You Get What You See : Fruit or Feet

Are you still thankful the day after Thanksgiving?

Some days it’s hard to see beyond the feet. Life IS tough. And yet…there’s hope. Here’s help for parents and children to replace tripping over toes with fruitfulness.

Every year we go pick apples on a farm and return with 50 kilos (110 lbs) of these juicy delicacies. We store three massive crates of apples by our front door. They're hard to miss. This year, two of our children were away during the seasonal collect. Here’s how they discovered the crunchy treats:

One kid: Walking in, “Hey, I see you went to the farm!”

Another child: Walking in, “What’s there to eat?”
Me: “Apples!”
Child: Looking at the empty fruit basket in the kitchen: “Apples?”
Me: “Did you not see our front door?”
Child: “No. I was looking down...at my feet.”

Luck or Look

Does opportunity knock on the doors of downcast people as frequently at it does on those who look up? “No,” wrote Anthony Tjan, CEO of the venture capitalist firm Cue Ball, in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post. “Lucky people feel lucky and are optimistic.”  Accorcing to Tjan, lucky people approach situations with an open mind, looking for the opportunity, putting aside reluctance, and choosing optimism before (not instead of) critique.

Mind-Set

Maybe some people are born cheerful!!! :) Surely disposition helps, but so does training. It takes desire and practice to seek out opportunities in seemingly bleak situations.

Maybe bloom or gloom depends on the circumstances? Think of Mother Theresa. Faced with death and poverty every day, she nonetheless chose hope. Daily. On what will you set your mind when confronting that bothersome ______, the lack of ______, and the out-of-our-control ______?

Upward Spin Takes Training

Ken Blanchard, author of the best selling One Minute Manager puts a fresh slant on developing positive potential. Managers (like mom and dad) aim to train winners (in life), . According to Blanchard,

“Training” = “Show and tell how to do the job” + “Praise the progress.”

There is a time for reprimands, but NOT during training. If at first they don’t succeed, then show and tell them again. Rebukes during the learning process result in avoiding the coach (parents), doing nothing (can never get it right anyhow), or plotting revenge (no fun at home!) Consider the above story about apples. “Looking at your feet!” sounds like a reprimand. “Let’s go to the door and take a look together,” gives the child a second chance.

Thank = Think with “Ah”

What’s the lesson plan for optimism? Thankfulness.

Thankfulness changes the focus from “have not” to “haves.” It’s inspiring to hear

- the exhausted mother of the sick child thanking God for her children and for emotions
- the unemployed parent appreciative that the kids differentiate between needs and wants
- the father of the teenager grateful that his child’s illegal behavior was exposed and can now be openly addressed

Bible sayings on thankfulness have challenged me to review how I view circumstances. “Do not be anxious about anything (anything?), but in everything (everything?), by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving (thanksgiving!) take your request to the Lord. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (WOW!) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” the apostle Paul wrote to the citizens of Philippi (4:6-7).

Rich Outlook When Feeling Drained?

But how to find the energy when you feel like a baking apple about to explode? Take the heat off. Give yourself the space to distinguish the important from the urgent…and better yet how to avoid trivial urgencies.

Try it with the kids (read how it worked for this family). You’ll all get crunch back into your life.

Need more convincing? Check out the Harvard Business Review article “Not Enough Time? Try Doing Nothing.”

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