Being a dad is a blast. Aside for having an excuse to play with little toy cars again; I’m constantly amazed how quickly a little cell develops into an independent, creative human being – with opinions, desires and attitudes. Plus, my son (Eitan) teaches me a lot about myself and about life. Here are some important life lessons from my son that we can all benefit from:
- Everything is Negotiable.
My son is a master negotiator and has a bright future in sales. For example, he loves to play in the bath, so when it’s time to come out, I give him a “2 minute warning” and his usual response is: “No – four! (minutes)”. Before bed time, I’ll always ask him to bring 3 books, and he brings 5. He just knows the principle that everything is negotiable. And because of that he usually gets a lot more of what he wants…
If you don’t ask you won’t get. Everything is negotiable.
- Be playful.
Kids love to play, and they don’t just engage in the act of playing, they become playful. Laughing, and giggling all along. If you look at life as a big game, being playful simply means being in a state of play in your circumstances. It’s how you play in your conversations with people, in your interactions with your family, and even with yourself. I confess that I get way too serious, way too often. It’s not productive, or attractive to anyone. Playful people are fun to be around, and are always infectious with their cheerful attitude.
Play in the game of life – Don’t try to by something you’re not, but everyone has a little playfulness in them.
- Get over it.
It’s a true gift that we forget things. But some of us are so happy to get the attention when we share war stories, we forget to forget. When my son bangs his head on the floor from spinning in circles like a “draidle”, he cries for attention, but once he gets some, he almost instantly returns to his playful state. If he can do it, so can we.
You’ll find your life to be much more pleasant if you consciously choose to get over things like a 2 year old. Don’t live in the past, but develop a forward thinking mindset.
- Be present.
Have you ever watched a 2 year old play with a new toy? When my son plays with something he’s into, the world ceases to exist during that time. Not even “Pokoyo” his favorite cartoon will distract him (I love Pokoyo!). What I realized is that being present is actually a very natural ability we’re all born with. It’s the distractions that happen by choice.
With so much noise and information coming at us each day, it’s important to appreciate ‘the present’ of our ability to be present.
- Risk being the fool.
At a 2 year old, my son has no concern about who’s watching and what people will think about his behavior. He’ll dance, sing, laugh, cry, and fully express himself – whether his parents deem it appropriate or not. It’s actually beautiful to watch (most times…). Many people lose their freedom of self-expression as they get older in fear of looking bad or being judged by others. “I can’t jump in the middle and dance…” we think, “what will people think of me?!…”. The irony is that we all want to be fully self expressed, yet, we all walk around with the same fear of being judged by others. So go ahead – risk being the fool. Be like a 2 year old. Don’t worry about people’s judgement – I’ve got news for you: people already judge you anyway, so it won’t matter much… And when that fear is overcome, everyone in the room knows it, and it feels a lot more alive! Have you ever been to a party, wedding, conference, or a gathering where groups of people just let go and started doing something they wouldn’t normally do in public? Like dance or sing? You can feel the energy in the room!
Risk being the fool sometimes, it will stretch you in ways you’ve never imagined it can.
- Appreciate the little things in life.
Little kids look at the world with very fresh eyes. Everything is new to them – a first flower, a first plane, a first dog, a first cat, lots of firsts… And often they remind us how beautiful the world we live in is. My son points to the moon every night. He’ll point to every plane that passes by. We think it’s cute, but if you really think about it with fresh eyes, those things are miracles, but because it’s not new, its magic is lost.
Pay attention to the little things – your technology, your surroundings, etc. you may find yourself living in a better world without actually changing anything. How would your life look like if you lived each day like it’s your first?
- We are always growing and developing.
We are all in permanent Beta” says Reid Hoffman, founder of LinekdIn, in his book “The Startup of YOU”. So true. From little baby to a 2 year old toddler, the change and development occurs so quickly, it’s like being introduced to a new person each day – literally, a different experience each time. It may not be as obvious as an adult, but just like our cells duplicate and die every 7 years and we physically renew ourselves, so do our habits and character traits if we have that intention.
Who you are today can be a better version of who you were yesterday, make it a habit to seek new ways to grow and develop into who you know you can be.
When my little one celebrates and gets excited, he can barely contain himself and he PHYSICALLY begins to move with excitement… We celebrate everything together, every little accomplishment, even just catching a ball. But for some reason, many people don’t do it as they grow older, they forget the importance of celebrating the little wins, and for some reason feel that in order to celebrate, it is necessary to wait for the big ones.
Celebrate the little wins. Your celebration should be proportionate to the occasion, but it should still exist none the less to propel you forward towards your next challenge!
What have you learned from children in your life?