To him I may be a dork, but I am his dad and I count myself very lucky to have a 12 year old son who lets me, hug, love and teach him. Those moments may have to be a little more hidden than in the past, so as not to risk the appearance of being uncool. Yet I receive with such joy the simple statement, especially when said in front of a group of other teenagers, “love you dad”. That to me is the perfect example of cool.
Learning is a 360-degree process. Our best lessons come often from those with the least amount of life experiences. Maybe that is due to their eyes not yet being clouded by cynicism, which can prevent one’s ability to see the truth and find the answers we are seeking. I have learned a lot from my son and I am very proud of him, something I try to share often. Yet in a house where the lifeblood is sarcasm and humor, my praise is often disguised in that context. So, I thought I would share with him and all of you some of the lessons he has taught me.
Envision the future, know your desired outcome and take action. When I was 12, I never even had a clue of what I wanted. My son, he wants to be a macro economist and has said so for a couple of years. His teaching is in the fact that he did not allow his desire to be simply talk. He took action to get himself closer to his goal. He has chosen to push himself academically; he is a full-time college student at Delta College (at 12, right). He even asked my wife and me if he could take summer semesters to even finish faster. He knows where he wants to be, he understands what it will look like when he gets there and he is taking the needed steps to get there now; a pretty good lesson for all business leaders.
Drive in stride. My son is driven, as well as, his younger brother, mom and dad. I guess it is a family trait. Yet where he separates himself is in his ability to face the pressure that emanates from being driven with a sense of calm and stability. He somehow naturally absorbs stress, understands it is transitory, and that life continues regardless. He is able to juggle school and extracurricular activities and still find the time to be a 12 year-old that plays and hangs out with friends. He does it all with grace and in the absence of worry and anxiety, he is able accomplish so much in such short periods of time. I am not sure if that is because he understands that these demands are temporary, and therefore, grasps the foolishness in his getting lost in worry or, if he is just oblivious. Nevertheless, it is a great reminder of how we would all benefit from letting go of the worry and just focusing on the task at hand.
Embrace embarrassment. We were talking about this before he left for a school dance about a year ago. We discussed the fact that there would be dancing at this party and that he is always the one willing to get out on the floor first and make a fool of himself. Once he did that, it was as if it gave permission to the others to do the same. This is a lesson on the benefit of vulnerability. Leaders who show vulnerability, which is different from weakness, empower their teams. It communicates that to try and fail, to feel silly, or to be out of one’s comfort zone is okay. That to feel exposed and to place your self-identity at risk in order to grow should be applauded not feared. We are often trapped by the sense of self we feel we must portray and therefore, suppress our true self from fully manifesting. So it is good to find yourself a little embarrassed, it signals that you are pushing past what makes you comfortable.
I am grateful for the wise and somewhat oblivious teacher I find in my son. Now if he only learned to not eat us out of house and home and ditch some of the teenage drama, all would be great. The most important learning is that we should all be aware that lessons can appear from the most unlikely of sources, colleagues, employees, friends, neighbors and even 12-year-old’s. The key is to seek knowledge and remain open, receptive and curious. One source for me is in my work to help people grow. In doing so, I find myself growing as well. The teacher becomes the student and the student the teacher. Learning is cool, just ask my son.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
“I would be interested to know in what unexpected places you have found wisdom and knowledge.”
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With that said, “We have great challenges and great opportunities, and with your help, we will meet them together!” – Jason