What I Learned From A First Grader

Parenting and leadership. . .  the worlds continue to collide and compliment.

Here was my evening yesterday. I picked the kid up from day care to go to guitar lessons (hers, not mine). Have to stop for a chocolate chip cookie with M&Ms and a soda to get her through the transition to dinner. We hit every light traveling across town and when we should have been tuning her guitar, we were not. Where were we? We were sitting at a stop light. Aaargh! "Chillax," I hear from the backseat. "Other moms don't get upset about being late. Just chillax, it's the new thing!" What?!  Is this my 6 1/2 (can't forget the 1/2) telling me to chill out? To relax? Yup!

Ok. We are in guitar lessons and the kid shows the instructor the new voice she learned - voice 3 of Hot Cross Buns. Instructor watched, acknowledged her learning and then wondered aloud (to me) how she got the fingering she did for string 3, fret 1. Turns out I counted the frets (or was it the strings) wrong, very wrong. He showed me how to count properly and then asked the kid to play it again. She ran her hands down her face and neck and looked at the ceiling as she said, "I . . . am. . .  so. . . confused." I am too kid, I am too. Oh, other moms, I saw you looking away in the glory that you were not the center of attention this time but your time will come. Do you really know the strings and frets or do you also rely on the the colored smiley face stickers for finger placement?!

The evening continues. School pictures are tomorrow so I pick out the outfit I'd like her to wear. It, unfortunately, is not the one she had in mind. Not only is her selected outfit comprised of parts of two other outfits (can't separate the matched sets, kid) but it was not going to keep her warm. And, honestly, I didn't like the combination. Tears ensued and Deborah Tannen's book came to mind as I said more than once, "I don't want you to wear that." What did I do? I put aside my deal about not separating matched sets, remembered it was all about the little girl curled up in my lap and suggested we find stockings or legging to keep her warm in her outfit of choice. As we were searching, the kid came up with a deal. She would wear what I wanted for her pictures if she could wear whatever she wanted the following day. Palms licked, hands shaken and deal sealed. So proud of her (and just a little disappointed in myself).

Leaders, do you know when it is time to "chillax?" Do you really? Do you do it? So much perspective can be gained by stopping, breathing and just being. Do yourself a favor, "chillax" over an issue gnawing at you right now. Give yourself room to be human, room to be less than perfect, room to let the other person shine. Support your colleagues. You never know when it will be your turn in the spotlight.

Above all, never forget what is most important and keep it in front of you at all times.