Having worked as a babysitter for the past 6 years, I’m pretty fluent in toddler language. I love hanging out with kids, and not just because they’re cute, but also because I can learn so much from them. If you pay close enough attention, they can teach you a thing or two. Here are the top 8 business lessons toddlers have taught me:
Practice makes perfect.
Have you ever seen a toddler doing the same thing 20 times over? It can make your head spin. The first trials are usually pretty awkward and might even result in a fall or failure, but they keep at it until that act is a piece of cake. And then they do it another 20 times, just to be sure.
Watching them go through these training cycles has taught me that you need to practice again and again to get good at anything. Things don’t always turn out perfect the first time around. And even if they do, you need to keep at it to be on top of your game.
If you fall, get up and try again.
I think my first grey hairs are from babysitting. The times when that tiny human face first into the ground while trying to master their latest stunt, I feel my heart stop for a few seconds. It’s scary to see them fall and get hurt. But they’re resilient. They cry, get back up and try again. That’s what keeps them developing so fast. Imagine if a child would give up learning how to walk after the first few falls. None of us would be walking right now.
There’s an Estonian proverb that says something along the lines of “Things happen to those who do”. You could defend yourself from failure simply by doing nothing, and wanting to achieve nothing, but my guess would be, that that would feel like a failure as well. So, better to fail while chasing your dreams, to never have chased at all.
Don’t take NO for an answer.
When a toddler wants something, there’s not much that can stop them. They will cry, pout, scream, sneak or plead to get a treat they want. Or they will try all possible angles, chairs and climbing techniques to get that cookie from the shelf you put it on. In case you haven’t experienced it, NO rarely means anything to a toddler. Literally, most of the time they will stare blankly at you after you’ve said it. What do you mean “no”? That’s a foreign concept to them, much to the dismay of their parents (and babysitters).
Somewhere along the way, we do learn to take NO for an answer. So much so, that at one point we may forget that there is another answer possible. We might even stop asking in the first place. Or, we just accept the first answer we get, even if it’s not what we wanted. Which brings me to the next point.
Ask for what you want.
As soon as they learn to speak, toddlers are very verbal about what they want. If they want their teddy, they’ll ask for it. If they want to play ball, they’ll ask for it. If they want ice cream, they’ll just ask. If they want a second ice cream, they ask for that as well. They don’t always get what they asked for (in which case they refer back to strategy no.3), but if they hadn’t asked, they would have gotten nothing. The genius (or sometimes annoying) things is that they never remember the last answer to that question. Yes, at one point they too learn that there is no seconds to that ice cream, but at the beginning, they’ll always ask, no matter what the answer was last time around.
Toddlers, unlike us, don’t assume that just because we said NO last time, it’s also going to be a NO this time. As adults, we miss out on a lot of opportunities, because we take the first answer we got and then stop asking if it was a NO. Toddlers are right, things do change, and opportunities once denied can become available again. Therefor, it doesn’t hurt to ask again.
Determination and perseverance is the key to success.
Sometimes it’s said that a toddler has the attention span of a goldfish. That might be true in some respects, but toddlers can also be super focused on what they want to accomplish. They are not easily distracted, if they truly want something. Even if they forget it for a while, they usually remember it again in just a moment.
Don’t let yourself be sidetracked from what you really want in life and business.
Ask for help.
This is something a lot of adults struggle with. And we make our lives that much harder because of it. Maybe it’s to do with the preconscieved notion that an adult is supposed to be able to do everything on his own. Well, that’s just ridiculous, both in business, but also in life. Seeking comfort and help is necessary to stay healthy and happy. We can’t do everything on our own, and we shouldn’t have to.
Be proud of what you accomplish.
When a toddler makes something or learns something, they can’t wait to show it to you. “Look what I made!” and they hold it up high with a huge smile on their face. When we grow older, we are taught that it’s not polite to brag, and so little by little, we grow ashamed to hold our accomplishments up high. Well, in business, you have to toot your own horn – ain’t nobody going to do it for you.
Always try something new.
Apart from their food aversions, toddlers are always up for new tricks. Whether it’s discovering a new playground, on learning how to climb a tree, their up for the adventure. Toddlers discover the world anew each day. They find so much joy in their discoveries and they never stop learning.
When was the last time you tried something new? Being adventurous is essential when it comes to business. Being the opposite of a adrenaline-junky, this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. But, without taking risks and trying out new strategies, there’s no room to grow.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Have you experienced any lessons you’d like to add to the list? What’s the one principal from the list you should practice more either in your life or your business?