Recently, my wife and I were in Chicago with our three grown kids to attend the oldest child’s graduation from college. As we were walking around the city, my wife reminded me how leadership development is a long-term investment with a lifelong payoff. Seeing our kids interact with each other, we quietly smiled to ourselves, excited to see how well they treated each other and the other people around them on the street.
Don’t kid yourself, they’re normal human beings, like the rest of humanity. While they were growing up, they fought with each other over all kinds of things. Arguments happened among them just like they did among any other siblings. And, yes, it took them a while to work out the wavelengths that they best operated on individually and as a trio. But, eventually, they figured it out, and now it’s awesome to see.
Where did the leadership investment part come in? Every day. Looking back, it was hard to say “No” when we needed to, and it was hard to say “Yes” when we needed to. By far, though, the hardest thing was knowing the difference!
We knew how we wanted them to turn out (or at least hoped they would…), so we treated it like a twenty-year investment program in each of their lives. Meaning, we prayed with them, prayed for them, talked with them, showed them how to live, showed them how to forgive each other, and put the rest in God’s hands.
No, we were not perfect parents. But, we found other parents who seemed to be doing a great job, and we adopted some of the methods, techniques, perspectives, and attitudes that they used and lived out every day. Whenever I would lose patience with our kids, my wife would remind me of our overall purpose. I’d calm down, ask them to forgive me, and start over.
Likewise, we always encouraged them (or reminded them) to be kind to each other, kind to strangers, and kind to themselves. But at some point, we realized that showing them with our actions was more powerful than lecturing with our words.
A tongue lashing might have caused us to feel better because we vented our frustration of the moment, but what kind of example would that have set? …Especially when they could then mimic that back to us, being justified by our own example, first displayed. So, we did our best to teach respect by modeling how to act with each other, showing them with our actions.
Day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year, the investment began showing true fruition of the law of compounding interest. As Einstein said, “The Law of Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” …Okay, he was referring to money, but I’m looking at that universal law from the perspective of an investment in other people’s lives that will multiply into millions upon millions of lives reached in positive ways over the next three or four generations…
I’m not saying all of this as a self pat on the back. Far from it. I’m saying this as someone that lovingly looks at three grown kids who have been investing their own love and kindness in others around the world. And, this is to remind you that all of your own hard work in your own family really is worth it.
Like other long-term investors, we have been seeking a long-term return of healthy future generations, and we still are. So, instead of a final analysis, this is more of a checkpoint in time. Now, we’ll help our grown kids map out their own life investment plans for their next twenty years — and beyond.
Let us know if we can help you do the same.
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