Life hack light bulb

A Shortcut for “In the Moment” Challenges

Most of what I write about each week focuses on issues on the far end of the spectrum of the “long-term vs short-term” continuum.

I’m referring to the loooooong term, in case that wasn’t clear.

I work in the intergenerational wealth transition space, which typically concentrates on years, decades, and lifetimes, not hours, minutes, and seconds.

However, just as each year contains many hours, each of us runs into challenges on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes a little “life hack” will come in handy.

So this week, for a change, I’m focusing on the other end of the continuum, the very short term.

“Oh Crap! Now What?”

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was charged with organizing an event over a weekend, which involved a few dozen people coming together, indoors, for an inter-collegiate competition.

It happened to be a curling bonspiel, for the curious.

Thanks to COVID, all of last season had been wiped out, and this was the first tournament of the new season, so there was plenty of uncertainty. 

It was also the first time she’d been in charge of such an event.

When I spoke to her by phone on Friday evening, things were going fine.

Alas, I awoke Saturday to a text from her that read, “Please call me whenever you get the chance, thanks” and the time stamp was 7:09 AM. 

I also noticed that I had missed her recent call, because my ringer was off.

Daughter in Need = Dad as Hero?

If you have very independent young adult offspring like me, you learn to relish any opportunity to feel needed in their lives, so this could be a rare chance to play hero.

I called her right away, got a quick “I’ll call you back in ten”, and my mind went to work, wondering how best to be a “responsive, reliable, resource to her.

How I would frame all my experience and wisdom for her, I began to contemplate.

  • “What’s your ROLE here?”, I thought, would be a good place to start to help her clarify whatever the challenge was.
  • “What’s your GOAL, in that role?” would be a great next step to help her think through.
  • “What is actually within your CONTROL?”, I considered adding, lest she begin to worry about things over which she had none.

Proud Wise Dad, Ready to Serve!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, when she did call, I never got to share this wisdom, as the issue had already been settled.

One player had a close contact with someone who’d tested positive for COVID, so he needed to declare himself ineligible, and they were able to find a replacement. 

It turned out to be a very wet firecracker for Dad to help her out with.

But wait, I write a blog every week, and am constantly on the lookout for ideas to write about.

Now, how do I turn this into something that affects enterprising families, as I typically do?

The Meta Version!

Well, I imagine that many parents of your adults face similar challenges of how best to be useful to them, without over-functioning and jumping in to fix things for them.

Maybe I could apply this Role/Goal/Control hack to myself and see what happens. 

Here goes…

My role could be summarized as follows

  • Resource; thinking partner; coach.

My goal

  • Get her to a place where she feels confident that she can handle the situation; without being too directive; so that in the future she will readily reach out to me again

What can I control

  • My tone; my positivity; my brief words of encouragement to her.

Wrong Answers Only Version

Role: “Wise Dad” with all the answers.

Goal: Get her to listen to my wisdom.

Control: Well, this is where it falls apart, doesn’t it?

In reality, I’m not the one running this tournament, as much as I want it to be a success, I have no say in anything, and all I can really control is my interaction with her, which will likely only last a couple of minutes.

Take-Away Wisdom

While I wasn’t able to try out my life hack “in the wild”, I still like it and will keep it handy.

I hope others find it useful, especially those of you who over-estimate the sphere of your control.