My life forever changed on May 13, 2014. My son, our first child, was born, and four kids later, life hasn’t slowed down since. What’s interesting is, roughly 2 months before that, I quit my steady job to go sell insurance.
Right about now, anyone who has ever sold insurance is thinking, “What an idiot.” What ensued was the craziest 2 years of my life, during which I learned a few of the most valuable lessons life has to teach a person.
I went on to quit selling insurance, joined a startup, started my own business, failed miserably, joined another startup, then started another business. Through it all, I can honestly say that some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned so far weren’t learned in a “work” setting.
The most valuable lessons I’ve learned were actually taught to me by my cute little chubby baby years ago. And even though learning these lessons sucked in the moment, they can make all the difference in your business and ultimately shape you into a better person.
Here are 4 of the most valuable lessons kids have taught me about my career and life:
I’m convinced that patience is the anti-dad, and I hate it even more than most. But let me tell you, there’s nothing like having a screaming toddler running around to really push the limits of your patience. But it’s a good thing.
Being impatient with a toddler is like trying to nail jello to a tree. It accomplishes nothing and only adds frustration. Being impatient at work is very similar.
Impatience causes you to jump the gun and make stupid decisions. You hire the wrong people. You take on the wrong clients. You jump into the wrong business deals.
Whether you’re waiting for the right job to come along or watching your child throw oatmeal on the kitchen walls, patience is most definitely a virtue. And very few things teach you that like having kids.
Being a parent means what you want isn’t the priority anymore (at least until the kids go to bed). If they want to go outside and play, guess what you’re getting ready to do? Lace those outside-shoes up, buddy. If they want to watch the Minion movie for the 427th time, you might as well settle in for an umpteenth encore.
Your career is much the same. When you’re leading people or advancing your craft, your work really isn’t about you. You exist to serve your team and the customers you’re there to help. That’s it. So everything you do needs to reflect that mentality, and being a parent instills that mindset in you..
Parenthood and leadership are not for the faint of heart. When your kid is scared to death sitting in a hospital looking at you with big sad eyes, all you want to do is curl into a ball and cry. But you can’t. You have to be the one they lean on. You have to stay strong no matter how much it tears you up.
Leading at work is the exact same way. When you’ve been yelled at, cussed out, sued, short-changed, the bills are late, payroll is due, etc. – all you want to do is curl into a ball and cry. But you can’t. You have to look it in the eye and suck it up. Because it’s not going away, and the worst thing you can do for the people you work with is cave. That’ll only make your problems worse. And you get to refine that skillset as a parent.
There’s nothing in the world like watching your child succeed at something. It doesn’t matter if they’re bouncing a ball, saying their ABCs, or flying a spaceship. Their single success is better than all of your successful moments put together.
And guess what? You should have the same mentality about the team you work with and the customers you serve in your work. Focusing on their success, and genuinely wanting them to succeed, is the only way you’re truly going to build a successful career – because, again, it’s not about us in the first place. It’s about them. And when we learn that through parenting and leading our kids, we become better all-around for it along the way.