I wasn’t home when my daughter broke her arm.
My wife updated with me the medical news: both bones of the forearm were snapped and she could see through the skin that the bones were out of place. Her little hand hung limp from her wrist.
A cast alone would be insufficient. Surgery was necessary.
My daughter updated me with the story of how it happened.
She started with, “Dad, it was Rule Number 6: Know How to Stop.” She had just received a pair of rollerblades and was trying them out with a friend in our neighborhood. She started down a hill and loved the thrill of picking up speed.
She soon found herself out of control. She lost her balance, fell on her arm, and the damage was done.
Fortunately, my wife was able to stop what she was doing and rush our daughter to the hospital.
“Know How to Stop” is one of the life rules that our family talks about a lot.
It centers on understanding life’s limits. Think of it this way:
- It is not until our kids could confidently stop their bikes that bike riding turned from a frightful experience to a joyful one.
- It is not until they learned to stop throwing fits that they were able to resolve the issues that frustrated them. Sometimes we must end the drama and work the problem.
Kids generally do not get in trouble for being silly—they get in trouble for being silly after an adult asked them to stop. It is often that last kid to stop that bears that brunt of the punishment.
This rule applies at every phase of life.
Knowing how to stop makes eating, drinking, investing, exercising, spending, skydiving, hang gliding, and everything else more enjoyable.
Holiday parties always challenge my application of this rule.
A good rule of thumb is this: when everyone is involved and things are reaching a fever pitch, consider beginning your exit.
Whether it is the dot.com boom, a pillow fight, a bottle of scotch, a heated argument, or a funny prank, there is a moment where knowing how to stop prevents a painful crash. There is a cycle to all these things.
We need to learn how to read the rhythms and know when to stop.
There is a time to push back from the computer, silence the phone, and stop working. Sometimes we need to know how to stop being serious and engage in play or rest. Other times we must know how to stop procrastinating, making excuses, blaming others and get to work.
My daughter’s arm healed nicely.
She did not let her injury stop her from mastering her rollerblades and enjoying the thrill that speed generates. It is just more fun now that she knows how to stop.
It is worth thinking through our habits, behaviors, and patterns with an eye to where limits could be more helpful. Where do you need to Know How to Stop?