“ARE YOU OUT of your MIND?!? I TOLD you to STAY AWAY from the MUD PUDDLE!!!”
The most shocking thing about the stressed out Dad shouting these words and dragging his now wet and muddy (and smiling) four-year-old son across the grass is not the intensity with which he is yelling, but that he actually seems genuinely surprised by the boy’s actions.
It is a mud puddle. He is a small boy. They were MADE for each other. Right?
I am watching an absolutely perfect fall day soccer game in which my son is playing. My attention is focused on his every dribble and kick. But when he is on the sidelines, I find myself checking in with mud puddle dad.
As a motivational speaker I am constantly on the lookout for real world examples of the content I share. In this situation I see that the reason the dad is so shocked by his son’s behavior is because he doesn’t really know the boy. When he is not reprimanding, he is completely engrossed in his phone or a conversation with another dad. He is honestly expecting his son to be behaving in a way that is completely outside of the parameters of his natural tendencies – because he doesn’t understand what those tendencies are.
(Now this is not a blog about parenting, although I would love to remind this dad of the saying that when you are 7 life travels at 7 miles per hour, when you are 30, 30 miles per hour, 65, 65 miles per hour – and I would add that precious time with a growing child travels at warp speed.)
This IS a blog about connecting with those around you and really understanding what makes them tick. It is especially true if you are a manager of people, domestic engineer of a household, or in any position where you are able to direct people and their responsibilities. If you understand what the people around you are passionate about, you can give them more opportunities to work on projects that align with their interests.
If there is someone in your world who likes to roll up their sleeves and get dirty, assign them projects that involve hands-on tasks. Someone who is addicted to facebook, put them in charge of all your social media. Someone who always has a colorful desk and a quick one-liner, send them toward marketing.
There are now several books about this kind of strength-based team building, but the bottom line is if you give people responsibilities that involve what they love to do, everyone will be happier, healthier and more productive.
So if you have a puddle jumper in your world, do not try to keep them dry. Instead give them a good set of welly boots and make sure you have a change of clothes on hand. Then let them jump and splash and generally rejoice in the task they are given to achieve.