[I am mentor, entrepreneur, and educator, Dr. Michael A. Wright. My priorities: my Wife, my Family, and Changing the World. I have operated my own macro practice consultancy, MAWMedia Group, since 1997. Browse more about me at http://www.mawmedia.com]
My wife and I were on our morning bike ride when a neighbor motioned us over. Our neighbor Ron is a retiree. He enjoys woodworking in his spare time. As we rode into his drive way, Ron moved toward the back of the house. “I want to show you the new addition,” he said excitedly. Once at the back of the house, Ron pointed triumphantly, “I’ve been working on it since last week.”
Before us was a multi-level, enclosed deck. “Another place for my wife and I to drink our coffee in the morning,” Ron brimmed.
“Wow! You did that in just a couple of weeks?” my wife asked.
“I had some help. My 11 year old grandson comes by and helps out,” Ron answered.
As we rode away, I was gripped with that familiar idea—the Generational Law of Legacy. The decking was a beautiful accomplishment, but what stuck with me was a sense of envy that an 11 year old child was receiving perhaps the greatest gift from his grandfather. I thought of the fear and trepidation tied up in my inexperience. I wondered how different my life would be if I had grown up with a grandfather modeling carpentry. As I thought of my legacy to my own children, my envy turned to satisfaction.
Often, I hear parents talk about wanting their children to lack for nothing. These parents work hard to provide every comfort for their children. They work to provide the best daycares, the best schools, the best clothes, and more for their children. Yet, in all the working and verbal admonishment, I do not want to miss the truth that my actions performed with my children as helpers instruct them in more than the current task. Such modeling is my legacy to my children.
The adage states that actions speak louder than words.
I would add that modeling—working with a child to complete a project—connects instruction with emotion and creates memories as useful qualities that build character.
I began to consider the qualities of modeling. Three come readily to mind.
Confidence. That 11 year old will have no hesitance in picking up wood at the lumber yard and proposing to build. But, this confidence extends beyond this task. Having completed a task with help, the child has a connection to instruction and a certainty of achievement. At the very least, this child knows that, with help, he can accomplish large projects. Beyond that, he may develop a sense of certainty that no project or challenge is too big to approach.
Knowledge. Today, we are bombarded with information. Much of the information we are exposed to has little value. But, the important skill is to determine what information is knowledge that you can use. Knowledge handed down from a trusted source, like a grandfather, is a valuable rubric for deciding whether new information is trustworthy. Seeing that knowledge produce a product is additional credibility for the knowledge and the source. That 11 year old not only has an option for how to complete this project. He has a proven method to complete this project, and a credible source for other questions he needs answered.
Patience. That 11 year old had the opportunity to learn an important lesson about patience. Delayed gratification, matched with a systematic process, yields great reward and self-satisfaction. That lesson will instruct him with intentionality, forethought, and self-reflection. He will know that process yields results. He will understand the relationship between good planning, consistent work, and good outcomes. Above all, in the midst of the process, he will not panic. He will consider his next step, compare it to the plan, and act with certainty. And, remembering grandpa, he will remember to enjoy each step.
The lesson for me was to continue to model–to work with each of my children to produce a product…to inspire them with confidence, knowledge, and patience. My role as a grandfather is far into the future. But my role as a model is current, and I embrace it.