Reflecting on priorities of family & work
There are a lot of things I’ve learned during fatherhood that have made me a better worker; and there have been a lot of things I’ve learned in the workplace that have made me a better father. I try to compartmentalize my work life from my home life, as I believe that it allows me to focus better on each at the appropriate time and be more present in the moment. It’s inescapable, though, that I’ve learned a ton from fatherhood that applies to work (and vice versa).
Here are a few ideas that pop for me (picture via www.forbes.com):
As a father,
Patience – I’ve always had a certain patience with kids that I never had with adults. I’ve come to recognize as a father that sometimes, for the sake of my kids, I need to be more patient with the other adults in their lives. They do not do things the same way I would nor perhaps share the same sense of urgency – and I cannot change this. It is not better or worse – it’s just different, and I have developed patience for that. Similarly, I have more patience with those I work with. They do not always do things the same way I would and we’re a better organization for it.
The value of making mistakes – One of the best parenting books I read was, Blessing of a Skinned Knee (and Blessing of a B Minus). Having been breed as an over-achiever (see Post I: The (Over)-Achiever Mindset), I’ve always expected the same in others. I wanted something different for my kids. In my work life, failure wasn’t tolerated and I would rescue those who worked for me as opposed to providing the opportunity for them to learn on the job through coaching and support. It was easier in the short-term, but detrimental to me, them, and the organization in the long-run as they were not being invested in. As I’ve come to learn with kids, failure is a great teaching tool; especially if they experience small “f” failures before getting to the big “F” F@$#-ups. The same is true at work. I embrace small failures as a learning opportunity and reward the learning process as much if not more than the achievement or completion of a task. This creates growth and a growth mindset, strengthening everyone in the long run.
Listening – I’ve learned and practiced skills over the last decade in listening, paraphrasing, and asking insightful questions. Over the past couple of years I’ve even delivered trainings in those skills and in doing so, have shone a light on how important they can be in forming strong relationships with others – kids or adults. It’s hard to listen to what my kids say all of the time without jumping in with a response before they’re done, but I’m getting better.
Co-laboration – There is a difference between collaboration and co-laboration.
Collaboration is working together towards a common goal
Co-laboration is working together towards a common goal where there are agreements on overall outcomes with individual and collective accountability for reaching those outcome.
Co-laboration is much more difficult and important. The same is true in parenting. Parents, teachers, other caregivers, et. al. need to work together and be accountable to each other and themselves for the best interest of the kids. I’m sure we’ve all experienced working on a project with a team where you did most of the work. Co-laboration connotes everyone pulling their own weight and is essential in parenting. It takes a village…
Positive pre-suppositions – We have an amazing culture at my organization. One of the central tenets of our org is to approach situations with positive pre-suppositions. This was a new one for me. I tended towards assuming the worst of what was said or done but slowly have been able to re-program myself to enter with positive intent. I’ve been able to adapt the same approach to parenting with my kids and the other adults they interact with – assuming everyone is coming into a situation with the best interest of my kids at heart. Obviously, this does not always play out to be true, but the opportunity exists for it to emerge from the outset.
What have you learned as a parent that helps you at work? And vice versa?