If you’ve ever had a conversation with a toddler, you know that what sounds like gibberish to the untrained ear often hides surprisingly insightful, funny or touching messages from these little people who are just figuring out the world around them.
Similarly, their toddling, fumbling, and emotional volatility belie some valuable life lessons. It’s truly amazing what we can learn from spending time with, and really observing small children! They teach us to be open-hearted, see the world with new eyes, and take calculated risks.
These lessons pack an especially big punch for entrepreneurs, who could always stand to take a cue from the kids — slow down, smell the flowers, take that leap. The lessons we can learn from small children are the same ones that can help us to grow as entrepreneurs, to be better business owners and better people in general.
Here are five lessons that I have been reminded of recently by my two-year-old son, Lucas:
Take a Leap of Faith
Lucas will jump from three steps up on our stairs at home, not even stopping to think whether he will land safely or not. The thing is, he always lands it without incident! He can do this in the heat of the moment because he has already tested the waters and knows his limits. Not every decision requires a risk assessment or a pros and cons list. When you have a feel for what you are capable of and the confidence to push the boundaries, you are able to act quickly in any given situation, even if you haven’t been faced with that particular set of circumstances in the past. Stop second guessing yourself. You know what you’re good at, and you know what your team is capable of. Sometimes you need to strike fast to get the account, hit the market with a new idea, or get a leg up on an opportunity.
Trust Your Team to Catch You
Lucas is also willing to jump when he knows I’m there to catch him. You need to trust your colleagues, just as kids trust their parents. Have faith that the people you hire, or partner with, can do their jobs and let them support you with their expertise. When it’s time to take a risk and try something new, you should be able to do so knowing that you are surrounded by skilled people whom you can trust to make your work shine.
Listen to Your Heart
Sometimes we lead too much with our heads — we need to remember to follow our hearts, too. Often, Lucas will be completely absorbed in playing, running around like a maniac, when he will suddenly stop, turn to me and say, “Hug, mommy, hug?” This is him stopping to check in with his heart. As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get caught up in the quantitative side of business, crunching numbers and getting mired in the details; sometimes you need to stop and listen to your heart.
Shake it Off
Toddlers are mercurial, to say the least. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, they may fly into hysterics over receiving the wrong colour of cup (this is not what I’m recommending you do), but they can also forgive and forget just as quickly. In our adult lives, this looks like moving on, without harbouring anger or resentment. There are a million tiny annoyances, bigger stressors and downright crises that we deal with daily as entrepreneurs, and yes, we do need to deal with them. But by the same token, it’s equally important that we allow ourselves to enjoy the pleasurable moments as well, even if five minutes ago we were putting out a fire — whether that is figuratively, or literally. Today, go ahead — give yourself permission to laugh at a joke even if something majorly stressful is happening at work. Your responsibilities aren’t going anywhere in the time it takes you to have a laugh or enjoy a cup of coffee.
See Beauty Where It’s Not Obvious
Kids open up a whole different perspective for us as they see the world through unbiased eyes. By the time we reach adulthood we have been taught that specific things are beautiful and enjoyable and others aren’t worth noticing. But children are still able to see spaces and situations without the tint of this conditioning. Recently, Lucas and I passed through an untended, grassy area as we walked to the shops near our house. I have never given this space much of a second thought as it’s not particularly attractive, but Lucas happily played there for some time — chasing dandelion fuzz and exploring the dips and hills. Dropping your biases and looking at things with fresh eyes can reveal surprising truths about your business, your life and your physical space. Don’t miss out on something beautiful, or a great opportunity, because you have been quick to write it off.
How are you working to get more out of your life as an entrepreneur? What do you find inspiring? I would love to hear about your personal business inspirations and talk about how to turn them into winning marketing strategies. Call me to set up a time!