Recently my toddler and I were in the car on the way to preschool and work. Even though my brain is not yet awake, he loves spending our short morning commute asking questions-most of which I do not know the answer to or the answer is too complicated for 7:45 AM. Things like, “why did that tree grow there?” “Does Santa go on vacation to the beach?” “How old was I when you were a baby, mommy?” “Why do donkeys like to eat carrots”? “How old will I be when I have a beard?” “Will I grow up to be a giant?” And the questioning goes on and on and on until we get to his preschool. Recently during the morning commute, my toddler was asking me about why people work and what they do for “work”. He questioned me on the “work” of all of the family and friends he could possibly think of (like 500 people) and we talked about what they do for work. He then said, “what’s my job, momma? Where do I work?” I responded that he works at preschool and his job was to learn all sorts of new things, have fun with his friends, and to be kind and helpful (terrible threes-that is a real hard performance measure to achieve some days). As we pulled into the parking lot to his “job” (AKA preschool) my answer about his work seemed to pacify him and he jumped out of the car to head in for a hard day of work on pajama day.
Fast forward to a few hours later that day, I was at my work in a meeting. I spend way more hours than I care to calculate in meetings. At this particular meeting my mind drifted off for a split-second (really, it was just for a bit) and I started thinking about my toddler and wondering how his “work” day was going. I then begin to think, what if my toddler took my place for a day at work. How would his day be different than mine? I mean I could use a pajama day and some time to play with my friends. What would my toddler do (WWTD) if he was sitting at this board room table in a meeting? Looking around at my colleagues picturing them as toddlers, I thought if I acted like a toddler in this meeting by mimicking some of my son’s behaviors, it might look something like this.
How to apply to apply it in the adult “work” world
|Action Items||Say NO to every question and request just because you can. Do you think we should implement this initiative? NO! Do you want to schedule another meeting? NO. Do you think we can all agree….I said Noooo!||Sometimes you need to say NO. Keep a healthy work and life balance and say NO where and when you should.|
|Meeting Discussion Dominators||Make funny objects or paper airplanes out of meeting notes and agendas and throw at people who talk too much.||Break the “rules” and think outside the box.|
|Ice Breakers||Eat boogers or let one rip and then giggle.||Have fun. Have a good laugh at yourself. Take the opportunity to get to know others and allow others to know the authentic you!|
|Questioning||Ask “why” as many times as possible. Why are we doing this? Why are these chairs so uncomfortable? Why are we meeting again?||If you don’t understand something, question it and keep asking questions until you get it.|
|New Technology||Use your electronic device app with a talking cat, lady bug or dino. Record everyone talking in the meeting and play it back with the cat, bug or dino voice on full volume.||Try something new to get your message across. No death by PowerPoint or reading word for word. Be creative with the tools available!|
|Buy In||I “Insert Name” you are being very ugly. or “You are rude.” or “You are not my very best friend anymore.”||Speak your mind, let it go, and move on. If you don’t like someone or how they are acting-tell them. Don’t hold a grudge.|
|Integrity||Be a tattle tale – “I just broke your toy?” or “Insert name” is being mean.”||Sometimes you have to call it like you see. Even when it means be truthful with your own behavior.|
|Camaraderie||Call people names. “You are a chocolate monkey butt”. (This is an endearing term my toddler uses for his aunt)||Forge meaningful connections with those around you with humor.|
|Attendance||Show up and sing to your own tune! Insert my toddler’s mean mixture of Katy Perry’s “Fire” and Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here”.||Be present (guilty-that is how I came up with this blog idea).|
|New Ventures||“I want to go home. Where’s my mommy?”||It’s okay to be anxious when trying something new or sticking your neck out.|
Oh, and I failed to mention, in the above toddler boardroom scenario, I am sure mints and coffee would definitely be replaced with Goldfish crackers and juice. Also, pajamas would be the new business casual and you could bring your favorite toy. Without a doubt, leaders can learn a few things from toddlers. Really, they remind and teach us about the basics of savoring life that somehow the world deprogrammed from us. As parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. we have a lot to learn from children that can easily be transferred to our “work” life. The next time you are leading or attending a meeting, embrace your inner child. Eating your boogers might not work out so well, but hey a paper airplane never killed anyone, right?
Today my spoon is full of “work etiquette” from a toddler (said in my talking dino voice).