Friday, January 6, 2012

Right Relationship and Riding a Bike


I've been working on the "Right Relationships and Ethics" section of my credentialing portfolio, and it was good timing for me with the self-care, self-awareness, and self-management work that I'm doing right now. I was especially drawn to the leadership theory of Rabbi Dr. Edwin H. Friedman, with its emphasis on self-knowledge and self-control. He teaches that leadership is about self-regulation within the relationship. Management of self, and still Being Somebody and Being Present, rather than losing yourself in the pursuit of consensus or an effort to please others. Leadership requires being aware of and modulating how you function in the relationships that mean something to you. It's about differentiation.

Another idea that jumped out at me was that leadership is a relationship between the leader and the led. It's the space between you and others. (The Safe Congregation Handbook)

and .... anxiety is normal, but as much as possible the goal is to keep calm and values-focused. (The Safe Congregation Handbook)

And finally, this thought from Practicing Right Relationship from the Alban Institute: "when we do not self-manage, others are placed in a position of having to manage us, taking time and energy from the tasks at hand."

So what does all that have to do with riding a bike? Well, right now I'm teaching my children how to ride their bikes. We're all at different ability levels, but in this situation, I'm the leader.

I need:

  • to be aware of where I am and how I'm feeling, whether it is that I'm on my bike or standing there holding up their bike, or standing back and letting go all together. I need to remember that I'm me and where I am in this process.
  • to self-manage my own anxiety or whatever else is going on with me. I need to keep my balance, let the anxiety go, and stay focused on the goal and my values (in this case that we all ride bikes and that we enjoy the process and stay in loving relationship throughout).
For the kids:

  • I need to be paying attention to them, with an open mind and heart, not assuming I know what they are thinking and feeling.
  • I need to envision how I want this relationship to go, and to adopt a positive stance that will help that happen (compassion, playfulness, caring, audacity, respect, honesty, or a combination there of).
  • And I should acknowledge them for more than just what they do, and show them that I am seeing and appreciating the person they are and the qualities they are bringing to what they are doing (for instance their persistence, their courage, their joy).
For the outcome:

  • It is normal to feel anxiety about the outcome. After all, people fall as they learn to ride a bike.
  • It is normal to feel anxiety about letting them go. After all, eventually children will no longer need you, and will ride off without you, and each step along that path is a little letting go of this precious child.
  • It is normal to be unsure when is the right time to let go. And there is trial and error, and mistakes, and falls, and upset feelings.
  • You can't control the outcome, but most of the time it all works out in the end.

And so you:

  • Give a little push when it seems like that's what's needed.
  • Stand back and watch, controlling your anxiety.
  • Run up to give comfort or aid when there is a spill along the way.
  • Clap and praise when there is success.
  • Encourage when there is fear or doubt.
  • And then let them go.

After all, its their bike ride, not yours.

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