This time of year, I find myself reflecting upon the past 12 months, what I’ve accomplished, what I could’ve done differently, and what I’m planning on doing in the new year. Along with reflection comes gratefulness, and this year I am extremely grateful for my family and young son. As I thought back over the year, and as my brain began to mix business and personal events, it dawned on me, “There are a lot of parallels between my son and my work.” I’m sure there are many more than those below, and even if you don’t have children, I think you will find some of these skills and habits interesting.
Communicate – Even if your Mandarin isn’t perfect, or you think someone knows what you’re thinking (or should know), make an effort. The other party may not be thinking in-line with you and/or they will be grateful for the effort. At home, it’s amazing how many of my son’s words and sentences I actually understand. He may not be enunciating with the skills of a news anchor, but he’s making a concerted effort and I can pull the words from the sounds and context. When I travel, I make a point to try and learn a new phrase or learn how to greet people in their native tongue. I may not say it properly, but the effort goes a long way. I’ve also learned that I don’t stand a chance with Mandarin, so I always have the concierge write down directions and the hotel address. That way, even when I’m lost, I can get home.
Fall – It’s going to happen. It’s about how quickly you get up and brush yourself off. In today’s fast-paced world we cannot succeed 100% of the time. Just make sure you learn from your choices and it’ll make you more successful down the road. This is an hourly occurrence around the house. He’s always trying to move too fast or trying to climb something he’s never climbed before. He is constantly growing and strengthening his mind and body. I once interviewed a gentleman for a top Sales role with a hotel company. He said, “Matt, I’d rather make 100 decisions in a week and be right 80% of the time, than make 20 decisions a week and be right 95% of the time.” His point was that we work in a fast-paced world and some decisions need to be made with less-than-optimal data. Spend the time on the big decisions, and move the smaller ones off your desk or delegate them to someone else. You can afford to correct small mistakes, but the big ones will stay with you for a long time.
Observe – We live in an amazing world, surrounded by unique and interesting people and things. There is nothing that stops me in my tracks quicker than my son saying, “Whoa!”. Right now, it’s the airplanes and helicopters that amaze him, and it’s great to stop what we’re doing and watch them pass overhead. Look around the next time you’re on the train or (gasp) at a stop light. Everyone is on their phones. If it’s not email, it’s sports scores. If not sports, it’s social media. If aliens landed tomorrow, I’m sure they’d believe we are controlled by our phones.
Explore… literally and figuratively – Not all of us are interested in the great outdoors. “Exploring” could be traveling to a new place, taking a different route to work, or even stimulating your mind with a new book. Our latest exploration involves pill bugs, or what we out on the West Coast call roly polies. We cannot find and touch enough of them at the park. In life, I’ve started taking different streets when I take my dog for a walk. It never ceases to amaze me what new house is being built or what was there last year is now changed this year.
Read – Knowledge is the key for development, at any age. If you don’t like to read, buy audio books. Earphones and a charged phone will get you through the worse rush-hour traffic or a long commute. With the holidays, most of our bedtime books involve Santa and his reindeer, but we also have a steady stream of colors, shapes and animal books. Every day, our son seems to absorb more information from these books.. This upcoming year I’ve made a pact with myself to read one outside-of-the-box book a quarter. It could be anything from business to travel to self-improvement. My goal is to explore more internally.
Share – Similar to communications, we need to be conscious of those around us and how our style and interactions impact them. It’s important not to just share the coffee and Friday donuts, but also to collaborate with thoughts and ideas to better ourselves, both personally and professionally. We constantly work on this at home! Right now, we’re working on “ours” instead of “mine”. The progress is slow but steady. In business, I have a goal to set up quarterly meetings with a few key relationships next year. The goal will be to collaborate and share my thoughts and direction with the hopes of getting their feedback and thoughts. We’re not in this world alone, so we might as well ask and get the advice from those we trust.
Laugh – We can never take ourselves too seriously. Isn’t this the truth!