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Skill, by its very nature, breeds decisiveness.

I had the privilege yesterday of being near the window on Main Street when I heard the thud. A large boiler of some sort had fallen off the back of the truck which had been hauling it. The driver was alone. I wondered quickly whether I should go down to help, but even two of us could never lift a chunk of iron so large. So I watched.

The driver hesitated not for a moment. Moving swiftly he reached in the back of the truck for a length of rope. Handling it with a deftness that can be born only of experience he tied a quick clove hitch to a protruding pipe of the boiler, another to the lower part of a post on the truck, and he was away, dragging behind him several hundred pounds of reluctant scrap iron. The whole incident transpired in less than a minute.

My admiration goes out to this man. There were no committee meetings, internal or external, no puzzling out the best way to handle this, no second thoughts over which pipe to attach to, how long the tow rope should be, or is it really smart to drag this thing. There was a "road block" in the middle of Main Street. Suddenly there wasn't. There is no doubt in my mind that the person who made those decisions so swiftly has multitudes of skills on which he calls every day. This is a man who can build a porch, insulate a room, repair his truck, wire a stereo, or cook a meal.

Competence is something that takes over your mind and your body. It shows in your posture, in how you present yourself to the world, in your attitude towards that world and others in it. A person with skills in his hands has very little to prove to himself or others. He just is. The savings in emotional energy is applied towards solving the task at hand.

We owe it to our children to teach them skills. They need and deserve to learn to use their hands as well as their minds. And we will find, unfailingly, that when their hands have skills their minds become sharper. The minor emergencies that come up in life become less and less daunting. You waste far less emotional energy wondering how to get the cabinet fixed or what to do about the grinding in the rear wheel of your car. Men and women with skills in their hands tackle the world with less fear. They are more willing to be learn and to be taught.

Accidents happen in all our lives. We owe it to ourselves and our children to prepare for those accidents. That preparation often involves having a bit of rope handy by in your truck. That preparation involves knowing how to tie a clove hitch or bowline when the need arises. And it probably involves having had your hands on a boiler often enough to know where you can tie a knot and have it hold. If you have those skills in your hands, decisiveness will surely follow. What better skill can we offer our children than the ability to make a decision?


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