How do you draw the best out of people?
The question has been at the forefront of my mind for a number of years, and has made me a student of the art of human interaction. I’ve found that people flower in the warm wind of another’s listening. The deeper and purer the listening, the greater the potential. One who walks in this world with attention to others and belief in their potential leaves a trail of blossoming life in his wake.
The amazing work of 826 National comes down to this listening, this attention and belief. They’ve set up creative tutoring centers all over the world, changing the lives of thousands of kids, lighting up their eyes and their creativity. Dave Eggers attributes it all to ‘shining a light’ on each kid. Most of these kids never had someone believe in them, someone really interested in their ideas. That’s all it really takes – one person, an hour a week, truly valuing them and what they do.
Believing in someone isn’t easy. Who do you truly believe in? Who do you truly think has great potential? I’m surprised at the ways I find to discount another person, to judge them or box them up. Recently, I realized that my helping someone can be a veneer over my lack of faith in them. I find that I can be “helping” because I don’t think they can do it on their own, because I don’t really believe in them. That’s my problem, but it can hobble their potential.
Sincere belief means that I believe that the other person is far greater than I perceive, has the answers to his challenges within him, and has something to teach me. My belief in that goes a long way to making it manifest. It’s a discipline of loving, a discipline that brings new life into the world.
I’m starting to see, and appreciate, that in this world, I’m just a midwife.
In truth, there is no just a midwife. Can you image a work with greater importance? A work that so touches the intimate secret of life and creation?
May we all be midwives to the people we encounter, and to ourselves.