Career Magazine

12 Habits of Highly Effective People: What I Have Learned from My Children

By Olgadegtyareva @olga_degtyareva

They have been my greatest teachers so far. The12 Habits of Highly Effective People: what I have learned from my children boys are now almost 3 and 4.5 years old, and together with pregnancies it has been about 5 years of amazing learning. During this time I feel I have learned and experienced more than in my entire life.

Today I would like to share some productivity techniques I have distilled from what I have been learning from my children: by listening, observing and being by their side.

Together with my husband we practice peaceful and respectful parenting and what is called radical unschooling. This is an approach to parenting when you are not your child’s teacher but a facilitator of their natural interests – this is how children learn best: following their interests and chasing their passions.

The boys are growing up bright, curious, energetic and joyful. They seem to be learning constantly. In turn, my husband and I step back to do less of patronising and teaching and more of listening and learning.

As the great quote by Mark Twain goes: “Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” So I feel I am re-learning a lot of things that for my children seem natural and make them highly effective in their lives.

So here we go, 12 simple and effective productivity techniques I have learned from my boys:

1)    Be present in the moment. This is how children are, living in the present moment. We adults forget to stay present experiencing anxiety about future or worrying and even getting depressed about the past.

Imagine there is neither past nor future, and the present moment is the only thing you have. Breath it, feel it, and do whatever needs to be done.

2)   Imperfection rocks. If children would always wait until they could do things perfectly they would just sit and do nothing! But they don’t. They just rock it imperfectly.

Imperfect action turned out to be an excellent cure for procrastination. An imperfect draft of that paper is the best thing you can do to get moving with the project. You’ll get a chance to polish and improve it later!

3)     Patience and persistence. Think how we never give up on a baby believing she will learn to roll over, sit and walk. If a baby makes two steps and then falls we don’t rush to conclude the baby will never learn to walk! We have a complete trust in her.

Although some of us are quite patient and persistent in working towards our goals, we often give up far too quickly on ourselves or our colleagues if something does not go as planned. Patience and persistence, my friend! Don’t give up on that dream of yours just yet! Simply find someone trustworthy to encourage and cheer for you on that path.

4)    Practice complete focus. This is an opposite to the notorious multitasking of a busy parent. I observe my children getting completely focused on something that really matters to them to such extent that they do not even hear me. And this is where an intense inner work and learning happens that eventually manifests in progress.

Try this. Clear an hour of time from all distractions and interruptions, focus completely on this one task, be that working on your paper or writing a chapter of your thesis. Switch off e-mail alert and smart phone, close down Facebook and Twitter. Set a timer.

I hear it again and again from the clients of my productivity mentoring how much they manage to get done in a short period of time of complete focus.

5)    Let go of the fear, invite joy instead. Looking at the boys I notice that they do not fear that the whole thing is not going to work out. They just worry about the very next step and deal with it without any worries.

Sitting down to work on that particular project, we often experience fear that it won’t be good enough, or our boss won’t like it or we don’t know enough to start working on it. As the result we are not 100% effective at what we are doing.

Let go of those fearful thoughts, pretend they don’t matter at least for this hour, joyfully imagine the complete result, and see how much more productive and effective you get

When the fear comes up and stops you from moving forward ask yourself: “What is the very next step that needs to be done right now?” Then do it.

6)   Accept what is. One day the boys came home from an outing and told me they went around three swimming pools until they found the one that was open. They reported it as a matter of fact; it was neither good nor bad. This situation would have been annoying for most adults!

When we have a problem we usually show resistance to the situation we are in. By this we are building walls between us and the solution. Once we fully accept the situation, the walls fall down and the solution easily finds us. Often the situation is resolved within minutes, sometimes it takes weeks until a solution finds us, but it always comes after we fully accept the situation.

I am now half through the 12 habits of highly effective people I have learned from my children. I’ll continue sharing them with you next week.

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