Sharing Toys

give it away now

In the midst of it, he didn’t understand. He couldn’t comprehend why she ripped them away and happily handed them over his possessions to someone else. He felt justified in his anger, incensed the rest of the day. How could she!

Alternate story: they went to Salvation Army and mom had bagged up a number of old toys that he stopped playing with, hadn’t touched in 4+ months — he didn’t understand. He didn’t see that he gets a constant stream of new toys from grandparents, parents, relatives, and a plethora of hand-me-down toys. He threw his tantrum out of confusion.

Two sides to the same coin. Two perspectives.

About 5 months ago I read “Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups and it has dramatically changed my view on a lot of things in life. It has shown me sharing toys is a necessary piece, an important part of life. In other posts I’ve wrestled with the art of pruning and thinning plants, trees, and vines. This is the same concept as giving away Legos, but both from a different perspective and one that is easily recognized by kids and adults who grew up with Legos (I’ll bet pruning fruit trees and thinning vines isn’t something everyone necessarily grew up exploring).

With sharing toys, it’s vital to our health. Even if we never get those toys back, we learn there’s something greater than our greed, more important than our esteem; there are people out there who are worth more than the materials I can buy with a paycheck. That is something we take for granted, something we forget and lose sight of. So when I think of sharing toys, I must remember the grander vision of it all. it’s not simply my small empire that’s at stake — that will easily be forgotten in a few years — but society and other people.

A sobering reflection on my kids is the fact that their parents (that’s me) are delighted to give them gifts. But when their toy chests are overflowing and stepping on their sharp, pointed cars (barefoot) at midnight and grunting anger, I’m less likely to give more to them. Sometimes it takes giving away what I have to get — or take on — more. In the same way, I have many interests in life. Hobbies, work, research, friends, community events, etc. But unless I’m willing to give up some things and say “no” to others, I really won’t get very far; the economy may be not be a zero-sum game, but there are still only 24 hours in a day, regardless of removing batteries from my clock.

It’s hard. It’s honestly difficult because we develop an attachment to some hobbies, some skills, some aspects of our roles in life. Then, to see others pick up those Legos — your Legos — and play with them… They’re not building it how I would have built it. However, we forget there’s always work to do, there’s always another instrument we wanted to pick up, there were those other projects, books, or titles to finish.

We need to normalize these experiences and emotions for ourselves and for others. It’s a normal aspect of humanity whether you are 2 years old, 30, or 72. Let’s listen to and guide each other through these sobering conversations and seasons of life. Even for those projects we started and invested our heart, soul, and mind into …to hand off to another for the sake of the team, not ourselves. But there’s a beauty to this: this is life and there’s victory if we only seize it. We don’t need to define success as completing something A to Z, but instead to see our company thrive, to watch our friends grow and mature, and hear how surrendering a few hobbies can open up time to delve deeper into the mandolin.

So let’s be willing to shed our skin to grow new, stronger, and more durable skin. Let’s prune and thin our branches so the remaining ones grow stronger, become healthier, more resistant to disease, and bear better fruit. And, for goodness’ sake, let’s give away some of our Legos because we definitely don’t need to keep stepping on them in the middle of the night.

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