Learn from a child

My wife and I are not only life partners — we’re business partners too. The nature of our various business pursuits allows us to work from just about anywhere. This is usually a good thing (though my wife is quick to point out that we don’t take many “real” vacations). “Real” vacations aside, we do have the flexibility to be able to go anywhere almost anytime.

For the last few years, we’ve decided we don’t like winters in the Northeast. So we do what a lot of rational animals do — we head south. The last two years, we’ve had to address the issue of school for our daughter. She was in preschool last year and she’s in pre-K this year.

Now before anyone gets the wrong impression, please understand that we know these school years are “optional”, and if we wanted, we could take our daughter anywhere without having to worry about school attendance. But even at 3, 4, and 5 years old, our daughter wants to go to school. She’s the one that decided she wanted to go to a “new” school when we traveled (not the other way around). Our daughter is very special, and yes, that’s a biased opinion.

Anyway, yesterday was her first day at her new school. She’s normally very excited about her first day, and she really looks forward to meeting new teachers and new friends. This time, though, she seemed a little apprehensive. When I asked her about it, she thought for a bit and said “Daddy, at first you’re always nervous, but then before you know it, the new kids are your new friends”.

Did I mention that she’s five?

Here’s a child that’s faced with new faces and a new environment. Like any of us, she’s done this kind of thing before, but she’s still getting a little nervous. She could have resisted, or kicked and screamed, or cried — all things we’ve seen nervous kids do in similar situations. But instead, she played out the scenario in her head, she visualized how she saw it happening, and she saw herself experiencing nervousness and anxiety before ultimately experiencing good things — new friends.

When I went to pick her up in the afternoon, she was on the playground running and playing with a large group kids. She was having a blast! During the car ride home, she told me all about her “great!” day and her new friends. The first day was a huge success, and she’s really looking forward to tomorrow.

So what can we learn? We know that everyone faces situations that make them nervous or anxious. We all have to face things we might not be looking forward to (even when we thought we wanted to do them). The key to having a successful, happy experience (as opposed to a disaster) is to go in knowing the challenges but having a plan to address them. We go in with a healthy, positive attitude, and we use our imagination and visualization skills to experience the positive results beforehand. We do successful “dry runs” before the actual event.

Great athletes do this all of the time. Great salespeople do it. Great speakers do it. Kids can do it too…and we can learn from them.

Someday I’ll tell you all about my son who will be attending the United States Naval Academy next year.  I learn from him almost every day, and he’s a wonderful young man.

Yes, that’s a biased opinion.

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