Empower to make a lasting impact
Lao Tzu, a brilliant Chinese philosopher of the 4th century BC and founder of Taoism once said “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”
He excels at the simple, elegant way of describing things that we need to take heart.
I recall trying to teach my son how to ride a bike. He was terrified of falling and did not want to face the prospect of hurting himself. He was holding onto me for dear life and refused to bike by himself. The fear of losing control was a filling him up with stress. He was crying and wanted to quit.
As a parent, it was difficult seeing my child crying and many times, thought about trying another day. But I knew that it was delaying the inevitable.
The only way for my son to truly learn how to ride a bike was to do it himself. No way, will he learn with me constantly on his side or even with training wheels. So despite his angry protest, I pushed his bike in front of me after a few seconds running alongside him.
He was afraid, as he wobbled along and with a screech, he fell to the ground. I ran over to him to help him up, and he looked at me with his big doe eyes with quivering lips started crying. He looked at me with an accusatory side glance but got back up on his bike again.
I suppose he realized falling on the bike wasn’t as life ending painful as he thought it was. Still, he felt betrayed by me, but I was so proud of him for trying again after falling. After that, it took him a total of two more tries before he mastered bike riding.
I remember his excited face as he rode his bike with increasing confidence. I asked him if he needed my help, but he imperiously shook his head very proud that he was able to learn to bike all by himself.
Lao Tzu’s Fish quote is a perfect reflection of this. To truly empower someone, you need to (despite protest sometimes), allow that person to try his/herself. Only then can that person grow and flourish. If we don’t do that, that person will forever be dependent and as a consequence never grow and see the light.
It is so tempting to want to help sometimes prematurely, and many times we lack the patience, but we must do this for the long term good of the person. They will thank you for it.
My son is now eleven, and also wrote a post on how to focus. He is fidgeter like me. Check out How to Focus: Guide from an 11 year old.