A Kindergartener’s Approach to Business
People aren’t kidding when they say having kids will change your life. They not only change it, they turn it upside down, spin it around, and shake it until everything falls out on the ground—in a good way. The other day I was working on a freelance job that I really didn’t want to do when I noticed my daughters fighting over whether they should play Barbies or watch a cartoon. Both girls fought vehemently to get what they wanted. I envied them just a little. They knew what they wanted (or didn’t want) and they defended their position passionately. I realized I could learn something from them about getting what I want out of life. After some careful consideration, here’s what I’ve learned about using kindergarten tactics in my business.
1. Kindergarteners tell you exactly what they want. Adults get too caught up in the politics of business and image. We are afraid to ask for what we really want, because it might make us look bad or we might lose a client. Kindergarteners know that it doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst that can happen: the person says no. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to throw a tantrum when asking for something from a business associate (after all, we should still be polite), but next time I want something, I might just throw it out there and see if I get it.
2. Kindergarteners are persistent. They don’t just ask for something one time. They ask again and again. When told no. They bide their time and come back later to ask yet another time or two. They don’t give up in the face of adversity. In business persistence really does pay off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to email a potential client to remind them of my services before they actually sent me a job. Now, I’m not going to hound them incessantly, but contacting them at regular intervals in a respectful manner has worked for me.
3. Kindergarteners are excited about learning new things. The whole world is a new adventure to them. They are experiencing so many things for the first time. They tackle new tasks with enthusiasm and keep trying until they get it right. When faced with “having” to learn something new, I often go into it dragging my feet and scowling. Rather than seeing the opportunity to broaden my horizons, I often focus on the extra energy it’s going to take to something new. I turn into a curmudgeon. No one wants to work with someone who is unteachable. I’m expected to “learn” about the needs of my clients all the time. I’ve had to learn new software, style manuals, and changing technologies. Each time I do, it feels good. I must hang on to that feeling. Taking a cue from my kindergartener, I will try to face new challenges with a better attitude.
Taking a kindergartener’s approach to business may be one of the best things I’ve done in a while. However, I won’t be signing any of my contracts with crayon or incorporating a daily nap time….or will I?