December 10, 2014

Using Lessons from Work at Home

I've always been one to say that my work life and my family life are intertwined. Many small business owners would also say the same. I like it and I wouldn't try to separate them.

Recently I was a bit taken aback to realize that I’m not using some of my business skills at home, and should be.

My stepson has bipolar affective disorder and our family has been participating in weekly meetings with social workers to help us overcome the many challenges associated with the disease. When they started presenting us with skills, such as a problem solving process and active listening techniques, I immediately thought, “I know all this. It’s old hat.”

The first goal setting exercise was fairly easy for me. I privately committed to three goals related to our family life and I immediately went to work to make them happen. My husband and stepson were going through the same process, also privately.

About a month later, when we reviewed our goals and progress, I had completed two goals and the third was close to happening. My husband and stepson had made no progress at all. Through our discussions, I came to realize two important things:
  • Although I'm experienced with using these techniques at work, I'd never actively applied them to my family life.
  • My husband and stepson were not familiar with them at all. I forgot that I learned these skills over many years, and they didn’t.
I made the mistake of assuming we were all on the same page, and we weren't even reading the same book.

I can apply this valuable lesson at home and at work. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, skills and perspectives. Sharing them with others is a gift and, likewise, we must be open to receiving the gifts that others share with us.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter December 10, 2015

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