When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.I go home for lunch every once in a while. I don't live far from work, so on days when I just don't feel like packing a lunch (like after being away on vacation for a week, as I have been), I just make the five-minute drive home and relax for an hour with my hubby and my dog.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Today, I happened to flip on the tv and saw that Ellen was on. Today was her season premiere. There was a lady being honoured on the show today, a principal of a school in Las Vegas. She has gone to extraordinary lengths to help unlock the potential in the children in her school. Below is a clip from the show itself, which explains exactly what she does:
I was so moved after watching this. So often, we think that the problems around us are not our problem, that we can't give away so much because there will be nothing left for ourselves, and that you can't solve problems with charity. I think that way quite often myself. It's not my responsibility to look after my neighbour's children, to let them into my life, as needy for attention as they are.
Is it not?
There are days when I feel that I have so much to offer, but that I'm not being called upon to use my talents. I think that I have more to give, but when people expect less from me, I don't get the chance to give it my all. My potential is there, but because no one expects it of me, I am reluctant to offer it up. My enthusiasm withers and I feel sad and unwanted.
When I have a challenge placed before me, when someone treats me as an equal rather than as a minion, and when I am asked to use my talents freely and expressively, I feel alive. When the roadblocks of pre-conceived notions are removed and I'm given a break from clawing my way up life's steep hill, my mind is free to explore, to fly, to soar.
Sometimes, when life pushes us down to the very bottom, you can't get up. You need people to give you a break, to lift the weight from your shoulders so that you can get up and crawl forward, even if it's just a few inches. You can't always fight your way out on your own. If the people around you stop seeing you as a person who needs to "learn the ropes" and begins to see you as someone who needs a breath, it is so much easier for you to reach your potential.
And, by the way, that's not charity. That's being a good guy. Because we all need good guys in our lives every so often.
I'm not going to go next door and offer to pay rent and clothe and feed my neighbour's children. I don't think their mom would like it, and I don't think I could sustain it. But I do think that I can choose to omit words like "failure," "waster," and "lazy" from my vocabulary and begin to treat people more often as the people they have the potential to become.
Troubled teen? No. They are wise in their own way. Maybe I'll ask them what they're thinking, what they're dreaming of.
Disgruntled employee? No. They are talented in their own way. Maybe I'll ask them to help problem solve more often, and value their knowledge.
Down and out? No. Just down on luck. Maybe I'll lend a hand and find ways to lift them up a bit, so they can move forward toward their dream.
Because we all have dreams, don't we? Wouldn't it be great if we found ways every day to help people reach them? Can you imagine how great the world would be?