When you have young kids in your house, you get used to a phrase like this one.
And, one of the things we can, and should, learn from our kids, is that this phrase must apply to us too.
I first heard this phrase from a colleague. It may or may not have any connection, but she grew up in Alabama, and when she said it with that Alabamian (is that a word?) accent, I knew that I would be adding it to my list of phrases immediately (sometimes, I’ll admit, I even add as much of that twang as I can into saying it, because it sounds so much better when I do).
The idea of the phrase is simple: Whatever you’ve been given, you need to make the most of it. At times, this seems like challenging advice, particularly when we are ones who are given very little, and appear to be beginning so far removed from the starting block. But, there is much to be taken from this statement. One key idea is that we are the keepers of our own destiny, and in that capacity, we, ultimately, decide what we become with what we are given.
This is a powerful idea for learners of all ages. There are times, when I say this statement in my own head, as a way to de-escalate what could potentially be a difficult conversation or a challenging confrontation. We need those challenges and difficulties, but we also need to address them in a way that befits the person we always want to be. That often means remaining calm, being thoughtful, and engaging in a problem-solving frame of leading and learning.
We can only get to those “pedestal actions” through an understanding that reaching them requires us to move past the defensive response to one of proactivity and productiveness.
This is a tough realization for young learners (note: the header image is of my youngest daughter, after we told her on Saturday that she wasn’t allowed to sit on the kitchen counter :) ), and often, just as tough a realization for older ones. While our responses might not manifest as a tantrum complete with crying and feet stomping, adult “tantrums” can be just as problematic, whether it be from the resulting inflexibility or future retaliation.
Getting what you get, and learning to make lemonade out of lemons, is an important leadership skill. When we are comfortable with it, we become more capable of empathizing, listening, and understanding it can’t always be our way. But when we do get upset, watch out, because in those instances we aren’t making life harder just for ourselves, but for everyone else as well. And that’s no way to live, lead, or learn.