I have been keeping a running list of lessons and reminders my wife and I regularly share with our children. And over the last several weeks, here are some of the ones that I wrote down:
- Always show gratitude when someone does something nice for you. You will never go wrong saying “thank you.”
- If one of your friends has another idea, different from yours, listen. Everyone can have a good idea.
- When someone is speaking to you, listen to them. Look at them.
- When you are speaking to someone, look them in the eye.
- Share with others.
- If someone needs help, help them.
I am not making this up. These are from real conversations with our son, who just started first grade. These are the things that so many parents want their children to learn.
And then we change our focus from raising our kids, to the ways in which we conduct ourselves in our workplace. And we forget all of it.
I spend a large percentage of my daytime hours in workshops and coaching assignments with professionals from a variety of industries. And every single day, I see smart, well-educated, in many cases successful professionals doing the following:
- Showing no gratitude, and acting like people should be doing things for them;
- Shutting down or ignoring any idea that didn’t come from inside their own head;
- Not listening;
- Looking off into space and speaking in a totally impersonal way with no connection to the audience;
- Not sharing — credit, resources, time, perspective, etc.
- And being so focused on their own opportunities and their own “stuff” that they fail (or refuse) to help a colleague in need.
The things we teach our kids are very often the same lessons we need to remind ourselves of in the workplace. And while there are many differences between our parenting and professional lives, there are also plenty of similarities.
I close with a little vignette from a recent conversation with my six-year-old son. He overheard me discussing a work scenario with my wife, and I was thinking out loud about how to give a vendor we are currently working with some bad news. I was playing out how to handle the conversation. Our son overheard the conversation, and came into the room and said “Daddy, how do you want him to feel? Remember to be nice, and always look him in the eye when speaking to him.”
Exactly. The most valuable work lessons can come from anywhere.
Have a great day.