Cleaning up a Mess

Last night at dinner one of our children knocked over their soda and it went everywhere.  Becky and I immediately sprang into action.  Three children (young adults) sat there laughing.  We stopped and let them clean it up.   We all kept laughing, but it was nice to watch them clean up the mess.  As well as recognize they were capable.  Sure it was only a glass of soda, but responsibility begins with the small stuff.

You know sometimes we try to clean up messes we didn’t make.  It’s just a natural response.  The one who made the mess is willing to try and clean it up.  Until someone thinks they are doing them a favor by cleaning up for them.  In reality by taking responsibility to clean it up we empower them to mess up again.

Who knew that Tiger was messing up his marriage and career with his affairs?  Who knew that Blumenthal was messing up his career with his lies about Vietnam?  Who knew that BP would mess up by not insisting that a fail safe valve was not included?   Who knew about the student’s messing up but failed to take appropriate action?  The mess increases because someone responsible didn’t insist, “Clean up your mess.  If you don’t know how, I’ll show you how.  If I don’t know how, we’ll find someone to help you.”

The next step is what did we learn from this mess and how can we prevent it from happening again?  In the case of the soda, I know it’s going to happen again.  It’s just one of those things that happens with a happy and demonstrative family around a dinner table.  But some things just shouldn’t happen.  When they do?  Whether it’s my favorite athlete, hero or one of my children.  It’s best for them to take responsibility, apologize and clean up your mess and determine to prevent it from happening again.  You’ll be glad and so will your loved ones and the people who are affected by your messes.

Back to our family dinner.  The kids knew knew exactly what to do.  They worked as a team.  Their attitudes were great!  And fortunately nobody’s clothes had Mountain Dew spilled all over them.  I went back to eating and frankly really like the fact that Becky and I didn’t have to clean up this time.

Do you ever empower other people to continue being messy by cleaning up behind them?

Peace and Joy!

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