Advice, Software Engineer, Women in Tech

7 Essential Skills That I Have Learned From My Daughter To Do Better In Career & Life

My daughter is my inspiration. As much as I try to teach her about life and everything else, I think she has taught me more than I could ever teach her. Even if you’re not a parent, it’s refreshing to see the world from a child’s mind and learn from them.

1. When things fall apart, build it all over again and do it with a smile
My daughter likes building tall things. She’d always try to stack things over the top of each other and see how high she can build. Because she doesn’t understand a lot of physics yet, things she builds fall down quite often. When that happens, she’d laugh and go, ‘oh all fell down, we need to build again’. To her, there is no such thing as failure or quitting. She taught me that when things don’t go well, the most important thing is to be resilient and do it all over again.

2. Have a sense of humor and remember to have a good time
My daughter sure knows how to laugh and have fun. Her smiles are so pure and she laughs at almost everything. It doesn’t matter if she is doing a hard puzzle or just jumping in muddy puddles, she’d be enjoying the experience completely. Sometimes, we get so serious about meeting KPIs at work, getting bonuses, making deadlines and so on and so forth that we forget to just enjoy and be happy. Researches have shown that happy people are more productive, earn more and live a more balanced life, so if we are happy, we will do better. I am normally a happy person, but now I have more reasons to be happier!

3. Don’t be shy to ask for help nor offer help
The best thing about children is they have no ego and everyone is equal. Whenever I am cooking in the kitchen, my daughter would come in and say, ‘can I help you mummy’. It doesn’t occur to her that she might not be able to help me because she is little. In her mind, all she is thinking is her mother is busy and she wants to help. As simple as that. She is also very vocal about it when she needs help, she’d say very loudly that she needs some help please. From my daughter, I learned to ask for help from those who could help and offer help whenever I can. Whether it’s our colleagues, our direct reports or our bosses, help them and ask for help when you need it.

4. Every day is a new day, forgive, forget and move on
My daughter used to cry a lot when she was little, especially at nights. She would get so angry and cry and cry her little eyes out. But the next morning, she would be a happy little Vegemite and would give me lots of kisses. She’s clearly forgotten what caused her to be so upset the night before. (I couldn’t say the same because I was sleep-deprived and moody. Oops!) She has taught me to treat every day with a positive mind and to start afresh. Yesterday’s mistakes do not matter, today is a new day to do well, learn more and grow.

5. Have curiosity for things around you
My daughter wants to know everything. This little girl has a natural inquisitiveness and eagerness to learn more about things around her. From why do we need to wear shoes to why does it rain, her questions are endless. As adults, we don’t question nearly enough. We don’t care for things that we think do not impact us. For example, as a developer, you may have no interest in how much money is spent for marketing campaigns. But if you take time to learn these things, you may be able to work them to your advantage, for example, saving your company money or knowing how much your work is worth.

6. Now now now! Don’t wait for tomorrow if you can do it now
I know almost every toddler’s favorite word is ‘NOW’. Every day, I get a lot of ‘Can we go play outside now, can we do some painting now, can we do this or that now please’. One time, I asked her why don’t we do it later/tomorrow and she asked me back, why not now. I had no answer. So if you are thinking of procrastinating something that can be done now, take a leaf out of a three years old’s book, take action and do it now. Make that phone call, write that email, fix that JavaScript error, balance that account, take that class, do that presentation or whatever you need to do that you’ve been giving excuses not to.

7. Dare to be different and think outside the box
Some of the Legos that my daughter builds, drawings that she creates and pretend-plays that she does are out of this world. Literally. She doesn’t feel the need to be like someone else. She doesn’t do what all her little friends have already done. She dares to be different, be creative and think like no other. If we apply this mindset to our work, there will be a lot more innovation and a lot less same-same. And if we failed, it’s not going to be an issue because… read #1.

Career Guide for Software Developers