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Lessons From Mackenzie

Pizzana (Los Angeles, CA)
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We recently returned from a trip to China. No, China isn’t exactly a destination location for us. It is the mother country of both of our daughters. Our recent trip was to adopt our second daughter, Raegan Jean. Our first daughter, Mackenzie, traveled with us. Even though I was not in touch with any of my mentors or coaches during this trip, I was coached and mentored on a daily basis by my beautiful four-year old daughter, Mackenzie.

We brought Mackenzie home from China when she was only 13 months old. So, theoretically, her USA way-of-life is all she’s really known. However, Mackenzie was completely at home and at peace while we were in China. I was amazed at the lack of stress or tension with this little one who doesn’t always take change well. She attacked China with a sense of curiosity and wonderment. While at the same time treating it with reverence and respect as if she fully understood this was the country of her fore-fathers.

We spent over two weeks in China. I often would watch Mackenzie in amazement. How is it that this 4 year old, while not totally oblivious to the obvious change in environment, was able to feel safe, secure, often adventurous, always curious, and serenely at peace. All the while Mom and Dad were outwardly stressed, a little unsure, unusually inhibited, and tense to the point of physical manifestation. While China was an adventure and a classroom in many ways to Mackenzie, Mom and Dad had a much different experience.

How often do we fail to see the adventure and learning in an experience, whether it be a trip, a job, or even a relationship just because of the perspective that we approached it? How often do we fail to leave the safety and comfort of our “home” to seek the growth that comes with adventure and a learning experience? Here are the things I realize that made this trip what it was for Mackenzie.

1. Set the stage – We talked as a family about this trip months in advance. We wanted to create in her mind exactly what she experienced to take the fear away. Unknowingly, we were setting the stage for her to have a curious adventure. Unfortunately, our self-talk was totally opposite. We created in our minds exactly what we experienced as well – stress, tension, discomfort, and inconvenience. Wonder what would have happened if we had created the same visualization for ourselves that we created for Mackenzie. What would happen in our business, relationships, our lives if we changed the perspective of our self-talk.

2. Re-create home – Mackenzie felt safe because she had what makes her feel safe at home – Mom and Dad, favorite music and movies, books, favorite bed-buddy, and favorite small toys. She re-created home as closely as possible to make herself feel more “at home” in China. What things do you need to “pack” in order to feel more “at home” in your next “trip”?

3. Can the filters – Mackenzie had no filters. For instance…the playground at the park was not exactly what you’d find here in the U.S. To Mackenzie, it was just playground equipment she could play on and she did. Mackenzie didn’t stop to think about “how was the food prepared?” when we ate. She just saw beef and noodles and knew she liked it. At Pizza Hut, she didn’t see Pizza Hut in China and wonder if it were different, she just saw the Pizza Hut brand and didn’t care what country it was in. What kinds of filters are you putting your adventure through? How many of those filters were created by you and how many by others?

4. It’s raining…so let’s sing rain songs – One day Mackenzie and I were enjoying a stroll on Shamian Island and the rain started to pour down. Instead of taking off running for shelter, Mackenzie said…”Mom, let’s sing songs about rain.” As a result we actually experienced a nice relaxing stroll through the rain as we sang our way to our hotel. How many times have you run for shelter as opposed to enjoying the rain?

Our second experience of China was personally more enjoyable than our first. Maybe because we had a great “guide” to help us truly “experience” China this time. When is your next adventure? Are you looking at it through stressful eyes and filters? Or, are you looking through the eyes of Mackenzie?