“You make me feel safe.”
On a recent family camping trip to the Eleven Points River in southern Missouri, my wife Megan and I learned an important lesson. Sometimes, all they need is YOU. Your presence can be enough.
This trip was an annual camping trip we do with my wife Megan’s family. While I was raised to fear poison ivy and face-spiders, her family would be just as comfortable in a tent outdoors as they would in a traditional home.
After the first night at the campsite – and a 3-hour torrential downpour to add a little spice to the night – we woke up, ate a slow breakfast, then hopped into some canoes to float a 5-mile section of the river. We had 6 adults and 2 kids, meandering through small rapids, downed trees, and some extremely beautiful scenery you can only access by water.
During one section of the float, my daughter Emersyn wanted to jump out of the canoe and float by herself, letting the current take her downstream. None of the adults wanted to join because the water was numbingly cold, but we gave Emersyn the OK if she wanted to hop in.
Like most fearless children, Emersyn wasted little time and immediately plunged in. Shortly after, she called to Megan and said, “Mom, will you come float with me?”
I immediately recognized the look on Megan’s face. She did not want to jump in. The water was freezing. But at the same time, she didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to float with our 7-year daughter. After all, in a few years they won’t want to be seen with their parents! So a bit reluctantly, Megan plunged in and began swimming to catch up to Emersyn.
And that’s when it happened. After she caught up, Emersyn grabbed Megan and said,
“I love you Mommy. You make me feel safe.”
All of the sudden, the temperature of the water didn’t matter.
At the end of the day, Megan and I reflected on that moment. While it’s a fairly innocent interaction, it was a reminder of our need to feel safe in life. It happens time and time again – at work, in leadership and in life. We need to feel:
- Safe to make mistakes
- Safe to not be judged
- Safe to be ourselves
- Or in the case of my daughter that day, safe to try something new for the first time.
The people in your circle need you. The question is how can you help make them feel safe? Sometimes, all it takes is jumping in the water with them and being by their side.