Shaping the Course of My Life

On some level, I think we all recognize that our parents play a key part in shaping us and the course our lives will take. When you become a parent yourself, you realize that your hand leaves a lasting mark on the lives of your children.

I'm reading a book called Is Your Genius At Work? by Dick Richards. In one of the exercises, number 23 on family history, Dick suggests that you take a look at the messages you got from your parents. He asks: Do the messages that I received suggest an "assignment" of some sort, that I have been carrying out in my life choices? This exercise has really moved me.

I was raised in a bustling, large, multi-generational household. There were six kids, and my grandparents lived upstairs. Today, I'm blessed with a loving wife and two great teenage sons.

Reflecting on my early years, there were several messages that I received when I was a kid including:

- become a pharmacist (that was my mom's most cherished hope for me)

- become a priest (I can remember telling my parents that they would come to live with me at the rectory)

- become a professor (as a kid, my nickname was "the little professor")

Well, I never did become a pharmacist or a priest. With regard to the latter, however, I have been on a spiritual quest my whole life.

As for the third, I guess I have come closest to becoming "the professor." For more than 25 years, in a succession of roles, I have been a teacher, trainer, writer, communicator, facilitator, blogger, and coach.

Is there a common thread, or an undercurrent, in these messages that I heard as a child? Each one, pharmacist, priest and professor, is a person that helps other people, providing a benefit or a service that promotes the well-being and development of others.

I am reminded of the poem by Gibran:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Dick Richards said…

I got a bit of a chill when I first read this post. For a couple reasons. First, it is truly touching that you found so much in one of the exercises from the book. Second, because you made the connection -- got into the undercurrent -- of those messages and found something that connects the messages with what you have been doing naturally for your whole life. Somewhere in that undercurrent lives your genius.

One warning of sorts -- I encourage you to look at what you give to others because you also are very good at producing it for yourself. Avoid using the word "others" when thinking about a name for your genius. It, by definition, is your gift to others.
Terrence said…
Hi Dick,

Thanks for your note.

One follow up question.

When you say, "One warning...I encourage you to look at what you give to others because you also are very good at producing it for yourself," what do you mean?

Much appreciated!

Dick Richards said…
My sense of it is that we first learn to engage our genius for ourselves. So, for example, I Create Clarity for myself. That is how I learn all of the skills for Creating Clarity. Then we learn to offer it to others -- it becomes our gift to them. So I try to Create Clarity for you (like this comment).

This may get us in trouble when we assume that other people want what we find so wonderful for ourselves.

Does that help (am I being clear)?

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