My son, Daniel, loves LEGOs.
And I love that he loves them.
I can remember being little, cracking open the box, meticulously following the directions step-by-step as to not make a mistake and have to back-track several pages to correct it. Finishing the model, however, was just the beginning. After that came the splicing of bricks and designs with sets I already had, creating both structures that I had seen other places or detailed automatons from my own imagination. It was great.
And that was just last week.
Because of this shared passion, for his 5th birthday, we purchased Daniel’s first LEGO model – a replica of the Pizza Delivery truck from the Toy Story movie. That day he and I worked to build the model. After a few moments of fumbling over the small pieces, Daniel asked me for help … which I was (probably visibly) elated to provide. I involved him as much as I could in the process, asking him to search out the pieces needed for each step and having him help check my work, scanning the directions and then the model after each image. The finished product:
Awesome … I know, right?
We shared this new interest with the family, and boy were the floodgates opened at Christmas. Most of the sets (thank goodness) were small, unlike the massive castles you would find a certain 8 year old drooling over outside the windows of the local Kay-Bee Toy Store. Danial got several, with the first being at my mother-in-law’s home. Of course, he couldn’t wait, so we sat down at the table to begin construction. We cracked the box and opened the bags, and as I started the same routine from his birthday, Daniel spoke seven simple words:
I can do it by myself, Daddy.
Now, Summer and I had heard these words before (and I will let the parents in the audience comment below about activities associated with that phrase that have come from the mouths of their little ones), but after picking up the pieces of my shattered heart on the floor, I let him work. Here was the outcome:
He did it … all by himself. Watching him build, ever so carefully, tracking the instructions so closely, checking his work, and correcting his mistakes, I could only think of one thing:
He’s a freaking genius. Someone call MENSA … now!
After calming down a bit, what settled in me was a sense of pride and love for my son, who through his hard work, frustration, knowledge and determination (that last one a product of his mother, for sure, and one of her best features) was able to accomplish something (not to mention developing his fine motor operations and spacial reasoning – that genius!) that, if I am honest with myself, that I didn’t think he could do. Sitting there, I thought:
I almost took that away from him.
I almost took that away from him, because I wanted to do it for him.
It didn’t stop with that set. Oh no … no, no, no.
Then there was this.
Can’t forget these rough and tough guys.
And last, but not least, these awesome folks.
All on his own. The only help I gave was breaking the box and ripping the bags. Quite a different picture than just a few weeks before.
– – –
In my work, I was able to meet with a team at school to help assist a young child with some problems he was having in the classroom. One of those issues was a concern that the child had under-developed fine-motor skills (cutting paper, writing with a pencil, coloring, operating an zipper/buttons/laces/etc.) I was in agreement with the initial assessment, until I heard the observational assessment from the occupational therapist. While I can’t remember the exact quote, it went something like this:
He can do more than we originally thought. When I began the assessment, I noticed several folks doing things for him, taking his coat off, helping with his zipper, stuff like that. Once I asked the teachers to stop the things that they normally did to help him, I noticed several skills present. He can hold his pencil, he can cut relatively straight, and he can attend to some of his basic needs.
Now, get ready for the blindside –
How do you get in your own way?
How do you know that you can’t do this or do that until you make an attempt, take a leap, or commit to a change?
We are our own worst critics. When we speak out, asking the masses if we are capable of completing a task, learning a new skill, training for a new career, you know which voice is the loudest against us? Often our own.
Maybe you don’t believe me. Let me ask you a different question:
Do you have a “bucket list”? A “dream list”? Are there those things in your life that you would be able to do “just if …”?
How about a personal example? Working on #27 (Launch my professional entity website) I am building a site from scratch … from the ground up. – and when I mean “scratch”, I really mean the kind of “scratch” where you take a tube of cookie dough, add some chips of your own to make them “chunky” and call it “homemade”. That kind of scratch. – The fact is, I am a total web design virgin. A neophyte. A newb. As of 30 days ago, I knew nothing.
Now? Every day since about the 15th of December, I have been learning about self-hosting, comment systems, CSS, plugins, SEO optimization, 6-integer color codes, among other things. 30 days ago, I knew nothing. I still don’t know much, but each day a little bit more.
If you had asked me 13 months ago if I thought I was the kind of person that would build a website for myself, I probably would have:
- Have told you that I didn’t have time for that.
- Have told you that I would have thought the task too hard to be worth my trouble.
The difference? Perfection is not my name. Choice might be. I didn’t know it could be done until I leaped in head first.
Don’t assume you can’t do it, just because you have never done it before. Instead, turn off that little voice that assumes that because of “X” reason (I’m too young/inexperienced/old/male/entrenched/busy/etc) that something can’t be done. Become a student of yourself.
Tell yourself –
“I can do this by myself, Thomas.”
What can you leap into this week?
Don’t you think LEGOs are awesome?! Comment on your favorite set or memory!