We all want the best for our kids—to have advantages that perhaps we didn’t. We work hard to use whatever resources we have to pave the way for them to hit their mark as adults. So we set up college funds; get them in the best schools; build their experience through diverse extra-curricular activities; use our network to secure helpful internships for them.
All good. Yet, sometimes common sense training—which turns out to not be so common—can provide an even greater real-world edge. Even with limited resources.
My kids love hearing little “life instructions” passed on to me from my grandpa or dad. For example, “If your hair is combed, hands and fingernails are clean, and shoes are shined—you’re dressed up.” Might not find quoted in GQ or Details magazines this month, but it works.
So, in that same vein of highly sophisticated, ultra-guru profound advice, here’s a bit of Andersen culture that I indoctrinated into my kids (drumroll please):
If you want to get promoted faster than your peers,
- Show up for work 15 minutes early
- Stay at work 15 minutes late
- Say, “Yes, sir/ma’am; no, sir/ma’am”
Tada! You’re welcome.
If you’re underwhelmed by this bit of sage wisdom, trust me—it works. There are several reasons why these simple actions work profoundly. Life favors those who…
- Do more than expected. In most competitions, a winner wins “just by a nose.” Whether it’s a foot race or 100 applicants for a single job opening, it’s usually decided by someone doing just a little bit more than expected. If you want your child to stand out from the masses, teach her to do more than expected. The next two reasons are examples of this.
Manage time wisely. The first two habits above involve time management skills. Most people show up for work at the last moment and bolt at the closing bell. Being willing to show up early and stay a bit later puts you miles ahead of the majority. It conveys conscientiousness, reliability, and discipline.
Get along with others. The last two habits above are interpersonal skills. John D. Rockefeller said he would pay more for the ability to get along with others than anything else. People who get along with others tend to be promoted even above others who may have received a higher grade point average or have more skill. Organizations will always find a place for those who have a positive attitude, cooperate with both peers and those in authority, and are just enjoyable to be around.
Please note: these aren’t four pithy statements you save for your child as he heads out to his first job interview. They are habits to be cultivated over time. And there’s no time like the present to begin your training.
Start now by instilling in your child the importance of doing a task better than expected; being on time is being ahead of time; showing respect to their elders.
Teach these four habits to your child and they will serve him well as an adult in the competitive world. And, by the way—they will work for you, too.
Question: What common sense advice are you instilling in your child to give them a winning edge for life as an adult? Share your answer in the comments below.