My brother's "pacifier" theory.

It was good to catch up with my brother after almost 2 months of not seeing him.  We talked over Vietnamese food and Pinkberry-like frozen yogurt at Yogurtland.

One thing I thought worth sharing was what my brother calls his "pacifier" theory.  After taking care of 50+ kids over the last 10 years--most of them at the nursery at church, he has come to realize that most people, young and old, have what he calls a pacifier--that is, some specific thing they need/want of the people around them which, when provided, will utterly quell and satisfy them.  Some people want to feel smart, for instance.  Some people want to feel beautiful.  Some people want to be recognized for their effort or accomplishments. 

I asked him what our parents' pacifiers were.  I was surprised/impressed by how accurate they were, when I really thought of it.  He said that our mom wants to be appreciated for the things she does for us.  (This is very true... the more I think of it, I realize my mom shows her love for us through acts of service, and by feeding us.  And I'm recognizing that in myself now, too--the need to take care of others in the same way).  Our dad also likes to be appreciated, but in a slightly different way--"He likes it when he advises you to do something and you follow his advice, and it works out well," observed my brother.  In other words, our dad gets great satisfaction out of being right.

It's an interesting thing to think about if you are trying to work with or influence a group of people, especially as a manager or leader, if you want to be bringing out the best in people or trying to get people to work towards a goal.