5 Lessons about Learning and Leadership... Courtesy of a Daughter with No Fear of Fish Headsby Brian McDermott on 06/30/11
I have long believed that if I listen well, kids have a lot to teach me about being a better grown-up, a better leader, a better person. My son and daughter have been schooling me for years. A recent lesson came in a handmade card for Father's Day, celebrated in the US, sent by my daughter, Callie, who was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tzactza, Peru at the time.
DISCLAIMER: If you want to score big points with a parent, send a note like the one I'm about to share with you. I'm proud and touched to have my daughter giving me this much credit for my parenting (and I had only an instant of suspicion that she may be about to ask me for something big). I know it may seem like I'm nominating myself for some good daddy award, but I really am putting this out here because of the wisdom I'm hearing in her words.
THE BACK STORY: You need a bit of background to understand the "inside" story on the fish heads that show up in the first paragraph. When Callie was 15 we took a family trip to Spain. When we ordered our first meal at a restaurant in the Plaza Mayor, near where I lived when I was a college student studying abroad, I warned that the fresh-caught trout would come with head and tail attached. Everyone thought I was joking; they had never seen that in their American upbringing. But I wasn't. After the initial shock it was not that big a deal. Trout is a delicate creature. Everyone ate with no major problems. But a week later at a restaurant in Nerja, along the Costa del Sol, Callie ordered another variety of fish that had a much bigger, more intimidating head. She got a bite or two into but couldn't go on. I was eating a delicious...wonderfully blackened swordfish steak I was planning to savor sloooowly...bite... by... bite. I was a bite or two in when I realized to make life right at that moment it would be Callie eating my swordfish. And, to enjoy the punchline, you need to know there is an animal many kids keep as pets in the US that are a delicacy in the Peruvian diet, and we'll be sharing meals on a visit with Callie soon...
I'll lay out the lessons here all-official-like with headings, bullets, and indents, but they'll mean more when hear them in Callie's own voice below.
- Try new things, even when they're scary.
- Whenever you can, laugh instead of getting angry.
- Look for solutions instead of despairing over things that aren't going well.
- Stand by the people you're trying to teach and lead. They will need your help.
- Be ready to teach... and also be ready to keep learning.
Callie's Version of Lessons about Learning and Leadership
NOTE: The outside of this card is a head and shoulders photo of Callie holding a small camp-fire-grilled fish in two hands, with head and tail attached, and looking as if she might swallow it whole...
Happy Father's Day. Thanks, Callie.
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