God has an incredible sense of humor. About six years ago, He sold the house next door to David and I to a very well known CEO and his lovely wife. We became acquaintances through a series of events and mostly because I think they were curious and our kiddos won them over. Before long, Suzy Welch became one of my dearest friends. Our master bedrooms were separated by a thin hedge and late at night we could still see each other’s lights on. She would be writing away on a book, and I would be walking the floor with a newborn…We’d text each other constantly and slip into each other’s kitchen when my kids were napping or Jack was playing golf. It was bliss. Growing up as an only child, to have a “big sister” living right next door was heavenly.
And then, quite unexpectedly, our house sold. And while it was a good thing for us ultimately, the hardest thing was NOT leaving the home my husband had built, the beautifully appointed décor, or even the nursery that I had brought eight babies home to. No…by far the hardest thing was leaving the house next door to Jack and Suzy.
Thankfully, we now only live seven houses down…it’s still too far away, but she still pops into my house unannounced and walks Happy, her new dog, through our backyard every day. I have learned so much from she and Jack, and they have both been instrumental in pushing David and I into this next season of our lives involving full time ministry, writing, and speaking. Truthfully, without Suzy, this blog probably wouldn’t even exist!
This past week they released what has already become a top seller titled, “Real Life MBA: Your no-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career.” I am already learning so much and I wanted to pass on this brilliant little piece about candor in the workplace.
“Why do I care about your neighbor’s new book?” you might ask? Because as I have shared in several previous posts, running a successful family is a lot like running a successful small business. I have written to you about the importance of “freedom of speech” in your homes and how children need to learn how to speak up and with respect to their parents. In this one graphic below I think there is a multitude of lessons we can learn from and if just based on this one graphic we can learn this much about parenting then I think it stands to reason that this book should be on all of our shelves.
1-Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes.
Kids know we make mistakes. They need to see us own them. We all know jerks who never admit they are wrong and they drive us nuts. Let’s not be those kind of jerks to our kids.
2-Request candor from others. Make sure your colleagues know you value straight talk.
Develop a culture in your family where your kids know that you value straight talk. No candy coating. Don’t let them “circle the block five times just to cross the street” so to speak. In other words, if your kid is going round and round about a subject and scared to bring it up, just tell them to come out with it! Let them know that the truth is appreciated and respected. That’s a life-long skill that their spouse and future employer will be grateful you taught them!
3-Move from a “no mistakes” to a “no surprises” culture. When you wonder if you should tell your boss, the answer is “yes” and five minutes ago.
I have told my children time and again that mistakes are a given. I expect them to make them and I’d rather them get as many as they can over with before they reach adulthood. But what I can NOT stand is a surprise. Don’t let me find out about it from someone else. Tell me yourself. And fast. And if you’re wondering if it’s something I need to know about, the answer is YES, and five minutes ago.
4- Ask for feedback…and listen. Treat feedback as a way to grow and learn.
Lots of parents say they want their kids to TALK to them, but the truth is they don’t listen to their children. I have written before about the HUGE difference between hearing your kids and LISTENING. You have to ask them for feedback on the systems you have in place in your home or risk them growing frustrated with no way to share it with you. That will breed rebellion and contempt. I frequently ask the children open ended questions and ask them to share with me knowing that sometimes it won’t all be ice cream and lollipops. That’s ok. I would rather have their honest feedback and make changes in our family if they are needed than kiddos who grow up resenting the way we did things only because I was too stupid or stuck up to ask the people I love most what they needed changed.
5- Say “I don’t know” when you really don’t. Get more brains into the game to help figure it out.
This is priceless. There have been millions of times I had no idea what the right thing to do was. I had no clue what the right answer was. I had absolutely no idea where to begin to even GO to find out what to do next. I still have areas of my parenting that I haven’t figured out and when parents ask me on those subjects or when my kids say “what would we do about_____” and I just have to say “I don’t know.” The best part about saying “I don’t know” as a Christian is that I know Who does. God has the answers I so desperately need and He has been more than incredibly faithful in giving me what I need when I need it.
I frequently remind myself of James chapter 1:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach.”
If you have learned anything from this short lesson based of Jack and Suzy’s graphic, I highly recommend you run right over to Amazon.com and purchase their newest book Real Life MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch. I’m thinking there will be dozens of applicable lessons for those of us that want to run our families in a most successful way.