There are all sorts of lessons out there for the professional with an open heart and an open mind.
Many of the most insightful thoughts come from those without the slightest experience in business, and with total ignorance of the nuances of your situation. Often, these little people care deeply about your wellbeing and understand you like few others. Their simplistic views cut through the clouded politics of your colleagues and the confused messages in your own head.
Ignore the coaching of kids at your peril.
Before I go on, I realize that not everyone has children. For the sake of this article, you could substitute the word kids for family, friends, or even the stranger on the bus. My point is that you should be open to getting feedback from any angle – often it is wise and well-meaning. However, my story is about my daughter, so I’ll get back to the coaching by kids angle if I may.
She sometimes joins me in my office after school before her evening activity and does her homework as I make a few client calls to the U.S. She is a naturally curious type and can’t help but listen in and make the odd comment. Sometimes, she wonders why I said a certain thing or what I hoped to gain by saying something else. When I want her to consider her behaviour, I tell her that I am just “holding the mirror” for her to look at herself, and in this way she can “hold the mirror” for me.
I am happy to explain my dealings to her for her education, but actually it is her contribution to the discussion that helps me more. I thoroughly enjoy these interactions and can honestly say that I have changed many things as a result.
Initially, it would have been easy to dismiss her thoughts, to tell her to get on with her homework and not get involved in something that she doesn’t fully understand. However, the moment she expressed an opinion, I was hooked. Not in a patronising “ok then, tell Daddy what you think” sort of way, but in a “what pearl of wisdom is she going to come out with now” sort of way….
I am sure that I am not alone.
There is a reason that business leaders talk to the guys at the coalface. It is not out of the question that Richard Branson reads the comments feed of his blog. Successful people are the first to credit the wisdom of the “little guy” as an integral part of their rise. There are parents all over the world who are commuting to work, slowly pondering the musings of their eight-year-old that morning.
The best wisdom sometimes comes from the most innocent minds. When a child is still in the process of piecing together the jigsaw of life, things seem so much simpler. Often, seemingly complicated business issues have simple solutions. The insight of our kids (amongst others) often helps us to see the wood for the trees.
Who holds your mirror for you?
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury