by T. Katz
Q: My young son did something morally questionable and one of our relatives called him “a failure” and doesn’t want to speak to him anymore. I feel terrible, but I don’t think the situation is hopeless. Any advice?
A: Let them both know, with a firm voice: A fall is not failure. Too many times I’ve seen the gut reaction of people who go straight to relationship devastation and ruin, with no hope of rebuilding. For your own well-being, you have to consider what kind of filter the individual is viewing the world through. It may be your relative’s own past experiences that left his/her psyche in tatters, leading that person to see everything as shredded and worthless. While you might not change someone else’s mindset, you can speak to your relative about character growth. While there are four stages of human development and growth, perhaps you could appeal to the pragmatist’s soul and speak of your son like a business, where you have to be flexible and adapt in order to be successful. Here are the five stages of business growth:
Seed and Development. Before a business is really a business, it’s the gleam in someone’s eye and there are ideals about what the ultimate result will be. Expectations are high and sometimes not completely realistic. You gather all the info you can from every source.
Startup. This is the stage of taking risks. Mistakes will be made. By everyone. Patience and adaptability are key as tweaks and changes must be made. Fall down, get up and keep moving forward. You’ve made an investment. See it through.
Growth and Establishment. You’re chugging along and results are coming in, both good and bad. Growing pains are inevitable for everyone involved, but you power through and keep your eye on the prize, even with missteps. If you see potential, things will likely improve.
Expansion. Ever blow up a balloon to its full potential and hear the squeaks and uncomfortable sounds of straining? Yeah, expansion is like that. Even for the brain, heart and soul. Continued guidance, planning and management must still be in play during this challenging phase.
Maturity and Possible Exit. It usually takes years for a successful business to reach a place where it continues along under its own steam. You look back at how difficult it was, but it was all worth it. The late nights. The heartburn. The heartache. You did good.
American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey said, “The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.” Your son is going through not only the stages of human growth and development, he’s your business (ß please repeat that to yourself) and you’re helping move to become better and, ultimately, successful. So, no matter what your relative thinks – you continue on with your business and if those who view your efforts cannot accept and appreciate that, you have my permission to tell them to mind their own.