Some of you who are following my blog might know that I am developing a leadership program for children. My laboratory is our home school and my children are the lab rats. This week we finished our “first unit” of study in Leadership. Even though I regularly test “my rats” to measure their progress, I decided that a “final exam” was unnecessary since leadership skills are best developed and tested in real life.
But, today I was presented with a “final exam” of my own when I encountered a situation that challenged me to “practice what I preach.” The situation was a direct result of my entre’ into the dangerous and scary world of “political blogging”. I don’t go there very often since my focus right now is decidedly “spiritual and documentary”. But the contents of Obama’s first congressional address left me feeling compelled to comment. Upon completing my final spell check, I broadcast my “polito-blog” into the cyber universe in a big way—to 45,000 unsuspecting members of cafemom.com.
I quickly discovered that “political blogging” attracts a variety of moms, desirable and not so. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. In fact, I suspected that I might be in the minority on the topic I selected. I learned that the internet can have the same effect on people as drinking too many margaritas at Marti Gras. Folks lose their inhibitions, their manners and their sense of decency. One response really sent me into a funk, and I harbored negativity for a full hour before I regained control of my emotions.
To clear my head, I took my morning walk and it suddenly it hit me—I had it all wrong! This virtual stranger who had so voraciously attacked me was in fact, just testing me. My “final exam” was neatly packaged in her five paragraph response, and it was up to me to step up and take it. This test forced me to utilize and master each of the five topics we have studied to date:
Lesson 1: When You Rule Your Mind, You Rule Your World!
“How can I craft my verbal retaliation?” was the first question that popped into my head. Since we create our reality with our focus, the questions we ask ourselves are critical. Mine was leading me quickly down the wrong path. To ameliorate my thinking, I crafted a better question. “How can this help me?” This answer put me in a position of power instead of a place of negativity and anger.
Lesson 2: Without Vision, the People Perish.
No amount of words on a page would change her point of view. I needed to remain focused on my own long term vision to find the appropriate response to the situation. Verbal sparring wasn’t the answer. But searching for meaning was. It didn’t take long to find it.
Lesson 3: Love Can Endure the Fault We Cannot Cure.
My natural response was to put on the gloves and come out fighting. I think this is often what we do when we find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue. But when I thought of Lesson 3, it was simple. I couldn’t cure her faults and she couldn’t cure mine. The best resolution we could hope for was to agree to disagree. I put myself into a state of “unconditional love” and crafted a simple, gracious response.
Lesson 4: There are More Possibilities in the Universe than One Can Possibly Imagine.
This became crystal clear as I read her answer. I hadn’t imagined a point of view such as hers, (but I stoop to sarcasm). The real lesson for me was that it is essential to explore the possibilities before responding if you want to create a positive outcome. We always have more than one choice, even when we think we don’t. When dealing with a challenging situation, we must call upon all our internal and external resources to create many options so we can produce positive outcomes and improve our lives.
Lesson 5: As You Give, So Shall You Receive.
My opponent’s opinion was 100% different than mine but that wasn’t the issue. Instead of presenting her point of view in a positive manner, she opted to respond with personal insults and bad language. She intentionally chose her response, and it was incumbent upon me to choose mine. My initial inclination was to unleash upon her with equal vengeance. As you give, so shall you receive. But thankfully, my higher self suggested I think about it and respond with love. I don’t know how it was received on her end. I am guessing it neutralized the situation. Regardless, I know that I did my part to break the cycle of negativity.
In 5 or 10 years, it will be interesting to observe what my children retain from this leadership encounter. As a teacher, I was extremely grateful to have a test of my own. I just hope I passed!