A Figure-It-Outer Legacy

My dear husband often describes me as a “doer.” And that’s true… as I was writing the script for some new business training and planning for a live event in August, something dawned on me:

I am a “doer” because I grew up in an environment where I was encouraged to figure stuff out (I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being groomed to endure an independent lifestyle; not unlike that of a military wife, but I digress). My parents are doers, they’ve always been doers.

When I was young, it was partly out of economic necessity and partly out of the knowledge that they could usually figure stuff out. I can recall countless projects I was part of in my youth that started with my mom and dad saying, “we’re going to do it ourselves.” There is, was, and always will be an “I can do all things — never say die,” mentality in my bloodline. A legacy that has served me well and, I believe, has led me to where I am now.

My parents, without consciously doing so, taught me that everything is figureoutable and they NEVER gave me a reason to believe I couldn’t do something, no matter what it was. So, as the years went by, I lived by an “I can do it” motto. I mean, if I needed/wanted something done, there was no way I was going to ask for help until I’d at least tried it once or twice (or 100 times) myself. As a result, as a girl, I learned how to do tons of stuff that other girls my age would never have dreamed of trying (if you need to borrow a drain snake, I have one somewhere).

Admittedly, I tried some stuff I had absolutely no business trying (like taking things apart or trying to rewire machinery that could have probably burned our house down) armed with nothing more than a library book and a prayer (it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have YouTube in high school).

Did I always succeed? No, definitely not. And neither did my parents… but 95% of the time, every goof is fixable and the lesson learned therein is priceless. I may not have been 100% successful, but I succeeded a WHOLE LOT MORE than I would have had I never had the confidence to go for it in the first place.

I can’t even count the number of times my man has asked me “how did you do that?” and the only answer I can give is “I just figured it out.” And yes, he is patient with my obsessive need to figure stuff out. He just lets me alone, knowing that if I break it, I will personally call a person who can fix it. My weakness to be crushed by perfectionism means he often has been more patient than he should have to be (and he probably has nightmares of my voice saying “I’ll figure it out” just before something explodes or crashes or whatever) but again, I digress.

I have decided that — faith aside, as that’s my most-desired legacy — of all the traits I can pass on to my kids (the good, bad, and the ugly), I want them to know that almost everything is figureoutable. I want them to feel confident enough in themselves to try first, before they automatically seek out someone to bail them out.

I want them to be industrious and innovative and even a little obsessive (maybe not as obsessive as I am… In fact, “dedicated” might be a better word). When someone asks them “how?” I want them to be quick to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.” I want them to be quick to ask, “what can I do for you?” instead of “what can you do for me?”. I want them to KNOW they “can” and then I want them to have the guts to actually “do,” and I want them to do without fear.

In realizing this, I have determined that – if I’m really going to teach them that everything is figureoutable, then it’s time I brace myself for mistakes, for broken things (as if that will be a new occurrence), for things taken apart and more messes made, for unique inventions that may or may not make life easier, for extra time spent in the hands-off support role; and yes, it pains me to admit, extra effort in extending the same patience I’ve received, but have yet to master when it comes to others.

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