What your kids can teach you about your business
By TRISOFT team
“When you fall off your bike, the best thing you can do is get back on.“
Little gems like this are so familiar to all of us. These life lessons are passed down from generation to generation, and we bet every parent today has found themselves doing their part to pass them on to their offspring.
There is so much to teach our children, but sometimes the lessons that resound with us the most are those that our children have taught us instead. And so there are the big lessons — unconditional love, patience, selflessness and sacrifice.
And then there are also the many smaller lessons we learn from our children that can be applied to entrepreneurship. These are the central pieces of this article.
Missing out on what’s right in front of you?
When we think of leadership, we often gravitate around lessons learned from our bosses — past and present — bowing to their expertise. However, by narrowing our focus to only learn from the few that we consider relevant, we could be missing out on other important lessons to be learned. To this subject, it is interesting and quite funny how children can be the great teachers we did not know about. They can actually teach us more about
leadership than any boss ever could. We’d be willing to bet that your kids can do the same for you, as long as you pay attention. Why? Well to begin with, children aren’t tainted by a stressful job or a stack of bills to pay or the urgent need to provide for others — or anything for that matter. They are pure and fresh, and you will actually be surprised of the many things we could adopt from them that could make our lives easier and more beautiful. Here are some of the lessons kids can teach you.
1. Living in the present.
It’s oh so simple for them — children are masters at being present in the moment. Much like Buddhist teachers, they are right there for you to learn about mindfulness and presence. They don’t struggle to juggle with a dozen chores at a time, nor do they run desperately after the so wanted multitasking skills. If they are on the beach building a sandcastle, it’s all about sea shells and sand, being fully engaged in putting into practice the intuitive-smart engineering strategies that kids are famous for. If they’re at the mall searching for the perfect Halloween costume, then it’s all about the coolest stores and neatest clothing. Kids are fully engaged in their moments, one at a time.
Now just think about how you’re doing stuff every day. Do you find yourself sitting in a meeting, but checking your phone or the weather on the side? Do you find yourself sitting at your desk wanting to write an email but scrolling Pinterest every 5 minutes? Have you recently tried to take a task from start to end but didn’t manage because your phone rang too much or your mind was too distracted with some family errands you had to run?
If you recognize yourself in any of the above it is because you are not fully present in the moment. Let’s make and experiment — allow yourself for just one week to disconnect from anything else happening around you and focus — like children do — on the one thing you are doing. Focus when you’re working with your team. You will get so much more out of every task and every experience. Your team will be amazed at your level of involvement and interest and you too will be amazed at how much you can accomplish just by following this apparently simple rule.
2. Laughter is the best medicine.
Children do it unconsciously. But we should know better. Sometimes our full, frantic lives overwhelm us and at the end of the day we turn into these sad, little bitter people. And one of the reasons is that we forget to laugh. We forget to just relax and give in to the little gifts that people around us give us all the time.
We don’t know how to enjoy our lives anymore. But if we turn to children we learn that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Better than sports, better than chocolate, better than cats. So when you find yourself facing a challenge that you think is impossible to solve, take a break and have a good laugh with your family, your colleagues or your friends. When you get back to work you’ll be surprised to discover that your mind is refreshed and your outlook on things more optimistic. A good laugh might just remind us of what is important and that after all any problems we might have will become distant memories sooner or later.
3. Lack of pre-judgment.
Have you ever lost a new possibly great hire or client due to one of your colleagues’ quick judgement? Maybe they took a snappy look at them and they decided ’this guy won’t blend with the vibe of our team’ or ’this person isn’t good enough to handle our projects’. Maybe you did this yourself and are too proud to admit it. But what is certain is that our pre-judgments are always one step ahead of us and we may lose out because of them.
Children are somehow shielded from the negativity of judging. They assume that someone is well-intentioned and fun and nice and interesting until proven otherwise. If the person they interact with doesn’t do anything to make them change their minds or ring an alarm about their behaviour, then they don’t change theirs.
So try to make an effort and start seeing people as they are, with an open heart and mind. It’s even possible that this experiment brings you more benefits than you think, as giving up the pre-judgement will almost always allow you to notice and appreciate more of their qualities, and see beneath the surface.
4. Wonder and Curiosity.
One of the great things about being a child is the constant thirst for knowledge. Children are always seeking to learn more and every new thing is exciting and wonderful to them.
