After adding hero stories to my conversation repertoire, I learned something simpler but more difficult to execute.
Lesson #2: Stop answering so many questions.
This can be excruciating for me because it means I have to let go of being in control and being the expert. It means I must get comfortable with ambiguity. And it means I must exert extra mental effort. It’s simpler to answer questions and move on.
But something profound begins to happen when I practice pausing and either answering questions with deeper questions; or with the words, “I trust you to figure that out.”
These responses communicate to my children that I trust them to solve problems, think deeply and handle responsibility. They, in turn, begin to trust themselves, which is the foundation of authentic, humble confidence.
Children quickly become passive recipients if our role is feeding them information. It’s as if they are thinking, “I’m sitting here. Give me what I need. Entertain me.”
When we pause and resist the urge to quickly answer questions, we are beginning to unleash the curious thinker who resides in the souls of children.
Soon their questions move to deeper ones and right as they are asking them, those lights in their eyes start gleaming and it’s clear they are on the journey to find the answers for themselves.
There’s the magic because they are learning how to learn which means they are free to learn anything for the rest of their lives and they know it. Now that is power. And it starts with me being quiet.