Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

A Father’s Perspective: Lessons Learned From My Kids

June 10, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

Bruce Jones

This Sunday, June 15, is Father’s Day. Coincidentally, Disney’s The Lion King premiered in theaters 20 years ago on, June 15, 1994. Also coincidentally, I became a father for the first time in 1994, which means my son, Daniel, also turned 20 this year. Then, in 1998, I became a father for the second time to my daughter, Emily.

Allow me to connect some of these dots. When Danny was six month old, my wife and I took him to see his first movie, The Lion King. We thought the colors and music would entertain him, and we were right. In the story, young Simba must learn about personal responsibility from his father, Mufasa.

Over the years, we have watched that movie many times and learned a lot from it. I have spoken with friends, and it turns out a lot of parents have used this movie to teach values and life lessons to their children as well. As a father, I hope I have instilled a sense of personal responsibility for others in both Danny and Emily, just like Mufasa did for Simba.

As this Father’s Day approaches, I think back on the many other lessons my kids and I have learned together. Here are two that I think about often:

Lesson #1: “Learn to learn” – In middle school, Danny had a first-time math teacher who was clearly not capable of effectively teaching the material. So, we resolved that Danny’s solution would be to invest extra time and energy to learn the material himself, discovering a valuable lesson in how to fully use a course textbook and to make sense of the concepts through trial and error. This early lesson ultimately paid big dividends, as Danny graduated at the top of his high school class, and is now thriving in his sophomore year in college.

Much like this lesson helped my son, I think it can also impact the workplace. Those of us in learning professions understand the "70-20-10 Model of Development," which illustrates that 70 percent of learning is through practice and on-the-job experiences; 20 percent is through other people by exposure to coaching, feedback, and networking; and, 10 percent is through formal education-based learning interventions. Clearly, as the pace of change quickens in our professional lives, the ability to continue learning throughout ones career will only become even more critical.

Here are two recent posts on this topic:

Lesson #2: “It’s ok to be bored” – In my mind, with boredom comes curiosity and creativity. I started saying, “It’s ok to be bored,” in response to my daughter, Emily, telling me she was bored. I knew there was any number of things she could do if she set her mind to it. Especially with today’s electronics, there is always something on which to focus ones attention. But I wanted her mind to wander from time to time, rather than always focus.

How has this paid off? I’m thrilled to share that Emily has found some creative endeavors that she has become passionate about. In her graphics arts class, she has developed some of the most creative things I could imagine, including magazine covers, unique CD covers and T-shirt designs and innovative font designs. Several of these items have even made her teacher’s wall of fame.

I think this lesson can also apply in the workplace. As I have learned to present my kids with opportunities to try many things, and then encouraged them to do more with those things they become passionate about, I have also learned to do this in my professional life. Let your mind wander and allow for natural curiosity and creativity to blossom. Try as many new things as possible, and then continue to pursue whatever you are most passionate about. If you are always focused on the task at hand, you could be missing out on great opportunities for inspiration and innovation.

Here are two recent posts on this topic:

So…Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! Although this special day is mostly about being recognized and appreciated by our kids, its also an excellent opportunity for Dads to reflect upon what we have learned from our kids as well.

What lessons have you learned from your kids, and how have they influenced you in the workplace?

We’d love to hear from you! 
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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Fathers Day, Father’s Day, Leadership, Creativity, Innovation, Learning, Training, Bruce Jones

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