This summer, I've arranged for my tween son to have a first-year college student as a mentor/friend. He comes to our house once a week to work on a special project and talk about "stuff". Clearly, my son is smitten with this guy - the attention, the fact that he gets to hang with someone "so old", and that his younger brother has to stay out of it. My boy, notorious for one word answers, can talk non-stop for a couple of hours with this guy. It's perfect.
Two weeks into this "new relationship", my son pauses and says "Will T be here next summer too?" When I truthfully replied "I guess we will have to see what the future holds", you could see my son's shoulders slump and he started to stare out the window. In his decade on the planet, my son has seen his grandpa and his furry four-legged first love pass away. His all time favorite nanny left without notice upon finding her life partner. Some friends have changed schools. And his family has been redefined by divorce. He's learned through common but traumatic life events that nothing lasts forever and already, he's wondering around what corner impermanence lurks with respect to his summer mentor. (This will get to you soon...hang on a second....)
I know him. He's looking ahead to when the end will appear and in the midst of his giddiness, is wondering just how close to get. He's deciding right now how invested he's going to be. Because he knows...from experience...that being invested can result in hurt. I could go on about what we talked about but I'll skip that and pose the question to you... Do you ever assess the risk of investment? Are you conscious of when you do it or it sort of automatic?
Once during a corporate team building event, I posed the question to a team member, "What is one question you want to ask your new director?" (This was part of a re-build of a department that had had leadership vacancies for a while and previously had 4 directors in as many years.) Her response was "I want to know - Do you own or do you rent?" That was telling!! A lot like my son the other night, she was assessing what HER level of investment would be. What happens if we habitually hold back? Protect ourselves from loss? How do we show up when we have that protective mindset? And how then does that impact the outcome of our situation?
I know for me, I am much less happy and expressive when I'm cautiously investing in a situation or a person. Now...of course we all need to check things out and use critical thinking to assess the safety of our circumstances. I'm not talking about throwing discernment out the window. But when caution is used in an attempt to lessen negative outcomes on an unconscious or habitual basis, you could be robbing yourself of the job and possibilities available right now. We've all encountered certain situations where protection, caution, holding back was the wise and good thing to do. But for today, take a look under the hood for a sec... and ask yourself, "Do I hold back more than I should?" What would happen if I did that less often? Who might benefit from my choice to invest more of myself? Jot down some of your thoughts in the comments below and be a part of the conversation. You are an important part of the mosaic. Looking forward to hearing from you.... Christine
Some insightful evidence-based reading about our abilities to invest interpersonally --Johnson, Sue (2013). Love Sense. New York, New York: Little Brown and Company.