Things You Can Learn From Kids

By Rick Forbus, Ph.D.

Get ready for this article because it is full of personal indulgences and shameless bragging! I am blessed to have four grandchildren. I am not old enough, but miracles do happen. All four are different and I learn lessons on leadership, management and relationship-building from them.

Samuel Maclane Forbus
Samuel is five. If you watch the TV and have ever have watched “Monk” then you know a little about Samuel. Samuel keeps all of his stuff more organized than I do by a long shot! He could count to 110 when he was four. He has completely memorized all NFL and NCAA football teams, their colors, their mascots and at
least one popular player. He knows all of the books of the Bible, sends himself to bed promptly at 9:30 pm and is very hygienic. He keeps up with all of his things, is articulate and loves to play soccer. Not that he needed motivation, but we have been giving him $1.00 for every soccer goal. He made 7 one Saturday and just called to let us know that he was registered for the new league and we should get our dollars ready! Samuel is focused.

Leadership lessons learned from Samuel.

  • Organizational aptitude and categorical thinking are essential tools for great leaders.
  • Promptness and neatness are learned skills and help leaders show eagerness and personal pride.
  • Continued learning is imperative for leaders.

Caleb Thompson Forbus
Caleb is three. He is very engaging and greets everyone when he enters the room with the sweetest salutation. Imagine the friendliest Maître de you have ever encountered; that’s Caleb. He has, since he was one and half, loved cars or anything with wheels. He studies the wheels as they turn, he lies on the floor and watches the wheels turn and talks to all of his cars like personal friends. He has shifted now to Thomas the Train and Friends, but is still enthralled by every moving part and is content to watch the wheels turn and study the train in motion. He jumps and runs and gets extremely excited when fun things happen. He quickly moves his hands up and down in front of himself to indicate his excitement. Caleb is a good hugger and loves to sing. He actually hums instrumental tunes; very advanced for a three year old! He loves social settings and loves all of his family very much and can stay with anyone in the family interchangeably with no problem.

Leadership lessons learned from Caleb.

  • Personalities that are engaging and optimistic help leaders connect with others.
  • Relationship-building skills are imperative for great leaders to employ.
  • Strategic study of implementation steps and things in general aid a leader in thoughtful visioncasting.
  • Divergent interests and thinking help a leader to get out of the box when looking at life and work.

Anna Maclane Forbus
Anna is two and the only girl in the bunch. If you have watched Kyra Sedgwick on TV in the show “The Closer” you may get a feel for Anna’s determination. Before she was two she could completely dress herself. Even now, if she decides to squeeze into a Build-a-Bear outfit, she gets it done. Oh, it may be four sizes too small and take fifteen minutes to get on, but she stays with it. She has eclectic personality traits, too. Denim and lace is
just a starting description of her personal diversity. Imagine a pink tutu, tiara, and a magic wand; pink plastic high heels and a wicked left hook onto one of the abovementioned boys’ chins. I am telling you here, these are very hard punches. She feeds herself, tortures baby dolls, loves on the same dolls and changes her own diaper. With a small plastic guitar she will sing you a full concert with choreography.

Leadership lessons learned from Anna.

  • Tenacity is a trait that helps leaders push through adversity.
  • Eclectic tastes can help leaders see a wide range of viewpoints.
  • Self-worth and self-confidence keep a leader on track to see a vision through to completion.

Christian Taylor Forbus
Christian is three and half months old. The night he was born, Caleb, his big brother said he looked like Thomas the Train. With the knit hat and blanket tightly pulled around his face, it was true, he looked like Thomas. He has had less time on earth to have much track record, but is making his mark pretty quickly.
Christian is wide eyed and happy. When he does cry it is unusual and usually concerns how many ounces he just received. Christian has changed recently to attempt to communicate and smiles the whole time he attempts to form baby words. Christian spends his few waking hours studying the lights, the paintings on our walls and people’s faces. He’s hungry, happy and curious. He is seen everywhere around town snuggling in his “bucketcar” being happy to all who look at him. His main agenda appears to be grateful for his meals and for any attempt to communicate to him.

Leadership lessons learned from Christian.

  • A positive, eager and optimistic attitude and outlook keeps a leader “leaning forward” in life.
  • Others are important and great leaders focus outwardly on the needs, concerns and diversity around them.
  • Watch the world around you. Take time to smell the roses, look at the landscape and be grateful.

Leaders, take some time to evaluate your core actions, attitudes and behaviors. I am more introspective than ever. When I see my grandchildren living life full out and honestly, it challenges me to be authentic and real. Do not miss what is happening around you and watch children. Children live life honestly and without the masks and hypocrisies we adults are so good at. This week write in your journal scenes you take in of children living life honestly. What did you see? What did you learn? Have a great week.


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