5 years ago tomorrow my son was born (at 4:16 pm) and my life has been a never-ending adventure. There is always something about your firstborn. He’s had to live through more of my parenting errors than my 2 girls and because I was only 21 when he was born he’s lived through a lot of my growing up.
His perspective on the world and life bare a scary resemblance to what I thought and felt as a child. While you may think that is an advantage, sometimes it is, it can mean that the person I’m arguing with is in fact myself. Have you ever argued with yourself? It’s a bit frustrating.
However, I’ve started to pause when I’m about to speak to him and ask myself how I would want someone to tell me what I’m about to tell him. It seems to produce great results. When I think to do that.
Most of what I’ve thought about parenting has been flipped upside down and challenged by my son. I thought that parenting was a lot of teaching your child about everything in the world and preparing them to go out into it. And it is, to a certain extent.
But, my son has done a lot the teaching and he has no idea the profound impact he’s had and is still having on my life. So, in honor of his 5th birthday tomorrow, I’ve come up with 5 lessons my son, Isaac, has taught me. These apply whether you’re a parent or a CEO.
1. Nothing lasts forever. This goes for the good and the bad. The first year of any child’s life is filled with random fussiness, some sleeplessness, and the occasional weird diaper. There were times when I couldn’t believe one human could be so needy (I know, he was a baby. Don’t send me emails. I’m opening up here!), but then he’d be fine and could entertain himself with a toy or the box the toy came in.
It also meant the times that he would fall asleep in my arms passed much too quickly. And I didn’t know what I was doing and missed some great opportunities.
2. Never be too busy to care about someone in pain. At an early age, my son learned that we prayed for people who we’re in pain or trouble. So, at the ripe ol’ age of 2, when he would hear an ambulance (he’d mispronounce that word), he’d start praying for whomever the ambulance was going to pick up. It was simple, “Jesus, please help the people that hurt.” I learned that I didn’t have to do anything elaborate to help or care and neither do you.
3. Don’t use words carelessly. When Isaac was about 3, my parents were watching him and our second, Abigail, so that Bekah and I could have a date night. My Mom was talking about the pasta that she made for dinner and made the mistake of saying noodle instead of noodles. He told her that is was “plural” so we add an “s” at the end.
Where do you think he learned not only the difference but that people should be corrected on something so small? (finger pointed at me) As a leader, you can’t ever use words casually. Be intentional! Or you may hear yourself repeated and cringe.
4. Set expectations ahead of time. When we are in positions of authority (like being a parent or boss), we can forget that the people we are leading need to know where we’re going. Instead, we tend to start going somewhere as a family or a company and mindlessly tell those with us just to be quiet and get on board. We say “just trust me.”
This is not to say that there aren’t sometimes when children and team members will need to trust leadership with some measure of blindness. But when I tell my son where we’re going, why we’re going, and what will happen when we get there, he tends to be more peaceful, trusting, and cooperative.
5. I don’t have to yell to get my point across. This has been a hard one for me to learn. My passion for everything in life has a tendency to go from passion to explosive. I am not proud of any moment that I’ve ever yelled at one of my children. But I know that it affects my son more than my second child. Why? Because he’s like me and the yelling and scolding and over reacting sticks with him.
However, over the past 6-12 months I have made an intentional effort to take a breath and talk to him and to let him talk when we are disagreeing or he is being disobedient and it’s miraculous how much better the situation goes when I’m calm. I am the parent, the leader. I set the tone and I have a choice on how I act and speak.
Besides, over half of communication is nonverbal. What else am I saying to him when I yell and over react? What else are you saying when you over react to your family, co-workers, or team members?
The Bible says that “children are a blessing” and I know that if I will treat Isaac like he’s a blessing and not a burden that he’ll live up to that treatment. I love my son dearly and I love teaching him about life, but I’m starting to think that when it’s all said and done that he may end up teaching me more than I than I teach him.
[reminder]Have you ever learned something from a person that was under your authority? What did you learn from them?[/reminder]