Learn To Laugh At Yourself And 8 Other Things I’m Teaching My Kids

flickr / Boudewijn Berends
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I would like to share with you a reflection that I did when I was flying back home from Copenhagen after having an amazing weekend with 2 good friends.

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My reflection started with this question: What’s your personal definition of success in life? We debated for quite a while on our own definitions, life expectations, and so on. Part of it was to build a family, to be honest I do not feel my “dad calling” yet (I’m only 27) but it is something that I would like to do in the future. Then, the next question came in: What would you teach to your child to become the best possible person?

So then, I started to make a compilation of key episodes in my life when I had “true learnings” in order to keep them safe as a bible for my future children. And here it is:

Learn To Lose

Even if you are the most skilled person in earth, you will lose. I swear, you will. In a stupid game or the final of the world cup. Children need to understand that losing is part of life, and they should not focus on winning but on never giving up. I remember my father telling me: “Digesting a victory is easy Diego, the difficult part is to lose. Losing is an opportunity to improve.”

Laugh At Oneself

Accepting your limitations and your defects is the first step to be a happier person. If I have a characteristic nose, I am bold or my legs are shorter than it is accepted in society, you shouldn’t give a shit, it is what it is! Make fun of yourself, it is a great way to accept your genuine characteristics (AKA imperfections).

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Be Curious

“If you do not understand something, please ask. The stupidest person is the one who does not ask.” I am not worried if my children will not be proficient at school, or if they are not able to memorize a historical episode, but I will make sure they will have their intrinsic motivations crystal clear to play around and research maintaining their curiosity alive.

Be Humble

There is no bigger pleasure than seeing how an extraordinary person in any field (science, literature, sport, innovation, etc.) keeps their integrity, listens to others and stays hungry to learn from other realities even if they can offer much more to others than what they can get. “You should pay back to people for the recognition they give you.”

Respect Others

No matter sex orientation, ethnic, religion, nationality … respect is the solid base to grow as a person. I can agree or disagree in certain topics, but respect goes always first: “I respect your decision, but I do not agree.” In our current world social relationships and team work are crucial to have a successful personal and professional life, and in my humble opinion it all starts with respect. “ Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

Be Aware Of The Value Of Money

Many of us had the privilege of having great parents who can afford paying university fees to ensure our high quality education, or even satisfy our whims sometimes. It is essential to show to children how much sacrifice this requires (it is much better if it can be experienced in first person). In this sense, I am really grateful to my parents who forced me to carry washing machines, fridges and any existing heavy home appliance around the city to earn my “salary.”

Learn By Doing

I guess I am biased by my design background, but as human beings we use trial and error continuously and it still works. I remember my mum telling me “do not touch the pan, you might get burnt.” This approach is an error, as by following this I would have not learnt how to cook until I was in a different context that forced me to cook by myself. I am an advocate of experiments, so I would reformulate my mum’s warning for my children like: “The oil is hot, be careful when grabbing the pan, please wear the gloves.” In this way, I am giving them the opportunity to fail and learn (and go to the hospital once they get burnt).

Be Generous

This is one of my personal mantras: “Give before you get,” giving something without expecting a return is at the end of the day, the main principle of philanthropy, friendship and love. I learnt this from my grandma, she is 87, and since I was a child, she was giving money to homeless people and presents to families in need. I would like my children to be givers.

Be Selective

Friends are people you are spending the most of your free time with. Fortunately you can select them; because they are inspiring, brave, cool, creative … that’s up to you. Make sure you select them well, cause they will have an important influence in your personal development.

Diego Mazo is a design strategist, design thinker, service designer, bussiness model innovator, and editor at Strategic Design Lab in Medium.

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