Lessons From The Playground.


We took our family to the park this weekend to get outside and enjoy cooler temperatures. I was sitting on the park bench (basking in the sun) when my daughter asked to play on the swings.  I told her to run through the jungle-gym tunnel and I’d meet her on the other side.  As I walked around the tunnel, I noticed she stopped running half way through.  She saw an unexpected opening to the left.  Instead of continuing her sprint through the tunnel – which was a straight shot to the swings – she climbed out the middle opening and around the top of the tunnel.  It took her much longer to get to the swings.  She had to climb the steps out of the tunnel and then balance walking over the tunnel.  I asked her why she did not keep following the path directly to the swings.  She responded, “Mommy, it was more fun going the long way to the swings.”

When is the last time you took the path less traveled? In our professional lives we often forget how rewarding it can be to go on a journey that may not always be easy.  A journey that takes us away from day to day routines and pulls us out of our comfort zones.  My 4 year-old reminded me how important it is to take the path less traveled to a) keep life interesting b) stretch myself to be the best I can be and c) live life with zero regrets.

Keep Life Interesting – Never Get Old

Throughout my career I have been pushed by a handful of great leaders to step up and challenge myself. They encouraged me to take on new responsibilities and explore areas I never would have considered if I had not been nudged.  I recently heard Nina Vaca (CEO of Pinnacle Group) speak at the Colorado Technology Association’s Women in Tech Conference. She shared to never get old, just get tenured.  My interpretation of this is to never lose your curiosity.  Explore new areas to keep yourself in the always-be-learning mode and cash in on the experiences.  I find when I’m learning, life is much more fascinating (and fun).

Stretch Yourself – Be Curious

The digital team I lead is a curious team. They are full of new ideas and networks to pursue and test.  One of the best digital leaders I work with encouraged me to approve a new Google program.  That Google program generated some much needed demand – that helped build pipeline rather quickly.  As leaders, we must always encourage ourselves and our team to take risks and be curious.  Try something new, take a different path.  You will never know if a new program you go out on a limb for – will pay off and score you a homerun if you don’t take risks and channel your inner child-like curiosity.

Live With Zero Regrets – Be Gritty

For the longest time I had a pinned Tweet on my Twitter account that referenced being a leader who lives with no regrets and takes chances. Grit: Lead when no one else follows. Make mistakes, look like an idiot and try something new without even flinching.  One of the biggest fears amongst adults is not taking enough chances and living with regret.  I certainly know it is one of mine.  I once had a manager share they had an opportunity to work for a start up in Silicon Valley that was offering them more equity options than salary. They turned it down and regretted the decision.  Especially when that little start-up (Ebay) exploded 3 years later.  Take chances.  Be gritty and have zero regrets.

Summary and Thank You Ava

My daughter thought she might miss out on something by not exploring that hole in the tunnel on her way to the swing. Despite it taking longer, she still chose the path less traveled and had a ton of fun along the way.  It always amazes me the lessons we can learn from our children if we pay close enough attention (thank you my adventurous Ava).  I am in a fantastic life season right now and really enjoy seeing my daughter’s sense of adventure and curiosity grow.  This whole experience reminded me of the ending from Robert Frost’s, The Road Not Taken: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

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