Quality of Life Perspectives: Matthew ColemanPosted on November 18th, 2010
Quality of Life Perspectives: Matthew Coleman
The other day I was chatting with Matthew Coleman, a landscaping specialist from southern California. He was helping us with some work and we got to chatting. We started talking about parenting and before I knew it we started getting into one of those deep, fluid, interesting conversations. The kind you wish you could do more of but find yourself not having the time for. [In fact, I started to tell myself I didn’t have the time on a busy work day to chat – but thankfully I decided to chill and enjoy the rich experience presented to me.] A minute into our conversation I realized some gems were forthcoming so I decided to record the conversation (with a phone video camera). Below is a link to the conversation, in which Matthew shared his perspectives and practices around parenting. CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO. Here are some things that stood out from our conversation: When I asked Matt what he thinks parents get wrong, he said, “I am constantly aware these days of how much parents over communicate their children’s shortcomings, whether they realize it or not. Children are always going to have issues…” I totally agreed with what he was saying, but the way he put it was such a powerful reminder of how unfair it is for imperfect parents to expect their children to be perfect. At the same time, I feel that there are some situations in which it benefits children for the parents to be tough on them. So I asked Matthew what he felt about being “critical” with children on select character type things. Not the typical cases like being honest but rather things like properly greeting people (voice they can hear with eye contact), even for a shy child. [For my oldest son, he struggles with this and I have made this one of a few select things to be tough on him about. Although I struggle with whether I am leading in the right way.] Matthew’s reply was, “Just like gardening, you shouldn’t put too many seeds in the ground. To properly grow, you need to provide space.” Tell me that line isn’t a great lesson for all of us. It’s a perfect nugget on how parents can quickly improve the quality of their parenting. When you find a teaching moment, plant the seed (communicate the life lesson) and then back off and give your child the time and space to work on it. It’s Leadership 101 in many ways. If you’re coaching an employee on something, you’re not going to be in their grill every week about the improvement item. At the most, once a month you’ll discuss it with the person. Our children, even at five-years-old, can fully comprehend what we are trying to coach them on. Matt’s wisdom was a great reminder that we owe it to our children to give them space to work on things. And of course they will respect us a lot more as parents if we lead them better.
Taylor KitschPosted on October 4th, 2010
Treating People with Respect
I've learned that having a huge ego or treating people in a derogatory way is simply going to leave you alone and stunt your growth. It’s also a realization that you can't be successful on your own. I am totally aware of the handful of people that believed in me and took those same risks in me that I did.
Eric BibbPosted on October 4th, 2010
Those that want to trip you up
I have a way of dealing with people that don’t have my best interests in mind. There are those that just want to trip you up. I can usually sense that type of personality after one remark from them. I want to say, “Hey, you don’t need to do that with me because I’m not judging you.” I’ll try to bring them onboard and be a step ahead. I don’t really want a sparring session; that’s not what I want to spend my time doing.
Tim KooglePosted on October 4th, 2010
Avoiding toxic people
Avoid toxic people and toxic ideas. Run, do not walk away from them. It’s important to have the ability and willingness to exclude those things from your life. They can absolutely diminish the quality of your life. What is a toxic person? It’s all values driven. You know it when you see it.
Sidney HarmanPosted on October 4th, 2010
Type of people I admire
There is a lovely passage in Arthur Mills’ Death of a Salesman that will answer this question for you. The protagonist in the play, Willy Loman, was visiting a former neighbor, now a flourishing attorney, essentially looking for a handout. While waiting, he catches up with the attorney’s son.. Finally, the attorney ushers his client out the door, turns to Willy and says, “What do you think of that boy? Do you know that tomorrow morning he will plead a case before the Supreme Court of the United States of America?!” Willy is aghast, “We spoke for 40 minutes, he never mentioned it.” “Hey Willy, he doesn’t have to mention it, he’s doing it!!” I love that story. I am definitely attracted to the type of people that do not need to tell you how consequential they are, but are more focused on doing it. I deflect the blowhards, the guys who buy up art by the square foot and build libraries by the yard. Whose response to what they do is to tell you how much they’ve made. The rest of the world I embrace. The people who’ve worked in our companies have, I’m talking about the guys on the floor, they’re not replaceable parts of the machine, they are the stuff out of which I’ve prospered.
