Archives for October 2011

Management Lessons From My Daughter

This morning, dear Anna, you were throwing fits at darn near everything. You did not want to get out of bed, to take your sleep-sac off, to go potty, to have breakfast, to get dressed, get in the car, get your shoes on, or go to day-care. In fact, from the moment you opened your eyes this morning, you have been in protest against the world. But for some reason, it seemed to come to a head for me in the car, just before day-care, when trying to get your shoes on. I already know better than to put your shoes on ahead of time, as you will only remove them on the way there.

So on this particular occasion, as you were in complete meltdown, it would have been easy for me to become frustrated, exasperated, or to engage with you in a power-struggle over your shoes. In truth, however, I recognized that I was at choice. I could overpower you if necessary and put your shoes on. I could yell back at you. I could wait you out for a few minutes, but not too long as I had to get to work. Or I could simply look at you, the daughter I love, as a small child who is simply trying to deal with the stresses of life, using her meager skills to the best of her ability, and finding herself well beyond her current coping skills. I chose the latter, and simply loved you through your tantrum. I stood firm yet loving in my resolve that you needed to put your shoes on. You eventually found your thumb to suck on and began to self-soothe.

The lesson for me here is in applying that level of both love and resolve with the other adults that I work with. They, as adults, have much greater mastery over language and more coping skills and strategies, but when they reach the end of their abilities to get what they want, their responses are only slightly better than your tantrums. And so as with you, I remember to separate the person that I love, care for, and respect from the behaviors that I see playing out before me. You, dear Anna, are letting me practice patience and perseverance surrounded with love — and it is a skill every bit as in demand in the workplace as it is in front of a two-year-old.