A few months ago, I wrote about what I am learning from my 17 year old son and received an overwhelming response, so I thought I’d share a few more thoughts. This time about my daughter who is just about to become a teenager. I started to consider the life lessons that she is sharing with me at the age of just 13. Please rest assured, I am not going to write any more after this one as I only have two children!
Lesson one: Empathy and Courage
The most impressive lesson I have learned from Amelia is about empathy and more specifically courage, being able to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. Amelia is deeply caring and is concerned about the feelings of others, she is also independent and outspoken. She will defend the under-dog to the hilt and make sure she is able to use her voice to articulate any injustice and support those less able to defend or stand up for themselves. Amelia has often become the victim in these situations, being bullied for standing up to the bullies of others. She will tell her peers they are in the wrong for being rude to an elderly gentleman or she will hold her ground with a teacher who fails to listen.
Her courage and dogged determination to fight injustice makes me both incredibly proud but also very humble that she, at an age when life is so challenging, that the decision as to what colour elastic bands are to go on her braces can take longer than the time it takes to affix them, offers herself up for ridicule in the place of others in order that they can be protected from hurt or harm.
So often in life, and especially in the workplace we witness bullying or biases that need to be called out and frequently these have been allowed to pervade because colleagues are not confident enough or do not have the words or skills to challenge. Wouldn’t it be better to stand up and be counted and do the right thing? Being honest about what we think and feel will lead to better working environments, another quality my daughter can claim.
Lesson two: be Honest
Honesty, a value which has been part of our lives since the day she was born and one we, as a family are all committed to. Her honesty means that she will accept when she is wrong and will “come clean” even without being prompted. Her desire to be open and honest and the trust this brings to her relationships is rewarded with responsibility. Trust is such an important part of any relationship and certainly at work and with teams there is no point in working together if there isn’t trust.
When this valuable quality is over extended and turns into directness or even being blunt this can make for challenging times in relationships. As a society, we are renowned for sparing people’s feelings and telling little “white lies”. This can be good in some circumstances and will certainly make for an “easy life”, but Amelia’s perception is that this is dishonest and the truth is paramount. She often says what she thinks and her directness can sometimes lead to conflict. However, her kind nature means that once she explains her reasons for telling her friend the top looked awful or her hair was better before she coloured it, that she says these things because she cares, the matter is soon forgotten. However, the honesty that was shared and the feelings her friend experienced of being cared for is not lost and the bond of trust continues to grow. Becoming a trusted advisor and a critical friend is essential to the work I do as a coach and trainer as well as a consultant. There’s no point in giving support and offering advice if I do not have the integrity with which to back it up.
Lesson three: being Fearless and Open
Amelia is open to possibilities, she will not limit herself and her life choices, she remains open-minded and explores opportunities as they present themselves. For me this is a great quality, being fearless.
She has decided that she will be a penguinologist…yes this is an actual career and there is only one in Britain at the moment and as he is male, Amelia is quite keen to be the first female! She has done her research and presented on the topic in a careers lesson at school. As you can tell she has a sense of adventure and is keen to learn more about the world around her and is very much looking forward to meeting her adopted penguins in Antarctica. I am certain that her curiosity and fearless nature will enable her to achieve anything she puts her mind to and I am incredibly proud to be able to learn from her and try out her strategies.
In conclusion, the learning opportunities I have been given by my children and the value this has brought me so far, along with privilege of watching them grow and learn is immeasurable and I would like to thank them both from the bottom of my heart for making me a better human.