Wisdom//

6 Wise Lessons Children Teach Us About Leadership

Every leader can benefit from a fresh, pint-sized perspective.

EujarimPhotography/Getty Images
EujarimPhotography/Getty Images

On International Women’s Day, our team at ThirdLove spent time talking about the women we admire. We heard about moms, grandmas, sisters, wives, and best friends.

I chose my daughter, Sloane.

Sloane is four-and-a-half years old, and she’s been doing something lately that really makes me proud. Whenever I take her somewhere, and she sees a woman working a certain job–pilot, massage therapist, Lyft driver–she immediately decides that’s what she wants to do. After she saw a female dentist, she spent the next three days saying she wanted to be a “teeth cleaner.”

In her mind, she can do anything. And that’s so incredible to see. I get to watch her jump from job to job without ever thinking there’s something she can’t do.

From me, I hope she learns that she can be a founder and a leader. But truthfully, both my kids have taught me a lot more about leadership than they probably realize.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Every day is a new day.

One of our mottos at ThirdLove actually is, “Every day is a new day.” That’s the mentality we want our team to have.

Kids live and breathe that motto.

To them, it’s not even day-to-day. Every hour–every minute–is new. Kids live in the moment, and they have an amazing ability to take a situation, reframe it, and move on.

That’s a mentality you have to strive for as a leader. You can’t be too focused on the past or the future. You have to come into work each day and treat the present like it’s the only thing that matters.

2. Put passion and energy into everything you do.

Young children are so enthusiastic about whatever it is they’re doing. They’re just so happy to be alive, to be active, and to enjoy the world around them.

So often we think of our daily life as a grind, a routine that we have to put ourselves through over and over. But my kids remind me to get excited about the opportunities that come every day.

Seeing the way they approach each day and each activity is a good way to stay dedicated and passionate about my own work.

3. If you set your mind to something, you can do it.

Part of being a selfless leader is following through. If you say you’ll make something happen, you do. No matter what.

Kids are incredible at taking on challenges when they put their minds to it. When my daughter was about two-and-a-half years old, she became obsessed with the monkey bars. I noticed her intently watching the kids playing on them, focusing on their movements.

After a while, she just figured it out. She tried it again and again–and at three years old she could do the whole set of monkey bars.

There are very few things in life you can’t do if you work hard and stay focused on your goal. It’s all about how much research you do, how much effort you put in, and how dedicated you are to making something happen.

4. Be thoughtful about your relationships.

I was more selfish before I had kids. Many people are. You don’t realize how much you focus on yourself until you have someone who depends on you for absolutely everything.

My children have taught me to be more thoughtful about my relationships and more sensitive to what people at my company need at any moment in time. Life is full of ups and downs. Maybe someone is going through a divorce. Maybe they’re taking care of a sick parent.

Whatever the case, a real leader makes sure people have time to take care of personal needs and be present for the moments that truly matter.

5. Efficiency is a necessity.

Kids take up nearly all of your free time. And because you have less time for yourself, you’re forced to operate more efficiently. There are certain things you just don’t have time to contemplate anymore.

As a founder, that’s actually helped me in some ways. I used to spend days focused on certain issues. But now, I make a decision and move on. I don’t have time to ruminate over all the potential downsides or pitfalls.

Becoming fixated on one problem for too long can actually be detrimental to a leader. Even if you make a mistake, you have to move on quickly.

6. Learn to adapt and stay resilient.

The way kids adapt to new situations is amazing.

You know what I mean if you’ve ever dropped off a child for their first day of preschool. They almost always cry. Your care has been the only world they’ve ever known. And now they’re being dropped off in a foreign environment with teachers and other kids they don’t know. It’s a nightmare.

But by the next morning, or a few days later, they’re excited to go back. All it takes is a day or two for them to adapt to the environment and get over their fear.

Adults are not as good at that. As we get older, we become set in our ways. And we are not as resilient when we’re thrown into a new situation. But leaders have to rise to challenges and adapt to new circumstances. They have to be a little more like children on the second day of preschool, ready to meet new people and take on the challenges ahead.

Originally published on Inc.

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