There is so much choice theory in this picture.
Two lawnmowers parked in a backyard shed, their work done for now, resting as the grass grows once again, but ready to get back at it when the lawn once again needs a trim.
Two lawnmowers. One real, heavy, dusty, its grasscatcher hanging out the back; the other small, plastic, unimposing, a toy.
Of course, the picture captures more than these two objects. It captures something about a relationship, something about the caring habits, and something about lead management. You can see the lawnmowers; do you see choice theory sitting there, too?
When I get the mower out to mow the lawn, my grandson invariably grabs his mower and wants to join me. He will ask, “Grandpa, can I help you mow the lawn?” And I will answer with something like, “Yes, I could use the help. Thank you very much.” I can imagine an adult answering that question with “No, I need you to stay out of the way. Lawnmowers are dangerous and you need to keep your distance.” Or maybe “No, I don’t need your help. You can play on the lawn after I am done.” I don’t like those answers, though, since I really like my grandson’s help with the different projects in which I am involved.
As I mow he is pushing his mower across the grass, too. Sometimes out in front of me, sometimes behind me, sometimes off to the side. He has a system, a plan that he follows, much the same as me having a plan as I work to efficiently get all the grass cut. He laughs a lot as he darts around, and I do, too, for that matter. When I stop to empty the grasscatcher, he stops, too, and walks with me to the green trash can, where we empty the clippings.
This last time, after we were all done with mowing, I pushed the mower to the back of the property, where there is a shed that keeps stuff like lawnmowers. I pushed it up the little ramp and was about to shut the shed door, but noticed that my grandson was now pushing his little mower up the ramp, too. I asked if he was sure he wanted to leave his mower there, as he wouldn’t be able to play with it if it was locked in the shed. He said he understood that, but that he wanted his mower to be in the shed, too, ready for the next time the lawn needed to be mowed.
I suppose I could have said, “No, let’s not put your mower in the shed. That’s not where it goes.” But that didn’t occur to me. I was so touched by our two mowers sitting there together.
So where’s the choice theory? A lot of you, as you read this, have already come up with multiple examples. Here are a few that come to my mind –
My grandson and I have a really good relationship. I enjoy being with him and I like it a lot when he wants to help me. He talks a blue streak as we work, some of the talk related to the job, but a lot of it not. And while sometimes he actually can hand me something I need or carry a board to where it is needed, not all of his “help” is actually helpful. But I want him close, I want his “help”, all of it.
The Caring Habits
Words like accepting, encouraging, and listening come to mind as I think about our mowing the lawn together. Yes, he is just pushing a toy around, and yes, I could respond in kind, but I don’t think our two mowers would be sitting in the shed together right now if I used one of the deadly habits like criticizing or complaining.
My grandson loves helping with projects. A few weeks back I constructed 75’ of new fence. It was a grueling job that involved the removal of the old fence, disposal of the old boards, removal of the old fence posts, and the digging of the new holes. It was hot, too. And yet he was with me a lot of the time. Out there in his Crocks and his underwear, talking, listening, handing me stuff, and doing stuff on his own. He is growing up to be an involved, helpful young man, not because we are making him be that way, but because we are open to his being involved. We are supportive of his interest and his efforts. At times we invite his participation or try to persuade him to join in the work. Usually, it is more about accepting his offer to help.
The picture of the two mowers captures what is possible when we place a high value on relationships and keep the caring habits in mind. Whether young or old, people thrive when the elements of lead-management are present.
The talk at Lower Lake High School this past Thursday evening (9-11-14) went well. Chris Kinney, a teacher at the school and one of my former students, organized the event and recorded it, too. There are administrators and teachers at the school that want to head in a choice theory direction and Chris is fueling and supporting that vision. I will be sharing more about this in an upcoming blog. Well done, Chris! It was a great evening all the way around!
We have been stuck on the number 16 when it comes to Amazon book reviews for Champion of Choice. It would be great for the book, and by extension the ideas of choice theory, if that number could go significantly higher. Reviews don’t have to be long and they are simple to do.
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