Frequently I ask myself what I can do to make other people’s job easier. If it is my boss, it might be getting the general direction and then taking a project from his plate. If it is direct reports, it might be finding a new software or giving other resources to help them. By working unselfishly and offering efforts without an expectation in return, everyone rises to a pleasant and productive state. This type of environment fosters reciprocity and soon others do that for me too. My job becomes easier.
The children I am raising don’t seem to get this at all. At this time in their lives it is more about keeping score and the concept of offering help to make a siblings life easier is completely foreign. Kids tend to be the center of their own little universe and teaching them how to be grateful and not entitled is difficult. In order to start to teach gratitude and helpfulness, some of the following topics will have to be discussed; repeatedly:
- The “we”: Using the word “we” instead of “you” is powerful in any environment. “We will work on project X” sounds much better than “you need to work on project X.” We need to eat dinner and we need to all clean up. Learning the idea of working together in a group or team on any task is going to bode well for them in the future.
- Gratitude: Regularly talk about what you are grateful for. Bring to conscious all of the things that could quickly go away, and give thanks. These little conversations will develop a broader thought process that is more inclusive of others and fosters thoughts about how others function in their daily lives. It is all about recognizing other paths in life.
- Help: Have kids help. The more you do for them, the less appreciative they will be. Yes it takes longer. Yes it can be frustrating. Think of it as a long-term strategy.
- Generosity: Be a generous person yourself. Do your children see you helping others? Do they see you trying to recognize moments of another’s need? Show them these times and how you can quickly and quietly spring to action. Not for the purpose of recognition but for true compassion or caring.
- Say no: Always saying yes is not reality. And, it isn’t going to teach thankfulness for what kids already have. It is ok to say “no.” Entitlement is not an attractive quality in life.
- Time: This is the hardest one – time. These lessons have to be repeated over, and over and over. Sadly, I think the true value resonates with kids after they leave home. It’s frustrating because a parent doesn’t get to witness firsthand the true payoff of their labors.
These ideas can help develop a more prepared next-generation workforce to make their boss and coworkers have it a bit easier. The result will be an easier environment for themselves.