Funny how we perceive what our failures to be.
A friend shared her story of battling an out-of-balance washing machine as it rocked and swayed, trying to make its way out of its area. As the story goes, she was 18 and totally baffled at what to do and called out to her father for help.
"Dad, dad, look at the washing machine! What do I do? I can't get it back in!" she said as she pushed against it.
"You're kidding right? You don't know what to do?" he replied.
"No, no! Dad! What do I do?"
"Just turn it off," he replied as he headed to her.
"OK, but I don't know how."
"You don't know how to turn off the washing machine?" he queried.
"No!!" said the young woman, still disturbed by the noisy, moving machine.
"I'm a failure!" the dad called out with hands raised and exaggerated emotion.
I'm sure that he did not really feel that he was a true failure, but during our lifetime we find these sorts of moments where we are astonished at what we haven't already learned, or taught to others, or have come to understand. In the moment of the washing machine conflict, he would not know that his influence would affect the young woman's growing up to be a caring, intelligent, creative woman. In the moment, he felt that he was remiss at not having taught a basic act.
"In the moment," is not the time to evaluate whether one has failed at anything, be it coaching, parenting, teaching or learning. The moments and incidents are nothing more than what comprises a lifetime of trying. We may never know the true outcome of our influence or of our attempts.
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2009 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.