Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Lessons from the Kids: 30 Days to Higher Performance Through Nature

I spent the last week visiting my nieces and nephew (and brother and sister-in-law) in Manitoba.  Combine three kids under five with my 30x30 nature challenge, and I got some lessons to share:)

Lesson #1 - Play to Perform

We spent time jumping on the trampoline, playing in playgrounds, digging in dirt, and doing photo shoots in the trees.  The kids can pretty much create any story while playing and find solutions to any challenge they face.  Imagine having some play time at the office or work site?  Science tells us that play is as important as sleep for our health - it stimulates learning, fosters creativity, lessens stress and anxiety, teaches perseverance and cooperation, and... makes us happy!  The next time you are faced with a work challenge or need to be creative, go climb a tree or play a game on a trampoline.

Lesson #2 - Give Some One-on-one

Each day throughout the week, I gave one of the three kids individual attention - while trying to combine it with my nature time.  It was virtually impossible to really get to know each child when you are simultaneously settling a crying infant, managing a climbing toddler, and attempting to entertain a brilliant four year old.  Spending alone time with each of them helped me know their little personalities and the best way to interact with them to maximize our short time together.  This is not different from adults.  If you manage or lead people, give them some one-on-one time.  Get to know them.  When you know who they are, what they are good at, and what they enjoy, you can manage performance, reward, and connect with them much more effectively.  How about getting your nature and one-on-one time by going for a walk with a different team member each day?

Lesson #3 - Let Silence do the Talking

My oldest daughter came to Manitoba with me and we managed to get time hanging out in nature.  While silently sitting on a bench in a breezy park overlooking a lake, my daughter started talking about her future.  The wind, the chirping birds, and the silence gave her the head space she needed to start creating her vision.  Our brains are busy and often overloaded with information and to-do lists.  We are most productive when our brains are clear.  Give yourself at least 10 minutes of silence every day.  Let your thoughts pass through your  mind without diving into them, rather label a thought as a thought and move on from it.  Even better - do this in nature.  You will be thankful for the greater ability to focus, get clear on the bigger picture, respond to challenges easier, and create your own future.

None of these concepts are new.  But do you play every day?  Do you give your team members one-on-one time regularly?  Do you make it a daily practice to silent your mind?  If so, congratulations!  If not, start creating these habits for higher performance in work and life!

Kids are the greatest teachers.

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