The art of truly caring for others is indeed, an art. In our work helping others practice TRP our observation is that genuine care requires a deep focus on the other person. Genuine care also requires that the deep focus be of greater importance, than our own needs and desires. Obviously so, right? It turns out, it’s not so obvious after all.
A common mistake is that we think our well-intended offers to help someone else are really, truly, all about the other person. We often overlook that under the surface, we secretly want something in return, or we simply are uncomfortable with the fact that they are uncomfortable, or we would much rather ‘keep the peace’ than deal with the difficulty at hand.
The deep level of care might include doing everything in our power to empower one other person to be successful. Sometimes it might include NOT doing something. A story from a recent training illustrates.
A participant had written her plan to help her son grow in his own level of self-responsibility. During the training, she took the opportunity to share her plan with her colleagues.
“I have been enabling my son by making excuses for him. He is a talented young man and is a star on his high school team. With his busy schedule and need to balance his advanced classes and athletics, he often forgets his sports equipment. I’m usually the first person he calls. I’ll make excuses for him, and I’ve even left work to make the 45-minute round trip drive home, to his school, and back to work with his equipment just to ‘help’ him out. All the while, I make excuses for him, citing to myself and sometimes others, how busy he is and how much pressure he is under. My husband has told me not to do it for him, but I make excuses for him to my husband too.”
She was determined to do it differently. She shared how the next time this happened, she would not make excuses for him. She would simply go get the equipment and tell him he needs to remember it himself.
Nervous laughter followed. She could not quite understand why her colleagues didn’t give any approving applause… One colleague said, “you’re going to keep rescuing him by getting his stuff for him?” She was conflicted and didn’t know what to do.
At this point, she was asked,
“Which would have a greater impact on your son: having you talk with him about the importance of remembering his equipment, or the coach removing him from a game because he forgot?”
She had a flash of awareness and forcefully stood up. She saw that it was really her own discomfort that was getting in the way. Once she thought about what her son truly needed from her, it all became clear. With trembling voice, she said “I see! I’m not going to enable him anymore! He needs to experience the consequence of his actions, and I have prevented him from doing this!” She teared up as she made this powerful statement and this time, she got that applause.
As each of us seeks to express that level of deep care, be emboldened by the potential of those we care about. Focus on that potential and allow it to matter more than our own needs and desires. Is it easy? Not necessarily. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
As president, Daniel leads the team at TRP Enterprises to help inspire and uplift through world-class training programs.