In my last post, we looked at the first five lessons I learned from my awesome ‘little buddy’, Rylan. Being a parent is everything I hoped it would be and nothing I expected it to be. I’m a communicator. I’m a trainer. I’m a coach. I’ve led conferences, presented to large crowds, coached top-notch sales people and mentored teenagers. I’ve learned and grown as a leader from each situation, but I never would have expected how much I would have learned from my kids while parenting.
Here are some more of those lessons.
6. Try new things. Constantly.
Last Thanksgiving we had dinner at my parent’s house in Vero Beach. My dad was sooo excited to give Rylan a present — his first “fishing pole”. Now, let me explain why this is a “fishing pole” (in quotes) instead of a fishing pole (no quotes). This pole was outfitted with Spiderman logos and images all over it. This pole was pretty sweet. But, his pole was not supposed to catch fish. In fact, it had a plastic fish already hanging off the bottom of the fishing line. Rylan had never fished before and was anxious to give it a shot. Papa (my dad) was using a real pole next to Rylan and actually caught a fish. That moment might have been the pinnacle of his life (until he met Mickey Mouse). Rylan could have been apprehensive to hold the pole and try to “fish”. He could have also been scared to go up and touch the real fish that Papa caught. Our little buddy is a brave little boy and he loves trying new things.
Are you willing to try new things in your life? I’m not necessarily talking about experiences or adventure, you might be pretty daring. What I’m referring to is much simpler. As an example, I used to try to have my quiet time in Scripture at night. I am absolutely not a night person. In college, there would be parties at my house until the early morning hours and I was in bed with my door locked at 10:00. I am much more of a morning person. I’m sharpest in the morning. I have my best ideas in the morning. So, I made myself available to God when I knew I was most willing to engage, even if it meant waking up before my alarm would normally go off.
7. It’s the little things
Rylan loves playing with our iPads, but we don’t always let him. We use it to reward good behavior, like cleaning up without us asking or making it through a whole nap without wetting his pull-up. (*parental confession, we also use it to preoccupy him when we want to do other things or just want quiet.) Rylan typically freaks out a little when his iPad time is up, no matter how many times we tell him that it’s expiring. We are trying to teach him to thank us for letting him play games rather than complain that the iPad has to go away.
How grateful are we with the small things? How often do we fail to tell our friends we love them, only for one of us to move away? How often do we fail to tell our clients we appreciate them, until it’s too late and they take their money somewhere else? How often do we fail to thank God for the crazy amount of blessings we have instead of asking for more? I have to make a decision each morning and pick out the shoes I want to wear. I have a selection of shoes, but there are kids who go barefoot in our country and others every day. I have hope in Christ, but people in other countries struggle to find any meaning in their lives.
8. Teach others
Rylan loves his sister, Bailey. He loves to hit her. He loves to pull her hair. He loves to drag her across the carpet. He also loves to teach her things. Rylan shows her how to play with toys, cook in his play-kitchen and even talk. Get a drop cloth when it happens, because it will melt your heart.
I’m a firm believer that you don’t truly understand something until you teach it to someone else. Whether it’s Scripture, budgeting, software, processes or recipes, teaching someone else helps us understand the subject and ourselves better.
9. Talk to strangers. (Some of them)
We recently took a trip to Disney and we needed to take a pit stop at the bathroom in the park. There was another man in the bathroom and upon walking inside, Rylan says, “Hi, are you peeing?” OK, this is probably not the best example to illustrate my point. Rylan is not shy. He talks to anyone. A repairman came to fix the electronic door lock on our apartment door. Rylan talked his ear off the whole time and wanted a play-by-play of what the guy was doing. Rylan also gives out high-fives in public regularly.
I travel a lot for work right now, which means I encounter a lot of different people on planes, at hotels and at restaurants. I have a chance to connect, engage and maybe even influence someone else’s life. But, I often choose to put on my headphones and zone out in my own thoughts. Our experiences and testimonies are gifts. We need to feel comfortable investing in other people and being vulnerable enough to let others invest in us.
10. Enjoy what you do
This is Rylan on Christmas morning riding his new bike. If you can’t tell, he flippin’ loved it. When he has this much fun, he talks about it for days. The first time he rode a pony was at the fall festival at church. The ride lasted approximately 52 seconds, but the story about it lasted weeks. Don’t even get me started about the time he met Mickey Mouse. I thought his head was going to explode all over our famous rodent friend.
We have to love what we do. I’ve met a lot of people in my industry that just “have a job.” They are more content complaining about things than applying themselves and making a difference. I’ve met a lot of Christians who claim to have a relationship with Christ, but there is no fruit. If Christ is the center of our world, we need to talk about Him always!
We need to think back and relive that moment (we all have one) when we received the best Christmas present ever. For me it was a Castle Grayskull set from He-Man. I remember how excited I was to open it. I was shaking. Nothing could keep me from talking about it to my friends at school.
Now, that toy is long gone. I really don’t remember playing with it as much as I remember actually getting it. As a believer, my salvation and joy in Christ is ever-present and always with me. I have to share that same jubilation when I talk about the eternal gift in God’s grace as I found in getting that temporary He-Man gift.