My son announced at dinner last night how he was going to apply to be a high school mentor for the spring. I responded by telling him how happy I am to see him finding his "leader" voice. He agreed. I asked him what it was about the mentor program he found so interesting that he would want to commit to it. What followed was a quiet moment of deep thought and then he said he wants to teach younger kids what he has learned, what he knows about navigating the early months of high school. Wow... a leader and a teacher. Great work, son!
One of the many things I love about having a teenager is how he is always inventing himself and reinventing himself. He is in a constant state of exploration. In fact, some of our greatest conflict arises when he gets into a stuck place and forgets to "try on" the various alternatives to being stuck. He has everything to gain from finding out and exploring and discovering and uncovering who he really is in his world. His life is his own blank canvas to fill (really!).
I love to watch him discover aspects of himself previously unknown. Today he is a young leader, a team mate, a classmate, a friend, a volunteer, a student council member, a student who struggles learning foreign language and thrives learning sciences. He likes his food prepared a certain way, enjoys his own brand of humor and music, has his own style and interests. And he is so different today than how (and who) he was even a year ago. The process of growing and becoming never stops with him. Tomorrow will be another day of unfolding, to be sure.
Parenting, right now, reminds me there is something very useful about daily discovery and invention. There is something really valuable about staying unstuck, open, willing, curious. There is something quite incredible about being able to change looks, behaviors, goals, ideas, minds in mere moments and not having to wait endlessly for process to unfold. We can mix and match our roles and talents and personal characteristics; there is no one way to do or be anything. He gets that who and how we are in the world can be of our own design because he has always been supported in this pursuit; I am still trying to figure this out. An essential lesson I learn from my leader/teacher son is that change, adaptation, reinvention, exploration, and discovery do not have to be radical acts; they just are. I hope he never loses this idea.
What about your life/relationships/partnerships/organization is of your own design? What would reinvention look like? What do you notice about how you are as a leader and how the next generation closest to you leads? What are you reminded of when you are with them? What does change mean to you? What's easy about it? What's the challenge? What of the ease or challenge is about you or the change itself? What can you recall of the moment when you went from daily invention and adaptation to routine and safe? What would an instant, in this moment, no time for process, curiosity driven reinvention of yourself/your attitude/your job/your role look like...right now?
P.S. I am reminded that my son has often said he wants to be "an inventor" when he grows up. Little does he know how he already is one!