Written By Salina Jivani of “The Great Word Nerd” Blog
When I was a fifth grader in elementary school, I remember reading a poster that said, “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.” I’d giggled at the time, thinking how ridiculous it was to think such a thing, let alone slap it on a poster. After all, the only skills I remembered learning as a five-year old were to color in the lines and stretch rubber bands into shapes on geoboards.
Reflecting back on that tickled fifth grader, I realize now how much more truth there was in that saying than my naïve 10-year-old self could ever have realized.
Graduating high school, mastering college and stepping into the real world certainly opens our eyes to life, but one thing I can vouch to is that if we follow some of the basic rules we all were taught when we were wee tiny, there’s a lot of power in them to carry us through the most trying of situations.
As five-year-olds, we were taught quite a bit about the basics of mannerisms and etiquette, so it would be impossible to capture them all here, but if I had to pick the three most valuable that are golden to me even today, it would be these:
Treat others the way you want to be treated
There’s nothing more elementary than this rule, but it truly is a fundamental one if you seek to be both a successful person and valued human. As an adult, you’ll encounter difficult people at work and in life. But if you continuously treat people with respect and genuine kindness, they’ll eventually feel humbled enough to reciprocate. And even if they don’t have an opportunity to return the kindness, they’ll respect you even more for your actions.
I remember partaking in endless listening and comprehension tests from kindergarten through second grade. Yet today I sit through infinite meetings and conferences trying not to go cross-eyed while my mind drifts off to oblivion. And I have to constantly remind myself that golden rule: LISTEN! It’s difficult to not doze off and let your mind wander to a faraway planet sometimes as friends drone on and on about their complicated lives or colleagues rehash the potential risk of an already-resolved issue, but I’ve found that those who take the time to listen come across as more trustworthy, compassionate and intelligent (because they cared to listen when no one else bothered!).
Never leave anyone out
Remember that poor kid who always got left out at recess? Or the nerdy boy everyone always made fun of? No one wants to be the oddball out, but we’ve all been there at some point or another. I’ve learned that making everyone around me feeling included and involved has made me a ton of friends over the years, benefiting me both personally and professionally. And the number of times those connections have turned into something advantageous for me or the other person is astonishing. In fact, when I joined corporate America at the age of twenty-four, I was pulled in by a former manager who I had welcomed and befriended when no one else would. In fact, now that I think back, that’s how I got nearly every single position I ever landed—being inclusive and maintaining connections. Being welcoming not only makes you feel good, but it also can come back to reward you in pleasant and unexpected ways. So respect those around you and make them feel welcome. You’ll get the warm and fuzzies and you also might receive a helping hand when you most need it and least expect it.
There’s a lot of life’s great lessons to be gleaned from those early years of our childhood. And if we each started by implementing just these three simple ones, imagine the beautiful, pleasant, tolerant world we would build for ourselves and for future generations.