Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
When things are hectic, it can be very difficult to keep things in perspective. The pressures of a challenging economic climate, complication of a changing workforce while navigating the hidden landmines associated with remote & hybrid work. Throw on top of this the polarizing impact of social media that attempts to unite by dividing and no wonder it is easy to get caught up in life’s struggles.
On a recent business trip, there was a young couple with 2 preschool aged kids sitting a couple of rows in front of me. Throughout the flight, you could hear the older brother talking about everything and anything. No nap. No relaxing. He was engaging anyone and everyone who would listen. While I could never quite make out what he was saying due to the pressure in my ears and the ambient sounds, his voice seemed to be the only other constant besides the humming of the engines.
Right before we landed, I could finally hear the actual conversation. In the sincerest manner, I heard his little voice ask, “are you having the best day?” I’m not sure if the question was directed to his mom or his little sister, but regardless, I couldn’t help but smile.
I wondered if his parents understood the power of such a simple question or were they worn out from the long day of travel with an energetic young boy? Did they take a moment to appreciate the purity and honesty of the question or was their focus on getting out of the confinement of the plane and getting a break?
On my return flight, as I was waiting to board the plane, I was able to enjoy another young family where the parents were trying to occupy their kids by staring out the gate window at the planes pulled up to the jetways. “Dad, there’s our plane. That one right there.” I lost count, but to the best of my recollection, he pointed that out 18 more times in the next 10 minutes to be sure his dad didn’t forget. He also pointed out to his little sister that their luggage was being loaded. Whether or not they traveled with 46 bags is still not verified, but according to the little boy, it was their luggage.
The parents smiled and encouraged the interaction in hopes of distracting them from the wait for their group number to be called. But gradually, that gave way to the firm, close talking of the parents explaining to their kids to not be so loud and to calm their behavior. I took the opportunity to encourage the parents to find ways to enjoy these moments. To see these as future memories instead of stressful struggles. I shared my own experiences with our kids, and they could tell, by my enthusiasm in telling the stories, that they were cherished memories.
As I boarded the plane and settled into my seat, I reflected on those two families and how they seemed to overlook those incredible moments that brought such warmth and joy to my heart. But as I was enjoying the beverage service, I realized that my perspective today was different. How I view my memories of those experiences is different than how I felt when I was living through them as a young parent. When it was happening, I was caught up with the frustration and challenges of four young kids who didn’t seem to listen. When it was happening, I failed to recognize the powerful growth and bonding time of those situations. Something, as someone who now has 3 of the 4 kids in adulthood, I can now appreciate and cherish as I miss the innocence of their youth.
What a great reminder to find those moments of challenge that will be your future treasured memories. Those tales of woe that will become your stories told with laughter and pride. As part of a recent training class, I listened to a TEDx Talk by Dominic Colenso. He said, “the traces of our past shape the narrative of our future and will continue to influence the stories that we tell.” We must learn to embrace today's challenges, today’s stories, because it is our memories of these stories that will live Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.