You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts. – Charles Popplestown
The opportunity found me and caught me a bit by surprise.
Imagine meal time with nine children. See the brothers, brothers and sisters, and lots of cousins.
That scene was repeated several times during Thanksgiving weekend. Rita and I are blessed with; Maggie our 10 year old, first-born granddaughter; seven grandsons: Nolan – 8, Kalen – 6, Levi – 5, Judah – 5, Max – 4, Salem – 2, and Simon – 2. And, don’t forget Olivia, she is 3 months old … 9 “little people” that amaze me.
Can you imagine the excitement of “living” together for several days at Grandma’s house? How about the energy of boyhood and how eager you might be to finish eating so you can go play?
Imagine being an empty nester.
You get the picture.
Meals are especially different when there are seventeen people to feed instead of two. It’s much like life – there is a lot of diversity in how we do things. Not right or wrong, different. Like your place of work or wherever you find people, right?
The Wonder of Relationships
In last week’s article I wrote about the wonder of relationships, the reality of conflict, and the grease of gratitude. If you missed it, it’s a quick read.
How much do I love my grandchildren? More and more.
How much energy do they bring to the table? More and more.
So, when all our Stories converge in time and one place an opportunity for conflict is created. Conflict, is simply a disagreement between people and our individual ideas of what is acceptable or expectations.
Remember the Story: behavior at the table.
If it is possible for a Grandpa and his grandchildren to experience “conflict” how much more with people in roles such as: business partners, department heads, sales/production teams, employer/employees, parents/teen, husband/wife, perhaps mankind and our Creator?
No doubt about it, moments in the Story provide many opportunities to experience this unconscious opposition between immediate but incompatible desires, needs, drives, or impulses … producing a mental struggle.
In some circles it would be called “war”. Have you seen conflict escalate to “war” between people? How about Black Friday shoppers?
Conflict begs for action.
There are two sides, two opinions, two desires, two needs, arriving at the same place at the same time in opposition to one another resulting in tension, disagreement, disengagement between people.
The big question: How do you want to respond?
There are only two responses to relationship conflict:
1. It seems to be the default setting with most of us: try to exert control. Control involves misguided efforts to limit or restrict somebody or to exercise authority over someone.
In the realm of relationships, control is highly ineffective and costly. How do I know? Think about it: when was the last time you wanted someone to put controls on your freedom?
2. This second option is what leaders do, but it takes intentionality: to have influence. At the most basic level leadership is the ability to guide, direct, or influence people. Yes, leadership is influence … with people.
In the realm of relationships – solutions, problem solving, innovation, engagement, productivity, high performance, and enjoyment of life come when we release control in favor of influence.
Conflict presents this question: What do I want in this relationship? Do I want to try and control the other person or to have influence with them?
The solution to conflict requires at least one person’s commitment to achieving influence; that may be all it takes … just your release of control in pursuit of leading.
So at one of those meals, it dawned on me: I could not control my grandchildren. My efforts would be misguided and only add to the “pressure” of the moment if I tried to limit or restrict them or to play the “this is my house” authority card.
What I did have grace enough to see was the opportunity to lead. So I knelt down between Levi and Maggie to get eye level as they were sitting at the table. And I began to ask some questions about “table manners” … I asked for their help … “Who wants to be a leader?” and what that might look like.
You know what, they knew the answers.
What do you hear? What’s your experience?
Who could you forward this to? Or Tweet? Or comment below.
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*Quote Source: ThinkExist