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Raising a Leader: Lessons from the Bottom Up

She was only two when my daughter taught me one of the most important rules of leadership.

It had been a real day. My husband was away, and I had been playing single parent for over a week. Big hats off to those who do this all the time!

On top of that, being two, my daughter was in her prime when it came to testing patience. Between the incessant questioning –“but why, Mommy?” and her desire to undo everything I did, I felt l a bit like I was not only playing the game Whack-A-Mole, I was the mole.

By about 5pm and the dumping of colored play sand on the rug, I was done. I went on a verbal tirade.

“NO MORE!” I said, angrily, looking down at her. Then I listed the litany of things she had been doing, unsuspectingly, all day. “No more …. and no more …” Not one of my best Mommy moments, to be sure!

My daughter sat very quietly looking up with big eyes and her gigantic heart. She took it all in … every word. It wasn’t until I stopped my “no more” rant, that she decided (as she still does to this day) to choicefully and with perfect timing deliver the 1-2 punch.

In a small, sweet voice that reflected the wisdom of Buddha, my little 2-year old simply said,

“No, Mommy, not NO more, YES more.”

It stopped me in my tracks, and I knew exactly what she was saying.

“Don’t tell me what you DON’T want, show me what you DO want.”

This moment ended up being quite prophetic when it came to how she would be as a leadership expert throughout her life.

Now, at 11, just the other day when someone in a group we were in was complaining about an issue they were having with a neighbor, my daughter leaned over and whispered to me, “I wonder if she has actually communicated her concerns to her neighbor? Nothing can get fixed if she doesn’t talk with her about it.”

Whenever she hears anyone saying something derogatory or negative, she will say, “thinking that won’t make it better.” or “don’t just judge it, figure out why it bothers you so much and then talk about it.” Little Buddha. Yep, that’s her nickname!

Honestly, I don’t know where she came from, but I feel quite grateful that she chose to be in my life.

When you’ve got a kid like this, you are certainly held not only to a higher standard of parenting, you are held to a higher standard of humanity and humility.

Through her eyes, I have seen the importance, as leaders, to not only be mindful and intentional when it comes to our interactions, but to the more basic perceptions, considerations and language (both internal and external) that we entertain.

The way we think really does create what we experience in life, and, ultimately, the impact we have on others.

Thankfully, with an accountability buddy like I have in my daughter, seeing“what’s wrong” gives me the opportunity to shift to “what’s right.” For myself and for the world within which I live.

Traci

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