“You’re a Good Packer.”
If you show me the trunk of your car, and you hand me your luggage – and I mean all your luggage – I’ll find a way to fit it all in. Why? Because I’m a good packer.
No car, no mini-van, no SUV scares me. I can squeeze anything in no matter what you drive. You can call my trunk packing a sort of strength; I can do it consistently well, and I enjoy doing it.
And it all started one day when my Dad – everyone called him Big Lou – was having trouble finding a place in the trunk for one last bag. As he stepped back to take a better look, I stepped forward and leaned into the trunk. I moved a bag to the right. I moved a bag to the left. I grabbed the last bag, and I dropped it right into place. I felt like I had just laid down the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I looked up at Big Lou. Big Lou looked down at me, and he said, “David, you’re a good packer.” I was nine years old when my Dad told me that. And I was so proud.
My dad named my strength over three decades ago. And he did more than that. My dad turned that experience into a story and he told everybody. And he always made sure that I could hear him telling it.
See my parents believed in naming the strengths they saw in their children. They would see something we did well and they would let us know. It was as though they were filling a storehouse with good memories for us to pull from whenever we needed to.
Recently I stepped out of my car in a Toys R Us parking lot and I saw a young boy, his mother, and his grandmother trying to squeeze a new bicycle into the family car. I stopped and offered to help. Why? Because I’m a good packer.
For ten minutes the boy and I struggled to find a way to get the bike in the car. But, finally, the mother called the boy’s father to say that they might not be able to bring the bike home. But I wouldn’t give up. Why? Because I’m a good packer.
A few minutes passed by, and I stopped. I thought we might not actually be able to get the bike in the car.
I stepped back and the little boy saw my face and he put up his hand and said, “Wait.” He reached in the trunk, grabbed the front tire, moved it just a little and said to me, “Push.” And I did. And the bike slipped right into place.
I looked at him and he lit up with pride. I smiled, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, “You’re a good packer.”
I believe in the power of naming the strengths you see in others.
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