Most of us have had our parents subject us to their music collection while growing up. With my father, it was record albums. His collection was mostly ’70s and ’80s rock. I remember the most recent album in their collection was by The Cars. I was always struck by the fact that the further we got from the 1980s, the record collection stayed the same. My father passed away in 2012. Before he passed, he had many very well established habits. Not only with his music but with the food he liked to eat, the places he liked to go, the movies he liked to watch, over and over.
I have had friends in my life whose music collections also seem to be time-stamped to a particular time in their life that they like to look back on with great delight and awe. Often referring to that time as “the good old days”, or another telltale sign “they don’t make any good music anymore!”. This last statement makes me cringe. I mean Anderson Paak, Chris Stapleton, Kendrick Lamar? The music today is tremendous. You have to be willing to listen.
Recently, a colleague of mine was considering a new job offer. They had been in their current job for 12 years. They loved the company they worked for and were feeling a bit apprehensive about the new offer. When I asked why, their response was that they were nervous about starting over. This person did take the new job.
I had the opportunity to take my son to a roller skating party this past week. It was a birthday party for a friend and he was nervous because he wasn’t very good at roller skating. I spent some time with him before the party started in the lobby, on the rug because it was less slick than the rink floor. We started by walking back and forth, his hand in mind, getting used to being slightly taller, and attached to wheels. As I watched him move back and forth, I noticed that sometimes he would shift his weight back and it would cause one of the skates to rock backward. In those cases, without my hand, he would have hit the floor. So I changed strategy a bit to see if we could keep him off the floor. I walked in front of him and turned to face him. I held out my hands and told him to reach to them and grab them. As he did, I just stepped backward, slightly out of his reach. He smiled and stepped forward, I did it again, his grin got wider. We repeated this many times until his movement across the floor was much more confident.
As I left him to his friends to skate that day, it occurred to me, that leaning forward was what we are designed to do. That when we do decide to lean forward, almost everything goes better.
My father’s record collection was a time stamp of when my father decided to stop leaning forward. Not exactly leaning backward, but more coasting through life.
We have so many examples of this. We get comfortable with what we know, then slowly we lean back. When that happens, growth tends to slow down to a crawl, if not stop. How many times have you seen or had the opportunity to go back to an old job, or an old relationship, only to find that nothing had really changed, except you, and that it felt as if it wasn’t part of your reality anymore?
Leaning forward sometimes feels scary, foreign, exhilarating. Leaning backward feels comfortable, reliable, familiar. It often goes against logic to lean forward. But almost always, when we do, the heart takes over, and the head relaxes, and we feel like we are flying. As a father, one of the most important lessons I can demonstrate to my children is to keep leaning forward.
This weekend, I will get to ski with my children. When we get to the top of the first slope, you better believe we will lean forward.
This post was previously published on WilliamsonHouse.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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