As usual, listening to the Tim Ferris podcast this morning blew my mind wide open. Sure, it could have been the bulletproof coffee too, but the combination of the two are magical on a morning commute. Especially when he has Tony Robbins on.
Like me, Tony Robbins is a life coach, albeit a very experienced and world famous one. 🙂
If you haven’t heard his work, maybe check out his TED talk, “Why We Do What We Do” with more than seventeen million views (!)
Early in the podcast, Tony asks Tim an important question.
Usually I just sit and listen to the podcast, but the moment he asked this question,
I was off in another world, contemplating my 34 years of life up to that point.
I love it when Tim Ferris is stumped on his own podcast =) There was some serious contemplative silence on the podcast.
(insert suspenseful silence here.)
When I work with a client and they don’t answer, are stumped or say “I don’t know” it is so exciting. In coaching this is gold.
One of the main goals of a professional coach is to help the client dig deeper, discover and become aware of things they were previously unaware of. It’s like walking into a dark cave, but this time, you have a flashlight, and as you shine it into the dark, you see pictographs on the wall, stalactites and stalagmites, perhaps the sparkle of some crystal formations.
All of a sudden the story of the cave, and everything about the cave has changed. Your perception of the cave and your expectations of it have totally changed. And now, your experience and actions inside the cave are going to change. Instead of afraid at the entrance, you are immersed in exploration and wonder at the natural world. Because of a flashlight.
Life is a bit like this, too. These are “ah hah” moments which are precipitated by powerful questions. Which is why Tony is so good at what he does.
A coach like Tony Robbins shows you how to pick up the flashlight and switch it on, and as you explore the cave, and undergo discovery, adventure, and reassessment of everything you thought you knew, the coach is there, at your back.
So back to the podcast…
What was the question that stumped Tim Ferriss?
Tony asked “whose love did you crave growing up”
I thought about this in my own life. As should you.
My Mum was love itself. I don’t remember craving it from her, but like Tim, I do remember craving love from my dad.
Next, Tony asked this gem.
“Who did you have to be for your parent, to have his respect/love.”
“gut reaction, no filter…”
This takes a while to answer because it is deep in our subconscious. We’ve never consciously thought about it. Ah hah. Here’s a dark cave. And Tony’s question is the flashlight that has just been handed to you to shine into that dark abyss.
I don’t mind sharing my personal life here, if it helps you examine your own questions. And I admire Tim for going there with Tony live, on a podcast.
In my interpretation, I had to be brilliant, intellectually of high calibre, and also athletic, to have my dad’s respect / love.
I think back to childhood, I remember the pride and recognition I received from my dad on my first black diamond ski run, his frustration at my slower learning curve, disappointment when I was cut from teams in my teens or when I cried on said ski runs. The hard pushes beyond my comfort zones in athletic activities, and his focus on learning, pushing higher, doing better in mathematics, homework and study time, bring home good grades, the hours spent at the dining room table trying to grasp math and counting coins. Lots of pushing. hard. To be extraordinarily talented was to be loved.
He wasn’t around much from the age of 11 onward, but I do remember all of those phone conversations, the first thing I’d bring up was sports and academics, in a bid for his love and attention, which with an absent father, was so craved.
What about you? Think about what you needed to be for the parent whose love you craved?
Then Tony asked, what about your other parent? What did you have to be?
Tim, like myself, felt like he didn’t need to be anything with his Mum. He could just be himself and she embraced and encouraged it. Same boat with me. The love was there, unconditional, no strings attached, but most importantly, my mum rolled with who I was and encouraged it.
Why do these questions matter so much now that we are parents?
Because we are in the journey of learning about and thinking about the love we express to our children, and how to nurture and encourage them. These questions make us realize that we carry things with us forward into the present day, that were established long ago in the past. We have the power to become of aware of them, and change them if they do not serve us.
Until 2010 I unconsciously struggled with the impact that my father left on me. Hard driving, hard pushing to achieve, and show him I am smart. I can do this. A masters degree, no doubt completed in part as one final attempt to get some love and acceptance which I so craved from him (we have an estranged relationship.) Now I can just accept that pushing myself so hard in grad studies and the difficult journey in 2007-2010 was in part, due to this dynamic in early childhood. I was able to let this go after 2010 through a heck of a lot of self reflection and exploration, but Tony beautifully encapsulated and explained it today and finally gave me a better framework with which to understand the process. He also made me much more mindful of what I want to do with my own children, and the importance of unconditional love and celebration, and encouragement of who they are instead of who I would love for them to be.
I’m going to guess there’s at least a few people, like me, who are winging this parenting thing and learning as they go, and what a beautiful lesson this morning that I stumbled on by chance as I drove to work.
We go through this world carrying a master assessment. Our interpretation of our life. Our story. It’s like a filter through which everything, every event and situation, flows. Even our parenting decisions.
To be a great parent, is to know ourselves, and be aware of that which was previously automatic, unconscious. So that we can make the decision to either continue, or upgrade.
Aside from googling random shit on parenting, poops, and feeding, we can ask ourselves:
Where do our master stories begin? Where do we start to craft our view of the world? What influenced it?
The earliest place is in the home and in our earliest interpretations of love and recognition from our parents.
You are born a blank slate (though my spiritual beliefs include the journey of the soul through various lives) – I like Tony’s words: “You are born wide open.”
A beautiful, wide open human, open to experiences and learning. There is no filter yet. Babies and children are simple, pure human beings, operating with pure emotion and authenticity, from day one. Their world is their family and the love surrounding them.
I see this every day in my professional work coaching students. They walk into my office with a proverbial suitcase rolling behind them. Before I even work with them on study skills, as a coach I work to unpack and understand the master story they walk in with.
Just like the body learning motor patterning (like learning to catch a ball,) we begin emotional patterning. We see and interpret things, craft a master story and then walk with it the rest of our lives. Sometimes it serves us well, sometimes it no longer serves us and we desire change.
I love this idea. It is beautiful.
It’s not even an idea, I’d say it is a truth.
As we think about how we express our love to our children (when, where and how)
we can begin to think about the imprinting that is going on. What are we passing on? How are we modelling love to them.
It’s such a tricky balance between passing on great morals, values and shaping them into good people, but also embracing and encouraging who they are. Allowing them to be them selves and the best version of themselves. That’s why parenting is so diverse!
Ask yourself the questions above.
I’ve said from day one that maternity leave, and parenthood cracks you wide open and you are in a state of deep learning. There is no more powerful time in your life to explore, understand and reconfigure.
Which brings me to close this long form blog post.
With your child, are you working to model them, or are you working to embrace and let them go with who they are? It’s a fine balance between passing on great values, morals and shaping them into good people, but also embracing who they are and providing a font of unconditional love.