As they used to sing in those old TV ads for Staples, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
It's back-to-school time for kids across the United States, and while having time with my own children this summer was truly wonderful, I am happy to admit that I am eager to see them get back to their own work of being students.
And as the kids head back to class for another school year, it made me think about all of the valuable lessons that I learned as a boy that continue to resonate and apply to my daily routine.
In this case, I'm not referring to the reading, writing and arithmetic, but rather those lessons that you learn just by showing up, and being surrounded by others who are all in the same situation as you.
I am happy to share those lessons with you now--they have served me well over the years.
Here are five tips from my elementary school days that every working adult should know:
1. Get up early
Set an alarm, and make sure you rise and shine each and every day.
Yes, there will be days when you don't feel like getting out of bed, but you will be glad you did. Take on the day with a smile (brush your teeth), and be ready to hit the ground running.
If you take the bus you will have the best spot in line--or if you happen to drive to work, you will beat the morning commuters--and you will get to work with time to spare.
You will have time to get settled in, and start working before your boss has even had a cup of coffee.
2. Look sharp
Every kid loves being able to put on that new outfit for the first day of school. And while we can't wear new clothes every day, there is something to be said for making sure you've got your game face on--even if it is just another Monday at the office.
It's subtle, but when you look well put together, people take notice.
"As a working mom, I know how important it is to be ready for anything--and sometimes the clothes we're wearing get messy, or just aren't right for the moment at hand," says Sharon Rosenger, CEO of New Jersey-based CBO Baby, whose company produces adaptive clothing for children with special needs.
"There's nothing wrong with keeping an extra outfit ready in your office for those emergency meetings, so you will never be caught off guard!" Rosenger says.
Which leads to my next tip ...
3. Be prepared
Do your "homework" ahead of time. While it might have been cool to wait until the last minute to do your assignments back in school, having your work done early is always a smart move.
You will be prepared for whatever comes your way, and you will impress your coworkers when you are cool under pressure.
You can apply this to client meetings, presentations, or even research you might be doing related to a new product, or competitor--being prepared is under-rated, but never goes out of style.
4. Remember the barter system
One of my favorite parts of the school day was lunch. Sure, it meant free time, and the promise of recess yet to come, but it also meant it was time to eat and hang out with my friends.
And, it was a chance to try new things. In this case, it all came down to trades--my apple for your cookie, or half a tuna sandwich for that pudding cup.
You begin to learn subtle skills in negotiating and sales that you can always use later on in life. And while you may not be trying to trade lunches with your coworkers now, the way you make deals or come to consensus with a group can easily find its roots in the thriving trading community of your local school cafeteria.
5. Be a friend
At one time or another we were all the "new kid". Remember what that was like? It was tough, right?
It doesn't need to be. Make the new guy or gal feel welcome--invite them out for coffee, or show them around the office.
You will quickly gain that person's trust, and have an ally for the future. It is always a good idea to have the right people on your side.
How about a bonus lesson? I am a big fan of the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated in return.
It is a simple premise that is often overlooked. But it goes a long way, and will always pay dividends.
What lessons do you remember from your elementary school days? Share your favorite tips and suggestions in the comments below.