We can get so overwhelmed by life (whether in pandemic times or not) that we can feel like we have lost control. We can get stuck in the past, thinking about what has happened, what didn’t work out, or how we want to go back to a better time. We can be paralysed by our fear of an unknown future and project feelings of lack of agency and control. In both of these situations, we forget about the power of the present moment. This is where our control and personal power lies; moment by moment, being mindful that what you do today counts. The choices you make today determine the picture on your canvas and tomorrow there will be a new canvas. Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
As you read on, I want you to ‘listen’ with the heart of a parent of a child, but also as a parent of yourself. We continue evolving and growing as adults for our whole lives. We are never done adulting and becoming. Being a parent is a personal development adventure that will continually challenge how you show up in the world and the choices you make with regard to yourself, let alone your child. We are all parents, one way or another. Self-leadership is as much of a choice as leading others.
Just as our children have good days and bad, so do we. Sometimes the good are so good it can put them on a high, such as getting a great test mark or being invited to a party they desperately want to go to. It is similar for you as you achieve some success at work, or experience a sense of happiness and contentment in a relationship. On other days, a low can drop them below the level of the floor boards, like being shunned by a friend or dropped from a sports team, or even when they land up hurting someone else’s feelings (either accidentally or on purpose). However old or young you are, life happens, and it’s not always predictable or as perfect as we, or they, would like it to be.
We would be wise to counsel our children, and remind ourselves, that every day brings us a new beginning, a fresh start. Don’t get caught up in the past and what might have been, but look to the future and all the possibilities that it brings. I have put some thoughts into a poem that you might like to share with your children and your own inner child:
What You Do Today Counts by Nikki Bush
What you do today counts
Every smile you give out
Every comment you make
Every good deed you do or refuse to do
Every thought that you have, positive or negative will influence you
Better to feed your mind good stuff
Just as a farmer feeds his soil so that strong, healthy plants can grow
So strong, healthy thoughts, and actions will flow.
Every extra word or sum practiced will change your test results for the better
Your competence and confidence grows the more you do something over and over
Every problem you encounter is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your resilience, tenacity, perseverance and strength of character
Learn from problems and rename them – challenges
If you can see challenges as an opportunity to grow, then you have turned a negative into a positive and you’ll do well in life.
Your adventure is about learning about yourself and how to go about life
You can’t learn this from a book, you simply have to try it out for yourself
Greet every day like an artist with a blank canvas
You can do with it what you like
The choices you make today determine the picture on your canvas
And tomorrow there will be a new canvas.
Choose wisely and learn well from both your successes and your mistakes
Remember to let go of yesterday
Look to tomorrow
And live, really live today
Today is all you have
And what you do today counts.
Takeaways for winning at work
- Search for feelings of competence and confidence every day – this helps you to feel more in control. By paying attention, you bring yourself more into the present where your power to choose sits, rather than getting stuck in your past or paralysed by your future.
- Get real – you cannot be in a state of euphoric happiness 24/7 but you can experience many moments of satisfaction and contentment in-between the challenges.
- Pick one thing to do differently today to create a new or changed outcome, like an artist with a new canvas.
- When you are in a new situation, a new job, a new relationship, there is much to learn and get used to until things feel familiar and require less effort. It’s a learning curve that can be both exciting, due to the newness of it all and new turf to conquer, while being daunting at the same time. This is the duality of being. You must learn to hold both at the same time, it’s the nature of life so embrace it, don’t fight it. Acknowledge it, deal with it and move on.
- Take time out to self-reflect on a regular basis about how you are doing life. How is it working for you? Most people don’t stop and reflect, they react. Your power lies in the space between stimulus and response. That is the space for choosing moment by moment.
Takeaways for winning at home and life
- Depending on your child’s age and stage, help them to identify what they find challenging in life. It might be just one thing at this moment in time, or it might be a few.
- Help your child to see how anything new needs to be practised in order to make it easier to do. We need to repeat things over and over in order to master them. Examples: when we learn to ride a bike, read, swim or play tennis. This doesn’t mean we aren’t good at them, but we are learning to get good at them.
- Print out the following famous quotation from golfing legend, Gary Player: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Click here to download the quote to stick on your fridge or on your child’s cupboard door. If they can read, get them to read it out aloud every day for a week, with conviction!
- At dinner this week, pay specific attention to honouring helpful and positive character traits you may have seen your children displaying during the day, such as their perseverance, tenacity, helpfulness, determination, passion, optimism, enthusiasm, sense of calm etc.
- On the way to school in the morning, ask each child if there is something they are going to choose to do differently today in order to create a new outcome (from about age seven upwards). You can share what you are going to change too.
- Discuss how we all choose what kind of day we are going to have. Happiness is a choice. Even on the roughest of days, we need to learn how to look for happy moments, no matter how short-lived they may be.
Self-leadership is a choice. No matter how old or young you are, nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending, because what you do today counts.