Your Children Are Not Your Children

When I first read these lines in the ‘Road Less Travelled’ by M.Scott Peck, quoted from the original writings of Khalil Gibran, I was confused. What are you saying? My children are my children, I gave birth to them and I did what it takes to grow them in to purposeful adults. However, after listening to it and reflecting on it, I realised how profound these words were. I have created a video with these words of wisdom as you see embedded in this blog. I recommend you watch and listen to the words in the video, reflect on it and then read the rest of the blog.

I believe the impact this video creates is different from person to person. I also believe the impact this video creates for you is determined by the journey of your life so far, where you are in your life now and your aspirations for the journey ahead. Therefore I feel the best contribution I can make is to write about what this poem means to me. Perhaps that might give you another perspective for you to reflect on, perhaps nourish your perspective and move you on to further reflection.

Let me reflect on the verse in two parts;

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.

As I saw my three daughters growing in to become beautiful, graceful, intelligent, confident, loving and caring young ladies, I realised that they were all unique and had amazing lives they were longing to live. The three of them had their own passion and purpose in the areas of political science, fashion and culinary respectively. What an amazing contrast. Thankfully I had read these words when my daughters were very young and had been a student of the notion of purpose. These helped me to let them to grow into the life they were born to live, not to make them follow my profession or do what I believed was best for them.

I realised they belong to the process of life and came through me and not from me. They are miracles that cannot be created by me. It was my responsibility to provide them a secure and nourishing environment to grow, but not to give them my thoughts. They had their own unique ways of thinking. Parenting them was educating for me and my wife, learning how they think and learn. We only housed their bodies as their souls belonged to a higher energy force.

I realised that I was trying to be like them as they were much more talented than I was and it was a joy learning from them many times more than they would have learnt from me. In the middle of writing this I paused to play a card game with my youngest daughter while watching a talent show going on TV. It was amazing how much she knew about types of dances, musical instruments, methods of singing, names of coaches and the best coach/performer fit etc., that I did not know.

The other part of the verse is;

You are the bow from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrow may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

My life experience confirms that I am the bow that is responsible to send my children, the arrows in to the future. The more the bow bends the further the arrows travel. Me as the bending bow is synonymous with the ‘stretching’ I had to do to give the best grounding for my daughters. It was about stretching in the areas of learning, balancing demands, dealing with challenges, working, earning and teaching to ensure they, the arrows go far and wide. And as in the last line of verse I realised that the ‘archer’, the God Almighty, loves me as much she loves my children.

I hope this helps you to reflect and make sense of your life.

Wish you purposeful living.

When We Judge a Book by the Cover!

I Dreamed A Dream by Susan Boyle

An amazing perforce that stunned the audience and judges at Britains Got Talent.

Reflection Guide:

As you watch this video, think of the times that you have pre-judged someone by your initial perception. How many time have they surprised you with the real substance in them. Reflect on times that you had been in the receiving end. What learnings do you take from the reflection and what steps would you take to change your attitude and help other change their attitude.

Songs for Growth

How You Lived Will Epitomise Your Death

How Did You Die? – Edmund Vance Cooke

Reflect on the deeper meaning of this poem as you listen to it and read the lyrics below. How did you respond to trouble times? What did you do when you fell down? What is real success & failure? How would you face life’s challenges from now onwards?

Read by Shane Morris – Full Poem:

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful? 

Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it? 

You are beaten to earth?

Well, well, what’s that!Come up with a smiling face.

It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there-that’s disgrace. 

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;

It’s how did you fight-and why? 

And though you be done to the death, what then?

If you battled the best you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good. 

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?

Liberating Empathy

Can empathy be developed or Liberated? As you watch this video, reflect on this questions. Consider how important empathy is for leadership success. Is there an ideal amount of empathy? Could empathy be too much or two little? What steps would you take to liberate the ideal amount of empathy from within you for your leadership success.

The following process can be used to create a learning experience for your team using this video.

Step 1 – A moderator (an expert from your company) to open the session, explaining the importance of the session.

Step 2 – Show the video – let participants absorb, take notes and write down questions to ask later

Step 3 – Have a Q&A session and a discussion

Step 4 – Agree on actions to be taken based on the video

Step 5 – Participants to say how the session was useful.

Living Life To The Fullest as the Captain of Your Life

O Captain Mu Captain – Walt Whitman

Reflect on the deeper meaning of this poem as you listen to it and read the lyrics below. Who is the captain of your life? How will you live to be able to be happy on your last day feeling that that you lived it all.

O Captain, my Captain our fearful trip is done
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people are exulting,  
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring  
But O heart! heart! heart!  
O the bleeding drops of red,  
Where on the deck my Captain lies,  
Fallen cold and dead.  

O Captain, my Captain (x3)

O Captain, my Captain rise up and hear the bells  
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding  
For you they call (the swaying mass)
their eager faces turning (their eager faces turning)
Here Captain! dear father!  
This arm beneath your head  
It is some dream that on the deck, 
You’ve fallen cold and dead. Dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still  
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will  
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done  
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with this object won
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!  
But I, with mournful tread,  
Walk the deck my Captain lies,  
Fallen cold and dead. Fallen cold and dead.