You catch more flies with honey. Truer words were never spoken.

I’m recalling two childhood experiences that have helped me realize this more than ever. I believe that they can apply to everyone’s daily conversations, and go a long way to sustain relationships.

Now that I’m a parent, I proudly share all those special moments of my child growing up. But what I didn’t expect was how much I would relate my own childhood to my current child-rearing journey as a parent.

As an adult, now, have you ever wondered why you like the food you like? Your past experiences and corresponding approaches may have had a lot to do with your present-day, culinary preferences.

Just Beet It

Especially as a three-year-old, something about beets just didn’t taste right to me. But I knew the deal: eat your vegetables; eat what you put on your plate; and always finish your plate.

And there they sat. Glaring at me. As I listened to my siblings having fun in the other room long after supper, I sat at the table for a few more hours wrestling with the ultimatum:

Eat your beets, or they’ll beat you up!

Even though I knew it was a joke, I also knew that I was going to eat those dark red, juicy, round things no matter what. I simply didn’t have the choice to not like what’s for dinner.

And then the moment finally came… I inhaled them quickly. And… actually? Those beets weren’t that bad! Right there on the spot–as a three-year-old–I conquered another fear.

To this day? I always finish my plate. Nothing goes to waste. Consuming leftovers is a routine.

To this day? I appreciate beets and their unique taste. They remind me that no matter what fast-food, drive-thru value meal I can afford, the best lifelong learning lessons are derived from the moments that may appear to beet you up. While several places in the world suffer from starvation, who am I to not like certain foods on my dinner plate?

Just A Spoonful of Beans 

Shortly after posting this video of my son starting solid foods, I was made aware of how I got started on liking solid foods–even the vegetables–as a youngster. Check it out:

When I first tasted beans–to be sure–there were beans on the back of the spoon. The vegetables were in the mix for my own good, albeit unbeknownst to me at the time. On the tip of the spoon was at least an ounce of sweet applesauce. So, what I first ingested and processed was a sweet-tasting fruit, only to be chased by a bland vegetable. But it all went down–and it was all received with a smile and repetition for my own growth.

As it turns out–again–my parents were brilliant.

To this day, I have always remembered that something foul-tasting is always better received if first preceded with sweetness.

The Educator Flavor

While we live in an era where daily conversations–both face-to-face and online–can go awry in a hurry due to extreme environments, egos, misunderstandings, and politics, for example, I continue to be amazed and disappointed when we don’t treat each other well.

What an absolute shame.

Nearly by organic definition, educators are a passionate people. What I have to be careful of is that I don’t let my passions become an ongoing rant to force beans upon others without–at least–an ounce of applesauce. There’s at least an ounce of awesome in every person I meet. There’s at least a few spoonfuls of compliments to feed fellow debaters, colleagues, teammates, and community members. And there’s at least a few beets to root thru in our daily grind.

While the beets approach–do this because I told you to, and I’m always right, and here’s why–worked for me as a three-year-old (and sometimes it is necessary), I know that that approach doesn’t work for every educator, all the time. I have to be careful to communicate my heartfelt passions in a way that will be well-received by others.

After all, can you really foster relationships, drive change, and multiply leaders if the very people with whom you’re communicating aren’t willing to embrace you because of your delivery?