Shaesby ScottPosted on October 4th, 2010
Not imposing one’s views
The nature of my personality is to be controlling, and if I see a situation that needs help, I want to be the person to get involved and make things better. With family members I want everyone to prosper and I want to see them integrate in every way they can. What I’ve learned is sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. And imposing my views on how they should do things and handle themselves isn’t always the best way to deal with that situation. Speaking specifically about my brother, when we were younger I wanted so much for him to be a certain way. At some point, I realized it wasn’t working and he wasn’t happy with my approach. I then consciously decided to hold back my opinions and to just focus on unconditional love and being there as a brother. And now he’s flourished into this beautiful person. I don’t know what effect my different approach had but I know that what I was doing wasn’t working for him or for our relationship.
Reid HoffmanPosted on October 4th, 2010
Giving people the benefit of the doubt
I don’t hold grudges but once I determine that someone has a flawed character, is selfish or creating havoc, I usually think why should I bother reevaluating. If they change, that’s great, but why should I spend time being part of that person’s process. Once I’ve decided their character is wrong, I don’t have anything to do with them again.
Reid HoffmanPosted on October 4th, 2010
I think it is very important to be choice-full with your friendships not who is there. A measure of friendship is two things I believe: 1) Do you become a better person by spending time with this person, and 2) Are they people that in many ways you would like to become. I am drawn to people who have a similar set of ethics and who see life is more than just about themselves.
Mario MorinoPosted on October 4th, 2010
If you look at my close friends, they span a socio-economic line from someone who is just above the poverty line to someone who is uber wealthy. Several of my close friends are guys I’ve known since the 1950’s. They are not financially successful by any stretch, but they have cared about my family and I trust them. My closest friendships are the ones that, besides the good times, have experienced pressure, tension, and challenge—and survived them.
Jeff JohnsonPosted on October 4th, 2010
Acceptance and expectations
I think what’s important, whether in business or personal, is accepting people for who they are and not who you want them to be. There are certain people I know that are unbelievably arrogant and I know that about them. So when I deal with them, I already know that that’s who they are, and it doesn’t even bother me. I mean this is who these people are, these are their character traits. They may evolve but seldom will they change. So I accept people for who they are and in turn, I’m much less frustrated.
Jacqueline NovogratzPosted on October 4th, 2010
Assume goodness in people
We have a saying at Acumen: “assume goodness." When you are dealing with people across the globe in a busy environment, it’s really easy to assume after you’ve called three times and not heard back that they don’t want to hear from you. Instead, consider that there may be a very good reason for their not calling. In your personal life, this principle is even more important. When we’re younger, we tend to think the world should revolve around us, and as you get older you realize that people deserve to benefit of the doubt.
Drayton MclanePosted on October 4th, 2010
You’ve got to be there for them from the time they arrive in your life so you understand them, but most of all so you don’t miss the joy of seeing them grow and develop. You can’t just all of a sudden decide one day that you are going to start spending a lot of time with them. I have two sons, one of them is 35 and the other is 32. When we’re together they’ll say, “Hey Dad, do you remember that time when we went to the zoo when we were little.” They’re constantly reminding me of fun things we did when they were younger. I also believe in spending the correct amount of time. When they are young, they need as much time as you can give them, but in their teenage years you do them a disservice if you smother them.
Sol AmonPosted on October 4th, 2010
Not imposing your will on others
I’ve learned that you cannot impose your will on others. I think it’s very difficult to do this and be happy. It is burdensome. I’ve had some employees with serious problems in their lives, many of which would be easy to point out and tell them how they were going about things wrong. I try to tell them I’m not your father but I’ll give you some advice if you want. I try to build my employees up by showing them respect. I have one former employee that owns a 300 person software company, one that is in the FBI and a gal who is now heads a government agency in Alaska. I hired one guy who during interviews admitted he had a drug problem. He became a great citizen, has a family, and now works for this company where he has 80 people working under him.
Sol AmonPosted on October 4th, 2010
I think you have to communicate so that what you’re giving is not your advice; it’s the advice that they think is the right thing for them. If you follow, the advice has to come from them, the idea has to come from you. I try to transport that idea so that they think they came up with it. Otherwise, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make ‘em drink. It’s a mind game; you’ve got to get them to perceive your idea as their own.