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L&D Lessons Learned from being a Parent (Part 4 of 5)

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's what we're told from a young age, and sometimes that stick-to-it-iveness can be an important skill for children and working professionals alike. But do we always need to figure everything out on our own?

“I do it!”

Watching kids learn may be one of the greatest privileges of being a parent. Sure, it can be painful when it takes them three times as long as you to do a simple task, and there are often large messes or mistakes. But the sense of pride and accomplishment when kids master a task they set out to learn is inspiring. 

My oldest is currently finding her independence in the kitchen and has deemed herself the only one who can make scrambled eggs- “I’ll make them, mom! Please don’t help.”

My middle kid, who is in kindergarten, is learning to read and write and not only are my text messages no longer safe from her eyes, but now she is writing short stories and enjoys journaling about her day. She even insisted on writing her own packing list for a recent weekend trip to visit Nana – “I’ve got it mom!” she assured me.

My youngest kiddo is two and is insistent on being as independent as possible. “Mommy, I do it!” is a statement I hear from him no less than ten times a day. I try to let him be independent when I can, even when it’s hard to watch him struggle as he works to learn something new. Recently, after about seven unsuccessful tries to put on his own socks, he attempted again. This final time, I was able to maneuver my finger into the edge of the sock and slip it over his pinky toe while he pulled hard on the top of his sock that was hooked over his big toe. It worked! He flashed me a proud smile and then held up the other sock to start trying on the other foot. But this time he asked, “Mommy, help?”

This got me thinking. How many times do I behave like this as an adult? I tackle the project or the assignment on my own, I struggle, I try again, I get frustrated, I keep trying. Only to realize later that I have resources that can help me and would have saved me time and energy in the long-run? I do this more often than I would like to admit.

Just last month I was working on a client project that had a tight timeline. Everyone on the project was pulling long hours to meet the deadline so I felt bad asking for help. I tried to make the slides myself, but they just looked plain. I made some edits, stared at it for far too long, and then finally asked a colleague to “make it pretty”. The end result blew my mind and the client was very happy.

My kids’ “I do it” tenacity is a good reminder for me. It’s important to try new things, learn from our mistakes and stick with a task, even when it is hard. But as my 2-year old subtly reminded me, we really are better together. Often asking for help is the best thing we can do to achieve success in our goals.

I’ve worked for years as a one-person training department and it can be challenging if you don’t have an immediate team to lean on to ask for help. But there are always other resources available. Maybe it’s a Google search, or a question asked in a forum, maybe it’s phoning a past colleague or classmate to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps there’s a local ATD chapter in your area that offers networking events where you can bring up a challenge you’re having and get others’ perspectives. Maybe you can create your own L&D support group like my colleague Brian did. Sometimes we can’t be successful without help, without another set of eyes on the review, or a fresh perspective to get the ideas rolling.

My kids taught me: We really are better together.

Share your experience! Has this happened to you? Have you ever tried unsuccessfully on your own and then, after reaching out to ask for help, all the pieces just fell together?

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