Bad table!

“You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.“ — Albert Einstein

A little girl bumped into a table and starts to cry. Her grand-mother comes to cuddle her and says “bad table!”.

It’s an education story you’ll witness in Vietnam. And chances are that if you come from a western country, you will strongly disagree with this way of raising children. That’s indeed a controversial topic in mixed families.

In this story, it doesn’t seem to make sense to blame the table. Worse, it seems to teach the kid to not be responsible for herself, and to put the blame on something else. However, on the other end of the spectrum, I wonder whether our culture of self-blame doesn’t lead to this irrepressible need for control, that we actually have to learn to let go of in teal organisations.

Teaching responsibility is a must, but teaching “to have a break” is equally important. By blaming the table, the grand-mother is maybe trying to teach the kid to give herself a break: letting go of blame and resentment and accept the situation. Even if it’s the table’s fault, she can learn to be more careful next time.

So don’t get me wrong, I raise my kids the western way, I don’t blame the table when they get hurt. My point is that maybe we should be less critical and instead try to learn what there is to learn from the eastern way.

Eventually, I came up with the following conclusion: don’t put the blame on anything. Just offer the child some comfort for the pain she feels and stay silent. Trust in her own capacity to analyse and learn. Shouldn’t this be applied in organisations too?