June 1    

Today's quotation:

If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Today's Meditation:

I believe that this is a very positive thought, but one that demands us to strike a very difficult balance if we're going to treat people well.  After all, we all want to be accepted unconditionally, just as we are.  And I don't think Johann is saying that we shouldn't accept people-- rather, he's bringing up the question of what we expect from people and how we treat them based on their expectations.

It's been very well documented that how teachers treat students-- based on expectations-- determines a great deal of the students' success or failure.  Tell a teacher that all of his or her students are gifted, and the teacher will treat the students as gifted students, with high expectations.  And the students generally will respond to that treatment with very high levels of achievement-- whether they're actually "gifted" or "average" or anything in between.

If I treat you as if you always will be just as you are, I'm not respecting your potential for growth and change.  I'm saying, in a certain way, that you're stuck where you are, and you always will be there.  But that's not true.  No matter who you are or what your position in life, you will be learning more and growing as a person; and if I treat you as if you will be growing and changing-- while still respecting just who you are right now-- my treatment may help instill the confidence you need to take those next few steps towards growth.

How do I treat other people?  How do they deserve to be treated?  When I consider that my treatment of them can help them to grow and change, I see that it's important that I give a little bit of thought to my interactions with others-- if I want to live up to my potential for helping others to live up to their potential.

Questions to consider:

How often do you consciously consider the way that you treat other people?

How much of our treatment of others happens simply as a matter of course, without any real consideration?

How might you help others to reach their potential?

For further thought:

With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.

The Dalai Lama

more thoughts and ideas on potential



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