I have had great mentors and teachers, who have taught me invaluable business and life lessons. However, the one who has taught me the most in the least amount of time has been my three year old. A mother is often a child’s first teacher, but on this mother’s day, I want to recognize the career lessons I received from my precious toddler.

 

  1. Thinking outside the “toy box”: Have you ever seen a toddler play with a puzzle or a toy or a game that you just got out of the box? They don’t read the directions, they don’t need to know the rules; they look at the toy, and instinctively know what to do with it. Sometimes, they use their imagination and play with it in a way that is even better than the toymaker intended it to be. When faced with a problem, it is fine to look at past precedence, and the rules and the limitations of the situation, but sometimes you just have to follow your instinct to know what to do with the problem. Creativity and thinking outside the box has a high premium in business these days, and looking at the situation with a child’s lens just might get your creative juices flowing.
  2. The squeaky wheel gets the oil: Every toddler has aced that peculiar high-pitched cry that makes tired parents give in to their demands instantly. While I don’t advocate, you flailing your arms and throwing a temper tantrum in your cubicle, sometimes you have to make a little noise to get what you want. You would be amazed at the things you would get if only you asked.
  3. Turn your charm on: Just as they have mastered the high-pitched cry, they have also mastered the irresistible, dimple-faced toothless smile, which will completely melt you away. They are experts at “working the room” and highly adept at networking. Everyone has a version of his or her “charming self”, but we forget to turn it on to our advantage. It is still important to be genuine, but being likeable goes a long way in handling most situations.
  4. Dust yourself off and play again: One of the qualities that I find most admirable in children of all ages is their resilience and their ability to bounce back. They have a remarkably short turn-around time between getting hurt and playing again, and between feeling sad and feeling happy again. It is this ability to change gears that we should all strive for, for there will always be another day, another project, another boss and another job.
  5. Keep on learning: Toddlers are, at best, adorably inquisitive and at worst, dangerously curious. However, the insatiable quest for learning and exploring the world around them is what helps them grow. The feeling of stagnation or being “burnt-out” is a problem many professionals face, and the best way to avoid it is to be a “lifelong learner”. 

This article was originally posted on www.examiner.com.

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