Childhood Lessons Still Applicable to Our Professional World

Living in the adult world of responsibility, pressures and deadlines makes it easy to daydream of our childhood days when life was more relaxed. Because science hasn’t yet figured out a way to turn back the clock and return to our childhood days, we must live in our adult professional worlds with a positive, productive mindset as peacefully and stress free as possible.

Although we can’t return to our days of childhood, we can choose to be mindful and strive to use the values and life lessons taught during childhood that will assist us in being successful in our current professional world.

Let’s take a moment to look at a few childhood sayings, including how they may look and how we may apply them in our adult professional world.

Tell the truth

As a child. Remember when you did something wrong as a child and your little brother or someone else told on you. Our parents emphasized the fact that we should tell the truth. There was some implication that the punishment may be lessened if we told the truth. The larger message was that “telling the truth” is the right thing to do.

As an adult. Telling the truth as a professional adult means having integrity. Conducting ourselves in an honest and ethical manner as we make decisions and communicate with others gives us integrity. When we have integrity as a team member or leader, others have confidence in knowing that we will handle tasks responsibly and do the right thing. Choose to be authentic in all you do personally and professionally.

Get your work done, then you can play

As a child. Think back to a time that your mom, dad or other caregiver gave you this instruction. Sometimes we had to do our homework while other times we had to complete our chores before we could go outside to play. When our parents were consistent with this message, we learned that we must work hard before relaxing and receiving rewards.

As an adult. Getting our work done first as a professional can be viewed in several different ways because desired play time activities vary from person to person. Some may choose to limit the amount of time spent socializing in the workplace prior to completing work tasks. Others may opt to complete work projects prior to taking a special vacation to avoid leaving things undone.

Work hard and you will be rewarded

As a child. Along the same lines of “get your work done, then you can play”, remember when your mother, father, or other role model told you that hard work is what it takes to be successful. They may have reminded us that success doesn’t happen overnight or that “money doesn’t grow on trees”, or “you have to work hard in order to achieve”. As caregivers worked hard parenting to reinforce this value by consistently issuing rewards and consequences during childhood, they likely believed that this would lead to developing a responsible and successful young adult and may have hoped to reduce the chances of raising a child with a sense of entitlement.

As an adult. Working hard as an adult professional makes us productive and often results in others seeing us as a dependable person. By having a good solid work ethic, we are able to focus our energy on minimizing distractions, completing tasks and planning for future endeavors or challenges. Working hard as an adult professional makes us productive and often results in others seeing us as a dependable person. By having a good solid work ethic, we are able to focus our energy on minimizing distractions, completing tasks, and setting additional goals. Managers typically understand that they can count on a hard worker to get the job done which reduces the manager’s stress level which serves as a reward to them. Professionally, we often receive additional opportunities and responsibilities in our career when we have a strong work ethic which often leads to bonuses, promotions, or raises.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

As a child. You may have received this directive as a child after complaining about something or making a mean-spirited comment. Our parents did not want to be embarrassed by a sassy mouthed child. By reinforcing this value, they simply wanted to raise a polite and positive-minded little citizen.

As an adult. ”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is definitely an applicable and helpful motto to live by as a professional. A good time to focus on and remember this childhood saying is when we begin to hear a workplace conversation transition to a tone of negativity or a focus on workplace gossip. Repeat this saying in your head silently, if you need to do so, remain silent or interact in a neutral, unbiased manner, and find a way to remove yourself from the situation if possible. Engaging in negativity and gossip in the workplace can destroy the morale, motivation, and forward-focused momentum of a program or agency.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As a child. Your mom or dad may have introduced this lesson after observing you snatch a toy from other child’s hand while playing in the same area. They may have said something such as “how would you like it if he just walked up to you and grabbed this toy out of your hand without saying anything?” while also simultaneously demonstrating this behavior for us. Afterward, they may have instructed us to how to apologize for what we did. Our parents wanted us to learn to effectively communicate, be respectful, and play nicely. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, they were trying to help us develop empathy for others and helping us understand what this meant and how it felt by giving us the same experience.

As an adult. ”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” becomes a slogan of respect in our adult professional world. Seek to treat others as you would hope to be treated. Being respectful during our interactions with others assists in effective communication. Sharing success with others goes a long way rather than taking someone’s idea and calling it your own. Make it a point to strive to be kind, fair, consistent, professional, and respectful in all you do as a professional believing that it will lead to success and a kinder professional and personal world.

Living life as an adult in the professional world can be challenging at times. As we recognize that our core values within us can be used to navigate as we climb mountains and face storms sometimes present in our workplace, we can reduce our stress level and create a more peaceful mindset in our professional and personal worlds.

Tracy Gaia is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Sherie Sanders

Indeed there are some things we never outgrow! Thanks for the reminder! It doesn’t hurt after we have followed that wise advise to play like a kid once in awhile either, rock a swing set, fly a kite, blow some bubbles, or whatever our childhood passion was!

Tracy Gaia

Thanks for your comment, Sherie! Taking a break more often to do fun things sounds absolutely wonderful! Memorial Day Weekend should offer a nice opportunity to relax and just enjoy being outside.