At my current house, I have a flower garden that was until recently covered with a deep blanket of snow and ice. The perennials in this garden were planted by the former occupants of my home, yet soon I’ll be enjoying the fruits of their labor as the flowers are beginning to emerge from the ground.
I'm struck that our work of promoting “social incite” is a bit like sowing seeds. Through our words and actions, we sow seeds of compliments, encouragement, support, information, instruction, and understanding. Yet many of us rarely get to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. Consider this:
-A specialist delivers a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for an individual, but does not get to follow that person's progress beyond one or two office visits.
-A teacher works with a child for one year, and then passes that individual on to another grade and another teacher.
-A therapist assists an individual through a difficult time, and once goals have been reached, his or her work is considered finished.
-A psychologist or other professional sees an individual only periodically, and doesn't have the time with his or her current caseload to be involved in many other aspects of that person's life.
-A grandparent spends time with his or her grandchildren, showers love and affection on them, and then sends them home again for a short or long time.
-A child develops a friendship with a peer, only to have that friend move to a new school or classroom.
-A parent works hard to instill decent morals, work ethic, academic skills, and socialization in his or her children. Yet this parent also deals with the day-to-day challenges inherent with raising children, and may have difficulty identifying progress or potential.
At times, it may be discouraging to realize that although we continually strive to promote social insight and effectiveness, we might not be able to see the results in each person with whom we live and work. Yet here's what I find exciting: This newsletter is being sent to thousands of people around the globe. Each of you is sowing seeds for social success. That means that all around us, we are able to reap the rewards of other people's labor! We can actively look for the beauty that others have sown: kids that are sensitive to others' needs, parents who are sympathetic to a teacher's workload and responsibilities, administrators who take time to listen to and appreciate the children in their schools and the families they represent, people who recognize the potential in each individual, regardless of the presence of a diagnosis, teachers who are flexible enough in the classroom to accommodate the variety of needs and strengths possessed by their students, etc.
Promoting social insight and effectiveness is extremely important, whether we get to reap the rewards of our efforts, or whether we enable someone else to do so. Let's keep sowing those seeds for success!