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“It is not so much the example of others we imitate as the reflection of ourselves in their eyes and the echo of ourselves in their words.” – Eric Hoffer

Some of the most important lessons in my life have been taught by my children.

I received one of these lessons over the weekend. They reminded me how it impacts the way we pay attention to others, and also what it means for you. Let me explain.

With the unseasonably warm weather, we ventured to a state park. The kids grabbed their gear, Beth packed food and we loaded into the car and headed to the woods for a family hike.

Throughout the day I noticed many of the sentences my kids spoke began with great enthusiasm and also with the same word.

“Watch this, Dad!” Followed by Jack skipping a rock across the pond.

“Watch this, guys!” Then Henry climbed a bit higher in a tree.

“Hey, watch this!” Patrick leaped over a ‘raging’ one-foot-wide stream.

“Watch this, Mom!” Grace swept away leaves, unearthing a priceless rock.

“Watch this!”

What these little ones didn’t know was that we were already watching. Basking in the gift of the unexpectedly warm day in nature, Beth and I were attuned, appreciative and aware.

But they kept calling our names, searching for our glance, lifting their voices louder and louder until they were certain they had our undivided attention. It was then – and only then – that they would climb, skip, throw and leap.

So, what does this afternoon voyage into the wild mean for you?

My friends, it turns out that it is not so much the example of others we imitate. No, it is the reflection of ourselves that we see in their eyes, revealing their joy, awe, concern, and admiration.

(This idea that we shape others through the way we engage with them was one I dug into with Dale Partridge on my recent episode of Live Inspired Podcast. Dale dedicated himself to being an honorable example – and in so doing, has had much success as a business owner, husband, father and friend. It’s a beautiful story, offers great insight into embracing change and cherishing life. Listen to it here.)

Too frequently in the race through the day we forget others are watching. They watch our facial expressions as we speak to them, how we go about our work at the office, how we interact with the patient at the bedside, how we stand up in the classroom and if we’re actually paying attention.

In a marketplace fueled by so much anxiety, with media that projects so much fear and lives that get so busy: I challenge you to slow down and reflect a different story; one of possibility, hope, and love into a community starved for it. [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]

As you go about your day, know that your family, friends, co-workers, and strangers are already watching. It’s your chance to remind them of the profound beauty within their lives.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Vahaaj Khan
    Reply

    John- you are so right about how “Watch this” applies to so many facets in our life. My mother, lives with us. She is 86 years young. She tells us, watch me I want to do 3 laps ( she means, 15 feet of walking using her walker). Just so we know she is doing her best to stay up and not become a burden as she describes it.

    Giving her that lovely nod, means a world to her. Yes, I agree, how we react to when we are asked to watch them, can be a difference maker.

    • Abby Richter - Team O'Leary
      Reply

      Vahaaj, thanks for sharing your story. A beautiful time in your life to give back to your mother… and a beautiful reminder that we all “want to be watched/ seen” no matter what age we are. Thanks for all you do. J

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