Dr. Rich Patterson

About Those Critical Voices . . .

Recently I was traveling and met a friend who was with his granddaughter.  I asked her what her plans were for after high school, to which she replied with a detailed plan including some “Plan B” type options.  I was really impressed with her conviction and passion for her dream.  Her grandfather then spoke up and said, “Yes, but she doesn’t have any money, so it probably won’t happen.”  I was really shocked that someone would squash another’s dream like that.  I quickly jumped in and said that I didn’t have any money either when I went to college, and that I worked and performed with bands to make ends meet each year, graduating on time.  The young women looked up at me optimistically.

It’s those critical voices that come to the fore within us so very quickly.  Often it seems like the human default, that if we don’t catch ourselves, those negative and critical comments come flying out.  It is critical that we guard our comments, particularly for our youth of today.  They look to us for guidance, support and if something negative comes out, they may think, ‘well maybe I’m off base here, maybe I can’t accomplish that.’  On a trip to the Canadian Wilderness I witnessed a crow badgering several Bald Eagles who were in the area.  Even though the Eagle is much stronger than the Crow, he never retaliated even one time.  When the Eagle needed a break, he would simply fly higher, because Eagles can fly up to 10,000 even 15,000 feet and at 65 miles an hour, far higher and faster than a crow.  There are very few other birds that can fly at that altitude.

I like the concept of someone who is much stronger, like the eagle, who could crush the Crow without even trying, taking higher ground.  It is a metaphor for us as well.  With our wisdom, thoughts, experiences and life lessons, we can easily tell our youth, “that won’t work, I tried that . . ., you can’t do that” and more.  Instead be wary of criticism and advice that you offer them.  Keep their dreams alive and help them by saying something positive.  Encourage them to work hard, to make sacrifices to get there, and to network with others for support.

To our youth I say:  It’s those critical voices that can push someone to not believe in themselves.  Instead, be strong, don’t worry about pleasing the critics, run your own race, be yourself and follow your heart.  You won’t always get it right and that is OK, keep pushing forward, adjusting, learning and making solid progress toward your dreams.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this and what experiences that you’ve had.  Leave me a message below.

Rich