• kimfairfieldmba

Life Lessons (e.g. the 4th grade Wiener Lunch Launch)

What lessons from your childhood have you carried through to adulthood?

School is back in session across the nation, and my daughter has just finished her first week of lessons. For various reasons, my family has decided to try cyber school this year. We've noticed a lot of positives after this first week, such as a more rigorous curriculum and inherent need for self-discipline, but of course there are the obvious drawbacks, key among them the lack of socialization.

I find myself in the role of work-from-home mother, housekeeper, teacher, counselor and often playmate, so naturally making time for my own projects and self-care has been a challenge. Yet, I find that I'm learning so much from going through this process with her. I've been reflecting on some of the things I learned from my own elementary school days, and the following are the ones I think had the most impact throughout my life.

  • Respect boundaries. When I was in first grade there was a big issue with some of the girls peeking through the cracks in the restroom stalls. It was just one of those things that suddenly everyone was doing just to freak their friends out. It wasn't malicious and none of us really thought of it in a gross way. But I remember my teacher very clearly taking the girls in the classroom aside and explaining that everyone has a right to privacy to conduct their personal business. That regardless of where you draw the line for yourself, you have to understand that another person may expect more or less privacy. And breaking that basic trust is not a joke. This is true for adults and kids as well. Some people may talk a lot about what's going on in their lives and others hardly at all. Regardless, we shouldn't go poking about in other people's business. Asking people about their personal health, finances, etc. is not okay unless they've already shared these detailed with you and there's an existing comfort level there. And just because someone tells you one thing, doesn't mean they are obligated to share everything. And it certainly doesn't mean you are free to share what they tell you, unless you already are confident in the nature of the relationship. In real estate, the expectation of privacy is especially crucial. Realtors should protect their clients' best interests and are bound by loyalty to not disclose private information regarding sellers' or buyers' intentions, motivations, finances, employment, family issues, etc. We also make recommendations to sellers during the staging process to help protect personal information from potential buyers. This is especially important right now as virtual showings become the new norm.

  • The right motivation is everything. Phys ed was my least favorite subject. Around third grade, we had to start doing the mile run. A mile. That was 4.25 laps around our entire playground. Yeah, I was not capable of that at 8 years old. And let's just say that my gym teacher was the stereotypical kind who would lope through the first lap and then stand on the sidelines and yell demotivating things to encourage you to move faster. I came up with my own form of motivation. "If you can just finish this lap, you can spend your entire allowance on slap bracelets." We all have to figure out what motivates us. My real estate practice is motivated by the goals of: helping my clients, helping my family, and being a positive role model in my community and to my daughter.

  • Practice creativity. I had an art teacher in elementary school who always encouraged us to tackle challenging products during our lessons, and who was never too put out if you didn't meet the brief as long as you put in the effort and could explain why you went outside the box. I learned that by applying this creativity throughout my other lessons (and other challenges in life), I could come up with quicker, more efficient, more fun solutions to problems. If you're a small business owner or entrepreneur, you know exactly why this trait is important. But it's more than just an inherent trait, it's a skill that can be practiced and honed!

  • The truth will out. Pre-adolescence is hard, folks. But that's no excuse for the story I'm about to tell you. One day, in the cafeteria, my friend and I got in an argument. She threw some food at me (it missed and landed on my tray), and I threw a hot dog at her. The hot dog also missed, but it hit the floor behind her and BOUNCED about 8 feet into the air. Besides the obvious horror of wondering what was in the hot dog that would cause so much rebound, I was also appalled to find that the lunch aide saw the relaunch of the meat-like product. When she came to our table to ask who threw it, I told her that it fell out of my bun. She looked at me and rolled her eyes and said "I can't prove otherwise" and walked away. But instead of being pleased that I'd gotten away with the Wiener Lunch Launch, I was actually just really disappointed in myself. I'd lied, and she knew the truth. Sure, I wasn't getting in trouble, but for the next three years that she was my lunch aide, she'd always remember that I was a little liar, liar, pants on fire. The same is true in business. When we work with people, we expect the best from them and that includes honesty. So that is what we owe in turn. If you find out that someone you are working with or for is lying to you, that business relationship will turn sour pretty quickly. So the best way to not be caught out in a lie, is to not lie in the first place. It's okay to say "I don't know, but I'll do my best to find out ASAP," or "I'm not sure that's the best solution, but I appreciate your position so I'd like to consider it further before we make a final decision." Just mean what you say, and do what you mean.

  • Don't limit yourself. The only limits to your success are those you place on yourself. In school, if you limited yourself to one group of friends, or told yourself you were only good at one thing, that eventually became the truth. The same is true of adulthood! We may not be as physically flexible at 38 as we were at 8, but mentally and emotionally we can still flex, explore and discover new ideas and perspectives, pursue new friendships, and challenge ourselves to do better and be better!

This entire year has been and will continue to be a challenge to keep my family safe and healthy, challenge my outlooks, improve my health, educate my daughter, train my dogs (help! seriously), create a relaxing and nurturing home, and grow my business. No one said life was easy, but no one said that a challenge can't be fun, either! If I give myself the right motivation, don't limit myself, stay honest to my truth and my goals, find creative solutions and respect my own boundaries, I may just make it through successfully - and so can you!

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