Your Fingers

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

"Everybody’s behavior makes sense to them at the time," says Dr. Aubrey Daniels, founder of the consulting company bearing his name.

We can remove the mystery and superstition for why people do the "crazy" things they do (translation: things we don’t agree with).

It’s not voodoo. It’s the consequences.

"I just don’t understand why he won’t pick up his clothes. I end up picking them up every day."

The answer to the question is right there. You just read it.

When we don’t approve of someone else’s actions, and wish we knew how to change those actions, all we have to do is ask, "What happens for that person when he or she does that action?" If she keeps doing the same action, we know that a positive reinforcer (from some source) is fueling her behavior, keeping it running and running, no matter how much we detest that behavior.

When Mike’s daughter was nine, he gave her a laundry basket for her closet. "Put your dirty clothes in here, Shawn. The day before you want clean clothes, take your basket down to the laundry room." Downstairs they went for a lesson. Using her fingers, not his, he taught her, "Here’s how to run the washer." And later, "Now you get to put them in the dryer. Your fingers – – turn on the dryer." Many years later, Shawn’s the best laundry-doer you ever saw!

In our family, "Your fingers" became our frequent instruction, and reminder not to do things for others that they can do themselves. Sometimes the person on the receiving end of instruction (on the computer, for instance), would say, "My fingers!" to remind the other person to get out of the way and "let me do it."

In Leadership Training sessions, my watchword is "Never do for participants anything they can do for themselves." They love it because they get to:

  1. Move around
  2. Talk
  3. Figure things out
  4. Feel successful

As long as we’re doing the work for others around us, why SHOULD they ever do it for themselves?