Cheri, Cheri, Quite Contrary

gardenMy dad used to say it as if it were my full name, “Cheri, Cheri, quite contrary.” His version was, of course, a takeoff of the nursery rhyme in which the line that follows reads: “How does your garden grow?” I hear him again in my head each spring when my yard begins to bloom. Was he just being funny, or did my dad have a point? Am I contrary?

I don’t think I’m really contrary, but I’m certainly contrarian. I don’t accept conventional wisdom without careful consideration. I gather loads of information before making a decision. I play devil’s advocate so that I can turn an idea around and see the other side. I’m not afraid to hang a jury. I can remain calm in the midst of a crisis because I focus on the next best step to take rather than on the idea that there’s a crisis.

This mode of operating makes me feel as though I am strong, solid, resilient, and competent. Some people agree with this view. Others see my contrarian nature as a huge pain in the booty. And so it will always go.

And that is why I don’t want to focus on that particular question. Whether or not I’m contrary is not important. In fact, I think we often get sidetracked by asking ourselves and our children the wrong questions.

We ask:
What do you want to be when you grow up – doctor, lawyer, engineer, programmer, professor, fireman, pilot, plumber…
Instead of asking:
How do you want to be when you grow up – kind, courageous, motivated, knowledgeable, innovative, powerful, conscientious, loyal…

We ask:
What do you want to do – drive a truck, find a husband, play pro basketball, buy a big house…
Instead of asking:
What qualities do you want to contribute to the world – compassion, thoughtfulness, peacefulness, gratitude, generosity, honesty…

We ask:
Will your new job pay more?
Instead of asking:
How will your new job feel better to you than your previous job?

We ask:
Is your new job a career advancement?
Instead of asking:
Is there something you want to learn from this new job?

We ask:
Will I start, Coach?
Instead of asking:
How do you think I can help the team, Coach?

We ask:
Why doesn’t my husband do more around the house?
Instead of asking:
Why haven’t I thanked my husband for working so hard?

We ask:
Why doesn’t my wife keep the toys picked up?
Instead of asking:
I wonder if my wife would like some me time while I bathe the kids and pick up the toys?

We ask:
Why do the other salesmen get all the leads?
Instead of asking:
What can I do to make my customer’s day easier?

We ask:
Should I go to the party?
Instead of asking:
What are my intentions in going to this party?

We ask:
Why isn’t this partnership working?
Instead of asking:
If this partnership were to end, what would I want that process to look like?

We ask:
How can I say no?
Instead of asking:
How can I say yes when it feels like I’m betraying myself?

We ask:
How can I find the time to take care of myself?
Instead of asking:
How can I take care of my family if I don’t take care of myself?

Now, I’ll ask:
Are the questions you’re asking helping you show up in the world in the manner you desire?

If not, now’s a great time to change up the questions!

Cheri, Cheri, quite contrary? Depends on why you’re asking!

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