I’ve been a parent for 17 months. In the grand scheme of things that’s not a very long period of time, but I continue to be astounded how this parenting gig has helped me learn and re-learn more life lessons than all my (insert mumbled number) years combined.
While many of my observances include a laundry list of the impractical — like blueberries travel really far when you squeeze them, and previously vegetable-adverse canines will gobble up spinach if a baby delivers it — they are primarily made up of powerful takeaways that often can be applied to business.
Here are a few that stand out:
You are stronger than you realize. Once you get on this parenting train, you do things you never thought you were capable of doing. Terrifying things that, given the choice, you certainly would opt-out of entirely. But you can’t. So you don’t. And it’s worth it. In business, you are faced with choices every day. If you opt-out of the terrifying ones that really put you out there, you and your business won’t thrive. Force yourself to take a chance on yourself and your ideas as though you don’t have a choice. Because, in reality, you don’t.
Trust your gut. Instincts are incredible things. We all have those nagging little notions telling you something is wrong. If you ignore problems, more often than not, they won’t go away. Many times, they’ll only get worse, right? This applies to your kids’ behavior just as much as the behavior of your business. So what are you ignoring in your business life? What keeps you up at night? Sometimes the things we worry about are telling us something needs to change. Listen to yourself, and learn what your intuition is trying to tell you.
Don’t put it off. If you put something aside with the intention of doing it after your kids go to bed, bedtime will take twice as long. Or your kid will get sick. And it will happen all over you. And all over the bed. And you won’t have a spare set of clean sheets. And you will end up eating dinner alone standing in your kitchen at 11pm. The same is true in your work life. If you tell yourself you’ll finish something later, something else will pop up (it always does). There will be a problem with an order. Or you’ll get pulled into a meeting. Maybe two. And the end result will still end up being you eating dinner alone standing in your kitchen at 11pm. And it will probably be ice cream.
Expect the unexpected. This could also be called, “Murphy’s Law is real, and it is here to destroy you.” If you are out with your child, and you do not have a change of clothes, ungodly things will happen. It’s a fact. A scientific fact. The same holds true in business. If you do not prepare, thing will inevitably go wrong. Plan ahead as much as possible, and then plan some more. Start earlier than you think is necessary, and then be agile and flexible when problems arise — because they will. And rush shipping is a lot more expensive than baby wipes.
Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Time is more precious than gold. You can always make more money (yes!) — but no matter how hard you try, you can’t create more time. You can only use it more wisely. Are you spending time on tasks that are bringing you no return? Are you worrying about things but not taking action to address them? Are you having meetings for the sake of having meetings because that’s the way you’ve always done things? Look critically at how you’re spending your hours and make whatever changes necessary to make the most of them — all of them.
You don’t need as much sleep as you think. Okay, that’s a lie. You do. Just trying to make us all feel better.
I’ve only taken one and a half trips around the sun as a parent so I still have a lot to experience and learn. What big things lessons do I have to look forward to? What am I missing? What has parenthood taught you about life and business — or both?