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29 December 2007

Eat Your Vegetables

It has been inferred by some around me in passing conversation that I can, on occasion, tend to make an ordinary story into a teaching point of monumental proportions. I'm not sure I can wiggle out of that label this time. To me, the thought of me missing an opportunity to dispense a lesson to my kids is like, well, a duck passing up an opportunity to eat a June bug. Not gonna happen.

For example, before Christmas we were all in pursuit of an Ethan-with-Santa
picture at a fancy hotel. Instead of parking where most sensible people park, I chose to park in an adjacent, further away but mostly empty parking garage. FIFO (First In First Out, baby!) was the plan.

After I parked, Emily noticed the numbered spaces and suggested we park in the parking space that was numbered the same as our house number so that we could remember where we parked. Oh that Emily the Pre-Planner! Never mind that we were one vehicle out of maybe only 20 spread out over probably 1000 empty spaces. Nonetheless, I played along. While Tonya and Ethan loitered a few spaces away, I let Emily hop into my lap and we turned it into a brief driving lesson to drive from 1 empty space to another empty space that shared our house number, perhaps 12 feet away. To aid Emily's vision, I rolled the window down just in time to hear my bride warn Ethan "Beware Ethan, with your Daddy, everything has to turn into a 15 hour lesson". I plead guilty, except I am getting better at the lessons not taking quite 15 hours.

So later, as is a conditioned response, I found a reason - and I can always find a reason by the way - to dive into a safety 'talk' about several traffic accidents I investigated in a previous life where people turned their steering wheel while they were waiting to turn. In each instance, they were rear ended, which instead of knocking the vehicle straight ahead, it knocked them in the direction of their wheels, which was sideways into oncoming traffic. The result was usually a terrible, terrible accident. One of the stories that didn't end in a fatality ended with one of the accident victims becoming a vegetable due to their injuries.

"A Vegetable?" shrieked Emily. "What kind of Vegetable?" My story, woven together with stories from my past, current examples and future warnings and admonishments was single-handedly obliterated by my use of a word that Emily found humor in because she did not understand it in the context of my story. And of course, whether she meant to or not, a humorous response can also be like a life raft being dropped into a person drowning in a turbulent ocean full of lectures and lessons. Hmmm....come to think of it, that is exactly what she was doing.

And therein lies one of the pleasantries of a free society. We get to tune in to the lessons we like, such as how to drive a truck, yet we can tune out of a conversation that begins to bore us, like hearing about the tragedy of compression trauma. Imagine that. Yet we all do the same things as supposedly adult learners. We only retain a paltry 25% of what we are taught. So if my calculations are right, the takeaway from today's post will look something like this:

...Ethan was Santa this year....I make my family walk great distances from our house because I am too cheap and impatient to park close to the took 15 hours to teach Emily how to park my truck....don't turn your wheels until it is time to turn, otherwise you'll turn into a which Emily thinks vegetables are funny and ...... now, what were we talking about again?

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