Here is a list of 7 life lessons and principles that are essential to teach our kids, and should be expected of employees in the workplace.
A week ago my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our second son. With an impressionable 2 year old at home and now the addition of another child, I often find myself in moments of reflection thinking about what fundamental principles I want to instill in my children at an early age. A father's responsibility is to love his kids and ensure they grow to be the best people they can be. With a bit of modification, the same focus we put on shaping the values of our children can be used to better our workforce. Below is a list of 7 life lessons and principles that are essential to teach our kids, and should be expected of employees in the workplace.
1) Respect - It sounds simple but boy does this one get overlooked. While having a basic human respect for others seems as fundamental as it gets, you can't watch or read the news without seeing how bad society seems to be missing the ball on this one. We need to be respectful of others thoughts, beliefs, values, and even things. It doesn't mean we have to agree with each of these but agreement and respect are two separate things.
Working in sales, I've also realized how important it is to also respect culture, not just that of individuals, but that of organizations. Sometimes the governing principles that form a company's culture may seem archaic, but it is important to respect them in order to understand how they got where they are today and where they are trying to go in the future. A good employee needs to be able to help guide a company down that journey.
2) Own and Manage Your Brand - Your personal brand is essentially the sum of how you are viewed by others with the good, the bad, and everything in between added in. My children will grow up in a world where their every move and their entire life will be cemented online in social media and other various digital forms. For them it will be even more important to manage what they do and how the are perceived, as their actions in early life will certainly follow them into the workforce.
Not only is it important to manage your personal brand, but you need to own your business brand. Being mindful of how your personal brand impacts your company's image really goes back to the first lesson of respect, and respecting the name on your paycheck is of utmost importance. If you really take ownership of how you present yourself online, you can move from being brand aware (mindful of your brand), to a brand ambassador (proactively improving the brand of your company and yourself)
3) Dream BIG, Win BIG - Who plays the lotto in hopes of winning $20... you don't, you play in hopes of hitting the jackpot! One of the things I admire most about children is their huge imaginations. Children live in a world of never ending possibilities, and while at some point they have to balance out reality in that equation, I'll ensure to teach my children to never stop dreaming and that they can truly grow to be whatever they want.
Work shouldn't be treated any different. In sales we are pushed to set aspirational targets, but this should be the same in any job. If your employees aren't dreaming big and setting aspirational goals for themselves, they most likely will just be clock punchers. If the individuals on your team dream big, they are likely working harder and more efficiently in pursuit of those dreams. I would expect each of my employees to put effort into their own development plan, and the level of effort dedicated to this will help set my expectations on what role they are capable of playing for our team.
4) Always Keep Your Word - This lesson is one I will be sure to reiterate with my kids as they grow up. When you say you are going to do something, you do it. If you make a promise to help out a family member, a commitment to go to an event with some friends, take lead on a project at work, etc, you have to follow through with what you said you will do.
At work we make commitments every day, and good employees hold to them. Project managers make commitments on what checkpoints will be reached at specific times. Sales people forecast their business for the company and commit how much revenue they will bring in at specific intervals in a fiscal year. When I mentor people at work, I ask them to commit to having certain follow up items prepared each time before our next session. People and businesses often make their plans based on what others say they are going to do, so whether in the workplace or at home, this is a critical principle to adhere to.
5) It's Okay to Fail - It's okay to fail in life. If you've never failed, you probably aren't trying anything new. You have to be comfortable taking calculated risks knowing that things might not always work out, but you can learn great things through your failures. People don't abstain from playing sports out of fear they might lose a game at some point. If you fail, it's simply an opportunity to reflect on the experience and try to learn what you could do better next time.
6) Be Passionate About What You Do - It's so much easier to succeed when you are passionate about what you are doing. If you lack passion for what you are doing, maybe it's time to try something different. This is true in sports and hobbies at a young age, it's true in your field of study in college as a young adult, and it's increasingly critical as an adult in your career since you spend the majority of your time at work.
Of course in life there will be times when we have to do things we aren't exactly thrilled about, but if you look at what you are doing in the right light, as a required step to getting you closer to your end goal, you can find ways to be passionate about it. Passion spurs creativity, and being able to get creative and find new ways of approaching things at work can produce big results. At the end of the day, there are too many hungry people out there striving to leave their mark in the world to let a headcount sit idle with someone who doesn't care for what they are doing.
7) Always Give Your All - Whatever you do in life, you should always strive to be the best at it, which means you have to give everything your all! This goes hand in hand with being passionate about what you do, but I've always been confused at how some people float through life doing the bare minimum to get by when surely there is something they genuinely care about that they could dedicate themselves to. The wise old saying "All that matters is that you do your best" is around for a reason. Giving half effort is never going to yield the best possible outcome, while giving your everything will help you achieve more, earn the respect of others, and build a solid brand for yourself!
In Summary - While these principles may (hopefully) be just a refresher for many of us in the workforce, they will absolutely help build a solid foundation for my children. These lessons will be essential toward their ability to become both good people and active contributors to society. So if we can expect our children to adopt these principles, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to expect the same of our employees right? Well... we can all always use that refresher!