Business Lessons from 10 Year-Olds

I'm a huge fan of kids when they aren't screaming during a movie or an expensive dinner.  My nephews are two of the most nifty little humans on the planet.  I think that children are, overall, pretty awesome, and I think I've finally figured out the reason. 

Kids do the things they do, say the things they say, because it makes sense for them to.

Stick with me on this one.

You ask a 10 year-old to clean their room.  Odds are, you're going to get a "NO" in return.  Why?  It's not because they're insolent; it's because they've prioritized things.  If my to do list consists of cleaning my room, playing with my friends, doing my homework, and taking out the catbox, the obvious priority for me is playing with my friends.  This is the reason that we offer kids an allowance. It teaches them how to shift their priorities.  But at the end of the day, they are still setting the order.  Is $10 a week worth cleaning my room on a beautiful sunny day?  No Way.

On a similar vein, 10 year-olds know how to use the word, "no."  Do you?  I know I struggle with it.  I'm a chronic over extender.  Most ten year-olds I've met really don't care about hurting someone's feelings if they're asked to do a job they don't want to do.  As adults, we want to be liked.  A lot.  Agreeable people are liked by most others, so we learn to say "yes, yes, yes."  Then we stress out, miss deadlines, let people down by turning in sloppy work, and the frustrating cycle repeats itself over and over again.

When they come home from "work," their first instinct isn't to just collapse from the stress of the day.  When I was ten, if I bombed that day in Math class (and that happened a LOT) I didn't carry that with me all day.  You go outside for recess, you run around a little, sit on the swings, and jump a little rope, you were FINE.  Your mood lasted about 5 minutes and then you shook it off like a dog coming out of a bath.  Sure, it wasn't the greatest day, but one little mess up didn't stick to the Velcro of your soul. 

Ten year-olds are also completely unaware of the limitations they have on them because they're ten.  You ask them what they want to be when they grow up and they'll tell you - Astronaut, Scientist, Movie Star, Teacher, Mommy, etc.  I've known kids who wanted to be scientists that couldn't even grasp the basics of how things worked, but the thought of having that awesome white spiky hair and a long lab coat still kept the dream alive.  Kids don't realize that you have to be good at math to create buildings.  They just want to make something that touches the sky.  The "how" of it is something that they can figure out later.  I think that as adults we focus so much on the "how" of a project that sometimes  we short ourselves the chance of creating a product that touches the sky.

They do not care about that one piece of hair that refuses to behave.  My parents have a third grade school picture to attest to this one. They are the only people on the planet who can run around in mismatched clothes, probably with a bathing suit underneath, and know THEY LOOK GOOD! They haven't developed their second guessing ability yet.  You know the one - it's what causes every child to think their body is incredibly odd and out of place the minute they hit 6th grade, and obsess over how everyone else sees them.  It's the same thing that makes certain people afraid of taking the stage, leading, or standing up for something they believe in.  The fear of what sight other people have when they look at us costs adults confidence. 

So natural. So reasonable.  So what's keeping us from getting back some of this stuff, if not in literal terms, at least in spirit?  Tell me what you think!

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