“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore.
If you want one, you must dive for it.”
— Chinese proverb
Last week, we Dojo instructors all took 11 minutes to watch a video of a segment of a lecture by education expert Richard Lavoie. Called “When the Chips are Down”, it is an insightful look at children’s self-esteem, how it affects what they do in the classroom every day, and how every interaction in their lives strengthens or weakens their sense of who they are. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
In this brilliant lecture, Lavoie lays out what he believes to be our single most important responsibility as parents and teachers: to make sure our kids go to bed each night with more self-esteem than they had when they woke up that morning. The importance of this goes way beyond just good feelings. It’s about making sure our kids lead good lives, through childhood and beyond. Because it’s the kids with the greatest sense of self-esteem that are going to be willing to dive into life in search of pearls, while the kids without will be stuck on shore convinced they could never swim far enough or dive deep enough for anything worthwhile.
Just like I ask our instructors to be able to apply lessons like this to teaching adults as well as kids, I would challenge all of us to think about our daily interpersonal reactions, and whether we contribute to a homestead, a workplace environment and a community at large where people feel free to dive in. Do we take the time to really recognize what is great about our co-workers and neighbors? Do we contribute to their stack of “chips”, helping them feel confident about playing the game instead of folding? Unlike poker, life is not a zero-sum game. You don’t lose when the person next to you wins. Just the opposite: the more your family, neighbors and co-workers feel confident to go “all in”, the better for all of us.