Yesterday was a milestone for me as a father. I have a busy week this week, so I took some time yesterday morning to mow my yard. This time around, however, was different. I had a helper.
My 10 year old, earlier this summer, went through Papa and Mimi Lawnmower training. So, naturally, as I prepared to mow yesterday, I recruited her to help. She was scared to try a bigger mower, so I had her edge until I got to one spot we agreed would be her spot.
Now, having grown up on the farm, I remember how this works on tractors. My dad would make the first round, then put me on the tractor to finish the rest. So I did the same.
I made the first round and it was ready for Anna. So, I called her over, had her sit down on the mower, and gave her the orientation. Throttle. Mower blades. Forward. Reverse. Brake. She was ready.
I stepped back and was ready to gloat at my incredible lawn mowing daughter. Then she took off. The first 5 seconds were magical, then I realized she couldn’t see where I had gone the first time.
She turned way too early. Skipped a mower width away from my initial cut, and consistently turned short, leaving skips on the ends.
Strangely enough, at this point I was not upset or angered. I only chuckled to myself and called her over. I pointed out where she missed, gave her some tips, and sent her on her way again, still watching.
Can you guess what happened next? She still made mistakes. So, I called her over and showed her a trick that I learned decades ago, and let her go at it again.
The leadership principle here? When we let someone do something new, we have to remember they don’t have the experience or judgment we have at the moment. Actually, we would do well to remind ourselves of the mistakes we made when we first started.
But, if you want to expand your leadership influence, you are going to have to fight the battle between “I can do better myself” and “I do not have time to do this.”
My daughter is years away from being a professional yard care expert, but this summer she has had a great start.
Everyone has to start somewhere. The question becomes, are we going to give them their start or not?