A school in Brooklyn, NY made headlines this spring for offering daycare for adults. The program, called Preschool Mastermind, teaches grown students the same lessons they learned in preschool and kindergarten. Through activities like finger painting and show and tell, the program seeks to help students relearn the useful lessons from their younger days. Each student pays a pretty penny for the month-long course.
Returning to preschool might be an excessive attempt to revisit the teachings of our youth, but that doesn’t mean the lessons we learned in kindergarten don’t still apply to our professional lives:
Parents and teachers insist toddlers share everything, but as we get older, we tend to forget. We become possessive of projects, ideas, or responsibility because we want to take credit or we want to reap the potential benefits. This possessiveness hurts teams and companies because it prevents brainstorming, collaboration, and progress.
Decide to share everything (yes, even your blocks). Tell your teammates your original ideas; they may have suggestions to make the concept even better before showing decision makers. Don’t be afraid to share projects, and if it goes well, don’t take all the credit. Share the responsibility of going above and beyond for clients, and hold everyone accountable to exceeding expectations.
Color outside the lines
Remember how liberating it felt to break the rules of the coloring book, doing whatever you wanted to with the marker?
Bring the same mindset into work. If a project is proving difficult, look at it from a new perspective. Attack the issue from several angles, and mentally bend the rules as you problem-solve.
Play well with others
In kindergarten, we had to get along with everyone in the class, whether they stole your toy or not. Close quarters demanded cooperation and civility from every student.
If you have a conflict with a colleague at work, there are many more options available: avoiding them, complaining about them to co-workers, or starting an argument. But just because it’s available doesn’t mean you should do it.
You don’t have to get along with everyone, but you should make a concerted effort to be kind, civil, and cooperative with colleagues, even if they don’t reciprocate.
Don’t ever be the one starting or spreading negative gossip in the company; you’d be surprised how much of it gets up to executives. When they’re deciding who to move into management positions, they’ll remember the gossip.
Don’t throw a tantrum
One of a toddler’s trademark moves is throwing a fit when something doesn’t go their way. They scream, flail their arms, and they refuse to calm down until they get their way. Teachers and parents do everything in their power to teach children they can’t get their way by having a tantrum.
Many adults forget or choose to ignore this lesson: if things don’t go their way, they dig their heels in or they lash out. This approach will work with some employees or co-workers, but it can also backfire. It’s safer to try to be flexible and understanding.
If something falls through at work, try taking five deep breaths before reacting. Think about why it didn’t pan out, and look at the bigger picture.