As the story goes, nobody wanted to help the Little Red Hen do the work necessary to make bread. Everyone, however, expected to enjoy the freshly cooked bun when it came out of the oven. Sensing a perfect opportunity to teach my daughters a lesson, I asked them what they had learned. Melanie, then 6, asked, “Daddy, how come Mom lets you eat dinner?”
I was floored! Then I realized what she was thinking. My daughters would occasionally play in the office on Saturdays while I worked on the computer. They also frequently observed me writing my dissertation on my laptop at home. Their computer time was for games or movies. Naturally, they thought I was doing what they did on the computer.
Kathryn, on the other hand, was constantly boxing up our belongings or cleaning the house. Somehow, in their innocent little eyes, I was like the cat, dog, or worse, the ungrateful pig, never helping but constantly receiving the rewards of my wife’s hard work. Kathryn got a big kick out of it! I realized I needed to change.
Might I suggest three steps we can take to improve how we positively impact people around us?
First, it is important to consider other people’s perspectives. Through listening and asking sincere questions, we learn what is important to others and why. This allows us to build a relationship based on mutual respect. As the relationship matures, there will be strength in sharing what is truly important on a deeper level.
Second, we can approach relationships with other people with humility. The essence of humility is to accurately understand both our strengths and our weaknesses. Personal weaknesses are a great way to learn from others who excel in the same areas allowing strengths to benefit both parties. We have talents to serve others and we have weaknesses to keep us humble. Embracing both has helped me be a better dad.
Third, we must engage in finding solutions that improve the situation for those around us. There is no shortage of people advocating for their own benefit, which is occasionally important in specific and limited situations. I do believe, however, that more emphasis needs to be put on selflessly serving our family, friends, and loved ones. Perhaps the highest form of service is to help someone who can never repay you.
One way we can make a difference in our own communities is to invest in formal education. Accessible higher education provides opportunities for individuals who otherwise might be stuck in their current situation. I am grateful to over 1,000 people who donated to support Southwest Tech students last year.
At Southwest Tech general education courses ensure students will expand their perspectives through exposure to new people and unique ideas while enhancing their ability to think critically. Academic programs, aligned with workforce opportunities, develop skills and expertise while weaknesses are discovered and overcome. Higher education, at the very core, is about new thinking that solves old problems, which benefits individuals and society.
Please give me a call if you know someone who would be interested in being a student at the college. I would be honored to provide you a tour of campus, introduce you to our amazing faculty and staff, and buy you lunch so we can get to know each other.
May we each seek opportunities to learn about other people and their backgrounds. As we do, we will develop a better understanding of our own talents which we can use to help our neighbors and improve our communities. I hope that by striving to be a better dad that perhaps someday one of my daughters will feel inspired to write the sequel to the Little Red Hen and tell the story of a Big Red Rooster who made a difference.