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Home > Blog > Shifting Roles: When Seven-Year-Olds Are Supervisors
Out of Our Minds
Monday, October 03, 2005 6:19 PM
Shifting Roles: When Seven-Year-Olds Are Supervisors
Evelyn Rodriguez on Passionate Work

I love this story in The Translucent Revolution - and it's not even in the business chapter yet it overflows with workplace lessons:

Every Saturday morning we clean the house. We start by sitting down together and listing all the jobs that need to be done. Then everyone gets to be the boss for half an hour. We always start with Shuba, our youngest. While he is boss, everyone must do what he says. He is the king. He will check if you are cleaning thoroughly, allocate the jobs, and tell you when you can move to a new one.

We started this game when he was seven. You might anticipate, as we did, that it would be chaos, that he would give crazy commands or not know what to do. But he turned out to be the most caring and careful supervisor of the family. I remember him coming into the bathroom while I was cleaning the toilet. 'Do you have what you need?' he asked. 'Are you clear about what to do? Let me know when you want to take a break.' I pinched myself. Was I dreaming? When his half hour was up he resorted to his usual personalit, complaining bitterly about having to work at all. I learned that we all rise to the occasion.


Author Arjuna Ardagh continues: 'Of course, we don't want to make this a daily practice. Kids need time to be kids. But giving everyone a chance to change their role in the family this way, once a week, shakes up encrusted habits. Everyone, kids and adults, can experiment with other ways of doing things, gaining insight into what it's like to play another role in the family.'

Shifted roles recently? Know of organizations that encourage this? In your sphere of influence do you treat others by allowing them to rise to their potential - even if that's not exactly in the job description?


3 comments

Evelyn Rodriguez - 10/5/2005 6:01:00 PM
Thanks for sharing Jan, that's a great example.

A great educational lesson for your kids. In writing this, I'm reminded that the root 'educare' means to draw forth. I like how Ardagh ended with one of his lessons was that people can rise to the occasion when you believe in them.

Anyone else tried shifting roles at work?

Evelyn Rodriguez - 10/5/2005 6:00:12 PM
Thanks for sharing Jan, that's a great example.

This is a great educational lesson for your kids. In writing this, I'm reminded that the root 'educare' means to draw forth. I like how Ardagh ended with one of his lessons was that people can rise to the occasion when you believe in them.

Anyone else tried shifting roles at work?

Janet Auty-Carlisle - 10/3/2005 10:48:33 PM
What a cool idea. Gives everybody a chance to see what is involved in being a leader and what is involved in being a team player. One of the things we used to do when our kids were younger was to let them plan out a dinner once a week. They would pick the recipe, do the shopping and prepare the food....we got to do the clean up! mmmm....blue soup...my favourite. (Bridget Jones beware!) There were times when we weren't quite sure what we were eating but it was a great way for the kids to learn how to prepare good meals, how to budget, how to prioritize tasks, and..what not to make the next time.
Living la vida fearless, Jan
www.tobeyourbest.net

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