Whose life are you living... and passing on? Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, “How did I get here?” I think at one time or another we have all had a moment like that. I know I have.
I recently attended “Be the Change” conference in Orlando, Florida hosted by renowned business coach Suzanne Evans of www.suzanneevans.org. As a part of the three day event we had the privilege of hearing an amazing woman, Maggie Ostara, PhD. of “Soul Signature Marketing” speak. Ms. Ostara holds a PhD. in Literature and was a professor at Columbia University for many years but recently switched gears to create her company as soul healer and marketing expert.
If you are like me, you are scratching your head trying to understand how such a leap could occur! As Ms. Ostara began her talk she answered that question almost immediately.
She explained that her father had been a professor, her grandfather had been a professor and I believe she also stated that an uncle had been a professor. Being an educator was her “daily bread of life”. In other words, it was the message she received during childhood through spoken and unspoken offerings that led her to automatically enter a career that she eventually looked at and recognized that although had reached the accepted level of “success”, she was not happy with.
As Maggie continued with her talk she clearly connected the dots for everyone to be able to understand the logic in why she became a professor...it had been "passed down". Her point was not for us to examine the how of what had happened in her life and frequently happens in so many of our lives, but in contrast to focus on the amazing life she is now living by doing what she loves and is passionate about. Her point was to share the success she has found by doing something that was totally foreign to her and to share with all of us in her audience how we can market our businesses from a soul-centered place.
Although I was very interested in her topic and approach to marketing, I must confess that I immediately connected not with her marketing message but with “her story”. I was struck by the fact that what I was witnessing was another obviously well educated brilliant person who found herself as an adult needing to let go of limiting ideas and beliefs to live a life of true happiness built on doing what she loved and was passionate about.
Admittedly, I don’t know Maggie’s parents, nor did she specifically say, however I am confident in assuming Maggie was raised without purposeful attention being placed upon what she was drawn to… no conscious effort placed upon guiding Maggie to find her passion, explore her preferences or encourage her to sift through her choices to determine her heart’s desire.
This purposeful conscious effort is what is critical to raise children to be and live the life they were meant to create. An awareness of this is a crucial part of the role a parent holds in their children’s lives.
My mother was by profession a trained seamstress and dressmaker. I did not share in her love of sewing. She delighted in making our clothes...everything from summer shirts and shorts to my brother's 3 pieces Easter suits and dresses with matching coats for the girls. I never showed any interest in sewing. Mother taught me the basics, sewing a hem or a button or replacing a zipper but that was about the extent of it.
When I reached high school and had Home Economics as a required course the teacher had very high expectations of me because of my mother’s profession. When I didn’t perform to her standards she called a meeting with my mother and me to find out what was “wrong”.
I clearly remember my mother explaining to my teacher that she and I were very close but had different interests. She summed it up in one sentence that was one of those defining moments that stay with you for the rest of your life.
Mother said, “I have five children, all of whom deserve to be seen as individuals and their likes and dislikes have nothing to do with what their father and I like.”
So when I hear stories from people who have found themselves in situations like Maggie’s, a clearly intelligent woman from an obviously amazing family, I know that the real difference is awareness. Awareness on the part of parents that they can and must make a conscious effort to guide their children to make their choices based on only what is enjoyable and pleasing to them rather than blindly falling into place, automatically choosing what they see their parents choosing.
Parents hold a position in their children’s lives as the primary source of information for the ideas, thoughts and beliefs they formulate and take on as their own. Parents must guide their children to put thought into their choices... to get in touch with what they prefer.
This can be done very simply. It is a matter of first seeing your child as an individual and second by honoring his/her individuality and respecting it by offering them the opportunity to choose.
Let’s examine the process by looking at one of the basic areas of preference for all of us…food.
At an early of an age as possible you can begin engaging them in conversations about their likes and dislikes, showing an interest in theirs and sharing yours. The important thing is to convey to them that the differences are exciting and interesting.
For instance, I remember one day when my daughter, Cally, was around 2 or 3 yrs. old and we had been shopping most of the day. I decided to stop at an ice cream shop on the way home. As I told the waitress what I wanted, Cally quickly said, “Me too!” The waitress smiled and said “Okay that will be TWO hot fudge sundaes with vanilla ice cream, nuts and whipped cream!”
I took a moment and explained to Cally that she could have her sundae however she wanted it…it didn’t have to be the same as mine. I went through the menu of the different toppings and flavors of ice cream and encouraged her to order what she wanted. (She chose strawberry ice cream with pineapple topping, whipped cream but no nuts!)
Although this may seem very minor in the broader scope of things, the point is that by giving her the choice at a young age concerning what kind of sundae she wanted rather than allowing her to simply mimic my choice, she received the message that she had the right to choose what she wanted and it would be respected. It reinforced her view of herself as an individual.
Once this process is repeated several times, and is applied to areas of greater importance in their lives, children quickly gain an understanding about their sense of self and value it. Eventually they will not need to be prompted to examine their own feelings and thoughts when making a choice, it will become automatic.
They will naturally come to understand that they have:
- the power to choose
- the right to be a unique individual
- a sense of personal responsibility for their choices
- a sense of personal responsibility what happens in their lives
As a child grows and develops with a sense of value of their individuality it will form a strong foundation of a healthy self-esteem, positive self-image and self-confidence. And in doing so will instill in them a understanding of their personal responsibility of what happens in their lives.