Effective Solutions Through Partnership

How the Business of Parenting is the Business of Business

Communications, Managing/Leadership

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Photo Credit: Someecards

By Sarah Walsh

When I was in the second grade, I wrote a book called “All About Me.” A line from the book that has stuck out as a family favorite for almost-30 years is, “Most of the time, my parents talk about business, but sometimes they talk about me.” Ah, the plight of the only child being raised by two high-achieving, business-focused people.

As a surprise to no one, I—along with my high-achieving, business-focused husband—am now raising an (often precocious) only child as well. And again, as a surprise to no one, the conversations in our house revolve mostly around business. I’ve come to realize, though, that my parents were onto something.

Instead of talking to me like a kid, they talked to me like an adult and as a result, my thinking has—save for the teenage years—been practical and level-headed. I can count on one finger a time that I’ve had a tantrum at work. Mostly, I am able to keep calm and collected by simply bringing it back to basics.

Much of what you need to know to get through the daily grind are things you probably learned as a kid. And they’re probably all things we as parents try to drill into our kids every day. Here are some of my favorite things to keep in mind as I navigate this thing called life:

Honesty is the Best Policy

When I was first starting my career, I remember thinking, “Soon I won’t make any mistakes!” You won’t be surprised to learn that despite age and experience, the mistakes keep coming. What’s critical is managing and recovering from those mistakes. One no-no for me personally is lying. Maybe it’s because I’m a terrible liar, but I’d much rather be honest than try to cover up a lie with more lies. The key is knowing when and to whom to fess up. I am always a fan of the, “There was a problem, but we fixed it” method of honesty, provided I can fix the problem myself without requiring escalation. If not, then in that case…

If There’s a Problem, Tell an Adult

The adult of course, being your boss, mentor, colleague, etc. Very rarely are we expected to solve every problem on our own. In fact, what makes a truly great team is the cohesiveness and desire to problem-solve together. Having trusted bright minds on your side to help think of proposed solutions to your problem will help you get out from under any big issue. Surround yourself with good people and you’ll be in good hands, no matter the circumstance.

Don’t be Afraid to Make a Decision

While my daughter has free rein to make most of her own decisions, she sometimes waffles, unsure of the “right” decision to make. (Don’t worry, at 5-years-old, these decisions are mostly of the, “What should I wear?” variety). A phrase my husband is fond of saying is, “A good decision is good enough; we can always improve it.” Simply making a decision can help keep the momentum going so your team doesn’t get caught up in the bottle-neck that can be the decision-making process. Our own fearless leader here at KAI Partners recently relayed this same sentiment. For us Type-As in the group, it was maddening, but it was what needed to be done so we could continue forward progress on our newest project.

Many Hands Make for Light Work

This is something my mom has said for as long as I can remember. When I was 13, and she wanted help unloading the groceries, this was not a mantra I enjoyed hearing. Now that I’m an adult, I see what she means. We all need to get stuff done and if we all pitch in, then it’ll get done more quickly, leaving us time to move onto other tasks. I remember hearing something once about the chair movers versus the non-chair movers. Basically, there are two types of people at work: Those who will help set up the meeting room—arranging the table and chairs, etc.—and those who show up to the meeting and sit down. Of course, not everyone needs to be a chair mover at every meeting, but the key is knowing when to pitch in and help out so that the day can progress versus being too prideful to roll up your sleeves and help get it done.

What about you? Is there something you learned as a kid that applies in your professional life? Perhaps, how to deal with the office bully? Share it with us in the comments!

About the Author: Sarah Walsh has nearly a decade of communications experience, including public sector roles in the California State Senate and State Assembly, as well as private sector roles for a sovereign Native American tribe and a global pharmaceutical company. In addition to communications work, Sarah and her husband are team captains and fundraisers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual Walk MS event. When she’s not writing, editing, or soliciting her friends and family for MS Walk donations, she loves performing improv, hanging out with her husband and 5-year-old daughter, and cooking. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahsykeswalsh.

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