Life skills, like values, are best learned at an early age. In today’s stipped-down, minimalistic educational system, values and life skills are not taught, let alone reinforced, so as parents, it is our duty to prepare our children for success in life. And television or social media may be doing just the opposite, creating false expectations without teaching skills.
So, if we are to prepare children for success in life, whatever their chosen profession or occupation, what life skills are fundamental foundations for success?
I believe there are two critical life skills every young person must learn and master. Skills that support both personal and professional success. And these skills need to become life habits. A good habit becomes a shortcut and makes life easier to navigate.
We are what we repeatably do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. ~Aristotle
The first good habit is the use of Checklists
Most of us believe we can keep everything in our heads, like things we need to do or to work on. After all, what’s the brain for? Well, reality is different. And the mind of a young person is especially jumbled and forgetful. When she young my daughter was constantly running up the stairs to her room to get something she should have gotten in the first place. We have even been out the door, in the car and down the street when she suddenly blurts out: “Wait! I need my ——-“, then she dashes back into the house once again.
Sound familiar? And when we get older and the brain synapses and cognitive centers are more fully developed, we also have more things to deal with, like a job, bills, friends, kids, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. The list of things to remember becomes overwhelming and it is not uncommon that we have to make up some excuse for missing an appointment or forgetting a friend’s birthday, or worse, a wedding anniversary.
Enter the checklist. Aviation accidents took a dramatic decline with the introduction of the cockpit checklist. Relying on the mind to remember and recall all the correct procedures for takeoff and landing proved to be fatal, even with highly experienced pilots. Even today with all the modern technology that allows an airplane to takeoff and land by itself, the pilot checklist is a critical step in accident prevention. There are even several pilot checklist apps on the market now.
So, at home it is easy to begin the habit of checklists. On our front door we have taped a checklist that reminds everyone: keys, cell phone, bus pass, wallet, driver license, student card, umbrella, shopping bag, violin and music, and a big category that says: THINK – Anything Else? This simple front door checklist has reduced the number of trips back upstairs or driving back home to retrieve a forgotten item considerably.
If you take the time to make your daily list of important things the evening before, your subconscious mind will work on your list as you sleep. Many times I have woken up in the morning with ideas and even solutions to things I put on my list the night before.
Without a written checklist for the day it is all too easy for less important tasks to take up valuable time. I have listened to many an executive complain that they just can’t find the time to work on the really important strategic issues. My reply is not very sympathetic. You make time by putting it on your checklist and diligently working through your list. If you don’t write it down as an important To Do the evening before and review your list at the beginning of each day, it is easy to either subconsciously avoid or get involved in day-to-day business issues. If you want to get something done, put it on your checklist!
Sound too simple? Who cares; it’s effective at getting things done!
Everyone must choose one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. ~Jim Rohn
The second good skill habit is Backwards Planning (in my next blog)
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
John also writes thriller novels!