Get more by subtracting
I was walking around the shopping centre on the weekend and saw a mother who was walking with her son. He was saying something under his breath to her as he strutted along beside her – Now I didn’t hear the comment but I did hear her response. She stopped.Then he stopped. She said this to him – with a caring tone I’d like to add –
“Can you please stop being that person. That’s not who you are. I know who you are and I like who you are so you don’t need to put on this show. You’re fine the way you are.”
Now I don’t know what came before so I don’t know how fitting the comment was BUT I did like the nature of the comment that if we are going to grow young people a good place to start is that they are fine already and that they don’t need to fake anything to be acceptable. Often we are trying unconsciously to impress others.This can mean that kids think they have to be doing more or being more. In this way our kid’s personal development takes the form of more additions– like upgrading a car. They can do this. Is not as good as they can do this and this and this and this. I’m not sure I feel comfortable with this idea. Surely having a couple of key talents and passions is enough if we feel good about ourselves.
What if personal development was the opposite? Could it be that personal development starts with the idea of giving up everything that is not completely us – not an act of addition but an act of subtraction – so that what we are left with is not “ the show” but the real us. The essence.