Teaching Up The Tree

cottonwoodLast spring, a friend asked for my advice.

He felt his elders were making mistakes and wanted to get through to them.

I drew a blank on his question and have been considering it for some time!


2015-10-05 16.05.12I saw two components…

  1. a desire to help others
  2. an opinion that someone else is wrong

For the first component, I asked myself, “What is the most powerful form of teaching that I can bring to my family?”

If I’m looking to maximize my impact then nothing beats sharing stories about how I repeated one of my family’s most common mistakes.

So… I pay attention to what needs fixing in the elders, notice when it needs fixing in myself and share a funny story about my error with my kids.

My kids love hearing about my mistakes.

Adults hearing about their own mistakes?

Less so.


IMG_4860The second component of my friend’s desire to teach…

I asked myself, “Am I sure?”

  1. Am I sure that my way is correct?
  2. Are there circumstances that would make my way incorrect?

My buddy and I were discussing long-term financial security. At the time, we were 100% certain that “our way” was the right way. I agreed that his elders were mismanaging their affairs.

As fate would have it, a few months later I heard a story about a pensioner.

An elderly woman had most of her life savings sitting in a local credit union (earning 0.1% per annum). Instead of telling her that she had to change, her family initiated a discussion to understand why that decision made sense to their mother.

It turns out the lady had thought through her rationale in detail. Her strategy recognized a personal lack of knowledge, a lack of trust in financial advisors, fear of loss and zero personal upside from positive investment returns.

Sometimes it is my lack of understanding that needs to change.