Leadership Lessons from a One Year Old

Leadership lessons 02Saturday afternoon Samantha, Anabelle & I were out in the city doing some shopping and I was pushing Anabelle in the pram as we followed Mummy in and out of the shops. I was happily following Sam through the stores pulling faces at Anabelle and having a great time laughing with her.

Then it hit me, right there in the middle of the store my 14 month old daughter was teaching me how to be a better leader! Too often we think that if we’re going to be a great leader we need something elaborate and expansive, something really amazing. We forget that the simplest things in life are often the most powerful. Here’s what I learnt from Anabelle:

1. Smile at everyone

As we walked through the shops, Anabelle was giving huge smiles to everyone we passed. That one smile was enough to bring a smile to the face of the other person and it instantly brightened their day. Granted, a smile from a 30 year old man may not get the same reaction but its the principle of the gesture ;-). Anabelle’s smile is unconditional. She doesn’t care who you are, what you look like or where you’re from, when she sees you she’s going to welcome you with a smile.

As a leader how often are my “smiles” conditional, based upon my need to get “something” from you? 

Lesson one: smile unconditionally and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

2. Don’t be afraid to say hello

I also noticed that Anabelle not only smiled but she said hello to almost everyone she smiled at. It didn’t matter if they were looking at her or not, she surprised at least three people by saying hello to their backs and then greeting them with a huge smile as they turned around to see who had said hello. Again it was completely unconditional, some people turned around and said hello, others didn’t even seem to notice. It didn’t bother Anabelle, she was going to keep saying hello no matter what.

As a leader how often do I treat people like that? How often do I say hello and really mean it, no strings attached? Its really easy to only talk to those we’re comfortable with, or worse, need something from isn’t it?

Lesson two: Say hello to everyone, no strings attached.

3. Say “Yay!” at the top of your lungs, a lot!

The third thing Anabelle did was to randomly yell out a long, loud “Yay!” and clap her hands excitedly. Some “Yays” were as we exited a store, some were as we went in, and others while we were browsing. Regardless of the timing every “Yay” was said with pure enjoyment and excitement. Anabelle was living the moment, glad to be there, enjoying the experience.

As a leader sometimes we don’t stop to live the moment and enjoy the experience. We’re so focused on what needs to be done and what’s coming up next that we miss the amazing things happening in the here and now. How will we ever learn if we don’t embrace the present?

Lesson three: “The past is history, the future a mystery and today is a gift. That is why it is called the present” Celebrate today and learn all you can from it before its gone.

4. Enjoy the ride

Anabelle didn’t decide to go shopping that day. She didn’t choose to ride in the pram, she had no say in the stores we visited nor the length of time spent in them. She could have been grumpy, she could have complained but she didn’t. Instead she totally enjoyed the ride and made the most of the opportunity. She was determined to smile, say hello and celebrate her way through the mall and in doing so she made a ton of other people smile along the way.

We all end up in places and situations we don’t want to be in. Sometimes it’s of our own making and other times it’s totally out of our control. As a leader what I do in those times, how I react, shapes my character. Will I grumble, complain or throw a tantrum because I didn’t get my way? Or will I enjoy the ride and make the most of every opportunity I’m given, good or bad?

Lesson four: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” Enjoy the ride, learn what you can, trials build character and character makes you a better leader.  

So there it is, I learnt something new this week, and I learnt it from my 14 month old daughter. How amazing is that!

When have you learnt an unexpected leadership or life lesson?

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55 Comments

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55 responses to “Leadership Lessons from a One Year Old

  1. she’s got her daddy’s good looks! and her mummy’s too!

  2. az

    in few words, leadership lessons: don’t be a douchebag and enjoy what you do 🙂
    great article anyway. I think we can learn something from anything or anyone, all the time. You just need to observe, and not only look.

    • Eddy

      Hi az, thanks for dropping by!

      I totally agree with you, we need to open our eyes and observe not just look! Thanks for the great advice!

  3. 🙂 Love IT!!!!

    “SMILE if you want a SMILE from another face”

    • Eddy

      Thanks for dropping by kcjacinto89!

      It’s so simple isnt it, but we so often forget that such a simple thing can really make a difference in someone’s life.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us 🙂

  4. Diane Ramirez

    My three year old grandson does the same, smiles and says hello to everyone. Some people respond others ignore him. I often wonder how a grown person can resist the smile and hello of a toddler.

    I enjoyed this read. We can learn plenty from children only if we remain teachable adults.

    • Eddy

      Hi Diane, nice to meet you!

      Thank you for your comments and the reminder that we need to remain teachable no matter what age we are.

      Teachability is such an important area of our lives we tend to ignore as we get older. It’s a shame becasue there is so much to learn and explore in this big wide world! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Find Out!

