A bit over 5 months ago my wife and I went through one of the greatest, scariest, life-altering, amazing and down right crazy events of our lives: We had a baby!
Little Darcy came into the world and changed our lives forever.
I had been receiving advice from everyone in the months leading up to his birth, even from people that I didn’t want to hear it from! But they all said one thing in common; “nothing can prepare you for what comes next!” Although the last 5 months have been amazing, it’s brought with it plenty of challenges and life lessons. It’s tested me professionally, personally and made me re-evaluate a lot of things.
What I didn’t anticipate is that my little chubby-cheeked mate would teach, or should I say, reinforce, a few lessons about my working career!
Here are 4 things that I thought I would share:
1 person’s mood can dramatically affect an entire room
In this situation, by “1 person” I’m referring to Darcy. His mood at any stage throughout the day or night can instantly and dramatically change the mood of the entire room and its occupants. This can be in both a positive and a negative way. Nothing will brighten my day more than hearing his cackle when someone is playing with him. Alternatively, when he rattles the windows with his screaming and he just won’t stop, nothing can bring you down in the dumps and turn you against your partner quicker.
The same can be said for us at work. Although you may not mean to, your reaction to a rude customer on the phone or the mood you walk into the office with after a terrible commute to work can bring everyone down with it. When people see or hear you snap at a co-worker over a very minor error, this can set off a chain reaction and can cause the team a lot of distress and worry. Alternatively, when someone comes into the office bright and bubbly, singing a song or just showing genuine excitement to see someone, it lifts the entire mood of the office. Such a simple thing as being outwardly happy to your colleagues can energise the team and set everyone off on a more productive day.
Planning is EVERYTHING!
A simple trip to the supermarket nowadays is very different to what it was 6 months ago. Packing the pram, baby bag, extra nappies, a beanie, bibs, food, a couple of toys…. It’s a good thing we own a reasonable sized SUV, or we’d never fit the groceries in! Preparation for a trip to the supermarket can be a 15-minute ordeal and that’s before we’ve even left our garage. But the consequences of not taking one of the aforementioned things could be disastrous!
At work, I often underestimate the importance of planning. Taking an extra 10 minutes to plan for a meeting or prep before you start a task can make you much more effective and productive when you’re working. Being productive is the key to being successful in any role and will enable you to exceed your goals regardless of the field. Planning will also help you to come up with a contingency plan in case things go wrong. Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare, things won’t work out exactly how you planned so it’s important to put some effort into plan B!
Communication is key
In this case, it’s Darcy’s LACK of communication that is the issue. He will look up at me and grunt, whine, cry and at times, scream. As much as I try to talk slowly and ask him clearly what is wrong, he doesn’t respond in any language that I know how to speak! “WHAT DO YOU WANT” is a phrase that is yelled in our heads on a regular occurrence. This can send even the best of us into a tailspin and in turn makes us make silly decisions as well as, again, snap at our partner!
In the workplace it is not too dissimilar. If your co-workers aren’t communicating their expectations to you it can be immensely frustrating. One person will think that they are doing the right thing, only to find out that what they had been doing was entirely wrong and they have let their team mate, manager or customer down. If you aren’t communicating with every stakeholder involved throughout the process you can easily misalign your goals and not be successful. Even a quick update or “heads up” on your progress can make a world of difference in the long run.
You need to be dynamic
I must say that I have had this parenting thing down pat on a number of occasions. I have worked out the correct process and timing of feeding, changing, sleeping etc. and more than once, I’ve patted myself on the back for being a perfect parent. I’ve then woken up the next morning, done EXACTLY the same things at the same times only to have Darcy disturb the entire neighbourhood with his screams of displeasure. What’s happened? What changed? I thought I did everything right?
The same can be said for customers. Situations change and expectations change with them. What you did last year, last week or even only yesterday may not be relevant for your customer right now. You need to understand what is important to your customer and what is their problem, you then need to be agile and dynamic enough to change with them.
These are just 4 of the lessons that Darcy has taught me and I know that he will teach me a lot more! As I said at the beginning, these aren’t exactly new lessons and I feel that they are applicable across a number of different fields.
Sometimes it’s good to get a little reminder on the important things, even if that reminder keeps you up at night!
Executive Consultant, Group Solutions