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Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Life is all about being able to adapt and grow. The same is true in business. We must constantly be able to learn new things in order to remain relevant and useful to our clients. Changes in technology, communication platforms, and even business practices are inevitable, but there are some lessons we learned long ago that will always be applicable to life and business. These are learned as soon as we learn to read and interact with people other than our parents. These are lessons learned in kindergarten. Robert Fulghum said it right when he said all he needed to know he learned in kindergarten and his words directly relate to business practices whether he intended them to or not. I’ve highlighted some of his grade school lessons and why they’re important when trying to manage a successful business.

Play fair. How did you want to be treated by classmates in school? You probably didn’t like it very much when they lied about losing Simon Says because they knew the teacher hadn’t seen them mess up. Now, how do you want to be treated by competitors in the business world? In a word, I want to be treated fairly. To expect that treatment, I must also treat my competitors with the same respect. Keep your competitive edge, but don’t break the rules.

Clean up your own mess. When you spilled milk on the floor or left your toys out everywhere, you were taught to go back and clean it up yourself. If you make a mistake in business – especially a big one that has clients threatening to leave – no one can make it right but you. It can be difficult, but have the courage to own up and say you’re sorry. It will go a long way in earning their trust back.

Live a balanced life. It can be tempting to devote your entire life to your business. After all, it may be your life’s work. You won’t be able to do your job well if it’s all you’re ever thinking about, though. You need time for hobbies – for activities that fulfill you on a deeper level. You need sleep. Taking the time to take care of yourself means taking care of your business in the long run by avoiding a future illness or anxiety.

Be aware of wonder. This one is my personal favorite. When you’ve been at the entrepreneurial lifestyle for so long, it becomes more and more challenging to appreciate the little things. Go back to the feeling of when you first became inspired to start your business. Go back to the feeling of when your doors opened for the first time. Your life as a business owner is full of these little moments – an employee realizing their potential, a new client who you helped through your product or service. All you have to do is pay attention.

Don’t lose sight of what we first learned before money and success were important to us. We were taught these things for a reason – they make us better people. If we can become better people, we’ll become stronger business owners and I believe that a combination of that and a lot of hard work will make everything else fall into place.

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About Artemio Flores III

Art Flores is the president of the Entrepreneurs' Organization - San Antonio. He is also the vice president and co-owner of Artcom Associates, Inc. The Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) is a dynamic, global network of more than 9,500 business owners in 40 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO is the catalyst…