Sunday, August 14, 2011

MBA v Mom

I recently attended a MBA student dinner with Paul. As usual, there were many, many speakers. I started to notice a common theme. The skills mentioned could easily apply to any mom or MBA student.

Be ready for anything - As a mom, you must always be on alert. You never know what curve ball (medical or mental) your kids, employees or work situation are going to throw at you.

Be flexible - It's good to have rules when dealing with little tyrants (home or work) but you also must be willing to be flexible to maintain some level of sanity and functionality.

Active listening - Trust me. It is very easy to tune out your kids/employees when they are babbling/whining/complaining at you non-stop. But, this can trip you up. I have tuned my children out at my own peril. Without realizing it, I've agreed to some amazing things by just nodding and smiling without listening. If you stop and listen to what they are actually saying, you may be able to turn it into a productive conversation for both parties.

Willingness to engage others- Try to engage your child/employee in chores, jobs and/or projects. Kids/employees who feel involved, useful and valued are less likely to whine/slack off or complain.

Humor needed - Being around little kids or employees makes having a sense of humor vital. If you can't laugh at them, what's the point of having them around?

Let go of inhibitions - As a parent, you need to let go of a lot - personal time, personal space, self respect and dignity. You have to attend to someone's every need all day. And some of those needs are pretty gross. As an MBA, you need to let go of your ego as well as your inhibitions. You need to be open to the opinions and ideas of others around you - no matter how silly they seem. Don't get hung up on titles or positions. Everyone has something of value to contribute. Inhibitions can hold you back from fully experiencing some amazing parenting and professional experiences. If you aren't open, you might miss some amazing opportunities. My daughter has come up with some very fun and creative ideas and games on a rainy day that turned out to be very fun for the whole family.

Speak same language - This can be hard with toddlers, preschoolers, teenagers and employees. If you can understand each other, everyone is less frustrated and more productive. Listen more than you speak. Sometimes I get so caught up in our daily activities and chores that I forget to stop and just listen to what my kids have to say. Listen to your employees. You hired them for their experience. Use it.

Work together - Families and coworkers need to work together toward a common goal. It makes everyone happier. Working together is a great way to stay connected. Being part of a group accomplishing something is a wonderful feeling. Kids love being needed. They take pride in pitching in and helping. Teamwork can make things easier for everyone. Things get done better and faster.

Consider every one's agenda - And everyone has an agenda - small children, teenagers and employees all have something they want. Do not automatically say no. Stop, listen and consider it from all angles -unless it involves extra dessert or staying up late on a school night.

Find a connection - You can connect to anyone if you try hard enough. Kids love playing with their parents. Step away from the dirty dishes, play a board game or do a puzzle. Employees are happier if they feel listened to and valued.

Find a way to say yes - Kids and employees get tired and frustrated always hearing the word 'no'. We are all guilty of over-using it. It's simple, fast and convenient. Sometimes, it might pay off in the long run to find a way to say yes.

Don't be afraid - Like animals, kids and employees can smell fear and use it against you. Be strong and firm when needed. Otherwise they will walk all over you. Remember, you are in charge. You have the power and the final say. Use it wisely.

And never, never turn your back on either of them.

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