Sustaining the Innovative Mindset
Don't stumble over something behind you.
—Seneca the Younger
I have a confession. I used to be a tyrant in the morning. Tyrant might be an exaggeration (or not), but my recollection is that, in getting the kids ready for school, I spent all of my energy cajoling, prodding, pleading, scolding, and sometimes ranting at them—to put on their shoes, eat their breakfast, brush their teeth, get dressed, put their lunch in their backpacks, etc.—because the bus is coming! My wife has a different, and more effective, style, but on my mornings to handle bus time I would conduct diatribes on the inevitability of the bus and rant that, unlike procrastinating in getting in the car, the bus is coming at an appointed time and they needed to hurry up!
One evening after berating myself again for being an ogre of a parent, I decided that the next morning I just wasn't going to behave that way again. I resolved that regardless of whether they missed the bus or not, I simply was not going to be a jerk to my kids. While a nice idea, this did require that I adopt another behavior—to simply advise them of the time and ask them what the next steps were. Instead of “Get your lunch in your bag!” I might say, “Looks like we have about 14 minutes. Is your bag ready?” Or if my daughter, Annie, asked me to play Taylor Swift songs on the kitchen iPod stereo, I might say, “Well, we have about 20 minutes. Do you think we have time?” Sometimes she decided we did have ...