbed through the meadow to take this picture on my phone. It’s not the best picture in the world, but I believe I was the only one who took the initiative to stop and capture what no one else captured on a spectacular morning.
Why is it so difficult to take initiative? Why is it easier to drive on? To believe our time or effort isn’t worth it?
I wonder if the reason is related to the style most of us use when we lead, manage and parent. I know my default style as a parent is to catch my kids doing something wrong and correct them.
But long term, doesn’t that style kill initiative? If you are used to hearing mostly what you do wrong, why would you attempt to do anything right?
I once heard Ken Blanchard speak about how to manage people. He said that usually we catch people doing something wrong, a style he called ‘seagull management’. Most managers (and maybe parents) are like seagulls. We’re not always around, but when we show up we swoop in, make a lot of noise, dump all over people and leave.
So he asked this: instead of catching people when they do something wrong, what if we started catching people when they do something right? Instead of focusing on the six times they forgot to unpack their lunch after school, why not thank them for the one time they remembered? Most people feel under-encouraged and under-loved in this life. At least I’ve never met anyone yet who has said they have exceeded their life-time quota of encouragement.
What if we started commending our kids for what they did right? What do you think that would do to their courage, their confidence and their initiative? I know whenever someone catches me doing something right, it makes me want to do it again and find new ways to do good things. That’s initiative.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never correct them or discipline them. But maybe the number of times you need to do that will drop as you reward the behaviours you long to see and celebrate the moments of victory.
What pictures might never get captured in the next generation if you only catch your kids doing things wrong? Conversely, what stories might get written, what lives might get transformed, and what dreams might get realized if we start to catch our kids doing things right?