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Insights / August 28, 2017

Back to Basics

By Abby Breyer

My youngest starts kindergarten next week. I’ll spare you the emotion that comes with this milestone (#😭), but it has me thinking about our earliest life lessons. We don’t start our school careers with math problems or reading assignments. We start with the basics: listening, sharing, sitting still. Once these skills are mastered, we can go on to tackle the big stuff.

As adults, we take our ability to do these simple tasks for granted—and in doing so, forget how essential they are to our wellbeing and success. So this week we’re going to set aside our complicated grown-up lives and problems for a minute and get back to basics.

Listen to your teacher.
Everyone has wisdom to share. Stay humble and open to learning from the people around you regardless of their age or experiences.

Use your manners.
Kindness is always the right choice. Take time to be generous and thoughtful with your speech, and try to remain cognizant of the situations and feelings of others—even in small interactions.

Share your toys.
What are you hoarding for your own benefit? Think about the toys / ideas / information / talents / knowledge you’re privileged to have at your disposal and consider how those things can positively impact someone else. Then give them freely to others.

Keep your hands to yourself.
Once you delegate something, let it go. Don’t hover or micromanage—trust the folks around you to do their thing, and keep your hands (and your opinions) to yourself unless you’ve been invited to offer feedback. If you have, do so thoughtfully and with respect for the other person’s effort.

Use your words.
Unhappy? Speak up. Delighted? Offer praise. Left out? Request to join in. Ashamed? Ask for forgiveness. Witness an injustice? Call it out. Love someone? Tell them.

Take turns.
Once upon a time, someone took a chance on you. Now it’s your turn—look for opportunities to let others shine, then elevate their ideas and work above your own.

Help clean up.
Take responsibility for your role in the messes of life, and do the work necessary to clean it up. Don’t waste time pointing fingers; roll up your sleeves and get in there. Cleanup goes much faster when everyone pitches in.