Children: Who is teaching whom?

With our daughter’s birthday this week, both of our children are now officially adulting.

For most of their lives, I’ve thought (and worried about) how well I was teaching and training them. Even while I (as most parents do) try to project my hopes and dreams onto them.

But the more grown-up my children and I become, I increasingly think it’s good to reflect on how our children teach and train us.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Our children are a kind of mirror. If they do something well, it may be something they inherited or learned from us. They can reflect our strengths and help us recognize them—and weaknesses too, of course. But let’s focus on strengths.

2. No one sees us more clearly than our children, and no one wants us to be successful more than they do. They not only reflect our strengths, but they can see them, sometimes hiding, in us. Often, they can see possibilities in us that we don’t. If your children are encouraging you to do or try something, you might want to listen.

3. Our children teach us about agency or free will. When our daughter was very young, she learned how to tie-dye t-shirts at camp. Returning home, she wanted to tie-dye more. And more. But she was dependent on me, her busy and reluctant mom, to make it happen. If she had been fully agentic, what she would have done right away, instead took me four or five days to get organized. We can learn from our children’s quickness to act, pursue a dream, and use our agency to do likewise.

4. This makes them inspiring to us. Often, our children achieve difficult, challenging, or unexpected things. Things that we might feel apprehensive about doing ourselves.

5. Children teach us to love, be patient, kind, attentive, hold them accountable, and give them feedback. To get up early and stay up late. They give us the opportunity to stretch far beyond who we are and what we thought we wanted to be.

This week our podcast guest is Rob Cross, a Babson College professor and author of the book: Beyond Collaboration Overload: How to Work Smarter, Get Ahead, and Restore Your Well Being. He studies collaborative dysfunction.

What is collaborative dysfunction? It’s a phenomenon that plagues many organizations, small and large, and has almost certainly plagued you. It happens when the emails, Slack channels, meetings, and follow-ups on a project proliferate to such a degree that a team ends up talking themselves into unproductivity. There’s little time left free to execute on all the chit-chat. Rob has some great insights on preventing collaborative overload and dysfunction from creeping into your work and life.

As always, so happy that you are here!

My best,

P.S. I’m very excited to announce that my next book, Smart Growth: How to Grow your People to Grow Your Company, is now available for pre-order.

Smart Growth provides you with the tools to become a smart growth leader––understanding what growth looks like and how to help people grow is key to transformation.

It would be wonderful if you were one of the first people to order the book!

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