him as fundamentally adequate and able to cope with life we stopped protecting

Him as fundamentally adequate and able to cope with

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him as fundamentally adequate and able to cope with life, we stopped protecting him against the ridicule of others. He had been nurtured on this protection, so he went through some withdrawal pains, which he expressed and which we accepted, but did not necessarily respond to. "We don't need to protect you," was the unspoken message. "You're fundamentally okay." As the weeks and months passed, he began to feel a quiet confidence and affirmed himself. He began to blossom, at his own pace and speed. He became outstanding as measured by standard social criteria -- academically, socially and athletically -- at a rapid clip, far beyond the so-called natural developmental process. As the years passed, he was elected to several student body leadership positions, developed into an all-state athlete and started bringing home straight A report cards. He developed an engaging and guileless personality that has enabled him to relate in nonthreatening ways to all kinds of people. Sandra and I believe that our son's "socially impressive" accomplishments were more a serendipitous expression of the feelings he had about himself than merely a response to social reward. This was an amazing experience for Sandra and me, and a very instructional one in dealing with our other children and in other roles as well. It brought to our awareness on a very personal level the vital difference between the personality ethic and the character ethic of success. The Psalmist expressed our conviction well: "Search your own heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life." Primary and Secondary Greatness My experience with my son, my study of perception and my reading of the success literature coalesced to create one of those "Aha!" experiences in life when suddenly things click into place. I was suddenly able to see the powerful impact of the personality ethic and to clearly understand those subtle, often consciously unidentified discrepancies between what I knew to be true -- some things I had been taught many years ago as a child and things that were deep in my own inner sense of value -- and the quick fix philosophies that surrounded me every day. I understood at a deeper level why, as I had worked through the years with people from all walks of life, I had found that the things I was teaching and knew to be effective were often at variance with these popular voices. I am not suggesting that elements of the personality ethic -- personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking -- are not beneficial, in fact sometimes essential for success. I believe they are. But these are secondary, not primary traits. Perhaps, in utilizing our human capacity to build on the foundation of generations before us, we have inadvertently become so focused on our own building that we have forgotten the foundation that holds it up; or in reaping for so long where we have not sown, perhaps we have forgotten the need to sow.
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