Business and Babies
Originally written September 23, 2020
Having worked in technical fields/software for a number of years now, I primarily focus on developing & keeping my hard skills sharp in order to stay ahead of the competition. Although I'm confident I have a decent handle on the typical soft skills that are advantageous to have in an office setting, I have nevertheless invested very little time maintaining them. Since my wife and I had our first child in May during the COVID-19 quarantine, I've realized there are a large number of skills that coalesce between business and raising a child.
Trying to put an untired baby to bed for nap time to maintain a consistent daily routine requires countless skills that are beneficial in business and tech. Here are just a few:
Patience – This goes without saying, but if you aren't patient with your little one when he's tossing and turning in his swaddle while your lower back and shoulder are about to fall off from leaning over the crib and holding his pacifier (paci), you're in for a tough time. You very likely have had to be this patient with your prospects and/or customers at a given point in time, sometimes even as frequently as you do with your infant :). Remaining diligent in your patience almost always pays off, so when you have a customer giving you a hard time try your hardest to understand their challenges and what you can do, if anything, to fix them.
Finesse – When your child is pushing and pulling his head left and right because he's angry about you forcing him to nap, you can approach this one of a couple ways: allow him free movement and elegantly move your hand that's keeping the paci locked in his mouth or resist his motion and cause pressure to keep his head relatively still as he moves in his tantrum. In my somewhat large (and growing) sample size, the first option works way better a higher percentage of the time. Whatever your role is for your company, you always want to go about your business and execute your mission with the highest quality possible. This probably requires consistency, process, and likely some controlled creativity, all of which I would argue adds to effectively having finesse in your work.
Stealth – Some of you know where I'm going with this, but once little one has finally shut his eyes and stopped moving around, you've gotta find a way out of the room and quietly. I've developed some pretty batman-ish stealth to be able to slide out of a chair, tip toe to the door, and open/shut it without even a peep. In business, sometimes you're planning a pivot or building a new product and want to keep it under wraps no matter how excited you and your team are for its debut. There are reasons you might not want to be stealthy in these situations, but there are times you do and knowing how to go about your internal business quietly is important.
High EQ – the emotional quotient, or emotional intelligence, is the idea that someone can effectively understand what and how they're feeling and what and how others are feeling usually through nonverbal communication (although doesn't have to be nonverbal). Babies obviously wear their emotions on their sleeves, but effectively preparing to put your baby down for a nap especially when he isn't tired requires you to know your baby on a deep emotional level even if he can't talk yet. Delivering a timely song, mantra, or other learned technique to calm him down and get him tired to fall asleep during a nap can make all the difference in the overall time it takes to get him down. Having a high EQ in the workplace provides so many benefits as both an individual contributor (IC) and leader. As an IC you can gauge how your peers are doing and help out when needed (or they can help you when you need it), in addition to being able to communicate effectively with your boss(es) about how things are going. As a leader you can effectively communicate & motivate your team to believe in and carry out the mission at hand with consistency, efficiency, and quality.
There are so many more qualities having our baby has brought to the forefront in terms of skills (both hard and soft) that I haven't needed to develop yet or build upon in a long time, but I can say it's both challenging and amazingly fun all at the same time.
What are some skills having kids taught you that you were able to bring along back to the workplace to help your career or goals?