Monday, April 8, 2013

Crayon Leadership

English: crayons of rainbow colorAn interesting awareness that came up during mediation this morning was this “A leader does not control others, their words, thoughts, actions, or deeds. A leader does not demand from others. A leader controls their own words, thoughts, actions and deeds, strives to live by example and allows others the freedom to discover their own potential.”

Then the next thought; how true that statement is of parenthood. We all want to raise great leaders of life and community but how willing are we to turn our parenting role into a true role of leadership to do it?

Thinking about when my children were little I remember spending hours with our green metal lunchbox stuffed full of bright bits of wax crayons and a stack of newsprint colouring books just waiting to be brought to life. “Let’s Colour!” it was a favourite pastime, and we did. We coloured dolphins and soldiers, puppy dogs and Easter Bunnies. We would cram together on a single book; grown-up colouring on one side of the spine, kid colouring on the other. A mini competition of artistic expression where grown-ups always fail because we know puppy dogs are brown, dolphins are grey and Easter Bunnies have pink ears.

There are two types of grown-ups that colour with children. The first type says “That’s beautiful sweetie!” the second type says “Stay in the lines.” There are two types of kids who colour with grown-ups; the type that colours in the lines because you told them to and the type that scribbles all over the page because you didn’t. Eventually both children colour in the lines, one because you told them to the other because they watched you do it. The end results are the same with the exception of the enjoyment level of both parties. It’s not much fun to colour if you are always worried the other person is going to make a mistake and it isn’t much fun to colour if you are always waiting for someone to tell you how you are doing it wrong.

It isn’t easy to control your own words, thoughts, actions and deeds. As a parent it is terrifying to watch your children make mistakes, take risks that can set them back and occasionally fail. Leading by example is hard. Leading from the back is a challenge especially as the kids get older, the stakes get higher and the consequences more dire. Terrifying maybe isn’t the best word, I like petrifying a little better. Being a leader for our children often scares us right into control and robs them of great opportunities to draw their own lines and fill their page with colour.

There is a great saying rattling in our home this week…Mike says “When nothing is going right, go left” it makes me think that perhaps when I’m having the most challenging time with parenting my young adults. Maybe I'm trying to control more than lead.