The only real way to grow is through connection. Sometimes we think we need to pressure, prod, or push growth by telling people what to do or making a plan to which they must adhere. The only real growth in the natural world around us, though, is through cells connecting with one another. There is no real laid out plan for how plants should grow (except maybe their DNA – the plans are encoded within), and there is not someone there demanding they straighten themselves up and reach out further toward the sun. The cells just come together and through some magical interaction, plants grow.
Maybe with people, we don’t actually need to do so much directing, commanding, demanding, or even goal-setting. We just need to connect with them right where they are. From the place of connection, we can influence others most successfully. When you are talking with a child, it is important to connect with how they feel. If you do that, you have their trust. They might feel afraid or lost or confused or mad. If you connect with them through understanding their world (empathy), they naturally gain the ability (maybe they always had it) to move forward. Their DNA propels them forward. They know what they need to do. When we feel connected and can just sit in one place with one another, even if this takes days or weeks or months or, dare I say years, growth will happen. It happens through connection. It doesn’t happen through us forcing it.
What is connection? Between cells in plants, it is the passing of information or some other currency in a healthy way. The magic that happens is the connecting of the cells and the chemistry that then is allowed to take place between the molecules. Maybe we should focus more on making our relationships with people more pure, simple and connected. From that place, we will be able to grow together. Sure, there is a time for teaching, direction and encouragement, but I find the things that are helpful for people are fairly short and simple things. There is insight you can give, but it is even more helpful to just let them know you understand how they feel and who they are. You’d be amazed at how motivated someone will become when they feel understood. Think about the places in your life where you feel understood – the relationships. How do you feel when you’re around those people? You usually feel like you can conquer the world, or even if you can’t, that’s okay. Together with those people, you will grow. There is some healthy transfer of energy.