A simple fact worth remembering: Lighthouses don’t float. We all know that, yet we don’t always act like it.
When a single lighthouse shines out to sea at night, countless vessels can navigate safely.
It took me a long time to truly understand this quote, and to put it into action properly.
I always approached this lighthouse business with serious commitment. Whenever someone needed a lighthouse, I was there. Commendable, right? Well, yes. Except I had taken this lighthouse business a little too seriously.
You see, I’m really good at accepting responsibility. Even for things that don’t belong to me. So, I didn’t stop at being just a lighthouse. I mean, how could I? Here I was, standing at the shore and shining away, and there were all these boats struggling to find their way into the harbor. Boats with ripped sails, broken masts, leaking hulls, burnt out motors, defective rudders, and sick captains. Boats that clearly needed a lot of help. I couldn’t just stand there and shine, right?
Of course not. I jumped into the water and commenced a rescue mission. I repaired canvas, ripped off my siding to replace masts and plug leaks, got motors going again, pulled boats in the right direction, and nursed sailors back to health. Commendable, right? Well, yes. Except I had ventured dangerously beyond my job description.
You see, a lighthouse is designed to stand there and shine. It doesn’t float. When a lighthouse jumps into the water, rips off its siding, and tries to be a tug boat and a repair vessel and a hospital, it will sink eventually, and its light will go out. I realized that barely in time to make it back ashore.
Now I’m repairing my siding and getting back to the real lighthouse business: standing there and shining. So the boats can navigate safely as they are taking care of the boat business: floating and making their way towards the harbor.
What does this have to do with conflict resolution? I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Are you asking a lighthouse in your life to jump into the ocean and get you to the harbor safely? Or are you the one doing the jumping—and sinking? A simple fact worth remembering: Lighthouses don’t float.