A Leadership Lesson From A One Year Old

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Share on LinkedInEmail to someone

My sister-in-law is in town this week. She’s here with her husband and two children, Riley and Logan. As part of their time with us we planned a visit to an indoor skydiving facility called iFLY. My niece, Riley, is fearless. She jumped in with unbridled enthusiasm and had a smile on her face the entire time.

In between one of her “flights” I noticed a one-year old baby off to my left. She had just realized that the person “flying” in front of her was her father. She dropped her bag of potato chips, put both hands on the glass wall in front of her and had a contagious smile on her face. She was squealing with delight and had eyes the size of saucers as she saw her father suspended in midair. Every adult within five feet of her was laughing.

In the course of thirty seconds I was reminded that moments of joy, awe, wonder and pure delight are all around me. My only job is to turn my gaze away from what is in my direct line of sight and pay attention.

I’m not sharing this story with you to suggest that a child’s perspective will improve your leadership and accelerate your performance. I am sharing this with you because as leaders who are expected to improve performance there is much you can learn from two year olds. You can learn three things specifically.

1. Delight draws us closer. Because of the delight on a child’s face I’m writing this post. The delight I experienced grabbed my attention and stayed with me for hours. It prompted me to wonder about employees and customers and whether the leaders I’m working with are drawing their most important customers closer or pushing them away.

2. Laughter softens us. Laughter is contagious. When I laughed at the child’s wonder it created a connection with every adult around me. It broke down barriers with people I didn’t know and created a connection that was palpable. In today’s hard charging world of work laughter may seem frivolous, but actually it’s essential if you want to innovate and press the boundaries of what’s possible.

3. Attention is our choice. You pay attention to what’s important to you. When results are your primary focus you pay attention to where results are positive or negative and take action that you believe is beneficial. You can pay attention to successes or failures, to what you’re grateful for or what you’re anxious about. In all cases though your attention is your choice.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

Find three minutes today to stop and ask yourself these three questions:

1. Am I delighting customers and drawing them closer? If yes, how specifically and how will you leverage this more fully?

2. Am I able to laugh and not take myself seriously? If not, what are the implications on my performance?

3. What am I paying attention to? Do I pay attention to the wonder, joy and awe that is all around me? What does this say about my success and satisfaction at work and at home?

Speak Your Mind

*