Can I Do You a Favor?
Once again my kids were crying over their math. I didn't feel much sympathy, though I'm not so keen on math myself. Just do it, was my frustrated answer.
But I've always felt that when kids get to this point, fussing and crying, they're not being rebellious. They're telling us something important. So I had to step back and admit the truth: if they could just do it, they probably wouldn't be crying.
So I did my kids a favor. I hired a math tutor.
In Chapter 5 of Henry Cloud's book Integrity: the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, he discusses how we can build trust through extending favor. It's the kind of favor that looks out for the other person's interests, not just our own. It is, says Cloud, grace.
"Leaders without grace," he asserts, "set [a] demand and do nothing to help people meet it." Like me, when my kids cried over their math and I said, Just do it.
There's nothing wrong with requiring the do it part. It's the just part we need to reconsider. As leaders, we would do well to drop the just and use these words instead: with, through, by.
My kids now do their math with a tutor. They do it by being with someone who loves math. Through the guidance of a person who has both math-patience and math-passion, they are more than meeting the standard. My Eldest will finish her course almost six months early this year and have time to do Logic and Physics math. My youngest admitted confidentially to the tutor, "I guess I really like math now."
If there's an area in your business or work life where people are "fussing and crying," maybe what they really need is a favor. Maybe you (or I) should just do it.
Chinese Boat photo, by J. Barkat.
Integrity, opening post
Being Nice is Not Enough