Can you remember the last time you just allowed your mind to wander freely? Do you remember the last time you were curious and intrigued enough to ask why, what if or why not? In business, every one of these questions is a step towards solving a problem or conquering new territory. So, from now on, give yourself permission to tackle your daily issues like a child would — with wonder and curiosity. You will see how different things may look when you ask yourself all the good questions.
5. Energy and optimism
Ever wonder where all your energy is going? It probably goes into small annoying details of everyday crisis or the traffic or the clients you can’t get no matter how hard you try. You may be even able to realize that getting all worked up about things doesn’t do you much good, but you aren’t able to stop either. The carousel never stops turning. You can’t get off.
See, kids don’t have this problem, so you may start learning from them. No matter how much they run around all day long or how many times they try to build that lego robot without any success, they never stop trying. They never stop smiling. And this is because they take their energy from doing what they love, from being passionate and from having all the support they need from their close ones. You too have all these right in front of you. All you need to do is reach out.
6. Make friends easily
Remember when you were a child and all it took to meet someone new was spacial proximity? On the playground, at school, at your dad’s office party — any kid close enough to say ‘hi’ would become a friend in no time. How about now? Well, it’s a different story. You’re a big, busy boss of a company now, you can’t allow yourself to be friends with just anyone. Or you don’t see the point. Or even if you see it, you don’t have the time.
As grown-ups, and even more as entrepreneurs trying to make it on their own, we sometimes lose the simple skills that maybe even helped us get to where we are today. We become rigid, we tend to complicate things and our relationships start to suffer. We find ourselves overwhelmed by ‘rules’ and ‘clever ideas’ about who we should be doing business with and sometimes we lose so much of the true life experiences that are being offered to us. What can we do about it? Just try getting back to the simple magic of ‘hello’ and an honest smile next time you meet a possible future client.
Here’s another amazing thing we can learn from our kids — being kind. Most kids are incredibly kind. They don’t keep a grudge, they welcome almost anyone into their circle, their actions are always big-hearted. It seems that we all are like that when we are little, but somehow, through the years, we lose the capacity to open up and be compassionate.
Being compassionate isn’t hard, but it’s definitely a conscious choice. So next time you want to make a comment about a potentially negative situation caused by a team member let’s say, stop and look for the positive thing that person did. Also, try to remember at all times that people are not ‘resources’, they aren’t ‘numbers’, but human beings looking to find their way. And like all human beings, everyone comes with their baggage and burdens. Because of this, being a compassionate leader will take you far.
8. A 6th sense
It’s not at all uncommon to hear that children can ‘feel’ people when no one else can. If they are honest, if they mean well, or on the contrary, if they are faking their feelings and have evil intentions. And all this due to their pure hearts and minds.
They say that where there is love, nothing perverted can come in. But as we grow older (and sometimes none the wiser), we become jaded and we lose our innate ability to let love in and see people for whom they really are. We lose our ability to read people.
So what can we do? Learn from our children. They can teach us that sometimes it is better to listen to our hearts more. It might sound paradoxical, since we are doing business, but keep in mind that you are dealing with people, not machines.
Another ‘great’ thing about being an adult is that we always question everything and everyone. We are suspicious in our personal lives and even more in business. When you are a young, enthused entrepreneur starting a new company everything seems to get in the way — the budget, the bureaucracy, the people who are already doing it and to whom you believe you stand small chances.
The truth is we have lost our ability to trust — ourselves and the people around us at the same time. We are always on the watch for negative outcomes and faith has become just some weird, old feature gone obsolete. What can you do to change this? Allow your children to teach you how to be brave and embrace this wonderful thing that is trustfulness. You will see immediate results not only in the more positive outcomes of your business challenges, but also in the way you will feel about yourself.
Sharing is caring
You’ve seen it for yourself — kids are real treasures and learning from them can open up our souls and minds towards new horizons. Pay more attention to them and they could teach you more about life and leadership than any management book ever will. As Marianne Williamson put it perfectly, “Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’”
At TRISOFT, we are blessed to have in our lives a few amazing kids that are a true inspiration for us. And besides the points we have elaborated on above, we have learned from them to take naps when we feel like it (well…most times we feel like it :)), to enjoy learning new stuff every day, to stop taking things too seriously when it’s simply not the case, and most importantly, to be happy to share — our lunch, our experience and knowledge and our ways to become successful in a business world that’s challenging every step of the way.