    This is a stupid post!

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  7. jeannielite

    Nice! That girl is really adorable. That’s what I like about children. They’re innocent, honest and sincere. And they can appreciate simple things in life. 😀

    • Eddy

      Hi Jeannielite

      Thanks for the comment, we thing Anabelle is adorable too 🙂

      The simple things in life are often the best aren’t they? Keep it simple, keep it fresh!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I love this article, cute kid….we all need to smile more ;-]

  9. onlives

    I like the first two points a lot. There are some days when I want to do this, (I go for morning walks and encounter many people), but I get too caught up in my thoughts. Tomorrow’s the day though. I’m going to smile and say hello to everyone I come across. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Related On Lives: On Exploration, On Youth

  10. What a cute story! I also have a one year old…she will be 14 months on September 3rd! I have also noticed the same sweet traits in my daughter, but I never quite thought of it that way. I love your idea about picking up leadership qualities from our kids! Great post!!!

    • Eddy

      Hi chantillyp, thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment 🙂

      I’m expecting to learn A LOT more from my kids in the future 😉

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  13. hii.. first of all your daughter is very cute… and you presented a great article regarding leadership in a very simple and interesting manner… keep up the good work…

  14. Supera Matris

    Thank you. I have an 18 month old who is very similar. Today I took my two kids on a walk and Serenity, my 18 mo said hi and smiled at everyone as we passed. All I could think about was getting home, making dinner and putting them to bed. I am always rush, rush, rush — just aching for that moment of rest alone. It isnt that I dont care or dont love, I just get used to rushing and DOING. Life can be so hard and I think sometimes I get into survival mode, put my head down and push through insensitively.
    Thanks for waking me up.
    Super Mom

    • Eddy

      Hi Supera Matris

      Thank you for your honest comment, I too find I need to wake up and slow down otherwise life just passes me by. I don’t want to miss a minute of it!

  15. Beautiful!
    Good thinking and correct in life

  16. I love #3 . Hysterical.

  17. LH

    I was first attracted by your daughter’s picture! And the lessones she taught were very nice!

    Stay original! 🙂

  18. Amazing article (and photo)! It’s funny I happened upon your blog; when I had lunch with a millionaire recently to discuss success strategies. One of the most important ones he told me was to SMILE EVERY DAY. Looks like he (and Annabelle) are on to something!

  19. This is a cute lesson and nice articl, thank you for that !

  20. Brilliant story! well written and the lessons came through loud and clear. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Actually, we can get lesson from baby…..:)

  22. At the end of the day, one should be happy with what he did. Thinking clearly and with not much strings attached in each and very act acheives perfection closely.

    That’s important.

    Nice Message

  23. jacksamo

    LOL i LOVE IT

  24. Pat

    As you know, when you live and work in other countries, you realize that Americans do smile more and say “yeAH~yay! ” all the time. Putting on that “I can fix anything” confident attitude. I used to hate it when I first moved to the States for college. Now I see the value in it, why bring everyone down with your grouch?

  25. grace*

    aww that rocks! YAY!!! I love it (:

    Love from Sunny Singapore!

  26. adeptamit

    Thanks for sharing!

  27. Beautiful, and so true! Love this post. Thanks!

  28. It is a wonderful gift when we are able to learn something from (our) children. That is why they are truly a gift.

  29. Karnie

    I’ve seeen alot of babies do this. As from what i heard from my mom, i used to do this too when i was a baby. She told me that i was “fearless” and wasnt afraid of how others react or think. I guess we all lose this trait as we grow older. Because of other peoples Comments, opinions etc…afraid of not fitting in the society.

    • Eddy

      Hi Karnie

      You raise a great point! We do seem to lose our “fearlessness” as we get older and I think that it’s a shame. Sure its good to learn to be cautious but how many people have missed out on what we (or others) have to offer becasue we’ve been to afraid to even say hi?

      Go against the flow, challenge the status quo, there is something better to be had than what we’ve got now!

      Keep smiling 🙂

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  32. valegolden

    hi!
    i’ve loved your post!
    i’m from argentina; i’m 21 years old; i’ve no children, but 2 lovely nephews, and they do the same.
    it seems too simple when you’re a kid, and sometimes too hard when you’re getting older.
    thanks for the advice, i really enjoy your post (what’s more, i’m printing it).
    this lessons are applicables to every situation in daily life.

    best wishes!

    muchos besos!

    vale!

  33. Nice. Isn’t it amazing how we learn?

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  36. Jayno! :)

    cute! I love seeing life “through” Elijah too…everything looks new again.

  37. This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. 🙂

    -Bill-Bartmann

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