I have spent the past fifteen plus years of my career developing leaders around the world and the past four as a proud “dad” and father to my son. Every now and again, I read something that immediately stops me in my tracks professionally and makes think about things personally.
Dedicated to all the incredible parents and people managers around the world who look to better themselves and those around them in shaping our future leaders. This article is for you.#BeTheBoss
My amazing wife recently sent me an article that appeared in the Huffington Post about what to teach your child (specifically a boy) about life. The lesson is meant to ensure he is properly equipped to tackle what life decides to throw his way before hitting his teenage years.
I read this article more than once. It really got me thinking about how as parents from the moment you bring home your child and leave the hospital, you are on your own to teach and develop these future leaders. Raising a child can be (and for me is) the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. Every day I start over learning from the day(s) before hoping to better myself for the betterment of my son and his future.
The parallels of developing others – whether they are kids or business professionals are plenty and some of the best books on the topic weren’t written by people with numerous degrees or sitting in a high level of leadership in some prominent company. What Shannon Ralph outlined below could very well be applied to the broader world of personal development and some aspects of professional development and not just for boys. Although this is not a complete list by any means, it’s definitely thorough in covering some essential and some might say critical components to successfully navigating life’s unknowns.
Here are 10 powerful lessons I want my son to learn before he becomes a teenager.
1. Kindness is power, not weakness.
Gentleness is a strength. As is empathy. It is not “manly” to be cruel. It is not “weak” to be gentle. All too often, we underestimate the power of kindness to turn the world around.
2. A girl’s body belongs ONLY to her.
You have no claim to it, no matter who she is. No matter how long you’ve been dating. She makes the rules regarding her body. In the same way, you make the rules concerning your body. A boy can say no, too.
3. Express your feelings.
Use your words. Don’t bottle things up. Don’t push it down. Our feelings are what make us fully-evolved humans. Don’t be a caveman.
4. Cook, clean, and do your own laundry.
Every man should be able to cook something delicious (or, at minimum, edible), clean up after himself, and wash his own clothes. And please, please understand — and don’t just say it, but actually, believe — that none of this is “women’s work.”
5. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” every day.
Manners are important. Manners, though underutilized in this modern world, will set you apart. In school, your career, and your future relationships. Manners will get you far in life.
6. Don’t trust everyone.
At the same time, don’t NOT trust anyone. People need to earn your trust. Don’t give it away freely, but give it to the people who deserve it. We all need an inner circle of people who have our backs.
7. A little confidence goes a long way, even if you have to fake it.
And there will be times when you totally fake it. Trust me on that. But know that you are smart. Know that you are capable. Know that you are talented. You have what it takes to make your dreams come true. Just believe in yourself.
8. Never kiss and tell.
First of all, it’s disrespectful. Secondly, it’s rude. And thirdly, it takes advantage of another person’s vulnerability. Your friends do not need to know the details. Leave them to their fully capable imaginations.
9. Sometimes the joke is just not worth it.
You know I am a fan of wicked wit. Expertly executed sarcasm is one of my favorite things in the world. And you are quite adept at both. But it is not always appropriate. There are things more important than a perfect punchline. Like friendship. Trust. Kindness. Think before you make the joke. Is it worth it?
10. Explore the world.
Get out. See new things. Explore new places. Broaden your horizons. Backpack across Europe. Safari in Africa. Trek through the rain forests. Cultivate a worldlier perspective. I will always be your home base.
For more on how to teach children to be better adults:
We live in a crazy fast paced world that is filled with as much hope as there is uncertainty. Technology is moving faster than people can grasp and just when you do, that program, product or function is quickly obsolete. Sure, we have STEM Schools, Common Core and of course amazing organizations like Khan Academy but we can never forget the importance of “off-line” learning and emotional and personal development not just of our kids and future leaders but ourselves as well. The concept of being a life-long learner is something I’m teaching my son. Whether you are a parent or not, we all have the ability and opportunity to instill some of these life lessons in others every day. We are all leaders in life and it doesn’t take much to support another individual.
The floor is yours. What are some key life lessons someone taught you growing up?
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Joshua Miller is a creative leader and impactful executive coach.
His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.
Joshua studied at Syracuse University, NYU and Stanford. He combines that background with his deep knowledge of organizational behavior, performance and change management. He focuses on the analysis, design, development, delivery, and evaluation of scalable and global talent development solutions programs.
Joshua is a Master Certified Coach. He trained with the International Coaching Federation and CTI (The Coaches Training Institute).