Lessons Learned from my 7 Year Old Nephew

Emoji

“Zia, we are missing a few ingredients.  Do you have some flour and some oil?”    My 7 year old nephew Matteo was down at the farm earlier this summer.  He loves to cook and he was obviously on a quest and needed help.

I bring the flour and the oil and find out we are making ‘Fiori”.   It’s an Italian thing….we batter up and fry the flowers from zucchini….they are delicious and ‘Fiori’ are now in season.   Bowl in hand, eggs, flour, milk, a little salt and sugar and batter ready.  The fiori picked, cleaned, dried and ready to go.  Oil heated, we start frying.  I love his enthusiasm.

A bit of oil splatters up and thankfully lands on me [not on Matteo].  Obviously it hurt, Matteo heard it and saw it and he simply said ‘Zia you wait here’.  He goes out of the kitchen and comes back with a band aide with emoji faces on it and some rubbing alcohol.   He smiles up at me and said Zia take care of that burn.    Connecting the dots…simple and easy.   Zia got hurt, band aide and rubbing alcohol from a 7 year old.  He connected the dots.

Later in the same week I needed a manual for a project I was working on and a friend of a friends had the manual.  I didn’t know what it looked like but ‘assumed’ it had the information I was looking for so made arrangements to go and pick it up.  It was a 2.5 hour round trip to pick it up.  When I got there the manual turned out to be all of 20 pages.   I was really surprised – surely there must be something missing?  No it was just a 20 page booklet.

Something that could very easily have been photocopied, scanned and emailed in all of 10 minutes.   I assumed manual meant big book and I never asked and yes I never connected the dots to ask to ensure that what I needed, what was being offered [the manual] was worth the 2.5 hour drive to pick it up.

On the other hand, the 45 year old business leader [friend of a friend] who had the manual knew what it was and knew that the trip to pick it up would be a 2.5 hour investment in time for me.   No connection of the dots there either.   How easy would it have been to simply have realized and stated: ‘it’s just 20 pages, let me just send it to you by email’.   Simple and easy.

Truly understanding how things work or as Clayton Christensen refers to it as ‘Getting the Job Done’ takes insight and it takes the ability to connect the dots.  Connect the dots to ask the right questions, connect the dots to calculating the needs/requirements and investment and even connecting the dots from hurt to emoji faced band-aide.  Some have that ability and utilize it every day and others, well perhaps we have the ability and forget to rely on it.

I am so proud of my 7 year old nephew….may he never forget to rely on common sense and connecting the dots.  Lesson learned – Take care of one another, be mindful,  don’t assume – ask questions, clarify and when cooking bring the band-aides and rubbing alcohol.

Loretta Biscaro Smith is the founder of Genesis Executive Management Inc.  A consulting firm that specializes in Talent Attraction and Retention, Leadership Development, and Executive Coaching.     loretta@genesis-em.com  

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