Article By Jenn Lederer, Motivational Comedian and Leadership Strategist
You may not know this about me, but I’ve never been much of a “kid person”, to say the least. Not that I have anything AGAINST kids, per say, seeing how I was one at one time and I’m far too vain to ever hate anything I’ve been. Let’s just say in the “take it or leave it” category of life, kids have always been designated to the “leave it” column for me.
I do have 8 nieces and nephews who I love very much, though. They are really the only ones who have a firm stance in the “take it” column.
Knowing this you can imagine the JOY that washed over me while I was kickin’ it poolside at a beautiful resort in Punta Cana when not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6 but SEVEN….SEVENNNNNNNNNNNNN brothers and sisters rolled up to the pool. Floaties abound.(2 girls, 5 boys. The oldest, a girl, who looked and acted as though she was 15 going on 50. A side-effect, I’ve learned, of being the oldest child in a large family as I’ve seen in my oldest nephew, Ryan, who is 13 going on 30 and an incredible older brother to his 5 brothers and sister.)
Another thing you may not know about me is that I have ZERO poker face game. And seeing how I was currently the only other person at said pool (the way I like it…the way it was SUPPOSED to be IMHO) I’m pretty sure the Dad was fully aware of my disposition towards his children as soon as he arrived, arms filled with toys, more floaties, sun screens and towels. (I tried to hide it, I really did!!)
Ok, maybe I could’ve “tried” a bit harder.
Families deserve to have fun vacations, too…sigh.
Thankfully, though, I quickly learned that this particular gaggle of children were pretty well behaved. They kept to themselves and the Mom lined them all up at the poolside shower to make sure they understood the rules of how to not track the sand into the pool. (nicely done, mom.)
And then, it happened.
One of the sons (who looked to be about 4…or maybe 7? I haven’t a clue, really) sat on the side of the pool, floatation devices shoved on each arm, and cried. Loudly.
Great, I thought. Let’s see how this shakes out. Being sure to keep my head covered by my book because again, ZERO poker face = me.
Calmly, the Dad sat down next to his son, letting his feet dangle into the pool, just like his son’s. In that moment the resemblance was uncanny. What unfolded next was nothing short of some of the best life coaching I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
Dad: What’s wrong?
Son: I HATE swimming, Dad! I HATE IT!!!!!!! I HATE IT! I HATE IT!
Dad: Hmmm, that’s interesting.
Son: [Looked up, eyes squinting from the sun, perplexed by his Dad’s lack of concern for what was clearly a life and death situation.]
Dad: Would it be ok if I explored this with you a bit? (GO, DAD! I was now fully attentive, still covering my face to allow for a bit of privacy in this very tender moment.)
Dad: Do you really think that you HATE swimming? Or do you think maybe you’re feeling a little scared because you haven’t done it since last summer?
Son:…[begins to splash the water with his feet]
Dad: Well your feet seem to be enjoying the water, at least. That’s a good sign. We can work with that, don’t you think?
Son: I guess
Dad: Great! That’s my boy! You’re so brave. (I’m now a HUGE fan of Dad)
Son: [suddenly beaming with pride. a smile strewn across his face while the remaining tears dry from the warmth of the sun…and the love of a proud father]
Dad: So, can I make a little deal with you? Would that be ok?
Dad: Yay! I love how open you are. (OMG DAD!!!! Can I like, get your autograph??) [he continues] So here’s what I’m thinking. Right now we’re sitting on the edge of the deep end, and I bet that feels really scary, huh?
Son: [nodding, holding his gaze down at his splashing tootsies]
Dad: And I bet you’re feeling pressure to keep up with your brothers and sisters because you don’t want to be left out.
Son: [nods again]
Dad: Well then I’ve got really great news!
Son: [perplexed, squinting, looking back up at Dad…waiting for this apparent “good news”]
Dad: You can’t be left out because you’re a part of the family no matter what! You can stay out of the pool. You can sit on the edge. You can dive in. You can splash your feet and you will still be part of the fun, ok?
Son: [nodding, a bit less confidently this time]
Dad: So how about you and I head down to the kiddie pool. Did you see that it’s right there? Right at the end of the deep end? You and I can go sit in there all week if you want to! Plus you’ll basically be the King of the pool because you’ll be standing at the end, overlooking it all.
Son: YES! That sounds fun, Dad!
Dad: Perfect! So we’ll start there and if you end up wanting to get into the big pool, I’ll be there with you. And if you don’t, I’ll still be right here. And so will your brothers and sisters, ok?
[a few minutes pass in the kiddie pool]
Son: Hey Dad?
Dad: What’s up, my boy?!
Son: I think I’d like to go swimming in the big pool now. And I think I’d like for you to just watch from the side if that’s ok?
Dad: You got it. Like I said before, you’re so very brave.
At this point I’m a blithering mess. Drying my eyes with my sand-covered towel (due to the fact that I had NOT yet stood under the poolside shower myself…)
Dad NAILED it. (like Dads do)
Curiosity > judgement.
Permission > pressure.
Love > fear.
Connection > isolation.
The son didn’t HATE the pool. He hated the way the pool made him FEEL. And lucky for him and his 6 siblings, he had a father who was there to help him BE with those feelings. To show him that those feelings were perfectly OK. To help him remember that you don’t have to always jump in the “deep end” of life to “keep up”.
You’re allowed to take your time. You’re allowed to give yourself permission to stand in the kiddie pool and simply observe your options, until YOU’RE ready.
What you’re NOT allowed to do is give your power away.
In that moment, Dad was there to help guide his son back into Power. Not through pushing or proving, but through love, permission, curiosity and awareness of what was *really* bothering him.
Damn. I’ve never been so grateful for a gaggle of kids showing up to my vacation in my life. And you know what else? I hope I get to witness them again today and tomorrow and the next day.
This family is now firmly in my “take it” column. (I’m as shocked as you are, truly.)
I wonder if you’re currently sulking on the side of a proverbial pool, convincing yourself that you hate something when really you’re just feeling a bit scared?
Do you HATE public speaking?
Do you HATE pitching yourself and your work?
Do you HATE having sales calls?
Do you HATE setting boundaries?
Do you HATE putting yourself out there?
I’m willing to bet, upon further exploration in the kiddie pool of life, that you don’t hate these things. You hate the way these things make you FEEL.
I get it. I’ve been there.
And I’ve found that COMEDY is an incredible tool for DIVING IN to these feelings with a new sense of LOVE, PERMISSION, CURIOSITY and AWARENESS.
If you’re ready to join in the game of life, in your OWN way, in your OWN time and in your OWN style.
If you’d like to start LAUGHING your way to a breakthrough.
If you’re ready to REMEMBER just how POWERFUL you are…
I look forward to seeing you at the Business of WE July Masterclass!
Comedy is an untapped POWER source for business owners that can help solopreneurs and teams alike tap into what it is you’re truly here to say, how you want to say it and how you’re inspiring your audience to say YES.
See you there!
~ Jenn Lederer