I was attempting to leave the school grounds after my daughter’s open house, vigorously pushing through one of those chain link fence gate-door things, expecting it to actually open like a door is supposed to, swinging widely so that I might pass through without the risk of harm to my head. It was not to be so. The aforementioned chain link gate-door abruptly stopped after opening a mere 18 inches and recoiled into my forehead. It left a mark.
The other night as I was attempting the simple, largely considered peaceful activity of kissing my daughter good night, we started to goof around a little and her knee caught me in the cheek leaving one of those rug-burny type abrasions. Another mark.
And then I was attempting the usually straightforward activity of sliding open a screen door with the understandable attempt to pass through the opening when, of course, it didn’t slide open sufficiently and I proceeded with the walking through part only to catch some aluminum in, yes, the side of the head.
I’m no prognosticator but I have this nagging feeling – in addition to the throbbing – that something or someone is trying to tell me something. I can be a pretty hard-headed guy so it’s not entirely surprising that it would take actual blows to the head to get my attention but this is getting slightly insulting.
Or, maybe I’m just not listening very well.
There’s always something or someone who wants and needs our attention, isn’t there? There’s always some message that we’re not quite tuned into, not fully aware of, not fully prepared to hear, accept and respond to. There’s just too much incoming demand, too much expectation of our attention and too much draining of our shrinking reservoir of emotional and physical attentiveness. Frankly, on many days, there’s just not enough capacity to take it all in and deal with it productively. And this is the thing: we will be continuously overwhelmed, continuously destabilized and continuously whacked in the head by life if we don’t expand our capacity to take in more of it, more thoughtfully.
This is especially true for parents, leaders, teachers and anyone whose job it is to help others move forward in a meaningful, purposeful way. There is no such thing as positive influence without capacity. If you want more influence, figure out how to expand your capacity.
As for me, the choice is clear: I can either wear a helmet full-time or I can do the harder work of stretching myself to take on what’s being asked of me. There’s no such thing as being too full. There is such a thing as having too small a bucket.