When I was a freshman at the what is widely considered to be the Harvard of the West Coast I checked out this campus organization and got into a rather lengthy conversation with one of the leaders. He was a cool enough guy and I thought that if I were to return to the group, I’d have a friend who could help me ease into the cliques and feel at home . . . so that I could eventually form my own clique. You know how that works right?
The following week, I went back and was happy to see my new buddy. I said, “Hey ——! What’s up?”
His response: “Oh… hey! Oh man, what was your name again?”
Me: “I thought we were friends! We talked for a while last week. Remember that? I practically poured out my heart in those 10 minutes. OK, maybe I didn’t but at least I cared enough to remember your name. Forget this, I’m outta here, fool!”
I really said that to him. In my mind. In any case, I never returned to that group.
I don’t know why it’s such a big deal to me but it drives a stake in my heart whenever a person forgets my name, especially after we have any sort of meaningful conversation or interaction.
Let me be the first to say, however, that I’m not much better myself. I have introduced myself to people in the past who have politely (and sometimes angrily) informed me that this is the 3rd time I’m meeting them. Ouch.
There’s this somewhat influential leader that I have met about 5 times (no exaggeration). Each time he smiles and tells me “nice to meet you, DK.” Well, obviously it’s not nice enough since it’s about the millionth time we’re meeting, jerk. (Just kidding. I would never say this. I would only think it.) Seriously though, he has no recollection of our meeting, ever. 50 first dates style. Maybe it’s because all Asian DK’s look the same.
I’ve been thinking about this lately and I’m sharing this with you now because I realized that a friendship doesn’t really start until you know (and remember) a person’s name. Why? It’s because everything and everyone we value has a name.
We choose to remember a person’s name because we see or choose to see value in that person. . . or sometimes they have a name like Gunther and it’s pretty dang hard to forget.
When was the last time you cared to know the name of a person who had nothing to offer you except their friendship?
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a horrible listener. How horrible you ask?
Well, for starters, I slept my way through college. One minute I’d be wide awake in lecture, excited that my determination to stay awake is proving to be powerful and effec— whaa?? When did I leave this drool puddle on my desk? Where did everybody go? Who’s that teacher up in front?
Story of my life.
A few years later I married the love of my life. We lay in bed on certain nights to talk, sharing stories and reviewing our day when all of a sudden, I’m being asked something like, “do you know what I mean?”– only to realize that I have absolutely NO idea what she means. I missed the last 5 minutes of a heart being poured out and I’m horrified to know that my mind, ears, and body decided to shut it down when they were needed most. Cue the first in a series of late night talks that end up in dumb fights because I failed to listen. I suck.
Fast forward a couple more years to the time I got into a conflict with a friend. Instead of really listening to her (yes, as you can tell, I am an all-star with the ladies) and dealing with the issue, I decided to inform her how simple our current problem was and in so many words, told her to “get over it.” I didn’t see the need to linger on a problem that had such a “simple” solution. As a result, our conflict lasted a few months and it wasn’t until about month 8 when our friendship finally started getting back to normal.
The key to this one? I finally listened. I listened and I gave validity to a pain that I didn’t understand. This created the bridge to change and healing.
I think we’d all be more effective as leaders, husbands, wives, parents, friends, teachers, pastors, musicians, and human beings if we chose to listen better instead of being
black and white
Because each person is different and the answers aren’t always what follow questions.
My commitment to journey with my friend in processing through our conflict on her timeline instead of just mine changed everything. Sure it took a great deal of pride-swallowing and just a bit of sacrifice but I’m glad it happened.
Sometimes you just gotta shut up and do nothing else but listen. Either that or be better at staying awake and engage with the person who needs your ear.
My pledge to blog everyday for 40 days has come to a close! I want to thank those of you who have checked in periodically to journey with me in my writing. I hope that it was as fun, interesting, and inspiring for you to read as it was for me to write!
I wanted to close this chapter by recapping the past few weeks with links to some of my favorite posts (based on your responses as well as my personal enjoyment in writing them!)
Today also marks the end of the iTunes Card giveaway contest. I will announce the 2 winners tomorrow!
Here are the best of the last 40 days in no particular order:
The most read post out of all of them? It was the one about the UCLA Racist girl. Apparently racism and regrettable youtube videos make for interesting reads!
So I would like to know, which was your favorite? Any thoughts on future topics I should attempt to address?
[This is Part II of my post from yesterday]
Before we continue on, let me just acknowledge that today is Good Friday. I hope your day is filled with beautiful reflection as you contemplate on the horrible suffering endured by the most innocent man that ever lived.
Thanks for reading on! Here we go:
5. Your Kids Need You More than They Need Your Money
This is a lesson that I’ve seen play out in real life countless times as well as in Adam Sandler’s Click. Your kids don’t need you to become another tired cliche of a dad who works his butt off and in the process misses his kids’ ball games and birthdays, bypasses holidays and stays out late, etc. all in the name of providing for his family. Yes, we need to provide for our families (and let’s do it!) but I think it’s crucial to make a decision early on: are you going to be that dad, or THAT dad? As much as your kids beg you for the latest gaming console and you’ll work to get it for them, they’ll remember and appreciate you for your presence, not your presents. You like that? I think I stole that from some anti-materialism Christmas campaign.
