Learning new things can be hard in itself, let alone implementing new policies and guidelines in the workplace. I have the privilege of raising two wonderful children with my wife. My oldest is 9* and she is showing what I believe is an engineering brain with her inquisitive and curious nature. My youngest is 6* and he constantly seeks our approval in both doing what is right and letting him do things to help around the house. After spending a wonderful long holiday weekend with my family, during a bit of a time of reflection, I realized four traits that my children show over and over again in their daily routines and they are things that we, as adults, can learn from. Let me describe how my kids reminded me how important perseverance, patience, asking questions, and trying are to our success in life.
My wife and I were unboxing and unloading the assortment of Christmas decorations from our shed. I had begun setting up the tree only to find large portions of our pre-lit tree were not working. Sections of lightbulbs were black. Having had this issue in the past, I already had a stash of new bulbs to replace the burnt-out bulbs.
Almost immediately, my son was looking over my shoulder asking me when we were going to put ornaments on the tree. My response over the next 3.5 hours was consistent. Once the lights are working we can start the ornaments. Yes, you read that right. 3.5 hours and 184 light bulbs later, our 7′ Christmas tree was working and beautifully lit.
His persistence pushed me to persevere through the tedious task of replacing light bulbs. When dealing with monotonous tasks like this, look to the reward for the finished product. I can be easily distracted and tend to put off finishing these tasks because of how boring they can be. My son was only looking to the ornaments phase and he didn’t care how much or little effort it took to get to that point. He was excited!
Patience is complementary to perseverance. My son’s strong desire to put ornaments on the tree was a true test of his patience. His persistent nagging to see when I would finish with the lights tested mine.
At times we both had to take a breath and recognize there were things we could control and others that we could not. I business and in life, we encounter this often. I believe we test our patience daily with routine tasks like our commute to work, visiting a slow website, or waiting in line for something. Combine this with the responsibilities and daily duties with co-workers, clients, and everyone else we work with, and we can take a lesson from my son, remembering the value of patience.
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter has an inquisitive and interesting mind. She is looking for an explanation for nearly everything. She asks so many questions, she often tests my own patience with her perseverance in search of the answer.
She wanted to know things like:
- Why is it taking me so long to fix the lights?
- Can I help with the ornaments?
- When will you be done with the lights?
- How are you fixing the light bulbs?
- Can I help you?
- Where are the ornaments?
- Can I get the ornaments out of the box yet?
And the list goes on. At times it felt like our conversation was nothing more than a question-answer-question-answer-question-answer back and forth. While this was frustrating to me at times, it wasn’t because she was being bad. She was in a moment where she desperately wanted to know everything about what I was doing.
We all need to ask questions more. This can be done in different ways. By asking questions, you can learn about why someone is doing or did something a certain way. Before you jump to conclusions, make sure you understand the perspective. It is easy to make assumptions. These can be accurate and correct but at the same time, they can be grossly wrong and result in misrepresenting yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The entire day was all about trying, which again ties back to perseverance. I was trying to put lights on a tree, my kids were trying to put ornaments on the tree. Once we got the lights thing worked out, I pretty much stood back and let the kids do their thing. I took care of putting ornaments on the top quarter of the tree but the rest of the tree was the responsibility of my kids.
They waited all day to do this and they were working hard together to make the tree great. The end result was one of the nicest-looking trees I have ever seen.
This trait came to me when they were working to put all of the empty ornament boxes back into the box they came out of. As they were about halfway finished, I reminded my daughter that there was a lot of air and space in the boxes. A short time later less than 3/4 of the ornament boxes were in the big box. I dumped the box out and they tried again. This second time got much closer, but there were still a lot of ornament boxes that did not fit. On the third try, we worked together and we were successful.
Throughout it, both of my kids were ready and willing to try again and we did it together. Don’t be afraid to try again. Just because it didn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it will not work next time.
* At the time this article was published (November 2021)