Try Acting More Like a Kindergartner
I live across the street from a kindergarten. Kindergarten, where I live in Switzerland, is two years and begins at four. They have their own building and most of the children walk by themselves to school. Except, they don't walk. They run.
As adults, we run, too. When we're very late, or when we're in exercise clothes, trying to get in shape or just get into our jeans. But, these children are not late. They aren't trying to lose weight. They are just running, from their houses to the school. And they laugh while they are doing it.
They run in clumps of threes and fours. Sometimes they hold hands. Sometimes they don't. They all stop at the curbs and look carefully, right and then left, as their parents and the safety officer, who came to their kindergarten, explained to them. And once they are assured of the safety of the situation, they take off, running, until they arrive at the kindergarten gate.
We're adults. We're way too busy and serious and important to gleefully scamper down the street, on our way to whatever task it is that we have to do. Most of us tend to drive whenever it's possible.
Now, I'm not advising you to start running down the road, flailing your arms and giggling madly, because there is something to be said for showing a little restraint and maturity. Clients aren't generally thrilled when your team of four walks into the meeting all holding hands and giggling. But, there's something I want to point out here:
Not one of those children is going to kindergarten of their own free will and choice.
Not one. Even their parents didn't have full authority to make that decision. School is mandatory from age four. (Homeschooling is legal here, but it's a complex process to be approved for it.) They don't even get to decide if they want to go in on a particular day. If mom and dad say, "Today's a school day!" then, by golly, it's a school day.
Yet, they still run, gleefully. And it's not because it's a perfectly cheerful place to be. There are squabbles. Skinned knees. Rules about what they can have in their snack. (Healthy snacks only!) And occasionally, one of their classmates may slap, punch, kick or bite them.
But, when they are on their way to school, they don't focus on the unpleasant parts. They may be holding hands with someone who hit them the day before. They may have a slightly mushy apple as their snack.
Do we do that? Or do we focus on the negative? When we get up in the morning, do we focus on the cool things we get to do today? Or do we grumble the whole way about the person at the office who is a jerk? When we had a squabble with a coworker or direct report or boss they day before, do we still look forward to seeing that person? (We shouldn't, however, attempt to hold that person's hand, as sexual harassment laws apply, and that's pretty creepy.)
My challenge for myself and for you for this week, is to try to be a bit more like a kindergartener. I'm going to look for the positive. Rapidly forgive those who are rude, thoughtless or just plain clueless. I know I have lots of hard things to accomplish this week, but that's not going to stop me from trying to giggle my way through it. (If not out loud, at least an internal giggle.)
I think my life will be better. Who is willing to join me?
SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.