6. Don’t Let Your Kid Get Away with Acting the Fool… Starting NOW
Homie don’t play that! I feel like my wife is super good at this and I am constantly learning from her. You’re tired, you’re out with friends and your kid decides to be a major punk in public and has no problem testing you. You have 2 options which is to 1) Ignore the little fart and continue to have a good time or 2) Teach the kid what it means when daddy shoots a cold, angry stare and says “I will END you.” As you giggle or gasp at option 2, let me just say I have never said this so relax. I’d say the real option 2 is to take that kid aside, explain to them why their behavior is upsetting and proceed with whatever disciplinary act works best for him/her. Time out is our method of choice and we will use it when necessary. Basically, I’m saying don’t let things slide. Fight for your child’s behavior now and reap the benefits later . . . until teenage angst ruins all your hard work and you have to start all over anyway… sigh.
7. Know that Your Kid Has Feelings and Understands Way More than You Think
We don’t give kids enough credit. We sometimes assume that they’re just blobs of adorable goo. What I’m learning very quickly is that they are actually geniuses in tiny bodies filled with poop. Especially as my son has been taking full advantage of his growing abilities as a 2 year old, I’m shocked to learn that he understands about 95% of the things I say to him and actually has reasons for many of his tantrums and outbursts. I’m finding that when you understand and acknowledge his feelings he responds better to correction and special requests. This is crazy to me but it’s true! You gotta use your discretion with this but it helps to make compromises with your kid based on what’s really setting them off. Is he upset because he wants to take the entire train set to aunty’s? Calm him down, let him know you understand they want to do this but explain that there’s not enough space in the bag. Suggest he takes 2 train pieces instead. This works more often than not. Huge!
8. This is the Greatest Job, Role, Responsibility and Privilege You Will Ever Have
Don’t get it twisted! Being a GREAT dad is your life’s calling. It doesn’t matter what else you accomplish or pursue in life– pursue excellence in fatherhood. I personally feel that I could reach for and grab all that the world has for me but if my relationships with my children suck, I have failed miserably. Let’s embrace this role fully and consider it a sacred task. Let’s not repeat the cycle of father wounds and raise a generation of kids who had amazing dads. The world needs good fathers. Hope you’re up for the challenge.
9. Stay in the Game, Finish Well
I don’t think any man starts off fatherhood thinking, “I’m going to be delinquent, abusive, un-understanding, distant, and unaffirming.” Peek into any delivery room and if the dad is present, you’ll see him gazing into his newborn’s eyes, promising the world to her, promising he’ll be there to protect her and love her the best he can. Then life happens, stress takes over, deadlines, indiscretions, divorce, heart-ache, alcohol, bad decisions, good intentions and suddenly, the promises you made in the hospital that first day seem all but broken and destroyed.
Maybe you’re not a young dad and you’re reading this. Maybe you have failed to live up to your promises to your children. I have not lived the life that you lived but something tells me that you can still make things work and you can finish well. Maybe the middle part of your story up until now has not panned out the way you had hoped. You can finish well.
To everyone else: young, old, married, unmarried, with kids, without kids — this is a call for us to rise up and embrace our role as parents in the present and in the future.
I’m excited for the legacy and trend that we can help establish for the near future.
What’s the worst exchange you’ve ever made with someone?
I once traded a Fleer Ultra Shaquille O’Neal rookie card . . .
for a pack of pogs.
This has got to be one of the worst trades ever made by a middle-schooler in the history of the world. Shaq will go down as one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived. His rookie card will be worth thousands, possibly millions one day!
The pogs. A very short-lived fad at the time, are now virtually worthless. I probably threw them away a few months after making this trade.
We do regretful things like this all the time in the name of following what is hot for the moment. Some may call this the flavor of the week, or a trend, but it is more accurately described as instant gratification.
I want it now. I need it now.
Instant gratification and foresight are mortal enemies. It’s also on really bad terms with common sense, patience, discipline, and perspective.
Its buddies however, are selfishness, destruction, deception, and regretful weight gain.
The way to neutralize and even combat instant gratification? Let’s try delayed gratification.
The delay buys you some time to think and saves you from potential heartbreak, loss of money, love handles, an extra-marital affair, or the regret of springing for the iPad 2 when you could have waited for the iPad 3 when it comes out with retina display and 50 more cool points.
Instant seems sexy right now but it probably doesn’t age well. Delayed keeps it cool in the corner and hopes you’ll join him as he gets better with time. Like fine wine, baby.
Seriously, where’s the harm in waiting every once in a while? Let’s try it . . .
Have you ever been lured by the charms of Instant Gratification? Did you come out a winner or are you still dealing with the repercussions?