What Do You Want Your Children To Learn?

Hello Everyone….I had a great trip to Istanbul and France. Istanbul is an amazing city. I just finished my new book, The Customer Rules. It will be published in Feb 2013.

What are the things you didn’t learn in school that have proven most value to you in life? I’ve asked myself that question. I’ve learned much over the years and but am most interested in those things that have provided the greatest benefit; those things that have improved the quality of my life. These are the same lessons I want my sons to learn.

While they could learn them on their own, I feel responsible for guiding them in these lessons. What follows is a short list (in no way exhaustive or in any particular order) of those life lessons I believe will most benefit Hunter and Jackson. Being able to talk to anyone.

The ability to engage a stranger in conversation is not only an important life skill but the gateway to rewarding relationships.

The power of a simple daily plan. Know at the outset of each day the two or three important things you desire to accomplish.

The rewards of work. Many divorce the monetary compensation of work from the discipline and reward it instills. Work should be more than transactional. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a job well done regardless of the pay or lack thereof.

The undependability of luck. Life isn’t a lottery ticket. You can’t depend on happenstance and fortune to make your way. The only luck you can count on is the luck you make with your wit and hard work.

The value of lots of experiences. Those who try little limit themselves severely. The more things you attempt, the more quickly you learn what you really value.

The ability to extract lessons from whatever happens. No teacher will follow you through life to tell you what you should have learned from what happened. Reflection about what can be learned from anything that happens is the key to lifelong learning.

The willingness to confront facts and take responsibility. You only get full credit when you take responsibility. Facing harsh facts is never easy by always essential. The question always reduces to “What can I do to positively affect this situation?”

How to handle money. Money provides means but it doesn’t provide skills. While earning money is something almost everyone learns, learning how to handle it is too often neglected. The ability to save, manage and invest money is necessary for the accumulation and effective use of money earned.

How to be bigger than circumstances or the limitations of others. Petty people are never an adequate excuse to be petty. The noble are those who can maintain composure and act with dignity regardless of their situation.

Resilience. That is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and defeats, and to do so as quickly as possible. The ability to get back on your feet when you’ve been knocked down by life is crucial. These are all lesson taught directly in word and indirectly in deed. The latter is most powerful.

In my opinion Resilience is the most important lesson because you will need lots of it to get through this life….Lee

Extracted from a post on Sanborn and Associates Blog.

  1. Great article again. Thanks for sharing. A couple that go along with this. Make every two minutes a drill. We should be intentional in everything we do at all times and money is only a motivator to the extent that it’s enough. We have to get to what really makes us tick.

  2. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned happened at summer camp.

    I learned to love nature and natural places, and always to leave them better than I found them. (Disney is not the only place where they teach you to be compulsive about picking up trash!)

    I learned that you may grow old waiting for someone else to do it for you, but if you just start doing it, you’ll often get more help than you expect.

    I learned that you can be deeply spiritual without being slavishly religious.

    I learned, most importantly, that I was not any better, or any less good, than anyone around me, and that the world will judge me by my work, by my words, and by my treatment of others.

    Thanks for the post, and blessings on the journey of raising your children!

  3. Lee,

    As usual, a great post and very thought provoking.

    Another item to add to your list is to know when to praise and when to discipline. I learned this trait many years ago and it’s made me a better leader.


  4. Lee,

    I feel the need to put some ‘meat’ on these critical ‘bones’ you offer for our consideration.

    “The ability to engage a stranger in conversation . . . .”

    As relationship building is a key to success in both our personal and professional lives I certainly agree with you. Frankly, this life skill is easier for some of us than others. For those who have difficulty meeting new people in crowded situations they may need some help from friends or associates initially. With no expertise in this area I give no advice – only recognition that for some initiating a conversation with strangers is difficult.

    “The power of a simple daily plan.”

    I’d like to tell you that I am personally on-track with this suggestion, but I am not. With no one to delegate work too all falls on my lap during the work day. Many days start with good intentions to get certain key things done (here’s the But) but, reacting to student and client needs throughout the day are also critical for me. My role in the show is to help others by reacting quickly to their specific needs and this does mean that on some days my original priority to complete a research article does not get done on that day.

    “The rewards of work. . . .There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a job well done regardless of the pay or lack thereof.”

    Lee—is the underlying assumption here that each of us knows our “role in the show?” I suspect that many working individuals do not have a crystal clear understanding of what part their job plays in the overall ultimate customer experience. Sociologists talk about the importance of ‘closure’ in work. If I am not able to see how my role is useful in the overall scheme of things than I am less likely to have feelings of fulfillment on the job. It appears to me that managers are responsible for making sure that each individual understands specifically how their role is important in the achievement of organizational goals. At that point, I see your ‘rewards for work’ position more clearly.

    “The value of lots of experiences. The ability to extract lessons. . . .”

    This advice hits me on many levels–critical thinking while debriefing at the conclusion of a project; critical thinking about an interesting leadership blog entry; international travel—getting away from the American restaurants and eating where the locals eat; learning enough of a non-English language that I can greet people politely in their language (BTW this is a great ice-breaker throughout the world).

    “The willingness to confront facts and take responsibility. . . Facing harsh facts is never easy . . . “What can I do to positively affect this situation?”

    A very mature view to be sure. A local university just lost 11 new laptops by theft when an office cabinet was left unlocked and unattended. Responsibility here lies with leadership. The campus police will look into recovering the laptops. To your point, the department employees need to now (belatedly) assure that the security systems are developed, put in place, and carried out every day so instances such as this never happen again.

    “Resilience. That is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and defeats, and to do so as quickly as possible.”

    See illustration in above comment.


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