As coaches in Powerchange we encounter many clients who recognise that they are responding in a ‘teenage’, if not a ‘little child’ way, and want to change that. During the coaching conversation, they may ask us to give them an indication of what mature behaviour is all about. I’ve put this blog together in order to help us all be more mature.
Please note that I’ve differentiated between ‘adult’ and ‘mature’. They are not necessarily the same. ‘Adult’ is usually regarded as the physical age of a person. Maturity is a behavioural characteristic, regardless of age. Young people can behave with amazing maturity and some older people can behave very immaturely.
1. They are principle-based.
Principles do not alter from one month to the next, which means principle-based people are reliable and trustworthy. They don’t jump around reacting to to different opinions, preferring to be consistent and go with considered decisions based on their own thought-out deeper values. They are unshaken by flattery or criticism. They understand that nothing is as good as it seems and nothing is as bad as it seems. Children say, “ He told me to!”
2. They take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.
They refuse to blame other people or circumstances, and accept that they have made and will make mistakes. In order to live that way, they know they need to keep learning – especially from their mistakes – and put a high priority on wisdom. The wiser they get, the more more wisdom they want, and the more grateful they become for every source of wisdom, learning and knowledge. Children say, “Its not my fault.”
3. They are patient.
One key mark of maturity is the ability to delay gratification, which involves surrendering the need for immediate ‘feel good’ in order to get greater long-term gains. They focus on what is important more than what is urgent. A mature person is able to keep commitments even when they are no longer new or novel. They continue to do what is important even when it has lost its initial surface gloss. Children say, “I want it now.”
4. They are interdependent.
They know that, just as dependence is childish and independence is adolescent, so interdependence is a mark of maturity. They feel secure within their own sense of priceless worth. They are not threatened by others, but see them as potential contributors and valuable collaborators towards each other’s success. They know that respectfully serving others means they themselves will gain. Mature people aren’t consumed with drawing attention to themselves. They’ve learn’t that humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. Children say, “Me, me.”
5. They choose to be an example of a life well lived.
They know that being a good example to others can only happen when they have respect for themselves and others. They know the next generation is as important as their own, and so embrace their responsibility to live in a way that is worthy of imitation. They are not afraid to be fully themselves, knowing that they have nothing to hide, knowing they have cleared out the skeletons in their cupboard. Children say, “Nobody’s looking.”