Ever caught yourself complaining about your kids? Or your staff? Either way, I’m happy to tell you that its probably your fault. YES I said YOU. In my business we’ve always had a coaching culture that includes mantra’s like “train them, don’t blame them.” Easier said than done that’s for sure! The easier option of course is to blame, blaming for me takes zero intellectual energy and allows for us to blurt out our emotions with zero responsibility for improving the situation. Its a reaction not a response. Reactions are 100% emotional, responding however, is removing yourself from the situation, observing how you and others are feeling and making a conscious and logical decision on what to do next, knowing all the potential ripple effects. Its about thinking “whats my desired outcome?” not my desired expression. The reason this is important to remember when parenting, partnering or bossing is because its often our own example that comes back to bite us later on. This is something we see clearly in others but fail to see in ourselves. I tend to find that in leading and coaching teams that the people I coach will do roughly 80% of what I do right and 120% of what I do wrong! So, is it the same with our kids? Lets find out…
We stayed in a hotel the other night as a family, not far from home but we thought it would be an adventure for the kids. Fox, my little boy was incredibly excited and started screaming for me, “Dad, Dad, Dad” I came running into the hotel bathroom not knowing what situation I was about to find him in. There it was… He’d spotted the hotel’s hair dryer, something he not only associates me with, but has decided is one of his favourite things to do. That’s right, not a hammer or a drill, a hair dryer. Now of course in my littles boys manly man classes that I run for him (we don’t really have them) never did I tell him his tool of choice should be a hairdryer, so why does he love it? Well, every morning within the first few moments of him waking up he hears the mighty roar of Dad’s hair dryer as I get ready for the day. In case your wondering I follow up this routine with a masculine avocado facial moisturiser (Megan got it for me and I can’t pretend to hate it, it feels so good). Whats the point of this story? Well he loves it because I do it. No different from Nala wanting to wear suit jackets and business shirts around the house or telling everyone that she wants to be a “Mum” when she grows up, lets not forget that she’s also Australia’s proudest vegetarian. These novelty mimics that our kids do of us often provide the content for a lot of our positive stories as parents. What we forget however, is the duality of this situation. I call it the copy cat consequence. Just lately I’ve made a real point of sitting back and observing my kids and realised that not only do they copy the good but just like the people I coach, they absorb the bad as well. The only difference is that we tend to take credit for all the good and blame them for all of the bad!
So is it them you should be yelling at? I’ll let you decide for yourself. I’m sure we need context to take this conversation any further so hold on to the hate mail for a moment… here’s my point – Whether it be towards your children or a team you’re in charge of we need to remember that most things are ‘caught not taught’. You can’t out coach an association of modelling that has its own flaws. This modelling won’t always be you as a parent or a boss, we have daycare and previous environments that we could always point a finger at as well. But, before we blame them lets focus on what we can control and that is ourselves and the example we set. If I could turn this conversation into a rule or rules to take away I think the following would some it up well.
- Don’t be a hypocrite – When you’re about to explode take the time to ask yourself this question. “Am I about to attempt to correct a behaviour I’ve personally demonstrated recently?” And “am I about to ask someone to do something that I’ve not done in the past and would not be willing to do again in the future?” If the answers to these questions are YES then you need to rethink your next move. Perhaps starting with an apology for modelling that this behaviour was ‘ok’ and then stating that you can work on it together would be a good move to begin with.
- Don’t just act well, REACT well – Make it your new mission to set the standard of how to react in certain situations. Work on common challenges such as: How do you treat others when you’re tired? When plans get changed? When someone lets you down? Or, you face a failure? One of the keys to reacting well is the speed that you go from thinking negatively to optimistically or from adversity to opportunity. Remember sometimes the challenges your kids present you is an a potential breakthrough moment for you both and all it takes is some awareness. Don’t get confused though speed can hurt you as well, so remember rule number 1 and then – think quick and talk slow, DO NOT talk quick and think slow because when you do you’ll be full of regret as to how you handled the situation.
To be clear I’m writing this because I often let my emotions win. But, I’m determined to parent and lead with intent and awareness knowing that although both positions can feel like a fish bowl, where I’m forever being watched. I know that it also means that if I get my own actions and responses to remain in the framework of me being at my best then those around me will benefit from that intention as well. This was more for me than it was for you, but if you read this far than I hope it helps you too.