How can you give love from an empty bucket?

| December 12, 2017

Howard supervised a production line of thirty people. He had researched how to motivate people and knew that praise was important.

Giving praise was number one in his development plan. Here is how he worded it, “Feeling uncomfortable giving praise.”

You read the ‘feeling uncomfortable’ and you wonder what that is about?  I went to my notes of previous conversations with Howard and read, “I need to give more positive praise to others; Need to give myself more recognition; Need to give myself more self-care.”

I asked Howard, “When you were growing up how did you get recognition or love?”

His reply was, “My dad was in the military, so you get recognized if you performed. You did what you did because it was expected, it was your job. I’d guess he thought praising someone he was feeding and housing for doing what was expected was stupid.”

“I’m curious, have you ever experienced unconditional caring perhaps even love? You did whatever the task was but more importantly was that the person cared about you. That you were unique, had gifts and abilities no one else had. They built you up.”

“Think about who it may have been. It may have been a teacher, a co-worker, a boss, a friend or a next-door neighbor.”

Silence then, “I don’t think about unconditional love. I do what is expected and move on. I don’t think about caring. Maybe I should.”

He paused and continued, “If I valued myself, even loved myself, it might be easier to praise others. What do you think?”

“I have a few thoughts but first what do you think?”

His response was, “I’m beginning to realize that pausing, looking deeper into why I struggle to give praise is much more than making a simple change and this is uncomfortable. It’s easier to just get on with it, to just do it.”

I asked, “What is your motivation to push through your discomfort?”

“I have thirty people that work very had just as I did for my Dad. He never praised me which hurt. I want to treat others differently. Now that I think about it, it’s hard to praise them for doing what they are paid to do.”

He took a deep breath, “I just heard what I said and I can’t believe I said it?”

I asked Howard if pushing for results was important. He said absolutely that was his job and that’s how he kept his job.

At this point, I’m wondering how well Howard balances getting results and taking care of his team, so I asked, “Would you say that work is your identity?”

“Yes, work is the key component in my life.”

“You are sounding like a one string guitar and one string doesn’t make good music.”

There was silence and I wondered how he was taking my comment.

“You don’t know this but I’m a self-taught guitar player and songwriter, so your metaphor strikes a clear note with me.”

I said, “Good. How will you change? What is your method?

“My wife believes a mantra which is a clearly verbalized focus that will change results. She is right because I tried it. I visualized the perfect job, location, and title. I repeated this and it came true.”

I liked what he said so my response was, “Good, what is your mantra for moving beyond being a one string guitar?”

He brainstormed out loud and came up with, “Be whole.”

“Now I’ll answer your question about what I think. I think it is hard to love others if you don’t love yourself. How can you give love from an empty bucket? If you are overflowing with love from, let’s say God and your family, then it’s easy to love others. We are to love one another.”

Howard said I’ve never heard we are to love one another but, I like it.  I’ll add that to my mantra which is now, ‘Be whole, love one another.’