You may be familiar with the book “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. Even if some cynics call it trite and saccharine, many still appreciate the simplicity of its passages and its overall message.
As adults in this fast-paced, stressful and often over-complicated world, sometimes we do things to complicate our lives even more. This can have negative consequences on our overall happiness and also on our work.
I am here to advocate bringing simplicity back! Here are a few thoughts on how to keep things simple from childhood lessons taught to me by Mom and Dad and how they translate into business success and overall happiness.
1. Get out of the comfort zone
When I was small, I was very shy and didn’t want to go to school. My mom did everything she could to get me to go willingly, but eventually she had to put her foot down and just say “You are going to school.” There have been many times in my career where I would have liked to play hooky, but the bottom line is showing up on time is half the battle of conquering the day. Lesson learned here is that there are plenty of things in life and at your job that you don’t want to do. However, in order to be successful, you must step up to the plate, take responsibility, and do them to the very best of your ability. Get out of your comfort zone!
2. Say “please” and “thank you”
You will be surprised at how many good people there are in this world when you ask for help and say “please.” In business, it is important to remember that there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be for a project you are working on, advice on how to improve your performance, or dealing with a difficult situation; asking for help will often provide the clarity you need to move forward and succeed. On the flip side, it is critical to remember those who have helped you along the way. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to show your appreciation for someone’s efforts and attention.
3. Look both ways before crossing the street
You need to be aware that many of the actions you take can have direct consequences. Be present, thoughtful, and engaged in your work. You don’t want to find yourself in a negative situation because you weren’t paying attention. There are a number of times you will need to find solutions to problems that arise, but it’s important to stay focused, proactive, and determined.
4. Honesty is the best policy – always
Those who are dishonest will eventually be caught. It is better to be upfront, direct, and perhaps unpopular than it is to misrepresent a situation. Don’t ever over promise and under-deliver in a project or assignment. Try to be conservative and cautious in your promises and then deliver by getting the job done sooner than you promised.
5. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say a thing
This simple message can apply to two different aspects in the workplace; gossip and complaining. Gossip is a cancer in the work place and should never be tolerated or allowed. It is something that can be disruptive to employee engagement, so it’s in your best interest to avoid it. Additionally, no one wants to be around someone who continually complains, especially in the office. So make sure to do your work and save the complaining for your family or friends. Trust me, there aren’t many people out there who want to be around someone who is continually negative. Stay positive; talk about what you are grateful for.
6. Treat others the way you would like to be treated
We are all human beings coming from different backgrounds, having different perspectives and ideas, and facing different challenges. At times you may need to put yourself in other people’s shoes, because it’s not always all about you. Spread a little kindness every day by doing a favor without being asked, opening the door for someone, or offering to help a coworker with a project. From here, try to perform at least one random act of kindness a day. When you are generous in spreading good will and good humor, it is returned to you tenfold.
7. Work hard and play hard
Working hard means going the extra mile and giving your 100% every day. This is not to show off or brag, but instead to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments. Even if playing hard means something different to me now than it did back in my 20’s and 30’s, it still emphasizes balance. It’s completely normal to feel like you need to blow off some steam after a tough work day or week. You need to focus on each side in order to start each day with a fresh perspective.
8. Learn from your mistakes
I’ve made a number of mistakes in my career and I’m sure I will make more. But as long as you remember them and adjust yourself and your actions, you most certainly have learned from them. If you make a mistake, it’s best to quickly apologize, own up to it, and then learn from it by asking yourself “how could I have done that better?” If you do this, the mistakes become a helpful learning experience which will allow you to be more successful next time.
9. Keep trying; not everything will be handed to you
If you want something in your career, you have to go for it. Set up professional goals, determine the steps you need to achieve to get there, and keep your eye on the prize. If at first you don’t succeed, you may need to reevaluate and assess the situation, but then try again. It may be easier said than done, but giving up is worse than giving it your all and falling short of your expectations.
10 Be humble
When you think you know it all, chances are when you fall, you’re going to fall hard. Sometimes you need to not take yourself so seriously and just laugh at yourself! In addition, there are always chances for you to still learn from mentors and other employees in your organization. Learning should never stop, and continuing to do this, with some help from others, will only guarantee you success in the future.
11. Respect your elders
Your elders have been on this earth a lot longer than you. They have gone through many more trials and tribulations than you have so far. Be sure to listen to advice and don’t get defensive. In a business environment, this translates into having faith in those who work with you. They may not always be right and no one is perfect, but they are in a leadership role for a reason. Learn as much as you possibly can from them and see how you can get to their position one day.
12. The grass is always greener
If you are continually comparing yourself to other people, you will continue to be unhappy. Instead, you need to draw that focus on yourself and what you can contribute. Be grateful for the things you do have and find joy in small things every day. Take some time for yourself; try a new hobby, go outside in nature, take a class, or do some volunteering. If you have wonder and can still appreciate your achievements at work and in your life, you will be prosperous.
Remember, at the end of the day, you are the one responsible for your own happiness. Keep these lessons from Mom and Dad in mind to make the process simpler and be on your way to success in both work and in life!
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