(Note: This post was originally published in June of 2016, but as many people are setting new goals for a new year, we thought it was worth revisiting. Enjoy!)
My wife and I were recently organizing a box of keepsakes we have been collecting over the last few years. Birth announcements, first report cards, self portraits from art class that are indecipherable. And in that box, we found a note we had written to ourselves, where we had laid out our principles of parenting. As my wife was pregnant with our first child, we spent a lot of time thinking about the types of parents we wanted to be, and what was important to us.
We wrote down things like this:
- Treat each other with love and respect, always. Our kids will learn an enormous amount from watching the way we treat each other.
- Practice what we preach. Hold ourselves accountable in the same ways we hold our children accountable.
- Allow tons of time for play and expression.
- Encourage the child to pursue the things that they love to do.
- Teach the “golden rule.”
- Always encourage questions, even when we are exhausted and just want silence.
- Privileges come with responsibilities. We care about both in our house.
- Failure is completely OK.
You get the idea. Yes, we are a little nerdy… we wrote it all down, and saved it. But I’ll take a heavy dosage of the nerd gene in cases like this, because it is so easy to forget what is important to you in the heat of the moment. When the hard days of parenting arrive, and you are exhausted, and don’t feel great about yourself, and just want 24 hours for you, 24 hours of silence… those are the times when it is easiest to compromise on the things that matter most to you. You either forget your principles entirely, or you say, “Screw it… I don’t care right now.” Either way, the principles get compromised.
Those are the times when you need to have something you can refer back to, to remind yourself what matters most to you.
This is a business blog, not a parenting blog (although sometimes the line is pretty thin!) So while I advocate doing something similar for your own parenting principles, my real point today is that this sort of personal accountability is enormously helpful in the workplace. What kind of leader do you want to be? Write it down. What type of colleague do you want to be? Write it down.
Capture what matters most to you, in a calm moment, before things go crazy on you. You will rarely need to refer back. But those few moments when you do, will be among the most critical moments of your leadership or professional (or parenting) life.
Have a great day.