I read Austin Kleon’s weekly blog and his books “Show Your Work” and “Steal Like an Artist.” He’s an artist with words and pictures. He helps me see the world with new eyes, to get beyond my excuses, and my shortness of vision. He’s younger than my children by a few years and has young boys much like my grandson. Sometimes I wonder at my reading of his work. On the surface it seems we have nothing in common and then I think we have everything in common: words and art and music and boys.
I keep his gems of wisdom on my page called “Quotes for Pondering“. Here’s one treasure I’ve saved:
Don’t say it’s easy,
don’t say it’s hard,
don’t say a word about how you think it will go . . .
He nailed me with those words.
So many times, even before I try, I tell myself “It’s going to be hard, too difficult. I don’t have the skills. I’ve never done anything like this before.” You know those words. I suspect you’ve said them yourself. And so the project is delayed until I get past my own blockage.
The opposite is also true. We say, “How hard can this be? Piece of cake. I’m an intelligent person. I can do this.” Hours and $$$ and @&#*! later we’re still at square one, only more frustrated. The project is way more difficult than we thought. Sheer determination may keep us going — or we may call in an expert.
We project these same words onto friends, thinking they will somehow benefit from our anxieties, fears, or experience, as they embark on something new.
Even worse, we project these words onto children. We want and believe it’s our duty to protect them from failures and disappointments. As a child, I was always trying to do things beyond my capabilities. My mother tried to guide me to easier and simpler things but to no avail. I was
determined. I would find a way. Yes, there were tears of frustration but I would not be dissuaded from my vision. That same stubbornness has been an asset in my adult life. I call it “mind over circumstance.”
What if . . . instead of trying to coach (convince) others of how things will go
we inquire about their plan, their path, their dream of accomplishment
we offer encouragement for their project
we offer companionship or assistance if/when requested
we keep our judgments and concerns to ourselves, except in the case of safety
we offer advice only when asked
we offer understanding if/when derailments occur
The truth is . . .
what looks too hard or was too hard for me might be easier for you
what looks easy or was easy for me might be overwhelmingly difficult for you
none of us knows for sure how things will turn out
Sometimes we need to give up our desire to direct or protect others from the struggles of their journey. Our urge to share our knowledge and experience may prevent another from taking their next steps.
Sometimes we just need to be quiet.
Until next Tuesday . . .