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  • Posted October 22, 2018

Be Open

This week I attended the 20th Stetson Law Conference for Special Needs. I don’t practice law and I’m not an attorney, but a LOT of this material was relevant to me as both a Financial Planner and, more importantly (to me) as a parent. During the coming weeks I will share what I took away, I got home Friday (writing this on Sunday) and I’m still working to unpack everything – 23 pages of notes and much more downloaded content.

I had resisted attending this conference in the past because I didn’t believe I would get anything from it – obviously I was wrong. But how many of us resist or turn-down opportunities because we are “sure” they would be a waste of time/money? Maybe I’m the only one – but I doubt it.

I’m not suggesting everyone attend this conference, but what about listening to the podcast someone suggests or reading the article forwarded to you by a friend. Think of how many people there are in this world, and what they’ve experienced – is it really so far-fetched to believe someone else may have a good idea?

What about sharing your own experiences – not just what’s worked, but what hasn’t. Failures are opportunities to learn, and are only embarrassments if you allow them to be. So what if someone wants to “judge” you – why should you care?  And if you find yourself judging others ask yourself “how is this helping me?” Is it making you feel better about yourself?

Everyone struggles, some are weighted down more by their challenges than others. This isn’t to say one’s problems are worse or less than someone else’s. It’s to acknowledge what I believe is common ground – at one time, perhaps now, we’ve all felt overwhelmed and alone. Asking for help only works if you’re open to what is offered.

In many cases it’s likely someone has no clue what you’re dealing with, this doesn’t mean they cannot give you helpful suggestions by sharing how they coped with their challenges. For example, if someone shares they journaled when their cat died and it helped them cope with the grief; it doesn’t mean journaling would be useless for you because you just lost a spouse or parent.

I’m teaching myself to listen to the intent, not the tone or words. It’s been an uphill struggle, and I still find myself discounting suggestions out of hand much too often. But I’m a believer that being self-aware is the first step to any lasting improvement. So I continue to work on maintaining an open-mind, questioning my motivations when I discard ideas without weighing them first. I’m not suggesting we follow every recommendation, but I’ve come to believe if someone cares enough to offer an opinion (especially when asked) I owe it to them to listen. I encourage you to do the same.