Children Learning Early Life Lessons

Using Early Life Lessons to Run a Successful Business

You may have read, or at least heard of Robert Fulghum’s book from the 1980s entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things. The book contained 16 life lessons. I’ve selected 5 of them that are essential for running a successful business.

Children Learning Early Life Lessons

1. “Share everything.”

There are many ways in which business owners can share with employees, customers, and their community. Here are some ideas:

  • Profit-sharing with employees through qualified retirement plans, bonuses, or pay raises.
  • Mentoring employees to help them develop job skills.
  • Posting videos to help customers learn (e.g., how to use products, understand services)
  • Donating goods or services to charitable organizations in the community.

2. “Play fair.”

Businesses should observe all legal requirements to avoid trouble. In addition, they should use ethical practices. According to an article from Washington State University, ethical businesses lead to more profits because ethical leaders have more productive workers, ethical practices can reduce costs, and consumers want to spend money with ethical organizations. For example, there are apps that consumers can use to learn which companies are socially conscious and eco-friendly.

3. “Clean up your own mess.”

When there is a problem, it’s important for an owner to take responsibility and figure out how to fix it. As discussed in an earlier blog on developing leadership qualities by taking responsibility, it’s important to find the cause of the problem so it can be remedied. The good thing about cleaning up your own mess is that it’s a learning experience…finding a problem and devising a solution.

4. “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.”

Today it’s all too easy to cause bad feelings, whether intentionally in the heat of the moment or unintentionally. Just as a thank you for a job well done is appreciated, so too is an apology for a mistake. Consider reviewing company policy now to be sure that your business practices are fair and don’t inadvertently cause harm to employees, customers, vendors, or others.

5. “Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

The concept of work-life balance began in the U.S. some time in the 1970s or 1980s. Today it is a mantra for employees who want quality time away from work to spend with family and other personal interests. Small businesses can help employees in this regard with various strategies, such as flexible work schedules and remote work options.

Final thought

Closing with a quote from Robert Fulghum:

“We are the only creatures that both laugh and cry. I think it’s because we are the only creatures that see the difference between the way things are and the way they might be.”


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