Being a parent of a toddler, I sometimes find myself doing for my daughter. But, most of the time I let her do it herself. As she likes to say, “self mommy”, which translates to, “I got this mom”. I’m encouraging her to be an independent being. One who feels like she can take on anything that life throws at her. While it’s difficult to watch her struggle, fail or succeed without me, I know it’s necessary. Even at the tender age of three. She needs to learn to do it “self mommy”.
The other day, after receiving an email from a Database Sherpa client asking a very specific question: “How do I find the IP address for a user?” I found myself typing a very specific answer “Click on this… then do this… and then you’ll see the IP address. You can do this when you find it and then ask them to try again… blah, blah, blah…” Then, my daughter popped in my head saying “self mommy”. I realized, in that moment, I was enabling bad behavior. Reliance on me! I needed to help the client, no doubt, but I didn’t need to spoon feed the answer (like I don’t need to put on my daughter’s shoes for her). I saved my draft and began composing another email which loosely said something like: Think about it like this, where can you find the information about each user in the database? So, my long winded email, that would have been printed out and followed like any directions, turned into a single question. Like when my daughter asks me which foot a shoe goes on, I ask her “is that the left or right shoe?” Knowing that might lead her down the right path. That was my hope with the question I composed.
I know that such emails can be frustrating to the receiver, so I also wrote “I’d like you to be able to figure this out yourself because it will give you the skills you need, long term, to answer these types of questions without me. I know you can do this as you’ve been so good at finding things and figuring this out with such little guidance on my part. You have the ability, just take your time and look at all the places it could be. It will be clear then. If you’re still struggling, shoot me an email and I’ll give you another hint.” I had already thought of my next hint too (just like I do with my daughter).
No response. A few days passed, still no response.
I found myself having serious doubts…
What if she’s po’ed at me for keeping the answer from her? Really, this was an easy question. Maybe I should have just told her how to do it! Dang, sometimes our brain can be quite a nasty creature.
Then, in the back of my head, I hear my daughter saying “self mommy”. I listened to the doubts and said back, “let’s see what happens. I can always explain to the client what I was attempting. I like to let things play out and learn from them later.” My doubts listened and I blew them away during my meditation.
Our call came about two weeks later, I was doing a lot of doubt blowing! On our call, she started with explaining why she’d asked about the IP address. She had a user that couldn’t access the database and she thought it was because the system wasn’t recognizing his computer’s IP address. Anyway, she had gotten my email and decided to put it aside for a few days and enjoy some vacation time. When she got back to it, she thought about it and decided to try a few things. While in the database system, she found herself in the user section. So, on a whim, she clicked on his name and sure enough, she found out his IP address. And, in the process, also learned it wasn’t the IP address, but rather a wrong password he was typing. Once she realized that, she reset his password and he was in the database in no time.
As she recounted her ordeal, I listened to her and realized that she was happy…not upset, HAPPY. She had figured it out. She had done it “self mommy”. After our call, I digested what had happened and what I learned.
So, my learnings are that (1) even if I think I can help with a simple email, it may not. That’s okay; (2) it’s important to give the client challenges along the way. It’s not about spoon feeding, but it’s also a fine balance. Sometimes I might need to spoon feed. It’s about compassion.; (3) I like to help others, I like to see them succeed, but I also have doubts about Database Sherpa; (4) this was as much work as giving her the answer.
Then, when thinking about the client, I realized she learned much as well. That: (1) it’s good to take a break, walk away and come back with a new perspective; (2) her original reasoning was incorrect, it wasn’t the IP address; (3) resetting the password for a user is easy; (4) she figure things out herself, without me!
Look, as a Sherpa, I want to continue to grow and learn. All of my clients do as well. This was a win-win situation.
Well, except for my doubts. They were not so happy, but they will return and try again… they always do 🙂
So, just like when I watch my daughter dress herself, I felt joy and heartache at the same time. Joy that my client is growing and learning without me and heartache that they will need me less and less. I’ve grown to really enjoy our talks together and one day, I know the talks will cease and they will not need me anymore. But, that’s a post for another date!
Letting go is never easy. Frankly, it’s one of the most challenging thing in the world, but it feels good. Knowing that I was some small part of the learning and the growing. It gives me great joy. It’s what compassion is all about!