7 leadership skills I learned from my kids

A few weeks ago, I started realizing (yes, maybe I am a slow learner), that my relationship with my kids is dyadic in the sense that knowledge sharing and personal development goes both ways.

First of all – I get to try out my leadership skills – because being a parent is definitely a leadership skills. I’ve also come to believe that you can use some of the same tactics on both arenas. I know this sound kind of cynical, however, I take my role as a dad very seriously – and no doubt even more seriously than “just being a boss”. Secondly, I’ve come to believe that observing my kids have made me reflect on who I am as a person. Somtimes I see traits that I recognize as part of my own legacy – that reflect who I am, and some I see traits I don’t assiciate with (maybe will later realize that it IS me – I just haven’t seen it yet). Anyway, I’ve tried to summarize it below:

Always start with a smile

A real smile will get you far. The simplest way to demonstrate a positive attitude is to smile. This expression has so many benefits to both you and others around you. It is a marvellous way to show others that you are feeling good. Seeing someone smile makes others smile too! There is even research that shows positive effects mentally and physically. E.g. according to (Bernstein, et al., 2000) “feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior”. Put in simple terms, you may actually be able to improve your mood by simply “putting on a smile”! Besides, if a positive attitude doesn’t affect the outcome – well at least you were happy trying.

Be authentic

It is OK to be yourself – first of all you need accept that. Ask yoursel: If you’re not going to be yourself – who are you going to be? My best guess is “a blurred copy of someone else”. Besides, I am convinced no-one is better at being you than you are yourself. However, a small warning may be in order: Do yoursel a favor and don’t make this an excuse for complacency – NOT being self-aware and NOT trying to be the best you that you can  be. Explore who you truly are – then utilise your positive attributes.


Believe in yourself, believe in others, believe that what they tell you is the truth. At least acknowledge that what they are telling you is the truth to them. Belief is the strong cousin of determination, but as always – balancing it with adult realism doesn’t hurt either.


Allow your feelings to surface. If you’re mad – be mad – but then get it over with and get over it. Don’t hold a grudge and keep it burning at a low rate, just to take it out of your bag in your next confrontation.

Be resillient

Everything does not always go as planned. In fact, in my experience NOTHING goes exatly according to plan – ever. But, that’s not really a problem – is it. The important thing is how you cope with that. Of course we all try our best to get in control, use our experience and try to manage plans so . It is important to move on and bounce back – if you fail – try again. One thing some of the most successful people have in common is that they have failed several times – often miserably. Fail fast – fail often…


Laugh a lot! Laugh at the situation – laugh at yourself – then laugh at others. Laughing has some of the same positive effects as smiling. It is also contagious and helps bonding in more ways than I dare to imagine.

Say I’m sorry

Don’t be afraid to say what you mean, but beware that you may hurt people around you. And when you realise this – admit it to yourself – then apologize.

These were some initial thoughts on what I think I’ve learned – so far. Please note – this is definitely not finished – it is at best work in progress…



Could positive thinking have negative consequences for “those who need it the most”?

Browsing the news this morning, I found myself waking up when reading this article in The Economist. It made me realise some things that may have broken some of my fundamental values and beliefs… I really don’t know yet…

Say WHAT…?

Recent research, however, shows that for some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good – to those some of those we traditionally think “need it the most”.


“I CAN pass this exam”, “I am a wonderful person and will find love again” and “I am capable and deserve that pay rise” are phrases that students, the broken-hearted and driven employees may repeat to themselves over and over again in the face of adversity. Self-help books through the ages, including Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, have encouraged people with low self-esteem to make positive self-statements.

Since the 1960s psychologists have known that people are more accepting of ideas close to their own views and resistant to those that differ. With regard to self-perception, if a person who believes they are reasonably friendly is told that they are extremely gregarious, they will probably accept the idea. But if told they are socially aloof, the idea will most likely be met with resistance and doubt.

Wondering if the same tendencies could apply to making positive self-statements, Joanne Wood of the University of Waterloo in Canada and her colleagues designed a series of experiments. They questioned a group of 68 men and women using long-accepted methods to measure self-esteem. The participants were then asked to spend four minutes writing down any thoughts and feelings that were on their minds. In the midst of this, half were randomly assigned to say to themselves “I am a lovable person” every time they heard a bell ring.

Immediately after the exercise, they were asked questions such as “What is the probability that a 30-year-old will be involved in a happy, loving romance?” to measure individual moods using a scoring system that ranged from a low of zero to a high of 35. Past studies have indicated that optimistic answers indicate happy moods.

As the researchers report in Psychological Science, those with high self-esteem who repeated “I’m a lovable person” scored an average of 31 on their mood assessment compared with an average of 25 by those who did not repeat the phrase. Among participants with low self-esteem, those making the statement scored a dismal average of 10 while those that did not managed a brighter average of 17.

Dr Wood suggests that positive self-statements cause negative moods in people with low self-esteem because they conflict with those people’s views of themselves. When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception, she argues, there is not mere resistance but a reinforcing of self-perception. People who view themselves as unlovable find saying that they are so unbelievable that it strengthens their own negative view rather than reversing it.

Given that many readers of self-help books that encourage positive self-statements are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, they may be worse than useless.


…like always – there is no single cure for ALL



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