Success is what children want from grown-ups. Children desire success for grown-ups because the big people clear the path for children to walk until they walk on their own. However, the measuring stick of success from a child’s perspective is very different from common adult standards. Children expect us to be successful at being ourselves. 

Children don't typically struggle at being themselves. They struggle to keep their humanity of expressing feelings, needs, desire, longings, hope, and imagination as they get older. We, the adults, are the ones who claw at perfection. Children, on the contrary, don't despair and resign when they cannot achieve perfection. Sure they cry about beauty ending and fun coming to an end, but they don't despise those feelings that express care. We adults seek perfection to avoid the inevitable pain of life. The humility of being human is a child's standard, not the perfection of escaping humanity.

Children come into this life with a complete package of feelings to express the heartache of limitation—living in a broken place with eternity in our hearts. Children cry in sadness, cry out in hurt, squeal with delight in joy, run to safety in fear, seek another in loneliness, pursue a dream with anger. They bring these responses to us, believing that we understand enough to relate the story of life and its experiences. Instead, we often hand them a stone when they seek bread. We tell them how not to let life “bother” them, rather than joining them in the story of how life hurts and how to live the pain of love.

Feelings are always the antidote to adult cynicism.

Children literally depend on us to be human enough to support their experiences rather than shame them for their humanity. Their trust in our human experience, for better or worse, becomes the way they build a map for navigating life.

Children expect grownups to be tough enough to hope and courageous enough to stay and show them the way to be enough, too. They want us to “do” human well; they want us to be of the same substance as them, except experienced and made wiser in a way that will help them keep their hope alive. A child's marker of success is the hard-won standard of surrender to “good enough,” not the self-congratulatory standard of “trying hard for perfection.”

Children believe that we are the grown-up hero and heroine versions of themselves. They believe we are enough. Success to them is having us show them how to remain human. We feel, need, desire, long and hope, just like they do. That is enough. You are enough.

AuthorChip Dodd

Imagine attempting to make the office your home–waking up in the morning on a couch in your office, already wearing your work clothes. You go to the restroom down the hall to rinse your face where you greet your coworkers who live there too. You make your way to the break room for coffee, read your motivational material for the day, and then eat yogurt, fruit, and granola from the refrigerator–staying fit in spirit and body. Before heading back to your office, you check the mirror to convince yourself that others will see you as ready for the day—prepped, onboard, all in, motivated. You tell yourself that you’re ready to perform so ‘they’ will keep you on the highest approval list that someone keeps somewhere.

Meaning and a paycheck

Then the workday starts. You get to perform the duties that give your life meaning and a paycheck. The meaning, you tell yourself, is making life better for others, especially your family. The paycheck is for taking care of the family and to be able to buy that thing you are going to get. Or perhaps you’re saving to get away someday when you're not at the office so much. You will finally be able to spend the time you've always dreamed about with those people you did all this work for—including yourself. It’s all for them, after all.

The closest you get to expressing your own needs is when you expect ‘those’ people you are doing all this work for to appreciate you being gone all the time doing all this work for them. And when you dare to communicate this seemingly logical need, they look at you confused or ashamed because they don’t understand the sentence either, which just makes you stay at the office longer because that is where you matter—by not ever being your true self

The difference between the head and heart

Your head is like the office–the place where you figure things out, schedule, organize, take action, and interact with others with an intended result in mind. At the office, your performance dictates your position. It’s where your value is measured based on performance, and you hold your position if you continue to earn your place. Your heart is your home–the place where you hold your most private dreams, have inherent worth, and you can truly be your self. Consequently, you struggle mightily at home because love requires struggle and pain. You also struggle more at home than anywhere else because it is where you are completely known and vulnerable. It’s where your worth is a given and your presence is needed. Your office, your work, and your worth cannot be the same.

One thing that I know you and I are made to do is live fully in relationship. We are called to keep the covenant we make with the people we say we love. Covenant is a matter of the heart, not the head. The head can assist the heart, but not lead the heart in covenant. You will never say on your deathbed that you wished you had spent more time working at the office. You will wish that you had spent more of your life living out of your heart. Only people who know your heart will ever really know you and remember you. And they will remember how much you were or weren’t ‘there.’

Wake up and go home to who you are made to be, so you can do what you are made to do.

AuthorChip Dodd