Some of the most valuable and enduring lessons that we need to learn are best taught at home. Conversations at the dinner table is one way, but activities and conversations in the car, during exercise, or while just hanging out are all wonderful opportunities. I include all of it under “The Dinner Table.”
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This podcast makes the case for the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture discussion. And let’s take the vs. part out; both are powerful influencers, and should not at all be looked at as being in opposition one to the other. Nature and nurture. And we are also going to talk about the different roles and responsibilities we all have around the dinner table–part of the nurture element. The family dinner table is the metaphor we’ll use, but the roles and responsibilities are transportable to other settings. Conversations at the dinner table can certainly be effective, as are doing activities together, conversations in the car, during exercise, and talking while just hanging out. I include all of this under “The Dinner Table.”
For the dinner table to work, to start with someone has to know something worthwhile. No, I am not talking about biases or opinions based on preconceived notions. And I am not talking about lecturing anyone, or trying to be right simply because you know, by God, you’re right. I am talking about things that will make the people around you better if they listen and take action on what you said or showed them by example. Making your case verbally with logic, making your case by example, making your case with care and with the other person’s benefit in mind can open a path for you to be heard. Share what you believe if you can also share, calmly and logically, why you believe it. And for the dinner table to work, someone else has to be willing to listen. Not be willing to buy into everything that’s said, but to be respectful enough to listen. Imagine that; a conversation where the speaker has something valuable to say, and the listener has enough intellectual curiosity and respect to actually listen.
The evidence of the power of the dinner table is all around us. I’ll pass along some examples I have read about, and some from my own experience. And, my guess is, you have examples of your own.
In sports, one of the first examples that comes to mind is the Manning family. Archie, Dad, and sons, Peyton and Eli, were all starting NFL quarterbacks; the sons have two Super Bowl rings each. Had the eldest son, Cooper, not been diagnosed with spinal stenosis the summer before he was to play football at his Dad’s alma mater, the University of Mississippi, he could easily have been the best of the three sons. How did that happen? Football, specifically quarterbacking, was discussed at the actual dinner table, and frequently practiced in the backyard and other settings. For many years.
Here’s another football family: the McCaffrey’s. Ed, the Dad, won three three Super Bowl Rings; one as a wide receiver with the 49ers, and two with the Denver Broncos. The oldest son, Max, is a wide receiver with the 49ers. Christian McCaffrey plays in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers. Dylan plays for the University of Michigan, and the youngest, Luke, is a rising Junior at football powerhouse Valor Christian High School, and has already received offers from two major football colleges. Why? The primary answer is the same as above. The dinner table.
We can see the same thing with families in politics and acting: Henry Fonda was Dad to Jane and Peter; Lloyd Bridges was Dad to Beau and Jeff; Kirk Douglas was Dad to Michael; Tony Curtis was Dad to Jamie Lee; Debbie Fischer was Mom to Carrie–the list is almost endless. Connections plays a part here, but the dinner table–with the extended definition we are using–has to be the strongest reason.
In politics, I give you the Adamses, Kennedys, Bushes and Clintons.
Closer to home, the person I know who is by far the best at individual investing and using money to make money, on a small, but highly profitable scale, first learned from his Dad at the dinner table.
We started today’s podcast by defining the term dinner table as being far broader than one location to include almost all the places we interact with family members, but we preserved the family metaphor. Now let’s expand the term family from nuclear family, immediate family, to the family of man. Yes, all of us.
At Results With Reason, we share a growing number of podcasts and blogs about what we feel is needed to succeed personally, financially and politically as a society. And those rules of the road, those ways of thinking and being are all the same. There are not three different ways of success thinking in the three areas; personal, financial and political. So, shamelessly stealing a concept from the bible, the two greatest of all these rules, ways of thinking, are:
Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
Be Your Brother’s Keeper
Our personal responsibilities include being that person who has something valuable to say, something important to contribute. And that takes focus and effort. Being our Brother’s Keeper in part requires that we extend the dinner table to include the part of the world we live in, and to extend the definition of family to include everyone with whom we come into contact. Even fleeting contact can have profound and lasting effects. And don’t be frustrated if you don’t seem to be making any headway. People do listen and remember. To coin a phrase, the world is your dinner table. Bring the power of your dinner table to the world.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.