Children are The Best Teachers by Sangeeta Shankaran Sumesh

I was recently reading Executive Coach Marshal Goldsmith’s What got you here won’t get you there.

In the book, Goldsmith talks of the troubles with success, habits that hold you back from the top, how we can change for the better, etc.

Seeking Feedback

One of the points in the book is on seeking feedback. Not just feedback but also “feedforward”. Goldsmith goes on to say that feedback can also be sought not just from our colleagues but also our family including children. So, in one of the chapters, he quoted his own example wherein he had solicited feedback about himself as a father from his young daughter.

This prompted me to think how we seldom seek feedback from our most important and precious gifts – our children. Hence, I wanted to know what my children thought of me as a mother.

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This thought of asking for a feedback from my children had never struck me earlier. Now that it had, I was of course eager to know. At the same time there was also slight reluctance.

What if they did not approve of my parenting style? What do they think of the umpteen fights, arguments and disagreements we have had or rather that we keep having? Will they take it out on me now? Although I balance my time and ensure that I give them whatever I can, what if they feel otherwise? What if they feel that I am a mom on the move? What if…..? Would I be put on a PIP?! (Performance Improvement Plan!) Endless questions ran through my mind!

Goldsmith’s daughter gave him an appreciative feedback as well as action points. This made me think deeper. Will I be able to live up to their expectations? Would I be able to heed to their action points, if any? I was hoping I wasn’t digging my own grave!

Nonetheless, I braved my fears and reached out.

Here’s a brief of the conversation I had individually with my 12-year-old daughter and thereafter with my 14-year-old son.

I asked my daughter who was laying on the bed – “So what do you think of me as a mother? Do you like the way I am as a mom? Anything you would like me to change?”

Daughter (springing up) – “Oh! You are the best mother one can ask for! I love you the way you are. There is no need to change.” This was followed by a bear hug and a kiss from her which was reciprocated by me.

I was on cloud nine after hearing her. I told her that for almost all people, their respective moms are the best…. including me!

Shortly thereafter, I asked my son the same questions.

Pat came the reply – “Good.”

I was waiting to hear more from him. But none. So, I asked him rather disappointed “Is that all you have to say? Your sister told me I was the best mom!”

Son replied “Of course you are and that’s why I said you are good. What more do you expect me to say?”

He had answered to the point and expressed himself clearly. I could not say anything beyond.

The point is not how good I am as a parent, but the fact that this brief conversation threw light on me from various perspectives.  It not only reminded me yet again but also taught me these:

  • Respecting the opinion of children
  • Accepting people as they are
  • Do your best but keep expectations at minimal
  • Anticipate out-of-the-box response
  • Respond not React
  • Seek explanation when clarity is required
  • Don’t jump to conclusions
  • Learn to appreciate various perspectives

On a lighter note maybe “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” should be reworded as “Boys are from Mars and girls are from Venus!”

And I couldn’t but help draw an analogy with the corporate life.

From Human Resources Perspective:

  • Remember that men and women are differently wired. They have their own way of thinking and expressing.
  • Do not compare peers. Each have their own strengths.
  • Do not expect similar kind of response as each have their own individuality.
  • It is important to have good communications skills.
  • It is essential to receive feedback from our juniors as well and check on how they feel and think.
  • Needless to say, if corrective action is required, it has to be acted upon.
  • Do your best to exceed expectations.

From Finance perspective:

  • Children are our greatest asset
  • Returns are different from each class of asset
  • It is a positive sign as long as return on investment is in line with the industry standards
  • It takes a lot of time and effort for goodwill to be built
  • Relationships are like land, they tend to appreciate over time (provided you have made the right kind of investment)
  • Like mutual funds, invest in relationships and see them grow beautifully over a period of time.
  • Lastly, remember that mutual funds are subject to market risks. So do your best to mitigate risks.

Sangeeta Shankaran Sumesh is a Chartered Accountant and Cost & Management Accountant by profession and is the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer in a multinational. She is also an Independent Director in a listed company. Sangeeta has authored a fiction “A Glance at the Unknown”. She is a motivational speaker, enthusiastic traveller, passionate artist and an Olympic distance triathlete. 

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