THERE’S MORE TO IT — Is the dishwasher clean or dirty? It’s a daily question in my house; with four children we cycle through a lot of dishes. The dishwasher kind of becomes part of the storage system for dishes, “Does anyone know where the cheese grater is?” … “Check the dishwasher!” The problem begins when I, or some other family member, takes the cheese grater out of the clean dishwasher, but does not take out and put away all the other dishes in there. The cycle continues dish by dish, until inevitably it becomes indiscernible if the remaining dishes are the remnant of the last clean load, or the beginning of a new, dirty one.
I can’t speak for the others in my home, but I for one am not necessarily acting selfishly when I take the cheese grater out, but leave everything else in there. I am usually in the throes of making food that will accommodate everyone anyway. And though I recognize the need to empty it and put things in their appropriate places, it is not going to happen that very moment.
My well-meaning and sacrificial efforts to prepare food for the family, in my eyes, trump the need to put the dishes away. It’s really a choice, to neglect one thing in favour of another, and when I look at it pragmatically, I see the error in it. The five minutes to put the dishes away wouldn’t hinder my culinary progress too much, and it would save at least a few others the aggravation of the “clean or dirty” conundrum later. Most probably it would save me the aggravation of it.
This is a classic example of the “either-or” logic we employ in almost everything. We feel that saying yes to one thing is saying no to another, and we satisfy ourselves with it. Though it can be true some of the time, most of the time there is room to incorporate many more things to happen simultaneously in our lives.
This is a principle of success in life, and as you can see from the dishwasher example, my acceptance of “either-or” exclusivity, directly creates future frustrations for me. In an old favourite success book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter, we learn of Robert Kiyosaki’s two fatherly role models, his own father and his best friend’s father. His own dad was the poor dad, though he was a doctor, while his friend’s dad had lesser credentials, but managed to find far greater success. When presented with an opportunity, the rich dad would evaluate with an “either-or” mindset and make his choice on whether he could afford it, while the poor dad had a possibility mind, and would ask himself “how can I afford it?”
If I ever want my kids to empty the dishwasher, or find greater success in every area of life, I’m going to need to set the example. I need to choose a “how can I” approach, rather than the “either-or.”