Inspired by: DJ Fulano
Believe it or not, your child can teach you how to run your business. I know it sounds a little “out there,” but think about it. Children are so tapped into their emotions and untainted by worldly pressures. They are little capsules of energy and, believe it or not, full of wisdom. Kids are wonderful mentors, and as much as we think we are teaching them, they have a lot to teach us. I find that I get my best ideas when putting my son to sleep, but I learn a great deal from him by watching how he navigates the world—with no limitations or boundaries, he pursues his dreams.
His example of leadership has given me some valuable lessons that I have taken into my business:
1. Stay Calm
If my son is deejaying at a gig and something goes wrong with the equipment or otherwise, he remains completely calm and poised. He doesn’t get flustered; he simply troubleshoots and signals a technician if he needs extra help. I would be stressed in that moment, but somehow he doesn’t stress out. “Freaking out doesn’t fix anything, Mommy,” he says. It’s a great lesson in how to handle unexpected situations that come up in your business. Just take deep breaths and stay calm.
2. Dream Big and Have Passion
When my son was only five years old, he would speak about his desire to travel the world to play music. He would even tell his teachers to give less homework because he knew he was going to be on a mission to make the world happy with music. In a few short years, he met his mentor DJ Cassidy and has already traveled around the country and world playing the music he loves for crowds young and old. Now, he is talking about the hotel and restaurant he is going to open when he is nineteen. I learn from this lesson to reach for my dreams and harness my goals and that there is no limit to what I can do if I believe and put effort into it, and this has been the root of my work with Mama Glow.
3. Get Outside
Kids thrive in the outdoors; they need green space for sanity, and so do we. With Vitamin D deficiencies on the rise, it’s time to schedule a little outdoor fun. My son loves to ride his bike and play soccer. He makes friends and uses his imagination to create epic outdoor adventures in the ambient landscape. We should do this too! Whether at your lunch break or on your way to and from work, find an excuse to be outside. It feels nice to be barefoot in the grass and lay in the sunshine, even for ten minutes. It will change the course of your day. I make time for outdoor exploration to attune my energy, so I am excited and engaged when I get back to my desk. When possible, I take my meetings outside at my satellite office—a.k.a. Central Park.
4. Play Games
I watch my son play chess, checkers, and monopoly, which have taught him strategy as well as patience. Monopoly taught him about money and mortgages. He is comfortable with money, and his mind is very sharp. He also finds games to be relaxing. I make sure to fit in a game of tic tac toe while we ride the train to school. And when I am alone, I’ll play and find that some of my best ideas come from unorganized and unstructured time.
5. Systems Thinking
We had gone to the park late one afternoon and the gate was locked. My son said, “Take out your keys and unlock the gate to the park, Mommy.” I replied that my keys won’t work, to which he replied, “How do you know? You didn’t even try.” There is always an answer, and we should be open-minded to what’s possible. Being open to seeing different solutions makes you an agile parent and a savvy businessperson.
6. Chill Out
My son loves to spend time in nature and insists on his downtime upstate to connect with snakes, lizards, and kittens, read books, skip rocks, and hang with his grandpa. He is not on the computer or watching television; he is really balanced because of the outside time. This is how he finds peace. I learn from him to take weekends for myself. I unplug from the media, internet, and phone and do what I love to do—spend time with friends, take baths, relax, and let my mind be at ease. When I get back to my work after these moments of taking some personal time, I am sharper and more focused.
My son is a masterful negotiator. He doesn’t take no for an answer because he thinks there is always a way to get what he wants by talking things through. It’s great to see a kid operate this way. One weekend, my son was writing a copious letter to his teacher, and I asked him what it was for. He replied, “I know I should be skipped to the next reading level, and I am writing a persuasive letter to tell my teacher why.” He was in first grade and knew with such conviction that he needed to be challenged and that there was a way he could work something out with his teacher. After reading his letter and testing him, she bumped him up to the next level. In business, we often second guess ourselves and wonder whether or not we are worthy of asking for a certain fee, or we fail to negotiate and leave money on the table. Speak up and ask for what you want and deserve. If a seven year old can do it, so can we.
9. If It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It
This is a great lesson. Kids are concerned with having fun. Life is about joy, and kids embody that. My son has always been one to do what is the most fun, so cooking, soccer, deejaying, rapping, tending to animals, reading books—these are all things he lives for! And he packs these fun activities into his schedule on a daily basis. If something comes along that is outside of the sphere of things he is interested in doing and is not fun, he disengages and goes back to playing or doing the stuff he likes. This is huge for me because I used to perform tasks that didn’t give me joy because they simply needed to get done. I now know that my energy should be funneled into doing what I love, what comes naturally, and what I do best. I can delegate the tasks that I don’t like as much. This keeps my work exciting and allows me to focus my resources into creative output!
How can you be a kid in life AND work? Do you notice a difference in your work performance and overall happiness when you implement these lessons? Being a grown up doesn’t have to sound so bad after all if we can channel our inner child and make life joyous!
Latham Thomas is a maternity lifestyle maven, wellness and birth coach, and yoga teacher on the vanguard of transforming the maternal and women’s wellness movement. Latham is the founder of Mama Glow and co-founder of the Mama Glow Film Festival. Her first book Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy will be published in November 2012 with Hay House. Latham has been featured on the Dr.Oz Show, ABC Eyewitness News, Inside Edition, Fox News LIVE, NY Daily News, NY Post, Vital Juice, Essence, Body + Soul, and the cover of the November 2011 issue of Experience Life. For more on Latham, please visit her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.