Shaping Your Future Weekly Memo:
Encouragement Goes a Long Way...But Empowerment Goes Farther
June 17, 2016
Shaping Your Future is a free weekly memo that provides readers with practical and applicable tips for uncovering their future success. Readers are challenged to re-imagine their personal and professional narratives, goals, and objectives, and re-invent their lives and work in a manner consistent with their new vision of the future.
I know I write a lot about experiences in parenthood, but honestly since having my first child five years ago, I have entered one of the richest periods of personal growth in my life. There is so much to learn on this journey, it's hard not to share what it has been teaching me lately. The most recent lesson has to do with empowering others to grow.
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I decided that it was time for our younger son, now two, to give up his beloved pacifier. Since our first child didn't use pacifiers, my wife began looking around for advice, and with what she was able to glean from various sources, a plan was formed. We told our child that he was doing a lot of big kid stuff lately and didn't need his pacifier anymore like he did when he was a baby. We told him that in three days, we would send his pacifiers to babies that need them. When the time came to send off his pacifiers, we decided we wanted him to have something to help him through the transition. From the advice of my wife's friend, we presented him with a baby doll to care for who had her own little pacifier. He was so enthusiastic about caring for the baby that he didn't cry once his first night without a pacifier. He cried a little in the days that followed, but only briefly until his attention was redirected to the baby that needed her pacifier.
My wife and I had dreaded taking the pacifier away out of fear of sleepless nights and endless crying, so we were stunned at how easy he made the transition. I believe the key to his successful transition was giving him something to care for. We could have just told him he was a big boy now and tried our best to encourage him through the transition, but giving him the responsibility of a baby to care for taught him that he was growing up and ready for the next stage in life. He was empowered, rather than just encouraged. I think we can all think of a time in our lives when receiving a little more responsibility empowered us to grow. For me, as I mentioned earlier, becoming a parent was one of those moments; however, I believe this concept applies to our professional lives and the health of our organizations as well. Encouraging others to grow goes a long way, but sometimes the best way to achieve growth is to empower through the expansion of responsibility.
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