My son, Axel, is 4 ½ years old, and interacting with him has taught me more about how to improve myself than any book, article, or self-improvement specialist.
One very important concept that I have come to learn over the past few months is that by giving Axel a safe environment to make his own decisions I literally have the ability to lay the foundation for his future success in a very fundamental way. This concept has also opened my eyes to a crippling flaw in my own decision-making process, or lack there of.
Sarah and I have always given Axel space to make his own decisions. We do this because we believe that he, even as a young child, should not be forced to go along with something that he is not at all interested in simply because it is what is most convenient for us at the moment. This is not to say that we do not try to convince him to do something that we honestly think he will enjoy, or that we would let him “make his own decision” in a life threatening situation. We simply believe that we should treat him with the same respect that we treat each other with as partners and friends. It is only recently, though, that have begun to realize the power we are giving him by teaching him to experience the benefits and consequences of making his own decisions.
For every venture, whether successful or not, we must first take action. Taking action means making decisions, and for anyone who has not learned to be confident in making their own decisions, action is nearly impossible. By giving Axel the opportunity to strengthen his “decision muscle”, we are providing him with a huge advantage over difficult future decisions that require action and would typically render those who are faced with them immobile.
I was not given many opportunities to make decisions when I was young. Part of this was due to the fact that I was sharing parents and a household with 7 other siblings. The rest was due to the fact that for most people, including my parents, making decisions for those who we consider less knowledgeable than us comes naturally. I recall that most of my childhood decisions were made in such a way that my parents were not aware that I had made them. They were also, consequently, not aware of most of the actions that I took as a result of those decisions. I avoided letting them know about these decisions and actions for two main reasons: 1.) I did not know my father well enough to trust his reaction to them. 2.) I knew the reaction that my mother would have all to well from previous experience.
It is very important to me that I pay close attention to the decisions that my son is making. I have found that most of the decisions he makes have their roots in curiosity. He sees or hears about something he is interested in and curious about, asks questions, and makes decisions based on how well I answer them. He trusts me, and I cannot take that for granted. I it is crucial that I pay close attention to the subtle signs of his curiosity. Watching what he is focusing his attention on allows me to begin to anticipate his questions, so that I can answer him right after he asks them. This gives him the chance to immediately retain the information as well as make a well-informed decision as to what his opinion is on that particular subject or thing.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to watch my son gain confidence in himself by making his own decisions before society has an opportunity to train him to depend on the “security” it promises if he allows them to make his decisions for him. I am also excited to be able to gain confidence in my own decisions by watching Axel learn to make his in a healthy and encouraging environment. Axel has helped me realize just how many decisions I was allowing others to make for me, and more importantly just how many opportunities to take action that I have missed out on that could have made me exponentially more successful.
This is exactly what being a familypreneur is all about. Everyone has his or her important role in providing value to the rest of the family. We teach and learn from each other, no matter how young or old.
How can you teach or learn from a member of your Familypreneurial team?