My life doesn’t only revolve around hiring, video interviewing and recruiting. I also commit a lot of time to coaching. No, not coaching adults, coaching children. As the father of a seven year old and a five year old, I have spent the last four years managing t-ball teams to success. Yes, some of us more serious coaches privately keep score even in t-ball. In addition, I have for the last year and a half helped manage a class of five and six year olds at church, so I have a lot of experience dealing with children. Here are a few lessons we can learn from these miniature humans.
- They want to win perhaps more than adults – As of this post, my record over the last two years in t-ball is 26-1-1. My key to success? I ask the children before every game if they want to have fun. “Yes.” they reply. I then ask, “Is it more fun to win or to lose?” “Win!” they shout. That’s the secret. Let them know that winning is important! Early on I had my failures, too. In my first stint at coaching I learned that every child wants to win whether they are playing Candy Land, a video game, or tag. Their desire to win is so primal and fierce at times that we’ve convinced them that winning isn’t important so as not to hurt their little hearts when they lose. Telling them there are no winners and losers, while designed to get them to solely appreciate game play, gives them no motivation to try harder and get better. Children’s joy comes from winning the game more than playing it. Sure many kids need to suck it up when they lose but how many of us adults need to be a little less content when we finish third or fourth?
- They know the squeaky wheel does get the grease – Not all children are the same. Some ask politely for the things they want and when turned down, they accept your logic for denying their request and proceed quietly about their business. Those are the children we respect. Then there are children who will not take “no” for an answer. They plead, beg and argue until you finally give into their demands simply because you don’t want to listen to them further. You don’t love them for it and they realize you are annoyed but to them getting what they want far outweighs your opinion of them. Though their selfishness needs some work, not worrying about what others think of them is a quality that helps them succeed. Fear of criticism does not hold them back as it does many adults.
- They forget the past and don’t worry about the future – Children make mistakes but most do not dwell on them for days or even weeks as adults do. They are blessed with short memories. By not allowing past mistakes to spoil their present self-confidence, children are often willing to take more chances. Additionally children live in the moment and don’t worry about the troubles of tomorrow that could rob their present day of its joy.
- Children keep on trucking – Similar to number three, children have the ability to get back up after falling and move on. They don’t let broken arms, runny noses or sore throats stop them. They don’t fill themselves with the “woe is me” attitude that so often plagues adults after years of being beaten down by life. Have you ever remarked while watching a child run across a room, “Boy I wish I had their energy?” Energy lands jobs. Energy gets business deals closed. Energy gets the worm! Adults slow down and most of the time this results from a mental influence rather than a physical one. Ignore your traffic ticket. Forget about the dinner with your in-laws! Stand up, brush yourself off, and attack life with the energy you wish you had!
- Children have friends – Do you remember when you had so many friends you couldn’t choose who to invite over to play? As life takes over, adult friends take a back seat to work and other responsibilities. Unbeknownst to us, with each friend that falls by the wayside, our opportunities and our energy dissipate a little more. Why do children have enthusiasm? Why do children want to win? Why do children brush themselves off and keep on keeping on? Because they have friends who motivate them to win, make them laugh, encourage them and open doors for them. Friends introduce you to new opportunities. Friends help land you jobs. Friends pick you up when you are down. Find your friends again and you will find your spirit to stand tall.
Thanks for your ear. I’m off to line the field for one of my two remaining t-ball games. I hope I didn’t jinx myself by stating my record. Just remember, you can find inspiration even in children and once again rekindle your competitive spirit.