I attended an event last night. It was a snacks, liquor and speeches event in honour of my old boss at the indie bookshop. We were not to refer to it as a “retirement party,” so I won’t.
Long story short: this boss owned that shop. He built it from the ground up (not literally, the building already existed), after selling another bookshop in another (regional) town. It became “Prince George’s Living Room.” A haven for art, artists, people who like art, and people who don’t like art. It is a safe place, free of judgement, for everyone. It is a cultural hub of this community. I am thrilled, honoured and truly amazed that I have the opportunity to be a part of that.
This boss built, worked, and then (in January) sold the shop to his long-time manager (my other boss, obviously).
Last night was a meeting of the minds. Old staff, new staff, old customers, new customers, old friends…a motley family. There were speeches, an original stage play, satirical ditties and a jazz band. I laughed, I teared up, I drank, I ate, I hugged, I reminisced. (Bookstore folk know how to party, y0.)
It’s funny, though. There were so many amazing things said about this amazing man, most in thanks to him for building this lighthouse, but one struck me above all others. In his opening speech, a good friend of The Boss praised his (the boss’s) children. He commented on how inspiring, wonderful, thoughtful, etc. they are (they really are). Above all else, they are themselves. This good friend said that when he had asked The Boss about how that happened, how all of his seven children were such great, unique, self-possessed people, The Boss thought for a moment, shrugged and replied “I got out of their way.”
He let them be themselves. He encouraged their interests and passions and supported their journeys. He cared enough about them to let them make mistakes, brush themselves off (I’m sure he helped them to their feet whenever they needed it), and emboldened them to keep going.
That is my lesson. Get out of the way. I don’t control people, I can’t, I don’t want to and I won’t try. In particular, my son. The one thing I want for that little dude to be is himself. I want him to be the very best and most true himself that he can ever possibly be. If he is that, then I have done my job.
So folks? Get out of the way. (Of your own Selves, too. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a damn important and great one.)