What I learned having lunch with my 1st grader
My wife and I decided because Lucas worked so hard on his fall school play "The Garden Show" in which Lucas played the Alien Grandfather, we would take lunch to him school.  What we did not expect is that we would be having lunch with the whole class. OK so we knew that they would be there, however we did not know we would be recruited to help manage lunch time! Not by the staff, but by the children.

It was actually a wonderful experience and confirmed my beliefs about trust and learning, yes I was learning from a group of first graders.  They were so willing to trust my wife and I, no hidden agendas, just the honest truth in which they genuinely trusted us to take care of. By the end of lunch I was sharing my chips with the class, cleaning up spills and giving permission to go to the bathroom.  With no training or preparation we were performing this new amazing role of helping the most innocent with the simplest tasks that meant so much to them.

What I learned is trust is such a fragile thing, which should never be squandered or abused. Also in life we must slow down and take the time to do the small things for people and in our day to day lives.  We get so busy with the big things we forget that life is made up of many small precious moments.

 I believe the same is true in our companies today. Do we focus enough on the needs of the team? Unlike first graders, the people we work with won't be so honest. That's where as leaders we need to listen and genuinely care about the people who work for us and with us. We need to give trust like the kids gave my wife and I, since they gave it so freely we were then charged with honoring it. It was a great responsibility and something we both cherished.  I hope people feel that way about the companies they work for....unfortunately the data would tell us otherwise.

As William George Jordan states in the book The Power of Truth (Brentano's 1902) “Truth is the rock foundation of every great character” and I believe foundation of every great company. 

Those children will never know the impact they had on me and the lesson they taught me that day. I do and am so thankful to those first graders. 


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    Tim Winner has more than two decades of business and executive management experience, including working with start-up companies, holding  leadership roles in operations and HR, and serving as the chief operating officer in both for- profit and non-profit companies.

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    November 2013
    March 2012
    February 2012