Some days ago I went out to the playground to play with my little son. It was a very interesting time playing together and I saw quite a lot of parallels between the activities going on in the garden and in leadership. So here you go, leadership lessons from the playground.
Getting dressed and ready
I was amazed when I understood that the lesson on leadership did not really start in the garden. It started back home in the flat before we even went out the door. How come? When you go out to play with a little kid you need to think into the future and imagine all kinds of things. What’s the temperature like? How much clothes do I need to put on? What if the diaper gets full and maybe brown things happen while out playing? What if he gets thirsty, or maybe even hungry? Once out there on the playground, I also need to make sure that we have some toys to play with in the sandbox. Come on, heavy strategy work needs to be done before even getting to the playground. Get the point?
When you want to achieve something, get somewhere and get something done… it all requires planning and a good strategy. You need to prepare for different scenarios and stay alert for things that might come your way. You can turn passive waiting on the inside and plan too much, but once out there you can simply throw away what’s not needed. On the other hand, if you do not plan well (your kid gets cold at once because you brought to few clothes), you might have to go back home and do a restart of it all.
Leadership in the sandbox
After some minutes in the sandbox, my son had made some sandcastles and a fish kind of thing. We then left the sandbox and came back to the sandbox again to see that everything was still there. But, who would ever imagine that these things came into being by themselves? A little sandstorm maybe, and suddenly there we found a sand castle and a little fish formed thing in the sandbox. Of course, someone created them.
When looking at successful businesses, companies, blogs and websites, you can be tempted to think that their success came overnight. But, just as with the sand castles, some real work had to be done for the goals to be reached. My son knew what he wanted as he filled the bucket with sand. He had a thought and a plan in his head, and he used the shovel to fill the bucket with the sand to create the sand castle he dreamed of. Keep your dream hot and start working!
Leadership in the swing
The art of swinging is not the hardest. My son still can’t manage to make the swing move by himself, so I help him by pushing from time to time. So I stood in front of him and pushed him. Do you know what happened? The swing always returned back to me. I just pushed it in one direction, but it still kept on coming back. Not too big a miracle, but it is still worth thinking about the principle.
As a leader, you can give good quality pushes and bad ones. You can fight your way to the top pushing people aside, or you can push other people in front of you helping them to achieve their goals and success in their fields of expertize. The swing principle stays true in these situations as well, even though it might be harder to stay alert because what you saw does not always come back at once. Still, you can now for sure that what you saw today will return back to you someday. Be it good deeds, positive words and helping someone find a new job, or be it negativity, backbiting and pushing other people down. In tennis, you need to make sure that you have a good swing to get the ball where you want it to go. Make sure to live your life with a good swing as well!
Leadership on the plastic motorbike
At the playground, there were different kinds of motorbikes for children. They were all in pretty bad shape, but my little kid still jumped on one of them and started to make speed with his legs. When he got tired he stopped making speed with his legs, and the result was that in a few seconds the motorbike stopped as well. Without anyone giving speed, it stops!
When you have gotten your website or company up and running and business is booming, this principle is important to remember. If your legs stop moving and you do not develop yourself or your business anymore, you will in a while see a decrease in your revenue and the results might not be what they once were. As I said this does not necessarily happen at once, but once you stop developing your business, others will develop instead, and with time they will offer more up to date and modern products than you and your company do. So, keep your legs moving!
Leadership on the slide
The last leadership lesson I thought of when playing with my son on the playground came as I looked at the slide. For me, it is easy to climb up the stairs, but for my little son, this is still very hard. So for him, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, failing and trying over again before he can reach the top and enjoy the ride down.
The hardest thing when launching something new is often the start. Everything takes time and it is easy to fail as you have little practice in climbing the ladder in the business world. It will for sure require lots of hard work, patience, and the endurance to try again and not to give up, even when results do not show up the way you would like them to.
I hope you have enjoyed these leadership lessons from the playground, and maybe I have even inspired you to visit the playground yourself? When we open our eyes there is so much to see and so much to learn. Maybe you have some other leadership lesson you have learned at the playground, or maybe somewhere else? I would love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts as you write a comment!