Saturday, October 15, 2011, marked the 42nd anniversary of my running away from home. I was 17 years old.
This is the anniversary of my personal Independence Day and I celebrate it every year. It gives me the chance to consider what I’ve accomplished in the past year and to see where my Journey has taken me.
This year I celebrated it by rolling out a class entitled “Why Parents Don’t Understand… And What You Can Do About It” to five families at the Church at Stony Hill on Saturday evening, from 4:30 to 7:30.
As this day rolls around each year, I remember it in real time. Each year, I re-live the circumstances that prompted me to leave home–culminating in the events that transpired from about 4:30 that afternoon to about 8:00 that night. I can’t begin to describe to you the feeling it gave me to be facilitating this class at the exact same time as the events that inspired it.
It’s no secret that my experience in my family led me directly to the work I do. As a result of depth of my communication breakdown with my family and the pain this rift caused all of us, I spent years learning everything I could about any communication strategy that would benefit relationships.
Along the way I discovered a multitude of strategies that have since become “just the way I do things.” I learned every bit as much in my two failed marriages as I did getting my degree in Psychology with a focus on Interpersonal Communication. My 21-year old, thriving, third marriage regularly provides me with the perfect opportunities to practice what I’ve learned.
So this summer when two colleagues of mine inquired about the possibility of sharing the Journey to Powerful Presence with high school kids, that conversation led me directly back to thoughts of my own high school experience and what I wished my family and I had known.
The result is this course.
At the root of my running away were three issues that I’ve since discovered every family experiences as their children grow:
- Children grow up to find their own way in the world and leave home. It’s their job.
- Parents are responsible to keep their children safe as they grow and then let them go. It’s their job.
- The true nature of these jobs is not always understood by either party, so everyone muddles through it as best they can.
Some families suffer more than others and some families seem to find their way through with more ease. The families who find their way through with more ease report that talking, and listening, to each other are the most effective strategies for working through the transitions inherent to these relationships.
The purpose of this class is to share three simple communication distinctions with parents and their tween or teen, with a strategy for using each one. These distinctions are the ones I wish my family and I had had all those years ago; they’re also the ones that are at the heart of the happiness I’ve found with my third – and final –husband.
On Saturday evening, as I watched these families work through the process of this class, I realized something intriguing.
The same strategies that I’ve been teaching business people for years, the ones that that I’ve built my business of sharing the Journey to Powerful Presence upon, are precisely the ones that can save families huge amounts of heartache as they maneuver their way through the challenges inherent to this phase of family life.
Here are those distinctions – see what you think:
- There’s a difference between Perception and Perspective. Perception allows you to see, hear and feel the world around you in a sensory way; Perspective is your point of view. When you shift your Perspective, your Perceptions change.
- We have 5 senses with which to experience the world; they reside in three Sensory Channels. We use these channels without thinking; we’re hardwired to use them in a particular order, so each of us is great at using at least one and is also challenged by at least one. With the Visual Channel, we see and imagine. With the Auditory Channel, we hear, speak, think and sing. With the Kinesthetic Channel, we move, touch, sense, feel, taste and smell.When you’re communicating with someone who’s using the same Sensory Channel as you, communication is effortless. When you’re using a different Sensory Channel, communication is difficult at best. Once you know how to instantly dial into the same channel as another, even if it’s not one you naturally use well, you will transform your conversations. Now you’ll be able to see what the other person means, hear everything he or she is saying and get the full sense of their message.
- Attention is the result of focusing your awareness. When you pay attention to anyone or anything, your perception speeds up and expands. You get more sensory information in a shorter amount of time. Communication thrives.
When the families in my class on Saturday tried out these strategies with each other, I witnessed their communication transform. I saw suddenly shifting Perceptions, newly matched Sensory Channels and a heightened focus of Attention. It was a privilege to be in their presence.
It was clear to me in that moment that my running away from home had led me directly to their presence ~ and directly to this conversation with you.
If my experience is any indication of what’s possible, wherever you are right now in your business or with your family, the journey will lead you to places you can’t imagine.
And you don’t have to run away to find them.