Sunday, July 19, 2009

The "Hot Stove" Rule

I was reading a fellow parents blog, and a recent topic was boundaries, and setting them , and then, most importantly, following through. It is one of the hardest things about loving an addict. It reminded me of an article that I find helpful in many aspects of my life - I thought I would share

* Immediacy

Characteristic: If you touch a hot stove, it burns you immediately, not some time later.

Implication for leadership practice: Conversations about [boundaries] should take place immediately after the event that triggers them, not be left until later, whenever possible.

* Forewarning

Characteristic: As your hand approaches a hot stove, you can feel the heat; so you are forewarned that if you touch it you will get burnt.

Implication for leadership practice: People must know in advance what [boundaries] are expected. [Arguing] about them, and any disciplinary measures that result, will be ineffective and dysfunctional if they appear to have been conjured up out of thin air. A clear link needs to be made to [expectations] and prior warning given that certain actions will be applied if certain conditions either are or are not met.

* Consistency

Characteristic: Whenever you touch a hot stove, it always burns you; it doesn’t burn you at some times and not others.

Implication for leadership practice: For [boundary] conversations and any resulting actions to be effective, these must take place in a consistent fashion, not in an ad hoc way. If [lines are crossed] and/or behavioral issues elicit a response from [you] on some occasions and not on others, this disconnect between words and actions will simply compound the problem.

* Impartiality

Characteristic: Whoever touches the stove will be burnt. It is the act of touching the stove that leads to the painful effect, not some characteristic of the person; and it doesn’t burn some people and not others.

Implication for leadership practice: Effective and felt-fair [limits/expectations] focus on the act, not the individual. These are also carried out in an impartial way, not based upon personality or [relationship]. [Parenting], including any disciplinary action, will be ineffective if it appears to be based upon ‘one rule for some and another rule for others’ -

The above guiding principles help to put "discipline" and [parenting] in their proper places - both aspects of ongoing, day-to-day leadership practice. Discipline and [behavior] will never improve if [consequential] action is limited to periodic set-piece [discussions and arguements].


Syd said...

I need to do more with boundaries. The immediacy and forewarning is particularly useful to me right now. Thanks for this great post.

Gin said...

This is really really good! I am bookmarking this so that I can meditate on it later when I have more time. Thank you so much!

Lou said...

I would bet that the consistency aspect is the most difficult for the parents of an addict child.

Fractalmom said...

really well put !!

Eli said...

This hits the spot in my parenting questions right now. I'll share it with my wife. We're really working on these issues with our kids. Part of the problem is that we're feeling some of the consequences of parenting mistakes we made earlier in our marriage when we were in such bad shape as a couple.

pat said...

Great post.

Athena said...

Credit where credit due - there are many references online, but I borrowed heavily - Douglas MacGregor in "The Human Side of Enterprise".


ChaiLatte said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've saved it, as I have a feeling I will need to be referring back to it when son is out of rehab.