I’m about to get controversial. Maybe even a little bit insulting, and I know for sure not everyone of you reading this post is going to think I’m right.
What’s it mean to let down the people you care about?
Before, I always assumed that just meant to do what you say you’re going to do. Be a shoulder to cry on, and help people when you say you will.
Then last month, I read something that changed my whole perspective.
How To Raise a Wildly Successful Baby
So as of a few months ago, I’m an uncle. In between the piles of diapers and baby clothes, I found a book that my dad had gotten for my sister.
“Brain Rules For Babies”.
Basically, the author organized all the scientific literature, studies, and experiments that science has done over the last few decades, and taken all the best practice parenting tips and put them into one place.
Some of the myths that were done away with were fun (in-utero Mozart doesn’t lead to math babies), but there were a few major conclusions that caught my attention.
The most important? The number one way to raise a successful human being, is to encourage action.
It’s not to praise intelligence. It’s not to praise success. It’s not to raise self esteem, it’s not to comfort.
It’s simply to praise the fact that they’re doing something new.
The Real Way I’ve Let Down Friends
We’re a very results oriented country, and that’s okay.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to change my eating habits, it’s usually because I either want to feel different, or because I want to look different.
I know I also spent a lot of time in the past disappointed when I didn’t get those results. Even worse, back when I used to dabble-and-drop, when someone I knew was embarking on their own life-changing adventure, I’d tend to expect they’d do the same thing.
All of this led to a few bad habits I think it’s time to give up.
1. I want the people I care about to be ‘happy’ (read: comfortable).
I can see how when you have a baby, you want them to feel like they’re smart, loved, strong, etc. Problem is, if that’s what you encourage, then when real problems come they don’t know how to handle it. They’re not used to striving.
Same goes for family and friends. Some of the southern hospitality scenes in movies come to mind here. You know that scene in The Nutty Professor when the son goes home? Trying to lose weight, and his mom is bring him all this food. She wants him happy!
If you’re focusing more on keeping your friends happy just in the moment, you might be shortchanging them. What kinds of goals do they have? What potential do they have that they might not even see themselves? Momentary comfort might even destroy a potentially wonderful chance for changing a life. All change after all either comes from inspiration or desperation.
When you put someone’s momentary comfort above their long-term happiness, you’re letting them down.
2. My Friends and Family Are Being True to Themselves, That’s Good Enough.
Accepting people for who they are is important, but don’t do it at the cost of losing sight of who they could be. I’m especially thinking of my mom when I say this.
When I was growing up, she was a customer service rep for a local public transit company.
She answered phones, talked to angry customers, you know the drill. She did that for years and years.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a customer service rep, you know where she’s at now? She’s a director of human resources at a nursing home. She’s always been wonderful with people, and now she gets to use her actual God-given talents to help create a good place for people to spend their last few years of life.
When you let someone settle for a life that’s beneath them, you’re letting them down.
The Real Way to Encourage Friends
“Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. The world needs more people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman
You already know it’s your responsibility to live with purpose and make your life matter. That’s why you’re here, that’s why you’re changing how you’re eating, that’s why you’re (hopefully?) starting to practice gratitude and intention in your day-to-day life.
Your new responsibility is to start being that voice of encouragement (and occasional boot of encouragement) and let the people you love most know that you won’t accept anything less from them than to be what they’re meant to be.
Who do you have that you are planning on encouraging today? What dreams are you going to help someone bring into being? Don’t settle for comforting. Inspire.