Choices you make every day, choices that turn into words and behaviours, profoundly impact your team at work, but maybe more importantly, your kids at home. Have you given much thought lately to the subconscious messages you are giving your kids about work and life? Might I suggest, that it’s time you did.
What is the legacy you are now leaving for your children?
We created a tradition
Yesterday as I sat down at the supper table, I remarked, “When did my kids get to be grown ups?” It was our regular Sunday Night Supper. That means that whoever can, and wants to make it, comes home for supper and dessert. We typically only have dessert on Sundays. Yesterday it was my 3 oldest children along with some significant others. It was an opportunity for me to look around the table and even surprise myself at how they’ve grown up or maybe how I've survived parenthood.
This tradition was created by choice
All of the kids (I have 4) don’t always come home for supper on Sundays. They do have other things they choose to do. But it’s a regular occurrence to require the leaf in the table on Sundays to accommodate the extras. This Sunday routine did not happen by chance. My husband and I have cultivated it. We had supper later some nights when one of the kids was still working. Other times, we had to go pick a child up to make sure they'd be home. We did what it took, to make sure that we were all together as a family for supper once a week.
My kids now believe in Sunday Night Suppers
Why do my kids return home? Free food perhaps plays a large role. But beyond that, there has been an instilled value of family. By my husband and I putting our own time aside for the last 20+ years to make Sunday supper special, and everyone senses how important that is. Newcomers to our family quickly catch on. My kids find value in it and express that value in their own words and ways. My husband and I always have done our best to be home on Sunday’s for supper. If we have to travel or be a work otherwise, there was a recognition that it is rare and not our first choice.
Traditions are part of creating a legacy for your children
Having family traditions is one way of leaving a legacy for our children. Think back to your own family traditions. Many traditions are around holidays, but there are also tons of other “that’s just the way we did it” kinds of things. For example, we usually went to church on Sundays as a child. We were active in extracurricular activities. We put our earned money in a bank account. Those actions, gave me messages about life. The way my parents raised me, and the way your parents raised you, has left a legacy.
What is legacy really anyway?
Legacy is the way people approach work and life,
as a result of having come into contact with you.
Galford and Maruca
That is true in organizations and it is true with your children. The way your children do approach work and life and how they will in the future,is profoundly impacted by your actions, your behaviours and the words you choose to use today.
Consider the conversations at home that you have about your work.
Our kids learn a lot unconsciously. It's not like you sit them down at the table and say "Honey, my work is hard. I don't like it. But I must do it to pay the bills". However, consider what your children hear you say to your spouse about your work. What do they overhear you say on the phone, perhaps to your employees? What are the messages they get about your work or work in general?
Kids are real good observers
It's not only what they hear, it's also what they see. Consider what your children observe in your behaviours and actions and what messages that gives them. For example, what do they pick up from:
This isn't to make you feel guilty
Lord knows I neglected my children more times than I care to remember. I dropped them off in their pj's at the sitters early in the morning without breakfast, so that I could catch a plane to a management meeting, more than once. The point is, in your heart of hearts, what do you want. This isn't about keeping up with the other Mom's. It's about what how you truly want to parent and the lasting impact you want to have.
Take a moment to consider the legacy you want to leave
Often when we take a moment to consider this, we realize that we may not be giving quite the message we intended. You may consider it’s time for a bit of adjustment.
Try this exercise to get clear
Take a moment to sit down and consider the legacy that you want to leave behind.
Imagine it's 10 or 20 years from now and your children are leaders in an organization. Imagine they are great leaders and awesome parents. See what kind of a leader they will be. Visualize the impact they have on the people around them. Notice in your mind their relationship with their own family.
Then come back to now. If you want to leave that legacy with your children, what do you need to do now to create that impact? Remember legacy is the way people approach work and life as a result of having come into contact with you. Your kids are in contact with you or have the potential to be each and every day. How will your contact today influence their approach to life when they are grown?
Question: Where do you need to course correct to get your desired impact on your children?
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.