"Mom, why did you throw all of my art in the trash?" Jack said with weepy eyes, his little voice trembling with disappointment.
At that moment, Jack was just 6 years old, and he had come home from school with a bundle of his art, crafts, and schoolwork. He excitedly dumped everything onto the kitchen counter and ran off to go play in his room. I took a glance at it all, admired his work and proceeded to toss it into the trash. It wasn't long before Jack discovered his beloved creations in the trashcan and confronted me. (And believe me, I've learned I'm not the only parent who's done this!)
"I'm so sorry, Jack," I said, my heart sinking as I realized my mistake. "I thought you didn't care about these papers since you just dumped them on the kitchen counter. But they're all right on the top of the trash. Let's take a look together."
We knelt beside the trash can, side by side, examining each piece of Jack's artwork. I asked, "Are you proud of this one?" and "Is this your best work?"
Jack, even at that tender age, was quick to self-assess. With a discerning eye, he carefully considered each piece. One by one, all but one of the papers stayed in the trash. The one he was genuinely "proud" of found its place of honor on the refrigerator door.
Little did we know that this simple moment of emotional intelligence would become our guiding principle. Everything he brought home, be it school assignments, grades, sports performances, or even the state of his room, was now scrutinized using those two fundamental questions: "Are you proud of this?" and "Is this your best work?"
Fast forward to today, Jack is 14 years old, and these questions have become invaluable tools in his self-assessment toolkit. They've helped him develop a deep sense of self-awareness and a commitment to always strive for excellence. They've not only shaped his academic and extracurricular endeavors but also fostered a sense of pride and personal accountability that will serve him well in the years to come.
In closing, the two questions, "Are you proud of this?" and "Is this your best work?" serve as the foundation of emotional intelligence in our everyday lives. They encourage self-reflection and self-assessment, nurturing a deeper understanding of our emotions and aspirations. By incorporating these questions into our journey, we not only measure our satisfaction with our efforts but also inspire a continuous pursuit of excellence. They empower us to uphold our personal standards and values, fostering a sense of pride and accountability. These questions extend beyond the surface, guiding us towards choices that resonate with our inner selves, contributing to our emotional well-being and personal growth. Just as they've shaped Jack's path, may they continue to guide us all toward our true potential so we can all be who we came to be.