I wish I could say that it has been a while since my 10 year old daughter has completely disrupted my calm and the flow of traffic in my local supermarket, but it hasn’t. In fact, the most recent occurrence was just last night. She managed to bump into several innocent bystanders in her attempts to help me “find stuff,” and actually shut down an entire aisle for a period of several seconds as she hopscotched from one dark tile to the next like she was the only one for miles around.
As happens so frequently, I find that as I examine life more closely lessons begin to appear. Take this maddening trip to the grocery store…She got in the way in her heavy handed attempts to help, slowed us down, disrupted others, and completely lost focus of everything else in the world as she “did her thing.”
Sound familiar? Does to me!
I’ve done this exact thing before! I’ve launched myself headlong into random projects, rushed team members with half formed ideas, and completely lost myself in the randomness of my own mind so I did my thing. The reality is that it’s human nature. We’re all guilty and will be guilty of it again in the future. All we can really do is take some lessons that I wish I could download into her brain like Morpheus and Neo downloaded kung-fu in the Matrix. I can’t download lessons to her brain, but I can learn these lessons for myself and try to explain them…patiently…to her again and again until they finally stick.
So, without further ado, here’s
The 10 Year Old’s Guide to Life
Get Out of Your Own Way (and everyone else’s)
Sometimes, you have to just look around the room and recognize that you aren’t the center of the universe right now. You have to understand that there’s a time and a place for your talent for only touching the dark squares in the tiled pattern, but today just isn’t that day. Not only do you have to recognize this, you have to be okay with it! The world doesn’t actually revolve around you and what you have going on. It’s a mark of leadership and confidence for you to have the self-awareness to step back and let others take the lead. Offer input, exercise your strengths when it makes sense, but be a team player.
Slow down. It’s fun for all of us to throw the groceries of life onto the conveyor belt of destiny, but when you are working on a team or building something from the ground up you have to recognize when to “chuck stuff” and when to step back a little bit and exercise patience. Frequently, we get so caught up in accomplishing this task or the other that we completely miss opportunities or even damage what it is we’re trying to complete! Having the ability to slow it down and approach it with the intention and purpose it deserves is vital. Work on it!
People don’t like it. It makes them uncomfortable, defensive, and sometimes downright aggressive! There are a couple ways to apply this timeless piece of advice. 1) Stay in your lane, 2) Don’t compare yourself.
Staying in your lane helps on so many levels and actually dovetails a bit with point number two. There’s a lot to be said about keeping your head down and focusing on your strengths. It keeps you free of drama and insane aggression from strangers.
Refusing to compare yourself becomes vitally important as you look at what’s going on around you - especially with those that you respect. It’s easy to compare yourself and your progress to social media and eventually end up as a discouraged, bitter person. Simple way to avoid that? Don’t stare!
Know Your Job
Work to ensure you know exactly what you are getting yourself to at any point. Know the expectations, know what you need to know, know the pain points, the pitfalls, etc. Basically, the more you know…
When doing all these things, trying to grow as a person, etc., it become really easy to become self-absorbed. Doing this almost inevitably results in frustration and a bad attitude. By learning to focus on what’s going on around you, being considerate, and trying to provide value, you are forgetting about your struggles, frustrations, or shortcomings. Not only that, but by providing value and consideration to others, you will accomplish what it is you are looking to accomplish! Like Zig Ziglar says, “Help enough other people get what they want and you’ll get what you want.”
Keep on Keeping On
Once you’ve internalized these lessons, young patawan, you’ll forget them. It’s human nature! All you can do is look for life to remind you of these lessons again, and hope that you don’t have to experience the Grocery Run of Death for it to happen!
How do you remind yourself of these lessons and are there any that you would add?