Tell your inner two-year-old to shut it

There’s a reason they call it the “terrible twos.”

Tantrums. Stubbornness. Attitude. Diapers (probably). And every parent’s favorite word….


Don’t believe me?  Watch this. Then go hug a parent of a toddler. They deserve it.

It’s kind of cute to watch a little kid try to exert some control over their world by saying no to every suggestion. It’s not so cute when it’s an adult in the workplace.  You’ve seen them – heck, you’ve probably even been one.  Goodness knows I have.  The scenario may change, but the process is pretty consistent:

  • Step One: Person A elicits heavy sigh.
  • Step Two: Person B asks what’s wrong.
  • Step Three: Person A unleashes a barrage of complaints, usually including righteous indignation about events that happened years ago.
  • Step Four: Person B makes suggestions about how Person A might resolve their issues.
  • Step Five: Person A’s inner two-year-old says NO. Cycle repeats.

angrytoddlerThe reasons that Person A relinquishes control to the inner two-year-old can vary.  Maybe it’s fear of change. Maybe it’s love of the attention being a martyr gives them. Heck, maybe it’s a passive-aggressive attempt to exert control in a situation that feels like it’s spiraling OUT of control.

Whatever the reason, the more we listen to the voice of that inner two-year-old, the louder that voice becomes, and that can lead to bad things. It’s exhausting to deal with someone else’s refusal to listen to solutions. At some point, Person B will stop talking to Person A, and Person A might gain a reputation for being “difficult to work with.”

Critical inner speech can impact your ability to find positive resolutions and can cause you to spiral into a pile of negativity that makes you incapable of acknowledging that success is an option, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom. And in really bad cases, it can lead to life-threatening depression.

So do yourself a favor. The first time your inner two-year-old crosses his/her arms, pouts out the lip and says NO, you tell that kid to shut the hell up.  Then seek some positivity in your life – a coworker, a spouse/partner, a close friend, a sympathetic dog, wine. Whatever it is, help change the story you’re telling into something good.

Even two-year-olds grow out of their tantrums and laugh again. If they can do it, so can you.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.
– Elbert Hubbard

Leadership and Learning: Reading is fun!

I like to read books. A lot.

I’m that annoying person who, during the course of a conversation, will tell you 2-3 books you should read because they are really good and would probably solve all the world’s problems and what do you mean you don’t have any time to read?

I’ve always been like this, and I thought everyone was like this. As a new manager, I used to suggest books for my team to read ALL the time, and I was surprised they weren’t as excited about it as I was. They good-naturedly (mostly) gave me a hard time about it, and occasionally someone would read a book.

Here’s the thing – even if they NEVER read the book, they were exposed to different ideas that might change their approach or encourage them to do a little research about topics that interest them. Basically, I made curiosity an expectation.


It’s for this reason that I say leadership and learning need to go hand in hand. As leaders, it’s easy to be pulled in a number of directions and use the excuse you’re too busy to learn anything new. Poppycock. If you don’t have time to read, use your commute to listen to Seek out people you don’t normally interact with and ask them about their work. Have lunch with a person you admire. If you have the means, find a conference or two to go to and connect with others in your line of work – or even outside of your line of work to expand your horizons.

Once you’ve done all that to keep your thinking fresh and current…SHARE. Share with your team, share with your peers, share with the world (Twitter isn’t ALL about cat videos, you know).

[Note: I just finished reading ‘Contagious’ by Jonah Berger. Check it out. Great stuff about making a message viral.]

Like I said, I love to read. It’s how I learn, it’s how I share. If I tell you about a book I read and I think you should read it…it means I care about your development and think you have potential.

When my boss suggests something to read – as an employee I LOVE it. When I suggest a book to my team – as a leader, it’s my job.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
– Maya Angelou


Got a book or interesting tidbit that you want to pass on? Share in the comments below!