Children learn to smile from their parents – Shinichi Suzuki
Last week I got a call from my mother, and for some reason, a lot of good memories came flooding back to my mind. Unfortunately, due to a decision I made 11 years ago (to migrate to Canada), and the fact that I am more than 10,000 kilometers away, I am not able to spend time with my parents very often. However, I am so lucky that I have my parents so willing to take a call from me at any time; it doesn’t matter if it is 3AM or 3PM, both are always available and ready to talk with me and my children.
By the way, I am able to confirm that my parents have never heard about Agile or Iterations or Continued Improvement. Today, it is not easy for me to explain to them about Agile, so when I talk with them about my work, I always end up talking about life lessons learned and the great job they did raising me as the best coaches in my life.
My mother and father have been wonderful parents. Since I am not able to spend time with them whenever I want, I decided to write my first post about the most important things I learned from my parents that I am able to use in my life, my work and with my children. I spent more than 24 years living with my parents and if I have to write down every single thing I learned from them, I will need a few posts. I only want to share with you the ones that I use really often, and the ones that had the biggest impact on my personality.
1. Commitment: The value of keeping commitments. How important is it for others when someday respects their commitments? Both took care that I was able to learn the consequences if somebody does not respect their commitments.
2. Truth: Don’t lie; lies “have” a short life span. Truth can be a hard lesson, and sometimes can have negative impacts.
3. Trust Others: They taught me to trust, and to be prepared to get hurt from time to time. In the end it is better than living your entire life suspicious of everyone around you. This was a hard lesson for me; it took me years to understand it and to apply it accordingly.
4. Never Spend More than You Earn: It is a very simple thing to remember, but it is not that easy to do. Because, my parents were such a good example of this task, I guess; it was natural for me to do it. However, when I migrated to Canada, I realized the value of this lesson. Today, for example; if something happens, and I lose my job, I am able to support my current lifestyle for 6 to 12 months without many changes. Of course, I am very confident that I can find a job before then, but one never knows for sure.
5. Serve Others: As I learned from them by both word and deed, life is bigger than you. And truest life, fulfillment, meaning, and joy are found in the service of others. I will find people who say they don’t want any kind of help; I always have to try to serve them, but I shouldn’t lose my focus. I should be focusing on helping people that really need help and want to be assisted. For the ones that don’t want aid, I usually have to try a few times, but in the end, I have to end some battles and continue on to the next.
6. Family Time: Both of them have always allocated a lot of time for the family, so it goes without saying that I have no doubts about spending time with my family. I always try to get a good balance between family time and my work. I have to recognize that I am not the best at this balancing act, but some time ago, in one short coaching session that I attended, somebody talked about “integrating” the family into my life. That one short coaching session changed my view and my life towards my family. (Thanks to @Christopher Avery for those valuable 30 min coaching session).
7. Don’t Try to Change People: Never try to change people, try to adapt to the situation. As soon as you are comfortable and happy with the relationship/situation, then it is good enough to continue. If you are not able to be comfortable and happy, you should think of a way to discontinue that relationship/situation and continue on in your life. I should keep in mind that everyone will not be comfortable with me and that I should apply the same principles. After hitting the wall few times some years ago, I finally started to realize the value of this.
8. Don’t take it too Personal: Incidents happen to everyone and I will be no exception to this rule. If I take every adversity in my life too personally, I will be spending a lot of unhappy moments. Easy; right? Ok, it is not easy for me. Today, 36 years old, I still have few problems with this. It is not easy at all for me. I am lucky that I understand the value of this lesson and that both of my parents showed me, with a lot of patience, very good examples. They tried hard to teach me to recognize adverse situations earlier and to leave unhappy situations faster.
9. Be Generous: Remember always what you have and from where you come. A lot of people in this world never will have what you do. Some of the small things that you have could create memorable, happy moments for others. If you don’t have money to give, don’t worry; people need other things besides money. Sometimes, they need love, compassion, be listened to, or only some of your time.
The last one; and today the most important:
10. Always Love what you do, but Please Focus on Doing what you Really Love: I started to see the value of this 12 or 15 years ago, but I couldn’t apply it very often until 7 years ago. At that moment, I made a decision to stop doing things that I don’t like or I don’t want to do. The result? Fantastic, today I am able to apply it to all aspects of my life, including my work. Three years ago, I said to myself: “if I am not happy in my job, I have to change it asap”. I already applied this rule to my last two (2) jobs. It is great; I could clearly remember all the things that my parents explained to me a long time ago.
Today, I wake-up in the morning and feel that I am doing what I really love to do. I am able to apply every lesson learned from my parents. Sometimes, I am not the best student, and I could not apply all of the lessons that I learned, but sooner or later I will be able to apply all of them. Sometimes I need help to realize things (thanks to all those who have helped me with this, especially my wife, my son, my friends, and my colleagues). It allows me to learn more and more every day.
All of these things are priceless to me. I arrive to my work and am able to help programmers, team leaders, managers, directors, and VP/CEO. This means so very much to me. At the end of the week, I can count the number of issues I fixed, however, I prefer to count how many people I helped. Working with people is my biggest inspiration in what I do. It is what I really LOVE and what I do to keep my life sustainable.